my top 10 films of 2014...

Posted by Brad Schelden, January 15, 2015 12:04pm | Post a Comment
One of my absolutely favorite things to do is to watch films in theaters. I have been obsessed with movies since I can remember anything. I still remember seeing E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark and  Empire Strikes Back for the first time in the theater. I also remember seeing films like Trainspotting, Pulp Fiction, Safe, The Ice Storm, Se7en, Edward Scissorhands, Heathers & Dazed and Confused for the first time in the theater. These are the kind of movies that stay with me over the years. But I also remember that first experience of seeing them for the first time in the theater. I remember seeing Ice Storm on a second date. I remember seeing Trainspotting with some of my best friends the summer after I graduated from college. I love that feeling of getting out of a movie theater and getting excited at just the thought of watching the movie all over again. This list below is the movies that I enjoyed the most from 2014. These are the movies that will stay with me for the rest of my life. The movies I will go back to and rewatch again over the coming years.
I have been disappointed by so many films this year. I had high expectations for Birdman and Foxcatcher. But I was so disappointed by these films. I really didn't like much about either of them and have no plans to revisit them. I have also learned how different our reactions can be to certain movies. Some of my friends have loved Birdman and Foxcatcher. And they have hated Gone Girl and Interstellar. But this is just how films work. It is obvious that some films are just not meant for everyone and it is OK for us to have different reactions to these great movies of the year. It does not mean these movies are any less great. I have been trying to watch as many films as I could these last couple of months. But I still have not had time to watch everything I wanted. I still need to see The Imitation Game. But I really can't wait any longer to finish my top ten. So here it is. And remember this is just my top ten. It is not your top ten. I don't claim for these to be the ten best films of the year. They are simply my 10 favorite films of they year. Go see some movies and see what happens.

Richard Linklater

This was one of the movies I had really high expectations for this year. Probably my most anticipated film of the year. I love Richard Linklater and just loved the idea behind this movie. Taking a day in the life of a family over 12 years and using the same cast was brilliant. This movie was not just about the boy but also about the mom, the dad & the sister. It was about being a son or daughter and being a mother or father. It was about having a sibling you don't always get along with. It is about growing up being different or alt. I could have probably sat through another couple hours of this film. The moments were just small normal little moments but I related to everyone of them and felt like I experienced them with this family. I know this movie is on almost everyone's best of the year list. But it really does deserve the spot. The film is not perfect because no film is. But it comes pretty close. I think the reason we all connect with this movie is because it is just a normal life. It could be any of our normal lives. There is no fantastical element. There is no perfect moment that sums up this kids whole meaning and life. There are messy mistakes and funny little moments. It is these great little moments that make life worth living and it is great to see a movie that captures that.

Christopher Nolan

Sometimes your circumstances at the time you see a movie really have an effect on your reaction to that movie. I was just so ready for this move. So excited and so ready to be entertained. I saw this at the IMAX Chinese. I have been obsessed with the Chinese ever since I first went there. But this was my first time seeing a movie since they had redone the theater. I was blown away by the sound of this movie and everything about it. I totally fell hard for this movie and just gave into it. It may have manipulated my emotions a bit but I loved every minute of it. It was just a great movie to live in. It is easy to fault a movie for plot points or script problems. But I just fully immersed myself into this movie. I have always loved time travel and all things Sci-Fi. This film reminded me of movies like Contact and Sunshine. If you didn't like those movies you probably will not like this one. This film also has a really good score and a really good score always gets me every time. The cast was great and I cried for like 15 minutes after the movie was over. I seriously never stopped thinking about this movie after I saw it. I was never a big fan of Gravity. I liked it OK and thought it looked great but never understood why people freaked out about it so much. I just never connected to the story. I think this movie so much more deserves the praise that Gravity got.

