Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

I Feel Bad About My Neck

Written by: Nora Ephron

Published: 2006

Synopsis: With her disarming, intimate, completely accessible voice, and dry sense of humor, Nora Ephron shares with us her ups and downs in "I Feel Bad About My Neck, " a candid, hilarious look at women who are getting older and dealing with the tribulations of maintenance, menopause, empty nests, and life itself.

Ephron chronicles her life as an obsessed cook, passionate city dweller, and hapless parent. She recounts her anything-but-glamorous days as a White House intern during the JFK years ("I am probably the only young woman who ever worked in the Kennedy White House that the President did not make a pass at") and shares how she fell in and out of love with Bill Clinton--from a distance, of course. But mostly she speaks frankly and uproariously about life as a woman of a certain age.

Utterly courageous, wickedly funny, and unexpectedly moving in its truth telling, "I Feel Bad About My Neck" is a book of wisdom, advice, and laugh-out-loud moments, a scrumptious, irresistible treat.
“…the amount of maintenance involving hair is genuinely overwhelming. Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death.”

I grew up primarily watching three types of movies, Disney, sports (thanks dad) and romantic-comedies (which only made dad double down on the sports films). I have a bucket load of memories of me sitting on the couch with my mum watching Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. I doubt I really understood the majority of the films (the "I'll have what she's having" scene definitely went flying over my head) but I still loved them. I watch them now and they make me weep at what passes for romantic comedies now, clumsy women who trip over their feet and men who do little more than smile in their direction to deserve their adoration. We are in desperate need of a revival in smart and funny romantic comedies.  I Feel Bad About My Neck only further establishes that fact - maybe we could get some of the superhero films to funnel money into some worthy projects? Oooooh, maybe a superhero rom-com in the vein of Nora Ephron? Yes please, I'll take 5.

I Feel Bad About My Neck hasn't really got anything to do with romantic comedies, unless you count the story about her love affair with a rent controlled apartment in New York or the one about falling out of love with Bill Clinton. But it's funny and sharp and self-deprecating and god, so New York. It has the same essence of all of those brilliant romantic comedies in the 1980-90s. Or maybe I just tie Nora Ephron so tightly to the romantic comedies she wrote and directed that I can't help but see that same essence here. *shrugs* This is so not important, MOVING ON.

This book is a wonderful collection of short stories that centre around Nora Ephron becoming older. There are stories about dealing with an empty house after 20 years of raising noisy children. There are stories about the death of her best friend and realisation of her own mortality. There are stories about the endless stream of make up aimed at women over 40 and the vanity that is just as much a part of a woman's life at 50 as it is at 25. The stories range from funny and silly to serious and sombre, but they're all very warm and personal glimpses into her life. Speaking of, I saw a few reviews on Goodreads that really pissed me off which I mentioned on Twitter during the minithon. They were scoring the book low and criticising Nora Ephron for writing about handbags and make up instead of abortions and human trafficking. First, Nora Ephron was under no obligation to write about "serious" feminist issues just because she's a well known feminist. This isn't Bad Feminist or PRO: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, it isn't being marketed as a book of critical thinking and feminist theory. And second, fuck right off with your ranking of important issues. Obviously human trafficking is horrific and has traumatic implications for the people involved, but that doesn't mean discount all of the other squicky things done against women, even if it's something as simple as women feeling badgered by beauty companies about needing their products to remain attainable and youthful. And unlike the countless books and articles and short stories that look at the harmful influence of images on young women and children, it is rare to come across anyone writing about how it effects older women. Feminism isn't only for the young, nor is it only for the life and death issues.

