4736251


4736251…

The Harmonic Progression is IV, vii, iii, vi, ii, V, I. In the key of C, this is: Fmaj7, Bm7(b5), Em7, Am7, Dm7, G7, Cmaj7. I thought I would apply this ordering to the Modal Mirror, as shown on the napkin below:

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^ 4736251 + Modal Mirror = over-rated gobbledygook ^

The Modal Mirror (a discovery of mine) is fully described in my book “Chaos In Boxes: twisted adventures in music theory” – if you haven’t already read it, you can read this preview .pdf to learn about the Modal Mirror. In yesterday’s brand-new experiment, modes above the mirror line are kept diatonic to C, while their under-the-surface counterparts keep the same root and result in Key Signatures other than C (e.g. B Lydian’s root is determined from B Locrian). So, this thought experiment produces the “modal progression” of B Lydian, B Locrian, C Phrygian, A Aeolian, D Dorian, A Mixolydian, C Ionian. Since four out of seven of these tonalities are all in the same Key Signature, I felt that this was not experimental enough. It seemed to me somehow that 4736251 and Modal Mirror are apples and oranges, not destined for extended or meaningful interaction. However, usefulness could still be rendered if I decide to turn this into an actual piece of music someday.

The process was inspiring, but the results were not. It’s a good thing that I can view process as a result, so I don’t feel like it was a waste of time.

Fast-forward another day, and a casual trip to the post office provided an amazing surprise: Produce Press, the micropublisher who helped bring “Chaos In Boxes” into the world, sent me the last few remaining copies of Handmade Limited Edition copies in the snailmail! I can think of a couple of people who are looking forward to getting their hands on one of these.

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^ a box full of Chaos In Boxes ^

With the previous day’s aforementioned 4736251 experiment still lingering in my mind, I brainfarted a new concoction and decided to borrow a pen from the lovely young lady at the coffee shop and write it out, using the unopened box as my blank slate.

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^ 4736251 with parallelism applied ^

This new composition experiment uses 4736251 as a starting point, and then applying the following procedure:

  1. Write the name of each Mode under each chord in the progression, creating a modal expression of the harmonic progression in the same vein as yesterday’s experiment. This preliminary step was never expected to bear fruit, but it must be my lucky day: the Modes, when arranged according to 4736251, are in the order of brightness with the conspicuous exception of Lydian who, although being the brightest Mode, sits at the darkest end of the list. This early upshot can be stated thusly: “Lydian’s so bright, it’s gotta wear shades.” This reversal reminded me of a cartoon I saw recently which showed a young boy telling an old man, “I didn’t believe in reincarnation either, when I was your age.” Lydian got reincarnated? Maybe this is the real Q.E.D. of my weekend.
  2. Change the underlying nature of the progression from “relative” to “parallel” by making all Root notes the same (i.e. the reliable cliché starting with F Lydian, followed by B Locrian, E Phrygian, A Aeolian, D Dorian, G Mixolydian, and ending with C Ionian, becomes transformed into C Lydian, C Locrian, C Phrygian, C Aeolian, C Dorian, C Mixolydian, C Ionian). This modal Progression is the intended fruit of today’s thought experiment, but… why stop there?
  3. Re-induce some “relative” thinking by writing the “parent major” keys under each Mode in the new progression. The following the series of Key Signatures is yielded: G, Db, Ab, Eb, Bb, F, C. Unsurprisingly, this series is comprised mostly of Perfect Fifths.
  4. (Not shown on scribbles…) Repeat step 1, maintaining the classic order of Modes. Resulting new progression is G Lydian, Db Locrian, Ab Phrygian, Eb Aeolian, Bb Dorian, F Mixolydian, C Ionian.
  5. Repeat step 3. Resulting progression of Key Signatures, enharmonically re-spelled for easy reading, is: D, D, E, Gb, Ab, Bb, C. Observe, consecutive displacements are mostly whole-tones. Surprised, but not.
  6. Repeat step 1, assigning Modes to each Root in the new series: D Lydian, D Locrian, E Phrygian, Gb Aeolian, Ab Dorian, Bb Mixolydian, C Ionian.
  7. Repeat step 3, giving this order of Key Signatures: A, Eb, C, A, Gb, Eb, C. This spells a diminished 7th chord, a.k.a. the Diamond shape on the Circle of Fifths! Miracles never cease. I can’t tell if I’m elated or bored AF.
  8. Seriously, all this symmetry is too much. I quit.
  9. No. I’m back. The show must go on. What treasures lay at the bottom of this ocean? Next iteration generates A Lydian, Eb Locrian, C Phrygian, A Aeolian, Gb Dorian, Eb Mixolydian, C Ionian. Parent key series is E, E, Ab, C, E, Ab, C. This spells a frigging Augmented Chord, a.k.a. the Triangle shape on the Circle of Fifths. This is getting ridiculous.
  10. Next iteration: E Lydian, E Locrian, Ab Phrygian, C Aeolian, E Dorian, Ab Mixolydian, C Ionian. Parent key series is B, F, E, Eb, D, Db, C. This is basically a series of descending Semitones! This reiterative procedure is turning out to be waaaaay more fruitful than I’d hoped. But, every once in awhile, this sort of thing happens. Sometimes it’s worth it.
  11. Next iteration: B Lydian, F Locrian, E Phrygian, Eb Aeolian, D Dorian, Db Mixolydian, C Ionian. Key series: Gb, Gb, C, Gb, C, Gb, C. A polar collection of Tritones. Booyah!
  12. Next iteration: Gb Lydian, Gb Locrian, C Phrygian, Gb Aeolian, C Dorian, Gb Mixolydian, C Ionian. Key series: Db, G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C. This is basically a series of ascending Semitones. This is suddenly getting a little more predictable. The tritone series described in step 11 is the centre-line, the mirror-line of the entire system. Step 13 will probably generate a Key series conforming to an Augmented chord, just like step 9 but reversed. Step 14 will probably resemble step 7, but reversed somehow.