David Fincher
I love a good 80s or 90s sexy thriller. They really just don't exist anymore. When is the last time you have seen a film like Fatal Attraction, Body Heat, Basic Instinct or Single White Female. A movie with a really strong female lead who you sort of love and hate at the same time. Movies have become so tame lately. At least the adult sort of dramas and thrillers that used to exist. I had not read this book and really knew nothing about the story other than that a girl goes gone at some point. David Fincher is another one of those directors that I just love. I am never not going to see a David Fincher film as soon as I can. I loved the overall mood of this film. Another movie I just loved living in. Rosamund Pike is fantastic. I actually ended up seeing this movie twice in the theater. The second time maybe did not have such a strong effect on me since I already knew the twists and turns. But I still enjoyed the ride. I really do hope more movies are made like this again. This really was the perfect part for Ben Affleck. And the supporting cast including Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Tyler Perry & Neil Patrick Harris were all fantastic.

Paul Thomas Anderson

This was another film that I just enjoyed living inside of. I really loved every moment of it and I think I just had a big smile on my face throughout the whole film. A great LA film and a great stoner 70s film. Reminded me of the things I loved about Pulp FIction. I don't always love Paul Thomas Anderson. But I do love Boogie Nights & There Will Be Blood. I did love things about The Master. But just couldn't get behind the story. And the world of The Master is not one that I would wish to rejoin anytime soon. Joaquin Phoenix is a genius and is so fantastic in this film. And who knew that Joanna Newsom could act! She also made a great narrator. The supporting cast is also fantastic. Martin Short and Josh Brolin are genius. I can't wait to rewatch their scenes. Benecio Del Toro, Jena Malone & Reese Witherspoon are all perfect. This is one of those movies where I was probably more confused at the end of the film than I was at the beginning. But it really does not matter. The movie is just so much fun to look at. It is just so much fun to be a part of this world.

Ava DuVernay

I am a big fan of a really good biopic. I can watch films like Coal Miner's Daugher, Selena And What's Love Got To Do With It over and over again. But I can also get behind the political or social justice biopic. I love JFK, Lincoln, Milk, Gandhi, Norma Rae or Malcom X. I really will watch any biopic. But the good ones are easy to sort out. Ava DuVernay has made a perfect little movie called Selma. Hopefully you will agree unless of course you think LBJ was a perfect president. I love this movie because it honestly shows you how presidents evolve. LBJ evolved on civil rights just as Obama did on gay rights. The acting in this movie is also fantastic. And it does some things right that The Butler failed at. The Butler just tried to do too much and seemed like an SNL skit of impersonations at times. But this movie just tells the story without trying too hard to make everyone look exactly like the characters they are playing. The movie is shot beautifully and it just great storytelling. This just happens to be one of the darker points in our history that unfortunately has not changed near as much as it should have. I really look forward to what Ava DuVernay has for us next. Everyone should really see this movie not just because of what it is about but because of how well the story is told.

James Gunn
It is so very exciting to go into a movie like this you know nothing about. So many of these superhero type movies are about the characters you are already so familiar with .They are remakes of better movies you have already seen in the 80s or 90s. This was not the case with Guardians of the Galaxy. I am already a huge Chris Pratt because of Parks & Recreation. So I was also just excited for him. Excited that they believed he could somehow carry this movie having never done something like this before. The movie is just plain fantastic. And we all came away from it loving Chris Pratt even more and loving a tree named Groot. I am happy that a movie this big and popular can also be this good and enjoyable. I can't wait to jump back into this movie over the coming years. If you don't like superhero movies then you probably won't love this movie. But for those of us that do this is a great one to watch.

Xavier Dolan

This is another one of those movies that will stay with me forever. This is sort of like the French Canadian version of Boyhood. Another single mom raising a teenager. However this movie is a little more messy and tragic. But just as good. This movie totally got to me and I felt connected to all the characters. Anne Dorval was amazing as the mother. Atoine-Olivier Pilon was fantastic as the teenager. Suzanne Clement was also great as the neighbor. I have never really seen anything exactly like this movie. It was hilarious and tragic all at the same time. I also love a movie that connects so deeply with its soundtrack.  Each song had its proper place and connected perfectly with the scene. It made each scene a sort of perfect little segment which also reminded me of Boyhood. I would have never thought I would connect so deeply with a Celine Dion song! It is also very exciting to discover a new favorite director like Xavier Dolan. I am still catching up with his previous films and seriously can't wait to see what he does next. Exciting to see yet another movie this year with a great portrayal of the tumultuous and fantastic relationship between a mother and a son.

