Useless information thread

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by forzainter, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Hall of Fame

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    Irish News

    Provos panic as drug gang's €500k is taken
    Border money-laundering in disarray after cash and woman disappeared three weeks ago

    Border members of the Provisional IRA are said to be in a state of disarray after a huge sum of cash has apparently gone missing from one of their money-laundering fronts.

    The shock over the loss of the money is said to be compounded by the fact that a young female employee, who is understood to have been 'close' but not related to one of the top criminal/IRA families, may be involved.

    It is suspected, local sources said, that the money - put at just under €500,000 - went missing around the same time as the young woman, about three weeks ago. To make matters worse for the Provos, it is also understood that a large part of the missing money belongs to one of Dublin's notorious drugs gangs.

    The Sunday Independent understands that the loss of the money has not been reported to police on either side of the Border by the company or the family that runs it. The front business is actually inside Northern Ireland but in an area close to the Border that has been described unofficially as being "very lightly policed" by members of the PSNI.

    Sources have told this newspaper that a number of drugs gangs in Dublin and the Leinster area have been laundering their cash through the Provo front businesses along the Border because these are regarded as 'safe'.

    No senior IRA figure has ever faced criminal prosecuted for running any of the money laundering or other IRA crime businesses in the Border area. It is this apparent lack of police and Revenue scrutiny on either side of the Border, sources said, that has been attracting the cash-rich drug gangs to launder their money through the Provo-controlled front businesses.

    The family said to have been hit by the recent 'loss' owns several businesses and is also understood to have extensive property holdings on either side of the Border. Their main business is diesel 'washing' and smuggling. One source said: "They're going mad over this. The whole country's talking about it. There was a 'creditors' meeting and they were all called to (a Border hotel) to meet the boss man. He hadn't much to say to them."

    It is understood the 'boss man' of the operation is the civilian lieutenant of South Armagh's top Provo, the head of a criminal empire estimated at generating €70m in profit a year from international people, fuel and tobacco smuggling and a variety of other criminal activities.

    The 'boss' is also the father of the young married man said to have been given the job of running the front business that suffered the loss.

    Money-laundering has long been one of the Border IRA's central business pillars, which is why the missing money is said to be causing something close to panic.

    Local sources said that as well as the cash, the company's 'legit' books are said to have also gone missing. These could prove explosive in terms of any prosecutions for money laundering, as the amounts of cash going through the business do not reflect the amounts claimed as 'assets' in the company accounts. The figure given in their company accounts is in the low six figures.

    The exact amount of money missing from the business is not known, with sources saying that not even the family is aware of the exact amount due to the very large amounts of cash they are used to handling. But business sources in the Border said it would be very likely that the 'business' involved is known to handle six-figure sums at any given time.

    It is said that if the family owners have to personally make up for the missing money, the aggregate loss would be 'not far off' a million euro.

    Although there has been a great deal of speculation about the value of the Provos' crime empire - which Sinn Fein's opponents claim is being used partly to finance 'political' spending - well-placed sources said that it is much more than the last known 'official' estimate of €500m.

    This figure was attributed to a 'Department of Justice source' in 2005. That disclosure came at a time when the government was applying pressure on Sinn Fein and the IRA in the aftermath of the December 2004 £26.5m (€36.3m) robbery of the Northern Bank and the murder of innocent man Robert McCartney in Belfast the following month.

    One source who spoke to the Sunday Independent earlier this year said a 'likely' value for the IRA's financial holdings is €800m to €1bn, but this cannot be verified.

    The organisation had very senior financial figures acting as advisers and is believed to have disposed of large amounts of its property portfolio in Ireland when this came under garda scrutiny around 2005-2006.

    Luckily for the Provos, this was just prior to the economic collapse when property prices were still inflated. They are believed, however, to have suffered a very substantial loss with the 2008 Wall Street collapse where they were said to have had US$200m in investments.

    It is also believed much of the IRA wealth is held in 'offshore' accounts and property investments in Eastern Europe and Portugal.

    The Provos' business empire was under close scrutiny by the Garda's Criminal Assets Bureau up to 2005 but after the IRA issued a statement saying it had 'dumped arms' in July that year, sources said investigations were wound down.

    There was one major but botched operation against the IRA business empire in the aftermath of the murder of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe in January 2013. A then 'teenage tear-away' relative of the 'royal' Provo family at the centre of the missing money is one of the suspects in the murder of the detective.

    The affair is of considerable interest along the Border area due to the fact that the family involved is one of many who have become very wealthy in the years since the IRA called its ceasefire. Many of these newly wealthy 'republicans' are known for their ostentatious lifestyles. Modern mansions have sprung up in what were formerly known as Provo strongholds. High-end 4X4s and, for the wife, expensive saloon cars are the common form of family transport.

    Many have sent children to expensive universities but other off-spring, many in their 20s and 30s, remained in the family's criminal businesses.

    Common among the families is open support of Sinn Fein, despite the fact that Gerry Adams has stated many times this year that those responsible for the fuel and other illicit enterprises along the Border area are "criminals". Local sources said Adams' repeated denunciations of the Border 'criminals' has been unsettling for many of the families who have been heard openly criticising the Sinn Fein leader of 32 years.

