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Dandelion Wine Month - July 2003
I thought I'd better start a new thread as people are asking "which month?" and I couldn't remember the answer myself!

Seemed most people were settled on July, unless everything changed while I was gone from the board.

There's no law that says you can't read DW in June, of course. Or it might be a good time to read Winesburg, Ohio.

I'm so glad the anticipation is building.
Posts: 229 | Location: Van Nuys, CA USA | Registered: 23 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Writing Reptile,

Under another thread, I concur with July so it was my mistake. But I also suggest doing something for October. What's your opinion?

Posts: 614 | Location: Oklahoma City, OK | Registered: 30 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'd like to do a Bradbury book each month!! Any takers? And for the October selection, what better than "The October Country?"

[This message has been edited by lmskipper (edited 06-01-2003).]
Posts: 774 | Location: Westmont, Illinois 60559 | Registered: 04 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Absolutely October is a must-read-Bradbury month. I haven't read Halloween Tree so that might be a good October book. Doing a new book every month might be too much for me.

Also, isn't 451 having a big anniversary in October? That could be a good one for people who haven't read it since high-school. I'm almost too terrified to mention this here, but I've NEVER read it.

A good one to follow up Dandelion Wine might be Something Wicked This Way Comes. I suspect it might be interesting to compare and contrast themes of childhood, friendship, father-son relationships, the importance of embracing the joy in life, etc.

I have no earthly idea how to decide. I suppose we'll all just do what we usually do and hash it out in an epic thread that will somehow end up intertwined with debates about cloning, God, book burning etc. Someone start a book club suggestions thread and we can go from there.

Right now I just want to take it one book at a time...

[This message has been edited by WritingReptile (edited 06-01-2003).]
Posts: 229 | Location: Van Nuys, CA USA | Registered: 23 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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A book for October - it must be The Halloween Tree. It would almost be sacrilegious to read anything else. The Halloween Tree is an October tradition in my house, and I would love to share its reading with my "extended family."
Posts: 85 | Location: San Dimas, CA USA | Registered: 25 January 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I believe July is probably the month we decided on. I thought it was June and so read "Just This Side of Byzantium" -- the introduction to Dandelion Wine -- today (June 1). I guess I'll just barrel ahead.

I attached the Dandelion Wine thread below in case anyone is interested. I put it under ===== signs so no one needs to read it if not interested. I thought there was some interesting discussion there.

There is a lot of interesting stuff in the intro. Parts talk about his storing images that he would draw from years later. Part was about his "word-association" methodology of writing. Part was the idea that the more you use your creative mind, the more you are able to use it {"...the more water you dip out the more flows in. The flow has never ceased."). He also talks about this creative process (I imagine he means both sides: reader and writer) as being really something that you "play" with -- not work with.

But I think my favorite part was where he kind of argues against a review who compared him to Sinclair Lewis and asserted that Bradbury must not have seen the "real" (ugly) side of life. Bradbury counters that he saw it all when he was a kid. But he talked about how, in a child's eye, they were not ugly. The trains, a bother to parents waiting for it to pass as they are in a hot car, were pure fun to count as the train went by and to name the kinds of cars. The ugly railyard was fascinating to a little boy because that was what brought in the carnivals and circuses. As Bradbury says in part of the introduction: "Trains and boxcars and the smell of coal and fire are not ugly to children. Ugliness is a concept that we happen on later and become self-conscious about."

I think this is part of what Dandelion Wine is. It is an idealized (yet realistic) depiction of what his youth was like. His family, his fears, his adventures, etc. As he says,

"...if your boy is a poet, horse manure can only mean flowers to him: which is, of course, what horse manure has always been about."

Many of us have decided to read Dandelion Wine in July (I'm accidently, but stubbornly proceding in June). As we read, let's read it the way Ray wrote it:

"I had plenty of memories and sense impressions to play with, not work with, no, play with. Dandelion Wine is nothing if it is not the boy-hid-in-the-man playing in the fields of the Lord on the green grass of other Augusts in the midst of starting to grow up, grow old, and sense darkness waiting under the trees to see the blood."

As to some of the comments below, about not having the kind of childhood Ray had, I have two thoughts:

(1) Part of the beauty of this book is that Ray's writing is so great, we can partially participate in that childhood with him.