What a mess of a review, I should probably start over, but who has time for that? NOT I. So read it. Read it in spite of it not covering Very Serious Feminist Issues and dealing with silly and frivolous topics like ageing and price gouging in real estate and the expectations children, spouses, family and strangers have. Or read it FOR spite, because nothing would make me happier than people ignoring the complaints of those sour puss reviewers. Read it because it might not be When Harry Met Sally but the wonderful woman who wrote that also wrote these stories. Or at the very least read it because Nora Ephron emphatically understands how important reading books is to people like us.
“There is something called the rapture of the deep, and it refers to what happens when a deep-sea diver spends too much time at the bottom of the ocean and can't tell which way is up. When he surfaces, he's liable to have a condition called the bends, where the body can't adapt to the oxygen levels in the atmosphere. All of this happens to me when I surface from a great book.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pages to Panels: New Comics to Jump Straight Into

One of the biggest hurdles I had to get past in comics was working out where to start. I think that's probably why I began with one off graphic novels like Maus (shhh, I got volume 1+2 in a single volume so it counts) and From Hell. But one of the things I love about comics is how sprawling the narratives are. They don't have to wrap everything up in 300 pages or limit themselves to a trilogy. They can expand for years, even decades, and restart when things are starting to get stale. While the impatient part of me loves reading comic series which have wrapped up already so I can just read straight through, I think my love of getting into a series early trumps the joy of spending an entire weekend reading through volumes 1-10 of Transmetropolitan. Following along on that unfolding adventure is one of the true joys of comics. Waiting for the next issue and then devouring it in a single sitting brings back memories of the Harry Potter releases when I was younger, and anything that reminds me of that kind of joy and excitement is obviously getting a huge thumbs up from me.

You can definitely still get this joy if you jump into an established (but still ongoing) story, but I thought I'd share some of my recent first issue finds that are shaping up to be pretty excellent arcs that'll be sure to captivate. 

Bitch Planet (Kelly-Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro) came out a week ago and damn, do I love it. It's essentially a 1970s exploitation film infused with a brand of feminism you'd be unlikely to find anywhere near one of those films. The titular Bitch Planet is where the disobedient (and outright criminal) women are sent. It's essentially an outer space Australia (minus the men), complete with people being sent for downright dog shit reasons except instead of it being poor people being villainised for stealing a loaf of bread it's women being villainised for getting in the way of their husband's affair. Well, they aren't all quite so innocent but the-whole-planet- for-disobedient-women is shady as hell. As DeConnick says of the 5 female protagonists:
there are five women, all ridiculous and real, and all very different. One shouldn’t be there. The other four are unrepentant and guilty as Hell.”
 I really enjoyed this first issue. It's about as subtle as a punch to the face and it's insanely campy but SO GOOD. But if you don't think a neon pink holographic depiction of the Madonna-whore complex used as a confession program in a women's prison is the dopest shit around then this is not the comic for you.

But don't just take my word for it: AV Club review

Black Market (Frank Barbiere and Victor Santos) is technically up to its fourth issue, but that's still pretty close to getting in at the ground floor. It's ground floor adjacent, it's basically the mezzanine floor. Black Market is what I'd describe as superhero adjacent. It's not really in the same genre as Batman or The Avengers but it is indelibly tied to it. The story comes down to a moral quandary. What if the key to curing every known disease on Earth lay in the DNA of superheroes? If superheroes are here to help, isn't this the ultimate sacrifice and way for them to help? Down on his luck with an ailing wife, Brainiac Ray Willis finds himself caught up in the mess of harvesting (or trying to at least) superhero blood with his scummy brother Denny. Black Market manages to traverse between the well known tropes of the superhero comic genre right side up and completely flipped on their head. It's the exact right mix of science and superhero, fantasy and grim reality. A brilliant little series so far.

But don't just take my word for it: Comic Vine review

Chances are, even if you've never touched a comic in your life, you've heard about ODY-C (Matt Fraction and Christian Ward). It's the ambitious and incredibly creative gender-swapped, futuristic sci-fi adaptation of Homer's The Odyssey. I don't even know what to write here because, come on, if gender-swapped outer space Odyssey doesn't sell it to you nothing will. No one could ever accuse Matt Fraction of coasting. Whether he's writing for Marvel or tackling epic poems, you know he's going to push the envelope. I don't think you need to have read The Odyssey to truly enjoy this comic, but like any adaptation a great deal of the enjoyment (for me anyway) is knowing how the new writer tackles the original story's themes, characters and style. The art is also something else. That cover above doesn't even begin to do justice to the epicness of the art within. It really plays with traditional comic panels and forms, so I'm not sure if that would make it harder or easier to read for a comic newbie. But read it regardless.