    Local sources said that when Adams turned up at an IRA commemoration in March this year and privately asked that the local families to tone down their criminality, he was told to: "F**k off."
    Sunday Independent
    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/provos-panic-as-drug-gangs-500k-is-taken-31505392.html
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015
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  2. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Hall of Fame

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    Criminals are often protected by intelligence agencies if they are deemed useful sources of information.
     
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  3. stringertom

    stringertom Talk Tennis Guru

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    Here's some useless info from confidential informant stringertom...escape from The Vortex is impossible; all attempts have been futile; resistance to sureshsianism leads only to frustration; surrender is the only option.
    :eek:
     
  4. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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  5. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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  6. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Hall of Fame

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    I prefer Helsingborg to Malmö, but København is far greater than both.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I once watched a yellow København bus ride away forever with my love, but my real love soon arrived.
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. cronus

    cronus Professional

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    Well that explains 90% of your posts.
     
  8. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    http://www.intelligentlifemagazine.com/culture/the-daily/alexander-calders-sculptural-fireworks

    Alexander Calder’s sculptural fireworks

    Engineering a mobile is subtle and complex. Weight, length, mass, horizontals, verticals, balance, motion and rotation all have to be considered. Everything is connected. The kneebone connected to the thighbone. Shifting one joint along by a millimeter leads another to tilt. Moving one part a fraction causes the next to go belly-up. The beauty of Alexander Calder’s mobiles, which are on show at Tate Modern, lies in the relationship of the parts to the whole. That goes for aesthetics as much as for engineering.

    Calder (1898-1976) was the American Modernist pioneer of kinetic abstract sculptures suspended in the air. “Mobile” was the word coined by Marcel Duchamp in 1931 to describe what Calder was doing. Before that, there wasn’t really a word for it. Nobody was doing anything like it.

    He trained as a mechanical engineer before becoming an artist and the show at the Tate, “Performing Sculpture”, focuses mainly on his work from the 1930s and 1940s. His early work didn’t have much truck with the sculptural conventions of the time. There’s no carving or casting, no big rhetorical statements. Everything is linear and everything is small. Delicate figurative pieces are made out of wire and cork and bits of cloth. Some look like toys: a fish, a horse and cart, a strongman, a pair of acrobats. Others are strangely sophisticated portraits made of bent wire, hung like aerial caricatures. He was a brilliant observer.

    Alexander Calder pictured with his “Cirque Calder”, which he began performing in 1926

    In 1926, Calder started to animate his works in a performance piece called “Cirque Calder”. This was a cast of wire-frame sculptures – burlesque dancers, trapeze artists, acrobats, lion tamers – that could be packed into a suitcase, to be staged in live shows for an invited audience of friends. It’s small and tightly economical, but big on pleasure and comic timing. “Cirque Calder” is shown on video at the exhibition, and it’s fascinating to see the man in action. A miniature weightlifter made of wire slips off the first of many jackets to reveal a waistcoat and beneath that a bolero. Beneath that is an even smaller bolero. Undressing happens by way of Calder’s hands, which are giant by contrast, and each tiny garment is whisked off with a flourish of finger and thumb. Once stripped, the wiry man lifts his wiry weights above his wiry head and the off-screen audience howls with delight. Next up, a wire sword swallower takes the whole length of his wire rapier inside his body. It is like a joke about a line swallowing a line.

    Perceptual tricks abound. “Object with red ball” (1931) has two spheres, a red one and a black one, but the red sphere is a ball and the black one is made from two interlocking 2D circles that rotate gently, presenting their ball-like nature to the viewer. This playfulness and interest in how things moved took a radical shift when Calder went abstract. It was a visit to Mondrian’s studio in 1930 that did it, and thereafter, though he kept faith strongly with the pleasure principle and the economy of means, he worked with flat abstract shapes in red, yellow, blue, black and white.

    “Object with red ball” (1931), one of his earliest abstract pieces

    Where Calder is really good is with relationships, configurations and the spaces between things. He energises the distances between points in space in simple and complex ways. A drawing on paper called “Many” (1931) is like a blueprint for this. It consists of a series of dots of varying sizes clustered towards the edge of a page. The dots are black but one is drawn as a circle in outline only, and this one is the biggest. Their relative scales – none bigger than a ten pence piece – and the play of solid shape versus outline, creates out of dots a drama of scale, relation and dependency. It’s a system, a colony, a universe. In 1951 he wrote that “The idea of detached bodies floating in space, of different sizes and densities…some at rest, while others move in peculiar manners, seems to me the ideal source of form.”

    Like the development of firework technology, from cracker to cascade to exploding chrysanthemum, Calder’s mobiles get more complicated. Forms derived from nature – resembling feathers, leaves or comets – appear. “Red gongs” (1950, pictured top) is a feat of engineering, a sequence of red and gold shapes of descending size balanced along a 2.5 metre horizontal span. And like fireworks, the central fact of Calder’s work is that it happens above your head. You have to look up. Not at the wall but into the volume of the room. Going round a Calder show is to wander with your face uplifted. It’s like doing yoga. The relation of the spine to the neck is mobilised. The neckbone connected to the headbone. You cannot slump and look at the same time. The space you walk in, your breath and body and those of others, are creating air currents that activate what you see. Sculptures that seem autonomous. That’s a rare thing.
     
  9. stringertom

    stringertom Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^^^Calder would be tested today to do a proper Poobian mobile, no?:p
     
  10. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Hall of Fame

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    I have never been on a horse.
     