Etcetera. Anyway, this also inspired me to create some MIDI racks in Ableton dedicated to selecting Modes (as well as assembling scales from Interval selections), which should make it easier to assemble something audible from all this theorizing.

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^ Handmade Limited Editions of “Chaos In Boxes” ^

End of report.

SL

 

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Skullfinger in effect (controversy included)


Skullfinger in effect (controversy included)…

“Turn Down The Quiet” is now primed for proliferation. The new Skullfinger album (about 5 years in the making) officially dropped this week, and you can find it digitally at my website which also links to BandcampCDBaby, iTunes, other streams, etcetera. If old-school-but-not-too-old-school physical music formats are more your thing, then the Compact Disc is also available. The first 30 are Limited Edition which means it comes with a bonus Skullfinger guitar pick! Hardcopies are available at Kamloops Long & McQuade and at The Art We Are.

Frickin’ sweet.

I must say, even though music technology’s digital tendencies have rendered CD’s even more obsolete than the vinyl record, the physical tangibility factor is satisfactorily rewarding. I insisted that the front album cover should have no lettering to interrupt the artwork. Well played, me. Well played.

Did someone say controversy? Yeah, that was me – it was in the title of this blog entry. In the last few days since spreading Skullfinger’s music to other human beings, a great surprise has landed in my world… Four people so far have taken the CD and held it UPSIDE-DOWN to admire the artwork, thereby demonstrating (and stating outright) that it looks better that way!

This. I. Did. Not. Expect.

What do you think?

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^ Is this right-side up? ^
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^ Or is this right-side up? ^

End of report.

SL

The Sorry Quint


“The Sorry Quint” – poem by Sean Luciw

If your company turns out to be miserable,
should I pity thee?

As the edge gets closer and steeper,
threatening to swallow up whole?

Your poor me becomes the epitome,
the sorry quint, a wolfless sympathy.

 


End of report.

SL

Skullfinger at L&M, D.M.S., Countless Petals

 


Skullfinger at L&M…

As previously mentioned, the Skullfinger CD’s arrived from the plant the other day (I got ’em made at Precision Discs, great service and quality, recommended) so then it was just a matter of waiting for the custom Skullfinger guitar picks to arrive from Grover Allman in Australia. The first 30 copies of the Skullfinger CD come with a bonus guitar pick!

So stoked. This is what they look like:

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^ Skullfinger CD with bonus guitar pick ^

With all the pieces in place, I decided to immediately make advance copies available for public purchase at Long & McQuade in Kamloops. After the first 30 copies, the picks will not be available – Limited Edition oohhhh yeahhhhh.

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^ Skullfinger CD’s available now at L&M Kamloops ^

Skullfinger is one of my biggest and most serious and fun projects ever, quite happy about the results. It’s far more “mainstream” than my experimental stuff – I say it’s basically a “rock” album because every song has vocals and guitars. Rock includes classical, funk and reggae as well, of course. Ten originals, one cover tune. I love the puzzles contained in music: the title track “Turn Down The Quiet” all started as an adventure in brewing up various timing combos into a 21/8 framework. Like I say, this is my mainstream stuff, L.O.L.