But don't just take my word for it: IGN review

Grant Morrison's Multiversity is an interesting addition to this post. Technically there is more than one issue out, but they're all technically first issues. Multiversity is, essentially, a series of one shots (single issues) that take place within the 52 alternative universes set up in the mid-2000s series 52. These may only be one-shots now, but it has been pretty heavily signposted that they may be expanded into full-run series. It's an interesting and eclectic mix of storytelling. Each issue, while interrelated, presents a world very different to the issue before it, told in a very different way. I'd imagine people will definitely gravitate towards particular one-shots and away from others - depending on the characters, genre and style. It's also one of the few comic series that doesn't include a single straight, white male protagonist. Full warning though, Grant Morrison is weird. I love his writing and his comics are some of my favourites, but I often feel like things are flying way over my head when I read him. But I personally kind of like that. I like that feeling that I could revisit a comic of his in 10 years and the Kayleigh then will respond to it very differently to the Kayleigh now. But it's also something that will turn some people off completely. So tread carefully with this one if you haven't read Morrison before, maybe keep an eye out for Comixology sales or borrow a copy from a friend.

But don't just take my word for it: Pop Matter's Pax Americana Multiversity review

Read my previous Pages to Panels posts: 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

(audio)book review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please

Written and read by: Amy Poehler

Published: 2014

Synopsis: In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book is full of words to live by


“I have the Angelina Jolie of vaginas.”

I have found my book soul mate.

Am I surprised that I loved Yes Please? No. Of course I loved it. It's Amy FREAKING Poehler. I was guaranteed to enjoy the crap out of this book. But I am surprised that I loved it this much. When I read Tina Fey's Bossypants I had a ball. I laughed a lot and I gained a huge appreciation for her creativity, work ethic and feminist views. But once I finished it and wrote a gushing review that was kind of it. I'd recommend it to friends who liked 30 Rock and I'd occasionally reblog tumblr posts of quotes from it but it isn't like it shook the foundation of my world y'know? But I can't imagine that I'm going to pop Yes Please aside when I finish this review. It's the kind of book I'll keep around so that I can flip to those particular parts that resonated the most when I need a pick me up or a laugh. I've already replayed chapters to Tom so he can understand why I was cackling to myself in the bedroom for 20 minutes.

One of the reasons I love this book is how much effort was put into it. Audiobook memoirs are always better when read by the writer, they take on a much more intimate feel than I think you'd ever get from reading the physical copy. But Amy Poehler's audiobook is insane. It's an actual production. Aside from her reading and yelling and laughing a lot (her laugh is so infectious), she has Patrick Stewart reading haikus and Kathleen Turner reading the chapter titles and narrating the more serious moments. Her parents come by to offer their lists of important things to do as parents. Carrol Burnett drops by to reiterate that Poehler isn't exaggerating about their first meeting. Michael Shur annotates her chapter on Parks and Recreation, adding little nuggets of gold about one of my favourite comedy shows. The final chapter is read live to an audience, and their laughs and applause are the perfect button to the 7 hour journey Poehler leads. It's unlike any audiobook I've listened to. It's like a variety show for your ears.

Narratively, this book is very similar to Bossypants. But as friends who met in their early 20s and have travelled a very similar career path that isn't really surprising. Poehler also talks about growing up and her first forays into improv and "making it" as an actor and then juggling marriage and having babies with this hectic career, and while they approach these subjects from two very personal perspectives (and hey, it's not like there aren't eleventy billion memoirs about dudes doing the exact same thing) this is probably the main reason I would recommend the audio over the physical book. I'm sure it reads well enough as a physical book, but as a book that stands out from the crowd, I think you need the variety show element that the audio introduces. And while I would never want to say a negative word about my book soul mate, there are some rough chapter transitions and clunky sections every once and awhile. I didn't find them to be glaring in the audiobook, but they might have bugged me if I were actually reading them on a physical page. There are also moments that I think perhaps translate better to audiobook, although without reading the physical copy I'm not even sure exactly how they appear in the physical copy. For instance, during the Parks and Rec chapter there is a moment where she addresses each of her co-stars and then mentions a favourite moment or scene with them in the show. In the audiobook this is a really sweet and funny section where she conveys not only her love of the show but  for each of her co-workers. I don't know how well this would read on the page though. Maybe it'd be fine, but maybe it'd feel a little disjointed or filler-ish.