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  11. Vcore89

    Vcore89 Hall of Fame

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    I have never ridden an emu.
     
  12. stringertom

    stringertom Talk Tennis Guru

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    Sureshs has yet to ride with me. Will I have to move to San Diego to get my dream passenger???:p
     
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  13. cronus

    cronus Professional

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    you mean a banana getting stuck in throat MTO 2008 injury then yeah sure.
     
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  14. Vcore89

    Vcore89 Hall of Fame

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    You might've hauled NFL Linesmen but have yet to haul a gargantuan talk tennis guru. Oh, don't confuse his actual weight for molecular weight!:D
     
  15. stringertom

    stringertom Talk Tennis Guru

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    "He ain't heavy, he's my brother!":p
     
  16. stringertom

    stringertom Talk Tennis Guru

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    It was in the match at RG'06 vs PHM that Rafa almost went for the ultimate choke.:eek:
     
  17. SoBad

    SoBad G.O.A.T.

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    Millions of people killed and maimed by food. Not a single one harmed by fake mono excuses in the history of humanity.
     
  18. Vcore89

    Vcore89 Hall of Fame

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    In Rafa's book, if you rearrange his water bottles, it is tantamount to sedition or even treason!
     
  19. SoBad

    SoBad G.O.A.T.

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    Trespass to chattels is a crime.
     
  20. cronus

    cronus Professional

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    Yes ,deaths due to banana choke in the middle of a tennis matches have been well documented in edge city.

    Being a raafa fanatic and talking fake illness never go well together.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2015
  21. SoBad

    SoBad G.O.A.T.

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    If you are unable to control your urge to talk about Nadal and bananas, I suggest you start an appropriate thread on the subject.
     
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  22. SoBad

    SoBad G.O.A.T.

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    I have, but find driving nice cars far more enjoyable.
     
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  23. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Hall of Fame

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    I once watched the Pogues in L.A. with Joe Strummer as the lead singer. I was very drunk in the "exclusive access" section.
     
  24. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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  25. SoBad

    SoBad G.O.A.T.

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    A hypothetical: subject stays in a high-rise hotel room for a few weeks. Once or twice a day subject is on the phone discussing matters that upset the subject. Every time subject gets agitated in the course of the phone conversation, crows start making a circling dance outside in the air. The hotel room is sound-proof. Is there a logical explanation for the crow behavior?
     
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  26. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Hall of Fame

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    I remember your previous conflicts with a gang of Tokyo karasu, which was discussed in a thread about laundry started by a guy from Long Island. My understanding is that you resolved your ongoing issues with karasu at a peace conference held in a Tokyo park.

    Your current situation can't be analyzed without more information. Here are some important questions:

    1) Are you currently in Japan?
    2) Can you further describe their circling dance?
    3) How often do you look out the window and see these crows circling outside your window when not on the phone discussing upsetting matters?
    4) Do you look out the window more often when engaged in an upsetting phone call?
    5) Due to your state of agitation during these conversations, is it possible that you are in a heightened state of perception, and more likely to notice the crows?
    6) Is it possible that the crows merely enjoy observing you through the window?
    7) Is it possible that the crows have tapped your phone?

    I hope that you can maintain peaceful and productive relations with your local crows. Best of luck.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2015
  27. Mike Bulgakov

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    Top 10 film noir
    Guns, dames and hats: you can't have a film noir without them, can you? Take a look at the Guardian and Observer critics list of the best 10 noirs and you'll realise things aren't that simple …


    All's fair in love and noir … Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell in They Live by Night

    10. They Live by Night

    Nicholas Ray's astonishingly self-assured, lyrical directorial debut opens with title cards and lush orchestrations over shots of a boy and a girl in rapturous mutual absorption: "This boy … and this gir … were never properly introduced … to the world we live in …" A shriek of horns suddenly obliterates all other sound – their shocked faces both turn toward the camera, and the title appears: They Live by Night.

    Meet 23-year-old escaped killer Bowie Bowers and his farm-girl sweetheart Keechie Mobley (Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell), in an imaginary idyll of peace and contentment that will never come true for them. Bowie, jailed at 16 for killing his father's murderer, has known nothing but jail, and is still a boy. Having escaped the prison farm with two older bank robbers – T-Dub and the psychotic Indian Chicamaw "One-Eye" Mobley (Jay C Flippen, Howard da Silva) – he feels loyalty-bound to tag along on their crime spree. Keechie is Chicamaw's niece, and soon circumstances force them to lam it cross-country at the same time as they tremblingly discover love for the first time.

    Somehow all the planets aligned for Ray, a novice director with an achingly poetic-realist vision of Depression-era Texas and the determination to implement it wholesale: a perfect source novel, Edward Anderson's Thieves Like Us; and exactly the right combination of producer (John Houseman), studio (RKO) and sympathetic studio head (Dore Schary). The result is luminous in its imagery, highly sophisticated in its musical choices (the folk song I Know Where I'm Going succinctly and repeatedly stresses that they don't know anything at all) suffused with romantic fatalism – they'll die by night, too; you know it from the start – and enriched by Ray's total identification with his characters' doomed trajectory. Ray's first masterpiece, and a pinnacle of poetic noir. John Patterson

    9. Kiss Me Deadly

    Kiss Me Deadly is the black-hearted apotheosis of film noir, and a key film of the 50s, embodying the profoundest anxieties of Eisenhower's America: it ends with the detonation of a nuclear device on Malibu beach and, presumably thereafter, the end of the world itself. Robert Aldrich's moral universe is so violently out of kilter that even his opening credits run upside down. His hero, Mike Hammer, is an amoral, proto-fascist bedroom detective and 1,000% scumbag, but the villains he encounters are far, far worse.

