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Thor, Iron Man and Captain America wonder what to do next

THE BOX office patrollers confirmed it: “The Avengers” broke the biggest opening weekend, garnering more or less $210 million, and about $700 million worldwide. It wouldn’t be a surprise to hit the $1 billion mark on the next few days.

Of course, the film is more than just statistics. “The Avengers” is as good as an action sci-fi film you can get, offering CGI bonanza, gun-toting enemies, explosive weapons and devices, mashed up with our childhood superheroes, and not to mention the skinny trying-hard villain. You surely won’t miss the fun

Earth’s threat

Borrowed from the “Captain America: The First Avenger,” an energy cube, so called as Tesseract, exists that is capable of housing unlimited source of power and, in the bad hands, also capable for a weapon of mass destruction. Based from “Thor,” Loki, a human-looking alien, is out to get it to destroy the earth and redeem his honor as a rightful king. The earth organizes a highly-skilled team to prevent them, also known as The Avengers.

As epic as this heroic film is, one question might come to your mind: Do I need to watch the previous “solo” films to understand “The Avengers”? It’s not essential but I would recommend it. So you get the mockeries and puns of Ironman when he is talking to out-of-time Captain America, and know why Thor keeps on hoping Loki would have a change of heart, and not reduce it as a homosexual affair. Rest assured, you’ll still adore the film without watching its predecessors. But I have these feeling that after you watch “The Avengers”, you’ll want more. So you probably end up watching the previous “solo” films anyway.

Apart from the clear-cut threat of saving the mother Earth, a threat also exists in the Avengers themselves. They later learn that they have different motives in securing the cube, following the old adage: “Together we stand, divided we fall.” Next to the Manhattan chaos, this is the part I liked the most, since this is the part where we get intimate with them before the breath-taking fight scenes, even though it bar the film for a while for further plot development.

Hawkeye, Captain America and Black Widow are about to enter the fight

Not overrated

You might remember the time when your friend kept raving about a certain film for a week, but when you finally saw it, it was nothing short of a shameless contribution to film making. There are films that get more attention that what they’re worth, but not this one. “Avengers” have cleverly put up a cinematic experience that satisfied its fan base, fairly almost all children and adults alike, and that is hard to come by.  That’s possibly because of not just offering a hard-skinned action but also embedding the screenplay’s wit with each Avenger’s personality, especially with Iron Man.
(Unfortunately, my mother went out of the cinema for a urinal break but didn’t come back. She just couldn’t take chaos. My mother is the tear-jerky type and certainly you can’t expect any in this film. Not to mention, a moviegoer sleeping while the film as its climax.  “Viddy well, little brother. Viddy well” Let’s just not talk about genre stratification but the film per se.”)

The Avengers

Iron Man is not really famous for being a “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” nor we like him because of “big man in a suit of armour.” I guess a handful of us identify him as a cynical character who annoys several in the scene, and amuses everyone else outside it. That’s what actually keeps us on the first half, since Thor at this time, together with Hulk, Hawkeye, are somehow underplayed. Captain America still has the spot light – come on we have to give him credit for being “The First Avenger”, and Black Widow tries to keep up being an all-around assistant, (e.g. fetching Hulk, touring Captain America), and for being ravishly beautiful and sexy.

The choice of having multiple character leads is detrimental because it may take some time to sympathize with them or attempting to do so may fall short, giving the other lead more screen time than the others, that’s where “The Avengers” is on the edge. Since the backstories of several of the Avengers have been set-up, there’s less time for nostalgic moments and more for blowing heads off.

More surprisingly, each of them get their own respective moment fighting with the horde of Earth’s conquerors. By this time, Hulk gets more of the attention. He is just too unpredictable. Two of the memorable scenes come from Hulk, and even though he had previously allotted two solo films, people seem to clamor for another.

Hulk calling for battle

The only thing I noticed about the casting is one of the agent of Avengers, played by Cobie Smulders, the famous child-hater Robin from “How I Met Your Mother.” She is an entertaining actor, but in this film her character is reduced to a figurine, a display, a walkie talkie. She could have more of use like Agent Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, who happens to have a one-on-one with Loki.