Jennifer Kent
I love a really good horror movie. I have been a fan of them since I can remember first seeing Psycho, The Exorcist or Cujo on TV when I was little. It just feels thrilling to be scared I guess. Sort of like riding on a roller coaster. You fear for your life during it but you know it will be over soon enough. This movie is more of just a supernatural family drama than your typical horror movie. But is is better than almost every horror movie I have seen lately. It is essentially a scary children's book come to life. Sort of like Australia's version of We Need To Talk About Kevin. You sort of side with the mother at times in this movie.  But the kid in this movie is fantastic. He is great at being adorable and incredibly annoying at the same time. The mother is also great. Her depression is overwhelming and her child seems to only make it worse. But somehow she gets through it. A great little surprise of a movie this year. I really had no idea what I was going to be watching when I went to see it at the Cinefamily a couple of months ago. So it was great to be surprised and really enjoy this movie. You can't get rid of The Babadook!

Tim Burton
Tim Burton has was one of my favorite directors in the 80s and 90s. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Ed Wood and Mars Attacks! are some of my absolute favorites. He took a very wrong turn with Planet of the Apes. But I thought he had come back to me with Big Fish which I really liked a lot. But then the horrible Johnny Depp qaudrilogy began with Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. So i was hesitant going into this movie. But I loved Keane and I loved Amy Adams so I thought it just might work. I was hoping he this movie would be more like Big Fish. Amy Adams if just plain great in this movie. And the art direction and cinematography is great. I lived in San Francisco for many years and love it so much. So I loved seeing San Francisco portrayed in the 50s and 60s. It was just fun to see the city at a time before I lived ther. And this movie also made me want to move to Hawaii. This movie was just all sorts of adorable as a movie about Keane should be. Just a cute and fun movie about a crazy little story. Christoph Waltz is often too Waltzy but still great.

Adam Wingard
This tenth spot on my list was hard to narrow down. I loved a lot of other movies this year. I loved Nightcrawler & The Raid 2. I loved Obvious Child & The Skeleton Twins. But somehow I just kept coming back to The Guest. This movie is all sorts of ridiculous. But I loved every minute of it. The style of this movie is fantastic. But it really is all about this soundtrack for me. How could I not love a movie with three songs by Clan of Xymox. I have loved this band since forever and don't think I have ever heard their songs in a movie before. There are also songs by D.A.F., Front 242, Love & Rockets, Sisters of Mercy, Annie & Stevie B.! This movie is of course not for everyone and you should not take it too seriously. But it is a great stylized action film. It is super dark and gruesome. Makes me nostalgic for all the great and ridiculous action movies I grew up on from the 80s and 90s. Dan Stevens is fantastic in this movie and it really does not hurt that he looks amazing. Hardly recognizable as Matthew from Downton Abbey. I really do love movies like this. The kind of movie that makes it on best of the year and worst of the year lists. I found this movie so much more entertaining than Birdman or Foxcatcher. The majority of viewers will not agree with me I am sure.

My Promiscuous Cochlea: Everyone My Ear Took Home in 2014

Posted by Mark Beaver, January 8, 2015 05:33pm | Post a Comment

Vinyl isn't cheap, nor is is tawdry, so the collecting of it has become much more a matter of discernment than it used to be.

The following is a list, alphabetical, perchance by merit, of the vinyl (new titles and re-issues) that made the cut in 2014. It doesn't presume to be a "Best Of," as I am very aware of the peculiarities of my particular set of listening apparatuses. It is a list of the vinyl that my scattershot attention locked on to, brought home and allowed to bed down in the limited space that I allot for records in my home.

Love (Sacred Bones)

Folky, trippy, with that under-water production we've heard from the likes of KURT VILE, except where VILE is stoned and hanging with his buddies, AMEN DUNES' Damon McMahon is lost in a vast open space, deep in the mushroom and calling "Marco Polo" to the night sky. Stark and brittle while somehow managing to remain lush. I don't think I listened to any album of 2014 as often as I've listened to this.


Yeti (Purple Pyramid Records)

Do we need another re-issue of one of the landmark achievements, one of the single-most definitive artifacts of Krautrock? Well, sure. And if, just if, it were to be re-issued with a lenticular cover and deep blue vinyl that sounds, well, just terrific. Hells yes! The most expensive piece I laid out for this year (#375 of a limited edition of only 500!), but absolutely worth it!