    Kiss Me Deadly opens with a woman, naked under a raincoat, fleeing headlong and barefoot down a highway at night. Rescued by Hammer, then un-rescued by her faceless original captors, she dies screaming under gruesome torture with pliers (Aldrich was always at the vanguard in his use of violence). Thereafter, Hammer finds himself on a terrifying hunt through the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, from his gleamingly modern office in posh Brentwood to the dilapidated flophouses of Bunker Hill, as he bludgeons, browbeats, blackmails and brutalises his way inch by inch towards a resolution that will destroy everyone and everything, all in search of the elusive "Great Whatsit" – a deadly, molten, much sought-after package that's grandfather to the suitcase in Pulp Fiction and the Chevy Nova in Repo Man.

    Aldrich, a patrician aristocrat and a committed leftist, despised Mickey Spillane's nihilistic worldview and Mike Hammer's Cro-Magnon brutishness, and gave them the adaptation they deserved. Ralph Meeker, who usually played scumbag saddle-tramps and mobsters, bagged the sneering lead role and remains indelibly detestable even today: "Open a window," says one disgusted cop, as Hammer leaves the room. Surrounded by gargoyles and grotesques, even on his own team – he uses his secretary Velma as willing sexual bait – Hammer is a cynic who knows everything about human weakness but nothing about the frame he's in. And it all ends with a bang – the big bang. JP

    8. Blood Simple

    Taking its atmospheric title from a line in Dashiell Hammett's hard-boiled novel Red Harvest (an allusion never explained), Blood Simple is perhaps the Coen brothers' most straightforward movie, even though it is, ironically, not at all simple. In a manner that would come to be their stock-in-trade, the film is a cacophony of cross-purposes, in some ways a rehearsal for their breakout effort Fargo, which also depicts a nefarious plan gone wrong. It also marks the use of literary genre elements in the "real" world, a formula that would later be refined by Quentin Tarantino.

    As in so much film noir, the crux of the story is a case of cherchez la femme. In this case la femme is Abby Marty (Frances McDormand), wife of Texas bar owner Julian (Dan Hedaya). Julian suspects Abby of having an affair with one of his staff, and when private eye Loren Visser (M Emmet Walsh) confirms this to be the case, Julian sets a murder plan in motion. For most directors this would be enough, but the Coens embrace the full-on complications of the genre to create a genuine sense of an "easy" crime spiralling out of control.

    One of the first films to cement the nascent Sundance film festival's reputation, Blood Simple isn't so much neo-noir as neo-neo-noir, using postmodern flourishes that still seem bold today. The most vivid is Walsh as Visser, presented more like a cold-blooded Universal Studios monster than a gumshoe, and the non-naturalistic lighting is often at odds with noir tradition, with the brothers allowing brilliant shafts of bright light to puncture the neon-lit dark. Best of all is the use of the Four Tops' It's the Same Old Song as a motif – a neat touch that expresses genre familiarity with affection rather than cynicism. Damon Wise

    7. Lift to the Scaffold

    Louis Malle's first fiction feature, based on Noel Calef's 1956 novel, occupies a very interesting space. It qualifies as film noir for its appropriation of US postwar cinema in its tale of lovers gone bad, but also heralds the imminent arrival of the French new wave. The director was in his mid-20s at the time and clearly using the crime-thriller genre (something he never returned to) as a testing ground and not a strict template. Perhaps that explains why his film is such a melting pot of influences, drawing not only on Hitchcock but also the Master of Suspense's overseas admirers, including Henri-Georges Clouzot and his Les Diaboliques.

    As in that film, the story concerns a conspiracy to murder. Ex-Foreign Legion soldier Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet), a veteran of French military misadventures in Algeria and Indochina, is planning to kill his boss, who is also his lover's husband. On paper, the plan is seamless – Tavernier secures his alibis and enters his victim's office unseen, by means of a rope – but things soon get messy. On returning to the crime scene to retrieve a key piece of evidence, Tavernier finds himself trapped in the elevator, leaving his car parked outside with the keys in the ignition.

    Although its elements point towards nailbiting tension, this isn't so much what Lift to the Scaffold is about; it draws more on the blanket fatalism of film noir rather than the savage irony so often associated with the genre. Key to this is Jeanne Moreau as Tavernier's lover, Florence; in the film's signature sequence her man fails to turn up, so she walks the streets trying vainly to find him. Filmed on the fly without professional lighting, accompanied only by Miles Davis's brilliant, melancholy score, these few minutes capture the bleak and beautiful essence of Malle's film. DW
     
  28. Mike Bulgakov

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    6. The Third Man

    "One of the amazing things about The Third Man," Steven Soderbergh once wrote, "is that it really is a great film, in spite of all the people who say it's a great film." He's right. It's one of the greatest, in fact: a witty, elegantly shot and steadfastly compassionate thriller suffused with the dreadful melancholia of the finest noir. It's set in Allied-occupied Vienna, where writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) pitches up at the invitation of his old chum Harry Lime. Except that when Martins arrives, Lime turns out to be dead. At least that's the prevailing wisdom at his funeral.