Since we have multiple characters, I am obliged to name them all, in .gif format, followed by brief description of their powers. They are presented, according from the Vulture, in order of their screen time: (1) Captain America: 37 minutes, 42 seconds, (2) Iron Man: 37 minutes, 1 second, (3) Black Widow: 33 minutes, 35 seconds,(4) Bruce Banner/The Hulk: 28 minutes, 3 seconds(5) Thor: 25 minutes, 52 seconds, and (6) Hawkeye: 12 minutes, 44 seconds.

Chris Evans as Captain America

Captain America has a a superhuman ability after the lab experiment. He can punch, jump, kick and what-not like no other human. But still, he is human. Primary weapon is his shield which was made from a specialized metal that is (1) Bullet proof (2) Boomerang quality (3) Stainless steel, among others.

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

Iron Man has a suit of armor that have following features: (1) Fly (2) Guns and Missiles (3) Fly as fast as missiles (4) Almost impenetrable and, the most underrated, (5) Music player, among others

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Black Widow is a professional assassin that specialized in the ff: (1) Martial Arts (2) Stealth weapons (3) Sexy in latex suit.

Mark Ruffalo as Hulk

Hulk has anger management issues that when provoked he obtains the ff: (1) ginarmous green six-pack-abs body (2) formidable strength (3) Jump as high as a skyscraper, and  (4) Looks cute when he is angry.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor

Thor has the mjolnir, a star-made hammer. With it he can do the ff: (1) call thunder (2) fly at top speed.

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye

Hawkeye is also a professional assassin, that has an incredible marksmanship. . . yea that’s about it.

I guess it would be unfair to leave out Loki. No, he is not an Avenger. He is our skinny trying-hard villian!  But yes he has powers. I’ll leave his powers for you to ponder.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki

For the future

The success of “The Avengers” is also helped by the crescendo of the solo hero films. Who wouldn’t want to see these fantastic heroes in action, all in one event, and at the same time? I know I do.

Marvel and Disney have officially announced release dates of the following sequels: Iron Man 3 on May 3rd 2013, Thor 2 on November 15th 2013, Captain America 2 on April 4th 2014. This is also expected that Joss Whedon, the director, will get more recognizable films to direct. Until then, all we have to do is mark our calendars.
Last thoughts

I know there has been some inconsistencies with the film like why Thor’s troops, who swore to protect the Earth, among others, doesn’t come in action, or why the Avengers need Black Widow, or why Hulk can control himself all of sudden. The film also contains a rudimentary plot and not as intricate as “The Dark Knight.” I’m proud to say that these things didn’t really bothered me.  It doesn’t really necessary to seek for answers, when enjoying the questions are enough.

P.S. I know there were many, but what was you’re favorite Avenger scene? (Spoiler) Mine was when Thor says, “He’s adopted”, among others.  That was just hilarious.

IMdB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0848228/

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOrNdBpGMv8

Rating: ★★★★★

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Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

 THE FOLLOWING content is lifted from my homework on our Finance class. We were to read a book and answer guide questions. I was quite dubious to read it since we are in the business course, why should we care about literature? It turned out that the book is about managing success, masked with a children title. The book is so small, that you can read it in about an hour. It has mixed reviews in goodreads. Others say it was helpful, while some say its gibberish. This reminds me of a computer tutorial in YouTube. A member commented that it was pretty simple, and there’s no need for making a tutorial. I watched the tutorial and it was helpful. I guess the degree of helpfulness depends on the person’s range of knowledge.

One thing is certain, for those perplexed and amateur, we need guidance, even basic guidance, and this book is one of them. With one-sitting read, reassuring words, fable story, what’s not to like?

P.S. Thanks J.M. Tingson, our finance class, for introducing the book. I never knew  what my mark was but I feel I did well and I enjoyed answering each question.

P.S. This homework taught me that a headline and/or questions will help you provide more concrete and unified composition.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS FOR WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?