All that said though, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how well Poehler could write. I knew the comedy elements of the book would be fantastic, as would the bursts of outrage or excitement, but there were also some beautifully crafted moments in the book that were really touching. Any time she mentioned her kids her writing softened and glowed. You could tell the moments in her life that have had the biggest impact because the writing was sharper, like she'd been replaying and  rewriting the moment in her head ever since it happened. She's brutally honest about moments in her life that can't have been easy to talk about, like her divorce for instance, but she also tempers those moments by including a section devoted to coming up with self help books for divorcees that are more realistic and, of course, hilarious. This isn't a typical memoir. It reflects Poehler's improv origins, full of short, sharp and eclectic moments. And like improv some of it works while some of it falls short. But the entire package, the entire 7 hour variety show/improv performance is bursting with creativity and heart and far more hits than misses.

Amy Poehler is a really special lady. I'd love to say that I see myself reflected in these pages but when it comes to the personalities of famous funny ladies I probably fall closer to Tina Fey. But Amy Poehler is the kind of girl I would want by my side. There's that Groucho Marx saying that "When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.” Amy Poehler is definitely the best friend saying "damn that was fun" but she'd also probably be the reason you're in there, maybe because she picked a fight with a guy in the airport who told her she shouldn't be in first class because she talked too much.
“All of my lower-middle-class Boston issues rose to the surface. I don’t like it when bratty, privileged old white guys speak to me like I am their mouthy niece. I got that amazing feeling you get when you know you are going to lose it in the best, most self-righteous way. I just leaned back and yelled, “FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOU.” Then I chased him as he tried to get away from me.”
She's a firecracker, hilarious and tiny with a mouth like a sailor and definitely the person you want in your corner. She's put together one hell of a book, one that is an absolute must read (or must listen. DEFINITELY a must listen) for anyone who fancies themselves an Amy Poehler fan (which honestly, is anyone who has ever heard of her).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Book Review: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Broken Monsters

Written by: Lauren Beukes

Published in: 2014

Synopsis: Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies, but this one is unique even by Detroit's standards: half-boy, half-deer, somehow fused. The cops nickname him "Bambi," but as stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?


“Shakespeare would have it wrong these days. It's not the world that's the stage - it's social media, where you're trying to put on a show. The rest of your life is rehearsals, prepping in the wings to be fabulous online.”

This is going to be a tricky book to review. Like Gone Girl or any mystery book ever, it's best to go into this one knowing the bare minimum. So I'm going to be tip toeing around a lot here, but bottom line, you should probably read this book.

Talking broad picture, the book is about the hunt for a serial killer in Detroit. The book is told from multiple perspectives, the lead detective Detective Versado, her theatre-loving daughter Layla, writer/douchebag extraordinaire Jonno, TK the homeless guy with a heart of gold and struggling artist Clayton. Detective Versado gets the lion share of the narrative, but the others weave in to add new perspectives and depth and transform this from your typical whodunnit. Talking a little more specifically though, it's not really about a serial killer at all. Well. That's not entirely accurate. The serial killer is critical to the narrative and it is a compelling story in its own right, but Beukes uses the serial killer to build a much stronger story of life in today's world of technology and the ramifications of all of these digital versions of ourselves.