Syro (Warp)

What is there to be said? It's been a long wait for another AT release and it was well worth it. Alternately playful, serious, clubby, experimental. Elements of rave culture snuggling shoulder-to-shoulder with 21st Century composition. Fun for thinkers.


Heartleap (DiCristina)

The crush of the modern world requires Vashti Bunyan. Her music is salve, balsam, emollient.  She skirts the edges of twee but the weight of her sheer, simple musicality pinions her into the real. Repeated listenings have locked Heartleap in as my favorite of her releases to date, and, sadly if her claims are true, the last.


To Beat Or Not To Beat (Editions Mego)

There's very little to be found regarding the name(s) behind this mysterious Russian(?) electronica imprint. The music is playful and spooky in the way that only experimentalists with a toe on the dance floor seem able to do. "eena ferroix" is my stand-out track, a slow build like a soundtrack to a horror movie in which Kraftwerk come back as zombies and shuffle a path of destruction through Algiers. Side D features a Ryuichi Sakamoto remix of it, as well.


La Isla Bonita (Polyvinyl)

So many things going on here: The base layer is solid pop rock with far-flung polyrhythmic tendencies. It's weird, it's sweet, it's clunky and angular. I'm often reminded of pre-Eno Talking Heads, but only in brief moments, then it's buried in Henry Kaiser/Fred Frith-ish guitar-jabbing and sparring. I dig it. "Baseball is cancelled/E.T. is running late."


Gymnosphere: Song Of The Rose (Numero Group)

Numero Group was not to be outdone by last year's Light In The Attic overview of the history of New Age music, I AM THE CENTER.  Here they re-issue a near-forgotten 1976 treatise of piano-reverb magic. For when you need to just stop what'cher doing.



An Evolutionary Music (Original Recordings: 1972-1979) (ReRVNG)

Clearly there's a hippy buried deep within me that is dying to be recognized. More tripped out experiments in piano, modulators, percussion and voice that we should all have known about all along. RVNG is my vote for label of the year, as there are 2 more re-issues by them in the list below.


KINK Under Destruction (Macro Records)

Not real sure what to make of the fact that two of the few Electronica records I brought home this year were of Russian origin besides the fact that something strange and awesome is going on over there. Not as dark as the COH title listed above, but rather much more playful and silly and even tribal. Made me giggle.


K. LEIMER A Period Of Review (ReRVNG)

Again on stellar re-issue label, RVNG, recordings by Kerry Leimer compiled from the years 1975-1983. Exotica flavors much of the proceedings, as does a particular New Wave quality. Some tracks seem cousins to Jon Hassel's Dream Theory In Malaya, while others feel ready to open for Flock Of Seagulls. 


Anthology Of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1: Nommos/Visiting (ReRVNG)

The third item I collected from the RVNG label. Re-issues of two albums that were intended to be issued together in 1981, but were issued a year apart due to numerous obstacles. Leon was a producer for Suicide, Blondie and Richard Hell, the only obvious alignment being with Suicide. Similarly repetitive electronic patterns mark these albums, interspersed with modulating meditations and Japonesque rhumbas.


Mess (Mute)

How about a little "truth in advertising." The LIARS have always been a mess, but here they admit it. Their longevity seems poised on one driving principle, "do not let them guess what's coming next." The closest they've been to the dance floor yet ("Dress Walker"), but at the same time, the closest they've been to the dark ambient disturbance of psycho-sexual warriors like Current 93 or Coil ("Left Speaker Blown"). I love that I don't know what they're thinking.


Talk To The Sea (Music From Memory)

Take a pop song and then start pulling pieces away. Make it less and less and less. Install wide open landscapes between all of the few remaining parts. If you've loved this process from the likes of Talk Talk and Bark Psychosis, you're gonna love what Gigi Masin's doing.


This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About (Glacial Pace Recordings)

The original 1996 LP remains my favorite and so glad Glacial Pace made it possible for me to have a shiny new, slightly expanded copy. Hey, thanks!