Swimming in the long tail and loving it!

 


D.M.S….

Last Saturday I found some sweet deals at the Record Store! Barnacle Records had their sticker sale for the Spring Festival. Green dot = $2, yellow dot = $3, red dot = $5. Look what I got… Chet Atkins, Eddy Grant, Jon & Vangelis, Rick Wakeman (each tune describes one of Henry VIII’s wives), Gowan, Human League (all keyboards, no guitars or basses) …and Desperate Minds!

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^ sweet easy-budget treasure finds ^

D.M.S. was a local punk band who were slightly before my time, like just very slightly. In high school I saw these awesome zombie-faced stickers plastered on lockers and whatnot, before I knew there was any such thing as a “local music scene”.

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^ I saw these around my high school before I ever knew there was such thing as a local music scene ^

In Sadistic Humor I think we played our first gig with them at the I.O.O.F., but I don’t remember much about that since I was probably wrapped up in my own little world of guitaristic concerns. Of course, the music scene being a friendly environment, I ended up meeting and befriending some of these people, who were not as intimidating as I might have naively guessed based on the perhaps angry-looking sticker.

So, basically those rad screaming-face stickers, instead of their music, is what I remember most about the artistic output of D.M.S.. There seems to have been several bands with screaming face images form that era of my life: Eddie the Corpse from Iron Maiden, the S.N.F.U. shirts, and sweet-hearted punker chicks wearing their Cramps “Bad Music For Bad People” t-shirts. *sigh *

Finding this Desperate Minds record now, 3 decades later, was a chance to finally put a sound to the memory of that sticker which had somehow made a lasting impression on me at VVJS.

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^ my new D.M.S. record ^

So, I listened to the record and quite enjoyed it. It’s high-energy, fast and light. Good vocals, lots of boo-chee beats – way better sound quality than most of the demo tapes all us other bands were making back in the day. I’ll probably spin it again sometime. I wish I had one of those stickers.

By the way… a lot of people have Inner Anger’s blue record but I have the Purple tape. Bragging.


Countless Petals…

Prompt: Countless

Inspired by one of these WordPress “prompt” thingies, which are new to me, I found this nice little quote from Kahlil Gibran:

“The soul unfolds itself like a lotus of countless petals.”

Take a moment. If you think that’s beautiful, you should read the whole poem.


End of report.

SL

Musical Modes Applied To Moon Phases


Musical Modes Applied To Moon Phases…

Prompt: Phase

In music theory, the Modes of the Major Scale are 7 scales made from one scale, through the process of starting on every successive note. For example, if you start on the 2nd note of the Major Scale, Mode 2 is created. Since there are 7 notes in the Major Scale, 7 Modes can be created from it. The Modes can be referred by number, but they also have Greek names such as Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, etcetera.

Each Mode has its own “mood,” determined mathematically by its “interval contents,” which means the distance of each note from the starting note. For example, the Phrygian Mode has a “flat 2” which makes it sound “darker” than most of the other Modes. Once upon a time I thought, “The Modes can be ordered according to their brightness or darkness – there is a brightest and a darkest, just like the phases of the Moon!” I think about these sorts of things… patterns and correlations.

So, I ordered the Modes in terms of brightness:

  1. Lydian (brightest)
  2. Ionian
  3. Mixolydian
  4. Dorian
  5. Aeolian
  6. Phrygian
  7. Locrian (darkest)

Next, I attempted to make these Mode names act as labels on a diagram of the Moon phases. Sure enough, it all lines up perfectly:

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^ “Moon Modes” from the book “Chaos In Boxes: twisted adventures in music theory” ^

When I discovered this correlation through my own ponderance and action, I was very excited, needless to say. The “Moon Modes” made their way into the e-Book version of my book “Chaos In Boxes: twisted adventures in music theory.”

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^ cover for my book “Chaos In Boxes” ^

So… if the Moon is full, practice your Lydian Mode; if it’s a quarter-moon, play the Dorian Mode. Easy!


End of report.

SL

Factory-Fresh Skullfinger, Nix n’ Plex


Factory-Fresh Skullfinger…

Skullfinger discs just arrived…

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^ Skullfinger discs are in! ^

I love the way the graphics turned out & they look so snazzy all lined up in a row. Just a couple more weeks until release date (June 6).