1. In Johnson’s book, the cheese is a metaphor. What does it represent?

THE CHEESE represents things we desire. It is perhaps derive from the ideology that rats crave for cheese, like the hit cartoon series “Tom and Jerry”.  But I have to admit I haven’t saw a particular rat eating a cheese.  In most cases, I catch them gnawing our Tupperware. (No pun intended.)

2. What does the maze represent?

THE MAZE represents the place where we will find our “cheese”. For a student, it would be likely in the school. For a clerk, it would be likely in the office.  For a scientist, it would be likely in the laboratory. For me, just read the next answer.

3.  Identify both the cheese and the maze in your own life. Then consider what might happen if someone moved your cheese. Imagine the ways you might have to cope with the changes.

MY CHEESE is to be a filmmaker and a writer. The maze is, well, yet to be decided, considering both of those things can be done ubiquitously. If someone moved my cheese (which is unlikely since my cheese are intangible), it’s either I’ll follow the cheese or force the person who moved my cheese to moved my cheese back! Contrary to the old adage “If life gives you lemon, make a lemonade”, one person had said that “If life gives you lemon, let life take the lemons back.” Why? Because at some point in our lives, we deserve nothing less.

4. What changes have you already experienced in your life? How did you react to the changes? Were you threatened, angry, frightened, disoriented, or excited by the challenge (come on…be honest!)? After reading Who Moved My Cheese? do you feel you dealt as well as you could have with those changes?

WAIT. I can’t think of any major major changes in my life. (Major pun intended.) If you consider the shift from high school to college, I dealt it well. Or from first year to second year, I really had no problem. But I guess, if change will come, I am better equipped for it now. Heck! I might start to expect it.

5. Has Johnson’s book helped you see how change can be beneficial…in life in general, as well as in your own work or personal life?

I FIND myself pondering when the book pop the question “If you weren’t afraid, where will you be now?” I don’t like when I’m afraid, I can’t move freely or think straight but in retrospect, in the times of being frightened, those were moments I do extraordinary stuff and those were the times I sought God. As oxymoron as it sounds, fears helps build confidence and faith.

However, the “cheese” concept per se taught me nothing I have already learned. I am always reminded of the phrase “survival of the fittest” from Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection. Or the tagline “Adapt or Die” from Joe Wright’s action movie “Hanna”, starred by Saoirse Ronan. (Am I going off-topic now?)

6. If you read “A Discussion,” the book’s third section, what did you learn from the way others interpreted the book? Were any situations similar to your own?

THE “ALUMNI” discussion shows that the concept of cheese can be interpreted in different ways. Either way it leads to make our life better. The only close situation I can get (since I’m not yet in the corporate world) is Elaine’s problem of letting go of her old relationship with “serious molds”. Angela further recommends  that “what we really need to let go of is the behavior that keeps causing our bad relationship. And then move on to a better way of thinking and acting.” For if we don’t change, we will keep getting the same “moldy” results.

7. Do you wish Johnson had offered concrete answers to the question of dealing with change? Would you have preferred a “how-to” approach, say, a step-by step guide? Or do you appreciate the way in which readers are free to interpret and apply the parable for themselves? Which approach is more helpful to you?

NO! I like how Johnson turns these mundane ideas to something interesting. The “How-To” approach is dull. True it leads to you the lesson directly but it doesn’t let you experience the lesson, just like the parable. Having different interpretations make the concept altogether fun, this shows that you can modify it in your own needs. Take what you want and leave what is unnecessary.

8. In the parable, Johnson says the four characters represent the four parts of ourselves, from the simple to the complex. What does he mean: which character represents which part of ourselves? Is there one character you relate to more than the others?

I’M STILL figuring out if the four characters represent four parts of ourselves since the two rats act in unison. So, I’ll consider three. Hem represents our personality when we think too much, the rats for when we simplify ideas and Haw for when we discern which is appropriate between the two . Of course no one is absolutely better than the other. It’s just a matter of situation. Math exam, for instance, you don’t just simply answer what is in front of you. You think outside the box! (Which is thinking too much.) You might be missing some fundamental rules of factoring, like I just did in my previous calculus quiz.

For mnemonic purposes, the rats, Hem and Haw may represent Sigmund Freud’s Id, Ego and Super Ego.