    To say anything else about the mystery that Martins unravels would be to jeopardise some of the zesty surprises of this 64-year-old masterpiece. (Is there a statute of limitations on spoilers?) But then The Third Man is about more than plot. The morally fermented atmosphere of Vienna mapped out by Graham Greene's screenplay (based on his own story) is sustained beautifully by Robert Krasker's cinematography, with top notes of mischief introduced by Anton Karas's sprightly zither playing. An unassuming actor named Orson Welles also puts in an appearance, skulking in a doorway in one of the wittiest of all movie entrances, then delivering a speech full of humble horrors from the vantage point of a ferris wheel overlooking the city.

    The key to the picture's genius is undoubtedly the mutually nourishing collaboration between Greene and the director Carol Reed. Seen in tandem with their other films together (The Fallen Idol, Our Man in Havana) there is a strong case to be made for them as one of the finest writer/director teams in cinema. Reed is not only alert to every nuance in Greene's writing but adept at finding pointed visual equivalents for his prose. Back to Soderbergh: "Disillusion, betrayal, misdirected sexual longing and the wilful inability of Americans to understand or appreciate other cultures — these are a few of my favourite things, and The Third Man blends them all seamlessly with an airtight plot and a location that blurs the line between beauty and decay." Ryan Gilbey

    5. Out of the Past

    No one ever smoked and brooded and loomed like Robert Mitchum. And he never did it as definitively as he does in Out of the Past, a stylish and devastating noir that was one of a hat-trick of perfect genre pieces directed by Jacques Tourneur in the 1940s (along with Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie). Viewers not enamoured of the actor's somnambulant manner might take the latter title for a description of what it must be like to act alongside Mitchum. But that would be to miss the bitter, internalised hurt and wounded hope he brings to his performance here; just because he's still, that doesn't mean he's not suffering.

    Mitchum plays Jeff Bailey, a private eye hired by Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) to track down his errant lover, Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer), who skedaddled after swiping $40,000 of his money. Oh, and shooting him. It may not be any surprise that when Jeff catches up with the fugitive femme fatale, there is a crackle of attraction between them. The seductive skill of the movie lies in its masterful evocation of that sensual, fatalistic bleakness crucial to noir. From Nicholas Musuraca's chiaroscuro cinematography ("It was so dark on set, you didn't know who else was there half the time," said Greer) to Roy Webb's plangent score and the guarded, electrifying performances, it's nothing short of a noir masterclass.

    The screenplay was adapted by Daniel Mainwaring from his own novel, Build My Gallows High (the film's UK title). But the sharpened splinters of dialogue also bear the mark of Cain — James M Cain, that is, the legendary author of noir landmarks The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, who performed vital but uncredited rewrites. According to Mitchum's biographer, Lee Server, it was Cain who expunged Kathie of any traces of lovability. "She can't be all bad — no one is," one character remarks of her. To which Jeff shoots back: "She comes the closest." RG

    4. Double Indemnity

    Cameron Crowe called Double Indemnity "flawless film-making". Woody Allen declared it "the greatest movie ever made". Even if you can't go along with that, there can be no disputing that it is the finest film noir of all time, though it was made in 1944, before the term film noir was even coined. Adapting James M Cain's 1935 novella about a straight-arrow insurance salesman tempted into murder by a duplicitous housewife, genre-hopping director Billy Wilder recruited Raymond Chandler as co-writer. Chandler, said Wilder, "was a mess, but he could write a beautiful sentence". Noir's visual style, which had its roots in German expressionism, was forged here, though Wilder insisted that he was going for a "newsreel" effect. "We had to be realistic," he said. "You had to believe the situation and the characters, or all was lost."

    And we do. Fred MacMurray, who had specialised largely in comedy until that point, was an inspired choice to play the big dope Walter Neff, who narrates the sorry mess in flashback, and wonders: "How could I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle?" Edward G Robinson is coiled and charismatic as Neff's colleague, a claims adjuster who unpicks the couple's scheme. But the ace in the hole is Barbara Stanwyck as Phyllis Dietrichson, a vision of amorality in a "honey of an anklet" and a platinum wig. She can lower her sunglasses and make it look like the last word in predatory desire. And she's not just a vamp: she's a psychopath. There are few shots in cinema as bone-chilling as the closeup on Stanwyck's face as Neff dispatches Phyllis's husband in the back seat of a car. Miklós Rózsa's fretful strings tell us throughout the picture: beware. Stanwyck had been reluctant to take the role, confessing: "I was a little frightened of it." Wilder asked whether she was an actress or a mouse. When she plumped for the former, he shot back: "Then take the part." RG

    3. Touch of Evil

    In the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson – the source material for this movie – the hero is an American man who has been married to a Mexican woman for nine years. It was Orson Welles who flipped the racial mix, and made the marriage brand new. Welles intended a story of three frontiers: the rancid Mexican-American border; the way a good detective becomes a bad cop; and a provocation on interracial sexuality. To be sure, it's a recognisable Charlton Heston in makeup as Mike Vargas, with Janet Leigh as Susie – but in 1958, that bond disturbed a lot of viewers. Moreover, the overtone of honeymoon is a wicked setup for threats of rape. Will the horrendous border scum get to Susie before Mike? If you doubt that suggestiveness, just notice how the car bomb explodes as the honeymooners are ready to enjoy their first kiss on US soil. This is a crime picture in which coitus interruptus has to be listed with all the other charges.