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^ Skullfinger discs all lined up in a row ^

Here’s a little somethin’-somethin’ for ya ’til then… “Broke But Not Broken” by Skullfinger on YouTube


Nix n’ Plex…

Nix Nihil is in town and he’s all like, “let’s hang out and do some recording,” and I’m all like, “it’s a plan!” So I scoured through some half-baked lyric ideas I’ve got lying around and we spiffed ’em up all ripe-and-ready for another new Lex Plexus track. This one’s 160 bpm but leaning towards the half-time vibe, so really 80. This one’s going to be minimalist in comparison to the two tracks from the Sleepcaster EP, with only eight lines of verbage… I’m looking forward to some pretty severe sample manipulation.

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^ Nix Nihil belting a new Lex Plexus track ^
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^ Lex Plexus devouring the computer ^

 


End of report.

SL

 

 

Pink Noise Can Stick It


Pink Noise Can Stick It

So, for the last couple of days (see yesterday’s entry) I’ve been using my MeldaProduction “MAutoDynamicEQ” plugin to compare tons of music from my collection to Pink Noise to get a meaningful impression of where my Skullfinger project stands in terms of frequency content. I’ve been finding that most commercially-produced has a very flat curve (flat compared to Pink Noise, I mean… which is not really flat but has a 3db/octave weighting to account for human perception). When I look at my work-in-progress Skullfinger masters (and my recent Crushing Complex master as well), I’m finding that I tend towards dark masters. When I apply the compensation EQ to make it sound more “pink,” it suddenly sounds much more sparkly and I start pooing my pants out of fear that my masters sound dull compared to all the big kids.

And then I remember: I decided many months ago to go this route on purpose; a lot of popular music sounds too “bright” to me – overwhelming and symptomatic of a sensory-overload society . Now, instead of being a stubborn and prideful rebel-without-a-cause/clue (?) and doing things my own way to my own detriment, I decided to find some of my favourite “dark” sounding albums, and to use them as my frequency-comparison standard. Some of my choices include the Aphex Twin album “Syro,” Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” and “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire. (Yes, I like Arcade Fire, so what?)

Without measuring these albums technologically, I had already determined from pure listening enjoyment that each of them could stay on repeat without making my ears bleed – a worthwhile goal for my Skullfinger album, no doubt!

So now today, with the Skullfinger deadline ominously looming, I am comparing “Syro,” “Pure Heroine” and “Reflektor” to Pink Noise and finding that they all have curves significantly darker than Pink Noise – just like my own recent mastering efforts!

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^ frequency analysis of Lorde’s “Royals” ^

What does this mean? I’m on the right track after all. * phew – what a relief * …Kudos to me for trusting my ears and confirming my judgments with measurement (and shame on me for bragging?).

 

Some would say my tendency towards mellower sound is a symptom of old age, but… did I mention that “Syro,” “Pure Heroine” and “Reflektor” have all won big fancy music awards? Grammys, Junos…

So, yeah –  Pink Noise – thanks for your help (and I will doubtlessly continue to utilize thy counsel), but I think the record industry has given you too much reign. I am here to reclaim the darkness.


End of report.

SL

Pink Noise Takes No Guff


Pink Noise Takes No Guff…

Mastering technique observation: Comparing frequency plots of various recordings to each other is informative and helpful, but do you know what’s way more informative? Comparing various recordings to Pink Noise.

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^ Pink Noise, the master comparator ^

Q.E.D., beeyotches.


End of report.

SL

Scaled Space, Vaults, Misc.


Scaled Space…

A couple of friends of mine had an art show coming up and I really wanted to go see it… and so I did! Tangie Genshorek and Cam MacQuarrie (who plays drums with me in a band called Jagged, I’m the guitarist) showed their post-apocalyptic vision of Kamloops at the KAC Courthouse Gallery in their “Utopia” exhibit earlier this Spring. Collectively they are known as Scaled Space Studio and you can check out their website at scaledspace.ca. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. I knew they would come up with something cool, I just had no idea what.

When I walked into the gallery, Cam was in the midst of explaining some sort of very trippy and futuristic Zoning Map of the North Shore, complete with zip-lines, camping areas and a UFO, all colour-coded and hexagonally compartmentalized. I stared at that one for awhile before moving on to all the rest of the images. Did I mention there was a UFO shown floating above the city? Epic. All of the buildings shown in the other images featured mirrored surfaces which show representational photographic textures of sky, river and sand. These textures overlaid onto some very creative geometry made for a rather pleasant and uncommon vision.

Well, then a month later I received a pleasant surprise: my name was drawn, and now I am the proud owner of the Scaled Space Utopia Zoning Map! Here it is, shown sitting on my Korg Wavestation keyboard to pose for this portrait:

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^ Scaled Space “Utopia” Zoning Map ^

Thanks, you guys! Frickin’ cool UFO.