9. Why is it so hard for most of us (all of us?) to accept change?

UNLIKE THE instantaneous rate of change that can be solve using derivatives, change in real life is insatiable. You can’t exactly calculate, for instance, the future returns of transferring to another university. People resist change because of uncertainty.  People like change if it is in their best interest but since it is uncertain that change can either be beneficial or detrimental, they shun the idea.  Change threatens our stability, our comfort zone.  I mean, who are we kidding? Who wants to be exposed to risk?

But sooner or later, environment will force us to change. It’s just a matter of time. Besides, adapting change is one of the secrets of a contented life. As a famous poet once wrote, which I can’t verify, “You can’t see the ocean without first losing sight of the island.”

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The fallen angel's smile

In the story, Japan experiences serious economic downturn, which is evident by “the 15% unemployment” and “800,000 students boycotted school and juvenile crime rates soared”. Japan’s government is forced to pass the Battle Royale Act, whereby a set of students are dropped in an island with one goal: to kill each other until only one is alive.

Character and emotional depth

One reason why watch Asian films, particularly in Japan, Korea and India, is that it digs an abyssal emotional depth that their western counterpart can’t match. Like most Asian films, “Battle Royale” still have purity and innocence, even though it ironically celebrates violence.

But if there is a slight modification for improvement it would be to build more relationships of the characters at the start of the film. Show the lovers. Show the best friends. That way when you see a friend killed, or a friend running after you, waving pistol in air, it would be more gripping and heart-breaking. Besides, it wouldn’t be hard to set up that drill since the chosen participants are a high school class and not some random street kids plucked from the pavement.

Will this film make you cry? No, but it’s really sad. A boy arrives in an abandon warehouse, where a girl hides. The boy calls out her name but the girl panics and she shoots him. The boy is dying only to find out that he comes to confess his long silent love. It’s sweet. But sad. There’s even a group of girls getting killed for a misguided argument. You can really see how insanity corrupts even the most kind and cute person.

“Battle Royale” is based on a 1999 Japanese novel penned by Koushun Takami. Apart from film, it also has a manga version. On the film release of “Battle Royale”, it has been controversial on its idea of killing and has been banned on several countries. Nonetheless, it’s still considered as one of the  best film made in the decade. More information about their wiki page.

Nanahara retrieving a photo after seeing his best friend killed

Did it achieve its goal?

The Battle Royale Act was approved to warn and discipline the youngsters of their misdeeds. Unfortunately, this is the part where the film fails to show. At the start of the film, we see the winner of the recent batch of Battle Royale. The winner looks horrid and twisted. But if cut to the outside world, we don’t really see much violence in what the film is trying to show, only a teacher getting stabbed for fun and a father on a suicide but all of you will agree that isn’t enough. “A Clockword Orange” scenes would have been good sample for a teenage outrage.

You would think that this ridiculous violent act of forcing teenagers to kill other teenagers to at least make some impact to the outside world, but you never really see so. The film lacks visual elements to support its narrative ones. This makes me think that the whole Battle Royale is just put up to provide a cunning entertainment with no grounds. Although that is not what the film is trying to achieve, but it has certainly implied so.

Kitano, the proctor of the program, perceived as the ultimate villain

Battle Royale and its influence

After seeing films like “Inglorious Basterds” and “Kick Ass”, both films who are indebted to “Battle Royale”, it’s sad to admit that the former is more visually superior than the later, and has better narrative. After watching Battle Royale, although it’s already gory, I thought it was still conservative in showing flesh and blood, comparing it to the other films. Just as “Hunger Games” will be more popular than “Battle Royale”. To reiterate the old adage: “It’s sad but true”.

Addendum: Battle Royale and The Hunger Games

The hit movie blockbuster “The Hunger Games” (blog review) has been gravely compared to Battle Royale. Most Battle Royale fans say that “the Hunger Games” is no good, not new and just a ripped off of the former because of the following recurrent subjects: evil and corrupt government, and teenage killing. I won’t deny the similarities but I won’t also say that Hunger Games ripped off Battle Royale.

Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games Trilogy, haven’t heard of “Battle Royale” until finishing her first book, and suffice to say she has a different sources of her inspiration. Besides, the idea of kids/teenagers killing each other for survival is not an eye opener.   We first heard it from a 1954 novel written by William Golding, “Lord of the Flies”, (blog review) at least as far as history can record. But that also can’t guarantee that it is the first story to tackle about cute little kids running around with spears. Who knows what stories have been told by our ancestors?  Not to mention “Battle Royale” has been rumored to pluck inspiration from “Lord of the Flies”. So originality is out of the context.

Original or copied, as long as the film looks fresh and/or entertaining, we couldn’t care less. Don’t you think?

IMdB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0266308/

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0p1t-dC7Ko&feature=related

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Jim McAllister sees one of his student after several years

Jim Macalister is a dedicated and renowned high school teacher, and couldn’t “imagine doing anything else”. Teaching is his life.  He is voted Teacher of the Year 3 times, as he humbly boasts as a “school record.” Due to several travesty leading to another and another, he will not be getting his fourth. On the bright side, the reason is also a school record.

Qualities
What’s different about this film is it compliments several main characters in the film. We get a first point of view narration from each of them, and these add up to the humor: “Dear God, thank you for all your blessings. You’ve given me so many things, like good health, nice parents, nice truck and what I’m told is a large penis.”  There’s also some ironical comedy, for instance, on one scene, a student says, “. . . do you think Tracy would be okay”? The teacher replies, “Don’t worry about Tracy. She’ll be fine.” Then we cut into Tracy crying in her room.

The film does produce good comedies, and even includes some obscenity, but it doesn’t undermine the message it’s trying give. And I must say, I liked how they revealed it. It’s not spoon-fed like the typical comedic drama flicks.

Tracy Flick

Paul Metzler

Tammy Metzler

The Election

Of course, the one that ruins Mr. Macalister is the school election. As days moved to the election, his life is getting out of hand, both his school and personal life. It all starts when Mr. Macalister encouraged Paul to run for Presidency against Tracy, the supposed to be “default” President since she is running unopposed beforehand. Then there is a conflict of interest when suddenly Paul’s sister, Tammy, runs for Presidency, with a platform of dismantling the student government, an idea that students praised so they wouldn’t be able to sit on “stupid assemblies” again.

Instead of one, there are three candidates: Tracy, the overachiever and the ambitious, Paul, the popular sports guy, and Tammy, the “real” high school student, a student that doesn’t really cares. Contrary to what you would expect, the candidates are not the one to ruin Mr. Macalister. It’s himself.

Ferris and Marlena (Spam paragraph)

Matthew Broderick plays Mr. Macalister and Reese Witherspoon plays Tracy. Looking back now, Broderick has grown older, though I can’t think of him as man without thinking of that carefree teenager on “Ferris Bueler’s Day Off”, a film that continuously breaks the fourth wall. Witherspoon then in this film looks so young, and it’s hard to believe that I watched her play Marlena on “Water for Elephants.”  Without a doubt, they have played their greatest performances in this film.

I just had to mention to their names. That’s what happens when you are emotionally attached.

Tracy driving really fast after doing something mischievous

Message

The message of the film are – I’m about to spoil it – multiple. What do you expect? We have multiple characters. The characters in the film are flawed, and at the end of the film, they remain flawed. These should make the moral easier to spot, but this is a different case. The multiple points of views have contrasting closure, giving you a hard time getting a universal moral. In the end, I ended up more having more than I expected.

Basically the film tells us that peace comes from forgiveness, success is not a measure of happiness, and high school love is too early for eternity, among others. But wait until you see how the film presents it.

 

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The Movie Poster

ONCE A poor farm girl in love with a poor farm boy, Buttercup is going to be the next queen of the kingdom, the last thing she could have done hadn’t she heard that her lover is dead from his sail. Little did she know that there is a plot to kidnap her, as part of a feud between the neighbouring kingdom. Least did she know that there is a masked swordsman out to save her life.