    Metaphorically and cinematically, it's a picture about crossing over – in one sumptuous camera setup we track the characters over the border. That shot is famous, but it's no richer than the single setup in a cramped motel suite that proves how Hank Quinlan (Welles himself) plants dynamite on the man he intends to frame. These scenes were a way for Welles to say, "I'm as good as ever", but they are also crucial to the uneasiness that runs through the picture and the gloating panorama of an unwholesome society. The aura of crime has seeped into every cell of ordinary behaviour: the city officials are corrupt, the night man (Dennis Weaver) needs a rest home, and the gang that come to the motel to get Susie are one of the first warnings of drugs in American movies. Not least, of course, Quinlan – a sheriff gone to hell on candy bars.

    So evil is not just a "touch". It is criminality in the blood. Marlene Dietrich's Tanya watches over this doom like a witch or prophet, a bleak reminder that there is no hope. Fifty years later, that border is still an open wound. David Thomson
     
  29. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Hall of Fame

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    2. Chinatown

    The near perfection of Roman Polanski's Chinatown starts with Diener/Hauser/Bates's haunting art nouveau poster for the film: an emblematic Hokusai wave breaks against Jack Nicholson's silhouette as the smoke from his cigarette floats up to merge with Faye Dunaway's medusa-like hair. The movie ends equally unforgettably with the line, "Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown!", as lapidary a pay-off as Scarlett O'Hara's, "After all, tomorrow is another day."

    Behind the angst-ridden noirs of the 40s and 50s lie the social and political tensions of the second world war and the postwar decade. Similarly, Chinatown was conceived, written, produced and released in the troubled period that included the last years of the Vietnam war, Watergate, and Nixon's fraught second term in the White House. But it retained its freshness, vitality and timelessness by being set so immaculately in an earlier period – Los Angeles in the long, hot summer of 1937 – and it deals with the scandals of that era, those touching on the complex politics of water in the arid west.

    While gathering divorce evidence on behalf of a suspicious wife, Gittes (Nicholson) is sucked into a world beyond his comprehension involving municipal corruption, sexual transgression and the power of old money. He encounters the rich, ruthless capitalist Noah Cross (John Huston) and his estranged daughter, the beautiful Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway), whose husband, head of the Los Angeles Water and Power Board, dies under mysterious circumstances.

    In his screenplay, Robert Towne develops two dominant metaphors; the first centres on water. During a period of drought someone is dumping water from local reservoirs, and it becomes clear that this most precious of human resources is being manipulated by land speculators in their own interests. The name of Evelyn's husband, Hollis Mulwray, evokes William Mullholland, the Los Angeles engineer responsible in the 20s for the deals that, in the old western phrase, "made water flow uphill in search of the money". The name Noah Cross suggests the protective Old Testament patriarch played in the 1966 blockbuster The Bible by John Huston, but here reprised in a less benevolent mode as a self-righteous plutocrat who has harnessed the flood in his own interests.

    The other metaphor is that of Chinatown, an inscrutable place that outsiders either stand back from or misread in a way that demonstrates the futility of good intentions. Jake worked in Chinatown during his days in the LAPD and, at the end of the picture, returns there in a bid for redemption that turns out to be an act of tragic pointlessness. He's in every scene, frequently with the camera just behind him. We see and experience everything from his point of view, with Polanski composing every frame, dictating each camera movement.

    The movie captures the city in a summer heatwave: the blinding exteriors dazzle the eye and blur the judgment; shafts of light create a sinister atmosphere as they penetrate the dark interiors through venetian blinds. Jerry Goldsmith's superb score uses strings and percussion during moments of suspense and a distant, and bluesy trumpet for elegiac, contemplative scenes. Above all there is Nicholson's Gittes, a cocky, confident operator losing his social moorings and ending up as the proverbial drowning man reaching out for straws. Philip French

    1. The Big Sleep

    The "big sleep" of the title is of course death, but the action in Howard Hawks's classic hardboiled thriller from 1946, taken from the Raymond Chandler novel, often looks like the sleep of reason bringing forth monsters. Only the fiercest concentration will keep you on top of the head-spinning plot, and in fact the plot reportedly defeated its stars and director while they were actually shooting, cutting, reshooting and arguing about it. An explanatory scene was removed and replaced with one showing the leads flirting in a restaurant. Plot transparency was sacrificed in favour of the film's sexual mood music and making its female star, Lauren Bacall, every bit as compelling as she could be. The fact that Hawks moreover had to be relatively coy about the pornography and drugs makes the proceedings look even more occult and mysterious.

    But the narrative's defiance of our comprehension is part of the film's sensational effect and its remarkable longevity: it means that scenes, characters, moments and quotable lines ("She tried to sit on my lap while I was standing up") float up out of the mesmerising stew and into your consciousness like fragments of a dream. The noir fused pulp detective fiction with the enigmatic form of German expressionism and The Big Sleep is an almost surrealist refinement of the noir genre.