Golden Skies (Brainfeeder)

So I heard this album, bought this album, dug this album deeply LONG before I ever read anything about them. I guess this guy, Charles Dickerson, is associated with Flying Lotus and Thundercat, which caught me by surprise, as I thought it HAD to be somebody associated with Fuck Buttons. Really great, intricate, open-horizoned electronica. Lots of forward drive and lots of things to see and do while you're driving there.


MARISSA NADLER July (Sacred Bones)

As always, here on her 8th album in 10 years, Marissa Nadler is witchy and trippy and adept at finding ways to pry up the lid on the beautiful things that squirm around under love and time and lonely locations. 


Gamel (Thrill Jockey)

As per the title, OOIOO have pulled their inspiration from Indonesian gamelan music, incorporating the rhythmic gongwork into an angular, artrock document that makes more and more and more and more and more sense the more you listen. A conceit that I was unsure of became logical, then obvious, then essential. Could everyone please add gamelan to whatever their doing? Now, please.


Works (Naxos)

Naxos has started pressing vinyl?! You could have pushed me over with a feather, but then I bought this gorgeous item and it burned my face off, instead! Penderecki's the honey-badger of 20th Century composition; he doesn't give a s$%& and he will scare the behoozits outta you...but in a beautiful way.


Didn't It Rain expanded re-issue (Secretly Canadian)

It feels strange for their to be an "expanded" issue of what was one of the late Jason Molina's most contracted and sparse albums. So, that means there's a lot more of as little as possible. The last album under his moniker SONGS:OHIA before he would ever-so-slightly expand his vision into MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO., Didn't It Rain is a document, a complicated heart's soulprint direct-to-wax.


Faith In Strangers (Modern Love)

The first track from Stott's newest is akin to 6 minutes of foghorn, digitally created, of course. The album slowly lifts off the water from there. Faith In Strangers is the first Stott release that I've connected with, mostly due to the sheer unusualness of being completely captivating while having next to nothing taking place. Not really ambient, as there are beats, but he's a DJ that won't lay one down until you're looking at something else. He's acting the shadow person, performing in the periphery of your vision.


Typical System (Iron Lung)

Saw these guys open for THEE OH SEES in 2011 at Alex's Bar in Long Beach (IMHO, one of the area's best venues), and they were awesome. The hooks and vocal detachment of Joy Division delivered with raw punk energy over SUICIDE-al beats. Their 2012 debut, Henge Beat was killer, and Typical System ups the ante. The perfect balance of New Wave ethos and Punk attack.


(aka TR/ST and TRST) Joyland (Arts & Crafts)

Here are some of the words reviewers used in their luke warm reception of TRUST's sophomore effort: "slick," "repulsive," "disturbing," "lewd" and "numbing." Add all those up along with the album being described as, "a dance record for the club underneath the club," and I'm hooked. 


Nikki Nack (4AD)

Forget all the hyped, songwriter-fed, jetset-producer-fixed R&B that is force fed to you during every network halftime event. There's a new soul sound as angular as the Buzzcocks, as nutty as Ivor Cutler and as smart and confounding as your last Statistics final. Get smart!


WOVENHAND Refractory Obdurate (Deathwish)

Let's imagine that IF the GUN CLUB's Jeffrey Lee Pierce had wrested control of SOUTHERN DEATH CULT away from Ian Astbury, turned his life over to the Lord Jesus by way of revelation and slipped down into the catacombs to dust off all the Apocryphal texts that he could (but probably shouldn't) get his hands on, then we might be approaching the sound of David Eugene Edwards' WOVENHAND. This is a revival tent I will enter.


Extra Painful! (Matador)

Yo La Tengo's songs are a lot like planets: They're out there spinning around us and some of them are warm, some are cold, some of them are lush or stark, and some of them we're not sure we can even say are planets, maybe moons or just satellites. But when they align, you can really feel the pull. Their 1993 release Painful! was one of the band's true harmonic convergences, a perfect flow of dream-pop, jangle and full-on jam. Extra Painful! adds another disc's worth of live and demo proof that it wasn't a studio-manufactured fluke.