The characters may seem a little cookie cutter-ish from my quick summary above, and on the surface they are. But even for the smaller characters like TK, backstory is woven in to give them their motivations, and the greatest motivation for all of them is the city they live in. I know it's cliché to say that the setting is a character in the book, but Detroit couldn't have been exchanged for just any other city. These characters are pushed beyond their limits by the city they live in. Detective Versado is underpaid and overworked, a female struggling to find footing in a career dominated by men, in a city where crime has become a fact of life. TK's struggled his whole life because of a choice made in his adolescence, and opportunities aren't exactly plentiful for a black ex-con who lives on the street. Jonno crashed and burned in New York and is now dependant on Detroit to lift him from the wreckage. Detroit shaped their pasts and motivates their futures. It is this great big shadow that lingers over everyone's lives and decisions and choices. It's oppressive and dangerous. We see the families leaving home because their houses are being foreclosed on, we walk among the ruins of the factories that were abandoned when the town went bankrupt and we watch as people sleep in their cars in a Walmart carpark because the shelters are full. We get stats about the crime rate and discussions on Renisha McBride. But amongst all of this we also see a burgeoning art scene, gorgeous art deco architecture, secret beaches and a committed community. While the novel never ventures into uplifting territory, it does a solid job of showing us that life does continue even when everything seems lost. People adapt to their environments. Unfortunately, while some people adapt for the better creating something from nothing, for some people this adaptation take on a darker role.

While this book is a crime and mystery novel first and foremost, it also has some really creepy scenes. I wouldn't go so far as to say it crosses into horror, but it definitely flirts on the border. Again, it's better to go in knowing very little. So maybe just trust me when I say that I think this novel is a real gem and worth discovering for yourself.

Monday, December 1, 2014

November in Review

It's December. You know what that means!


What I Read:

*Looking for Alaska by John Green (my review)
*An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield (my review)
*Suicide Squad: Kicked in the Teeth (V1) by Adam Glass, Ryan Benjamin (my review)
*Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
*The Embassy of Cambodia by Zadie Smith
*I feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
*Yes Please! by Amy Poehler

Book Stats:

43% male / 57% female
57% American / 43% International
28.5% ebook / 28.5% audiobook / 43% physical
57% fiction / 43% non-fiction
15% graphic novels / 85% novels

Thank god for the minithon, I actually read stuff this month! And look at those stats! Look how much variety there is. They're the most beautiful stats I've had all  year! Not only are comics in the minority (mostly because I was reading single issues which I don't count but shhhh) but I have hella female representation AND actual non-fiction books. When was my last non-fiction read?! (July. The answer is July) So huzzah for me!

What I DNF:

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey

To be honest I'm not sure if I'm going to officially DNF this one, or just shelf it for a few weeks/months. I thought I was going through a reading slump because I just couldn't get through more than a couple of pages at a time. But every other book I've picked up while reading this, Looking for Alaska, Broken Monsters and I Feel Bad About My Neck, I've read without the same stuttering. Maybe this book and I just aren't made for each other. Maybe I just need to give myself a bit of a break. The writing is fine, the characters are fine. They're not world changers - for me anyway - but they could be the recipe for a really solid read. So I'm DNFing for now and I'll pick it up again after Christmas and see if anything has changed.

GIF Rating:


It's been a light month for movie viewings. At the cinema I only saw three movies,the Keanu Reeve's action film John Wick and the epic Interstellar,and part 1 of Mockingjay. I really enjoyed all of them, but for very, very different reasons. If you like big, silly action films then John Wick is a must see, it was delightful! Interstellar was a real mind trip. It's definitely not for everyone (it is 3 hours after all), but I really enjoyed immersing myself in that world. And I thought Mockingjay was solid. But the first half of Mockingjay was always my favourite in the book, what with the commentary on propaganda and using Katniss as a prop for their rebellion, so I think the real test will be whether they can make the second half not suck. I also found the film incredibly emotional given the current events happening in the US and overseas. The release date might have been a coincidence, but it's definitely timely.

DVD wise, a few friends and I spent a night having a bad movie night and we watched the delicious Patrick Swayze treat Roadhouse and the majestic Miley Cyrus vehicle, LOL. If you like bad movies and haven't seen LOL you need to move it to the top of your list. I don't think I've ever laughed that hard at a movie. It is straight up one of the most bonkers films ever made. So stupid, so dumb but so, so great.


Pretty much all I want to talk about in this section is the amazing package I got in the mail the other day. Nahree had promised to mail me a PhD care package but I had no idea she'd be SO generous.