    Bogart is Philip Marlowe, a private detective called in by an ageing sensualist when his pretty, tearaway daughter is being blackmailed. Yet Marlowe is enamoured of her sister: a very cool customer played, of course, by Lauren Bacall. She was 20 years old and Bogart, her husband, was 44 but looking older — unwell, and battling with a drinking problem. Nowadays, discussing the presence or absence of "chemistry" between stars has become a critical commonplace. Bogart and Bacall virtually invented the subject with their droll, laconic dialogue. There is a palpable charge in the air. Bacall ventilates the male atmosphere of the film, which is otherwise heavy, gloomy and dark: Bogart himself appears in almost every scene of the film and the mystery is also when he has time to go back home and sleep.

    The movie's disturbing and incomprehensibly labyrinthine story of murder and betrayal now looks like a fable by David Lynch, but Hawks his own storytelling force and potent and distinctive presence. Decades later, Polanski's gumshoe would retreat from the unknowable mess of Chinatown, but the disturbing and chaotic crime-swirl of greed, vanity, lust and murder — its vortex too low down to be clearly seen — was trademarked by Hawks, Bogart and Bacall in The Big Sleep. Peter Bradshaw
    http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2013/nov/29/top-10-film-noir
     
  30. Vcore89

    Vcore89 Hall of Fame

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    Roger Federer has 'no plans to retire' after Rio Olympics
    Roger Federer insists he has no plans to retire in 2016 as he targets a bumper medal-haul for Switzerland at next year's Olympics.

    The 17-time Grand Slam champion will celebrate his 35th birthday during the Rio Games, where he has hinted he could bid for a hat trick of golds in the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles tournaments.

    Despite maintaining his position as world No.3, Federer has not tasted Grand Slam glory since his last victory at Wimbledon in 2012, but the Swiss veteran claims he will be raring to go at next month's Australian Open.

    "I've planned all of 2016, all the way through the Rio Olympics and beyond," Federer said. "I'm going to probably announce that schedule in the coming weeks. I'm looking forward to next year.

    "Australia's obviously a big goal for me and after that it's going to be a long, tough year. I'm feeling fine physically and in good shape. Like I say so many times, I hope I'm still on tour for a while. There are no plans to retire yet, I don't have a definite date, even though that would make things easier to plan."

    Federer will be looking to improve on the singles silver he won at London 2012 when the Olympics get underway next summer, while he has also confirmed he will partner with former world No.1 Martina Hingis in the mixed doubles.

    He also hinted he could once again team up with Stan Wawrinka in the doubles, with the duo hoping to replicate the success that saw them take gold at Beijing 2008.

    "Winning the silver at Wimbledon was amazing during the London Olympics," Federer said. "I don't feel like the Rio Olympics necessarily needs to be the singles gold like everybody talks about.

    "That's why I'm going to be playing mixed doubles with Martina Hingis, and I might also play the doubles with Stan Wawrinka. I might enter myself in all three competitions to have the most possible chances to win medals for Switzerland.

    "The Olympics for me is unique. It's about representing Switzerland and making Switzerland proud. I feel the same way on the tour, but the Swiss people can relate more to the Olympics maybe. I carried the flag twice for Switzerland (at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008) and I got a gold in doubles with Stan so I feel like I accomplished that dream already."

    Federer, who recently announced he would be parting ways with coach Stefan Edberg after two years of working together, also revealed he still feels the occasional nerves on court, even if playing in smaller matches has become easier with age.

    "In normal matches, maybe a quarterfinal match or first-round match, I don't get so worked up so much any more, where I have knots in my tummy," he added. "But I do still get nervous, I still care very dearly and still have the fire. I think that will never go away until the day is there where I retire and everything drops away."
     
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  31. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Hall of Fame

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    Ingmar Bergman was born in Uppsala, which is a nice city.
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  32. Vcore89

    Vcore89 Hall of Fame

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    Andy Murray parts with Jonas Bjorkman as Amelie Mauresmo returns.
     
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  33. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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  34. SoBad

    SoBad G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks for responding.

    The laundry/cleaning/karasu debate highlights the liability side of the asset-liability equation of personal well-being. All too often many of us focus on acquiring assets while paying little attention to the equally important process of disposal of liabilities.

    1) I am outside of Japan at present, but the incident did take place inside Japan.

    2) The crows were agitated, militant, and making boisterous circles (20 meters in diameter or so) approximately 50 meters away from my window, making agitated crow-crow sounds. Now that I think about it, perhaps the floor-to-ceiling window wasn’t all that sound-proof after all.

    3) While in the room, I spent a lot of time either staring outside perpetually or taking regular glances away from the computer.

    4) No.

    5) Unlikely, as I was in a heightened state of perception even without the phone calls and was keenly aware of the happenings outside the window, certainly including any crow activity.

    6) They never looked at me or approached my window.

    7) I think it’s possible that the phone was monitored by a computer program and the program may have activated something that in turn affected crow behavior.
     
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  35. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Legend

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  36. Rock Strongo

    Rock Strongo Legend

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    While I was mixing a drink to a very attractive girl while working she started making out with some other guy. She did however wonder when I was one for the day later on and wanted to wait. Not that it would've mattered because every time I pour tequila, weird things happen. While having a cigarette break I see her stumbling out of the bar and falling over, yet she still came back to ask me the same question. I was courteous and gave her a cigarette instead.
     
  37. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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  38. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Hall of Fame

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    Birds Of A Feather Spy Together

    The scene: Two men in a chilly Soviet apartment converse in whispers, careful to protect their plans from enemy ears. Little do they know, the benign-looking raven outside their window is not merely a city scavenger hunting for food, but a spy for the U.S. government.