A comedy for a lifetime

If you’re just out for a bad day, or things haven’t turned out as you expect them to, this film will break the ice. It’s really funny, well-written tale. They all have this witty dialogue that will keep ringing in your head. (“Inconceivable!”) And as if this isn’t enough, the film has still a lot to offer. You get fencing, a tour in the Dark Black Forest which houses R.O.U.S’s (Rodents of Unusual Size), a six-finger man and what-not.

Although it’s a bit aged, released in 1981, it still makes good laugh. Partly because the film is set-up from medieval times and of its universal appeal. But mostly because of the dialogue. (Thanks to William Goldman!) In fact it’s really old that visual effects have not properly evolved. On a fencing scene, a man is continuously hit by his opponent, but the blood doesn’t come out until the next cut. I don’t know if it’s intentional or a fall short of technology but it contributes on how amusing the film is.

Special mention to characters

Apart from the hilarious lead characters, the extra characters shine as well. One is the Albino, who serves for the villain and is currently living in the Darkest Pit. He is really weird, and his looks are somewhat maniacal , uncombed hairs, masked freckles. He is supposed to be scary but I perceived him as comical. Now, why is that? Another is the clergyman, who speaks gibberish, and mocks the soon-to-be-wed couples. I would love to see their characters again someday.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Last thoughts

Today a lot of comedy films have been released, with their high-tech technology backed with sophisticated shots, so why would you spend a time on “Princess Bride”? One word: script. This film has reminded, again and again, that no matter how the elements of the filmed played out, story is king. Always has been, and always will be.

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Annie with Alvy at the park, mocking people who pass by

“ANNIE HALL” is not a film entirely about Annie. The film is about Alvy Singer, a man in his forties and after failing two marriages, he is already up for one.

What’s so great about Alvy Singer?

Not so much. He is not entirely handsome but, yes, you might find him attractive. He has a self-centered personality, and a bit talkative about psychoanalysis, which I find doubtful since he keeps talking about this theories that somehow just pulled random out of his sleeves. (All I know about psychoanalysis is that it came from Freud and all about Freud is that sex is an essential part of life.) He is not tall. He doesn’t have a great personality but, I won’t deny it, he is funny.  He is also too rational. One more thing, he is played by Woody Allen.

Annie Hall, on the other hand, is a beautiful, submissive woman and, like Allen, has humor. Allen meets her while playing tennis, and from then on they keep striking on wits. (more…)

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Skinny Chris Evans

“Captain America: The First Avenger” tells a story about a small, weak and feeble young man named Steve Rogers, who has a deep conviction to join the American army and help win the Nazi war, but because of his present condition he has been denied for a few times.  On  his recent attempt, luck finds him when he is spotted by the head military scientist and immediately admitted to the army, and is later transformed into a buff, strong and invincible young man. The journey starts there.

One thing that struck me at the start of the film was how did they shrunk Roger’s (Chris Evan) body. We saw resizing small into big, like that of “The Hulk”, but never the other way around. It turns out that the production team did a lot of effort CGI-ing Roger’s body, and it took them a while to shoot the scenes. Well, the first choice was to take a real skinny person for a double, take off its head and replace it with Evan’s. But the double’s performance didn’t lived up to Evan’s performance and so the production team opted for green screens. This also made Evan relieved, since he doesn’t want to share a performance. Rest assured, the film looks realistic and impressive.

Perhaps, this is the best hero I have ever seen, at least that I knew of. And like all other hero films, he has the girl that supports him and later he had her. I was surprised when they didn’t spared the film from visual effects. There was a big explosion encounter, and I thought it is the end of the film – since usually this is the way hero films end, with tons and tons of explosion – but I guess I was only halfway. That was exciting. I was looking forward for the next scenes.

What set this apart from the movie is perhaps the ending, which is hinted by the beginning of the film. It is a thrilling prologue on the upcoming Marvel film, “The Avengers”, which you might recognize as the team of Ironman, Spiderman, Fantastic Four, etc. Isn’t that great? A one big superhero film. Sounds like “The Incredibles”. Not actually. Why? Because this time the film already built a strong characterization and I’d like to see them explode!

 

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