Vaults Explored…

I’m having a super-inspired Sunday today… Not only did I do some dishes, but I spent most of the afternoon digging through the old Rubbermaid container full of data storage CDRs, looking for a song called “Life Is Good” that Sadistic Humor half-made when we reunited in 2002 and eventually became Electric Humour. I never did find that track I was looking for, but I sure did find a whole bunch of other treasures. One of my favourites is this collection of alternate-versions of old Lex Plexus tunes from the turn of the millennium, around the time of Izmaha and Category Zero albums.

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^ alternate mixes of old Lex Plexus tunes ^

I think these will become part of an upcoming Lex Plexus retro album (there are a TON of unreleased tracks in the old vaults). It’s been bringing back a lot of memories for which I am grateful. It’s fun to look backwards sometimes.

Back in those days Lex Plexus used to sometimes perform live at local rave parties, using a keyboard and an EMU ESI-4000 sampler to trigger homemade original loops and layer them on-the-fly. Apparently the term back then was “Live P.A.” …I’ll always suck at the cool lingo and knowing the proper genre names, etc. My techno friends at the time said Lex Plexus is “mutant techno,” which I liked. Anyways, that was a fun way to deliver my electronica to a live audience, but I eventually decided to call it quits due to tempo-matching technical issues with the method. Then I heard about Ableton Live and I knew that would be the solution, but just never got around to implementation (so many projects on the go, creativity is endless). Many times through the years I’ve contemplated how cool it would be to resurrect those old loops and bring them into Ableton. Well, today is the day that plan begins moving forward again! I found all those old loops, and I’ve been on the Ableton train for almost a year now, so now it’s just a matter of moving forward.

Did I already mention I found the master .wav files of Electric Humor? Those may end up on bandcamp soon.


Misc…

I put a new Barnacle Records sticker on my acoustic today:

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^ new Barnacle Records sticker on my guitar ^

In my previous blog entry I offered some exclusive photos. Afterwards I realized that the water droplet was not showing clearly enough through the flower petals, so here’s another version of that photo:

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^ the water droplet peering through the petals caught my eye ^

 


End of report.

SL

 

Sleepcaster EP, DJ Don Rugs, Exclusive Photos


Sleepcaster EP…

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^ Sleepcaster EP by lex Plexus and Nix Nihil ^

As you may know, I make music of many varieties including techno/industrial/drum-and-bass. Six years ago, I wrote an instrumental track called “Sleep, Cerberus” and then four year later my lyrics singer friend Nix Nihil became inspired to add some very interesting lyrics. I re-constructed the music to suit the vocals and the remix was born. Fast Forward another year and Nix comes to me with another idea, this time a fresh story-lyric with need for drum-and-bass backing. And so now I humbly present to you these two creations for your listening pleasure… “Sleep, Cerberus (Nix vox remix)” and “Path of the Lightning Caster” on the Sleepcaster EP by Lex Plexus and Nix Nihil. I like the results, and I hope you do too. Available now at bandcamp.


DJ Don Rugs Setlist…

One of my alter egos had a pretty good time behind the decks the other night at Barnacle. Yeah  real vinyl… booyah! Partly, I choose the best songs from my worst records. Here’s a photo of all the records I played:

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^ vinyl selection by DJ Don Rugs ^

Maybe you noticed this kickass Crumbsuckers record, the latest addition to my collection:

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^ Look what I got – Crumbsuckers on vinyl! ^

It was a favourite of mine about 23 years ago, when I had the cassette. A welcome addition.

Here’s a nice tidy list of all the songs I played that night:

  1. Andy Summers and Robert Fripp – What Kind of Man Reads Playboy?
  2. Del Woods – Goofus
  3. Jorgen Ingmann – Apache
  4. Crumbsuckers – Prelude Intro
  5. Roy Buchanan – Judy
  6. The Kilima Hawaiians – Hawaiian Surfriding
  7. Roger Eggermont’s Trio – Five Foot Four
  8. Cygnus X – The Orange Theme
  9. A Flock Of Seagulls – Man Made
  10. Crumbsuckers – A Moment Of Silence / Mr. Hyde

Have you heard The Orange Theme? Interesting chord progression.

Good times!


Exclusive Photos…

Most of my artsy Hipstamatic photos go up on my Instagram but I’ve decided to spruce up the WordPress universe by dedicating some of today’s photo-adventure fruits to an exclusive appearance right here and now:

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^ the washer was an alien element ^
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^ started as a logo (mystery) ^
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^ pretty flower ^

End of report.

SL