    Sound too ridiculous to be true? In fact, animal spies — and their very real missions — are the subject of journalist Tom Vanderbilt's article "The CIA's Animal Spies" in Smithsonian magazine this month.

    On Sunday, Vanderbilt sat down with All Things Considered's Arun Rath to discuss the furry and feathered secret agents of the Cold War.

    On the beginnings of animal espionage:

    "B.F. Skinner, the famous behavioral psychologist, was working on a project with the armed services to basically install a set of pigeons inside the nosecone of a missile. And these were pigeons who were trained to basically peck at the image of a map because there would be a food reward, and this pecking would actually steer little motors in the missile and would deliver it to its target.

    "There were a number of problems with the project and it never actually took off, but this was pretty cutting-edge research, in a way, during World War II."

    On how these techniques were developed during the Cold War:

    "There's a curious link here. There were a couple of graduate students working with Skinner at the time named Marion and Keller Breland. They were really interested in, as they called it, applied animal psychology — how could you turn these techniques into commercial enterprises.

    "So they opened a theme park in Little Rock called the I.Q. Zoo, which had all sorts of characters: the educated hen, Priscilla the fastidious pig.

    "Priscilla the fastidious pig appeared in a number of television commercials doing things like vacuuming, so they were really training animals to do all sorts of things.

    "One day, the Brelands were called out to China Lake to the weapons research station out there, to do some research with the U.S. Navy's dolphin program — training dolphins to do things like locate submarines, or warn of enemy attack, things like that.

    "And this was run by Bob Bailey, who was kind of an animal behaviorist of his own. And he was convinced to come work with the Brelands at the I.Q. Zoo."

    On some of the animal "spies" used by the CIA:

    "There were a number of different programs that were tried. One was the so-called 'Squab Squad.' It basically involved a flock of pigeons that would fly ahead of your troop formation, and if they detected the presence of an enemy battalion they would all basically land. And this would be the signal to give away that there were enemy troops ahead.

    "Unfortunately, there were a few problems with that. I mean, sometimes pigeons would just sort of fly away and they wouldn't come back, or you weren't quite sure if they'd been shot down.

    "Another favorite program was called 'Acoustic Kitty,' and this was a cat [that] had an acoustic transmitter in its ear and another relay device implanted in its ribcage.

    "And as the story goes ... there was a Middle Eastern potentate who they were trying to get some intelligence on and he was a real cat enthusiast, so the thought was if they could sort of get a cat into his environment it would appear unnoticed. And the cat was trained to sort of focus in on people's conversations, so it became sort of a bug."

    On what makes a good animal operative:

    "Bob Bailey has told me that no animal is untrainable. Certain animals are better than others. He, for example, thinks that pigeons aren't that clever. Owls are not very smart either, despite the stereotype of the wise owl. They may be wise, but they aren't particularly smart.

    "Ravens, in his mind, are the geniuses of the bird world and kind of the Jason Bourne. They can sort of operate on their own. They're very, very intelligent. They can lift things, [and] this was part of another program. They trained ravens to basically deposit things in rooms in particular places, and those things could be listening devices, for example."

    On whether there are still "rogue" agents out there:

    "[Laughs] There could be. Waiting to be activated and they haven't come in from the cold, as it were.

    "Really, one of the only documents that's ever been released has the wonderful title, 'Views on Trained Cats,' and most of it is actually blacked out. But it hints at the problems there were within the program.

    "I think, by and large, this was just an interesting activity for the CIA that showed some promise under certain conditions, but just had too many wildcard variables and was never quite as implemented as we might think.

    "But because we don't really know, yes it's possible there are still rogue ravens flittering around Eastern Europe."
    http://www.npr.org/2013/10/13/233354052/birds-of-a-feather-spy-together
     
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  39. SoBad

    SoBad G.O.A.T.

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    I don’t know anything about black ops and have no wish to learn. I have observed that crows can be rather intelligent and extremely perceptive.
     
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  40. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Hall of Fame

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
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  41. Mike Bulgakov

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    Gløgg . . . too . . . strong . . . too . . . much . . . gløgg . . .
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  42. Mike Bulgakov

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  43. Mike Bulgakov

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    When in Denmark or Russia, it is best not to tell people that you enjoy experiencing some real winter, when they know that you will soon be back in California and playing outdoor tennis.
     
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  44. Rusty Shackleford

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    On an average day, between 150 and 200 species go extinct. If Sureshs manages to visit an AYCE buffet where he is not blacklisted (yet), that number raises to around 250.
     
  45. Vcore89

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    Roger Federer made Ivan Ljubičić his coach.
     
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  46. Mike Bulgakov

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    Jet lag is a drag.
     
  47. Mike Bulgakov

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    Johanna Larsson's backhand sometimes doesn't go as planned.
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  48. YetAnotherFedFan

    YetAnotherFedFan Hall of Fame

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    The stock market fell 7% in China yesterday. Rumour had it that Sureshs was planning a visit and the locals panicked that there would be an impending food shortage.
     
  49. stringertom

    stringertom Talk Tennis Guru

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    Air pollutant levels would also soar beyond already unacceptable standards, thereby effectively crippling the vast Chinese workforce. This causes a ripple effect on the U.S. economy...Walmart stock will crash but will be slightly offset by a spike in Golden Corral shares.:p
     
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