The zombie apocalypse could come tomorrow and I would not need to worry about getting hungry for MONTHS. Okay, I may end up getting diabetes and dying of heart failure if this was all I ate but for the love of God, how insanely wonderful was Nahree for sending me this! No one does junk food quite like America does junk food*.

Oh, on other life matters. Now that it's December and officially okay to discuss Christmas, does anyone want to do a Christmas card swap?

*I feel like this could be taken as either a compliment or a criticism, but it's definitely meant to be a compliment here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Graphic Novel Mini-reviews #28

The Wicked and the Divine: The Faust Act (Volume 1)

Written by: Kieron Gillen; Illustrated by: Matt Wilson, Jamie McKelvie

Published: 2014

My Thoughts: I've been reading this since the first issue was released a few months ago and now that the first volume has been released I can finally review it! This is a really interesting series, it uses various mythologies to comment on modern celebrity status and popular culture. The basic concept is that the every 90 years the pantheon of 12 gods are reincarnated and given another 2 years on earth before they die again. During that time they inspire hatred and adoration in equal quanities and are credited with being the trendsetters and muses that push humanity forward. This iteration takes place now and most of the gods are on Earth as rockstars. There's the David Bowie-esque gender bent Lucifer, the Kanye West inspired Baal and my personal favourite, the triplet Morrigan who is a little bit Florence Welch, a little Sinead O'Conner and a whole lot awesome. As much as I enjoy the series, I found reading it as each issue came out a little disjointed, especially in the earliest issues. I think this is the kind of narrative that it helps to give your full attention to from start to finish. And while I'm not really sure where the narrative is headed, I am loving the journey. The art, by the way, is flawless. Really vibrant and clean. And the gods are iconic and completely individual, while also beautifully tying into the symbols and iconography of the gods they represent. I have so much wardrobe, make-up and hair envy - those gods sure know how to put together a look.

Hellblazer: The Devil You Know (Volume 2)

Written by:Jamie Delano; Illustrated by:  David Lloyd

Published: 2014 (original comics from the late 1980s)

My Thoughts: While I'm still really enjoying Constantine as a character, this volume was all over the place. In the first volume I really enjoyed how segmented the issues seemed to be but this time it seemed like a fault rather than a positive. The first couple of issues resolved the primary arc from volume 1, but after that they seemed to hop and skip backwards and forwards in time - at one point he mentions being 30 while he was set up as 35 in volume 1 and another story seems to be set in the late 1990s instead of the 1980s - not completely unexpected since this volume is made up from different arcs. My main issue is that there are vague mentions to haunted pasts and demons hunting him, but because of the time shifts it's hard to work out if it's a threat we've met before or just the kind of hazard most magicians would face. Couple that with some non-traditional panel layouts and I just felt off-centre as I read through. The stories themselves were pretty solid outside this confusion though, there's one in particular "Antarctica" which just kind of blew my mind. So while this one didn't hit the same exact heights as the first, I'm still eager to move on with the series to see where it goes.

Suicide Squad: Kicked in the Teeth (Volume 1)

Written by: Adam Glass; illustrated by: Ryan Benjamin

Published; 2012

My Thoughts: Suicide Squad was a pretty creative way to reintegrate a bunch of out of work villains back into the DC world. Some you'll have heard of (Harley Quinn and Deadshot) while others (King Shark and yo-yo) are probably absent from your memory for a reason. But the rag-taggyness of the group is kind of the point. The higher-ups consider them to be fully expendable, worthless criminals who are only useful as cannon fodder. It's not surprising then that the turn over is pretty high. New villains join the squad only to die five panels over, and unless they're literally falling apart they're not going to see a hospital bed any time soon. One of the things that I really enjoyed in this comic is that the missions rely on the villains acting villainous. They're not jobs Superman or Batman could take on because they have morals. They want to save lives and they're always looking for a way to avoid sacrificing a life to achieve a result. These guys are ruthless. They want to save their own skin and they aren't ashamed of it. At the same time some of the team are vigilantes rather than villains (think Black Spider) and have to wrestle with the moral compass while trying to stay alive. It's not always elegantly depicted, but it's interesting and action-packed nonetheless.


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