Savage Rhythm (Stag-O-Lee)

There is hope. A while ago I watched GOLDDIGGERS OF 1933 on DVD. I figured I might have to groan through some real cornball antics, but what struck me was just how razor-sharp the comedy of those early talkies truly was. Similarly, record bins all over every town in America, in every Goodwill and St. Vincent De Paul thrift store, in every Salvation Army and swap meet are full of the likes of Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Barnet, Bob Crosby and Artie Shaw. You see them there marked 50 cents and figure they're just corny and square and stale. This beautifully packaged and brilliantly curated set proves we're wrong about that.

Amoeba Hollywood's Top 100 Sellers of 2014

Posted by Billy Gil, January 6, 2015 02:42pm | Post a Comment

We've tallied up our top sellers for the year at Amoeba Hollywood and, including CDs, vinyl and downloads. Take a look below at what Amoeba shoppers picked up in 2014.

1. Arctic Monkeys - AM

Arctic Monkeys megahit fifth LP from 2013 continued selling right into 2014 on the strength of hits like "Snap Out of It."








2. Jack White - Lazaretto

Jack White's experimentally bluesy second album helped his legion of fans grow larger by the day.








3. Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence

With her great looks, saucy image and densely orchestrated 007 balladry, Lana Del Rey got even bigger and better in 2014.








4. Beck Morning Phase

Beck returned after a six-year hiatus with a contemplative set of mood pieces.







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2014 Rap Up with Mad Skillz and Timothy DeLaGhetto

Posted by Billyjam, December 31, 2014 06:53pm | Post a Comment

Call it a comeback, and a most welcome too. Skilled emcee Mad Skillz is back after hanging up the mic two years ago for his wonderful and anticipated annual Rap Up raps that he had been diligently delivering every year-end since late December 2002.  Perhaps it was due to public pressure from those who missed his always on point "Rap Up" series in which he would neatly summarizes the news events from hip-hop and sports, to politics, and beyond. Or perhaps it was that Skillz was feeling the heat from those who had stepped into his shoes such as DeStorm who did one the past couple of years (but not this year so far) or NorCal's Timothy DeLaGhetto (aka curator of the popular YouTube Channel Traphic Musik) who did a killer one this year (uploaded four days ago) out of reverence to Mad Skillz. Both Skillz and Timothy DeLaGhetto's accurate summaries of the year are below and both are well worth listening to. With many overlapping topics between the two of them they pretty much cover all the main events in current affairs, national and world news, and pop culture with naturally several rap related items touched upon.  Between the two, of which Skillz is the better (in fact his best ever!), they cover everything from Isis to the Ice Bucket Challenge, Bill Cosby to Ebola, the World Cup to Seattle winning the SuperBowl, Pharrell's hat to Dr. Dre's headphones making himi a billion bucks, weed legalization to the rise of the protest movement against police brutality with references to Mike Brown and Eric Garner and "I Can't Breathe," the Suge shooting to Kim and Kanye's antics, and the death of Robin Williams to Solange Knowles elevator outburst. Even the recent North Korea related SONY hacking got included. Check both 2014 Rap Ups out for the ultimate summation of the year we just had. Wishing you a Happy New Year and prosperous 'n healthy 2015! (Thanks to Jorge Fabel Pabon for use of his wonderful 2015 graphic above).

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20 Great Vinyl Reissues From 2014

Posted by Billy Gil, December 31, 2014 03:44pm | Post a Comment

Our Best Of 2014 extravaganza ain’t quite over yet. Here’s a list of 20 excellent records that were reissued on vinyl this year. (Out of stock? Add the item to your wishlist and we’ll notify you when we have it in.)

Erykah Badu - Mama’s Gun

Erykah Badu’s second album is a neo-soul touchstone that represents her transition from her earlier work to her wilder 2000’s output. Features the hit “Bag Lady.”








The BeatlesThe White Album

The mother of all rock bands/albums. The Beatles’ albums (all of which are pretty much essential) were reissued on vinyl this year. You gotta own this one on mono vinyl, the way it’s meant to be heard.








Belle & Sebastian If You’re Feeling Sinister

I wrote an essay about how important this album was for me; read it here. Also check out the twee band’s reissues of The Boy With the Arab Strap, Push Barman to Open Old Wounds, The Third Eye Centre, Tigermilk, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant, The Life Pursuit, The BBC Sessions, Write About Love and Dear Catastrophe Waitress.   

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