(2) I think the point is that the world is not what mattered, but the world as seen in the imaginative eyes of a child. I graduated HS in 1973, and grew up in the LA area -- no Greentown for me. But we had avacodo wars in rainstorms, ran to see storm drains overflow in heavy rains, lived through earthquakes, visited extended family (many of whom seemed a bit odd), learned to love, learned disappointment, enjoyed fantasies and exagerrated fears, rode bikes to the mall and raced the wrong way on escalaters until thrown out of stores, hiked down cement storm drains, crawled through sewage and drainage tunnels under the city, etc. The key is to learn, as Ray says, to go back to those memories and re-envision them from the eyes of your own childhood. The imagination and coming of age is not restricted to Greentown IL in 1925.

Ray's book, Dandelion Wine, more than his others and more than the books of most writers, allow us to re-capture the magic and horror of childhood through his writing. As he says at the near the end of the introduction:

"...after all, isn't that what life is all about, the ability to go around back and come up inside other people's heads to look out at the damned fool miracle and say: oh, so that's how you see it!? Well, now, I must remember that."


Author Topic: Intro to Dandelion Wine
Keli Linda
Junior Member posted 11-13-2002 02:49 PM
While I have read several of Ray's books, I just began Dandelion Wine yesterday. When I read the introduction, I was somewhat saddened. The experiences Ray went through growing up are so rich. It makes me look at my own life and the way I grew up. I grew up in suburban California in condominiums and apartments. My experiences pale in comparison to growing up in the enviroment Ray did.
This made me think. I want my children to be able to experience the wonders and magic of growing up in a somewhat rural town the way Ray did. But with my future husband in entertainment (juggling, balloon animals, magic, stilt walking, actor) it would be hard for us to make a life for ourselves in a rural environment. Green Town seems so fantastical to me. As a child of the city, it is hard for me to imagine that such a wondrous place exists.

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Member posted 11-13-2002 04:04 PM
Keli, your comments have called up these thoughts:
The reason Dandelion Wine speaks so strongly to my upbringing is because of the Green Town descriptions, its next door families, the businesses in the town, and the fact that everyone pretty much knew one another and their kids (in the surrounding neighborhoods and within the small community schools).

My family had a store which was located in the middle of the main downtown district. Every busy owner knew and exchanged with those on the public square. I grew up barely able to see over the counter and then ran the store alone when I became a teenager.

It was not unusual for someone to come in, get a slip on items needed, and then return a day or so later to pay for the trade. Never any problems. Times gone by...unfortunately.

The open fields behind our home were the center of the universe for dozens of kids - all year round. Baseball games in spring and summer, Football games in the cool and muddy days of autumn (tackle with no pads and no law suits), hide & seek that went on long after dark, dogs of all shapes and sizes chasing boys and girls, kite flying, and pollywog, snake, and frog collecting (in glass jars) from a large run off pond - much like the ravine. True!

At night, the fireflies and peepers took over. As the mist rose from the cooling surface, the paths that led around the banks quickly became hair-raising routes that one did not wish to encounter alone after the sun had set. The smells, sounds, and sights are still very real as I recollect now!

You could knock on your friend's door, enter after a "come on in" was offered, and then be treated to cookies, cake, or a p.b.j. sandwich with the always cold glass of milk -served from thick glass bottles left early that morning by the friendly milk deliveryman who drove a high-sided panel truck. The bottles always clinked and jingled in the metal carrying crate as he hustled out of and back to the open cab of the vehicle.

Fights occurred, trees were climbed, bikes raced around homemade dirt tracks, and we snuck into the fairgrounds to see the circus or county exhibitions, even though we knew we had enough to pay. However, it meant an extra ride, candy apple or side show viewing. (Ah, those huge snakes, sword swallowers, and if we were "really lucky" illustrated men or women!)

In the winter -snowball fights were endless, forts were huge, and shoveling at 9 a.m. meant school had been cancelled (heaven), it always snowed forever and remained below freezing (-20F was common) until spring returned.

Then buds on trees and greenings in the thawing fields brought the smell of soggy old hay and patterns of field mice coming up from deep below ground. We knew something was finally about to happen to the landscape.

The barber, flowershop, butcher, cigar store, grocer, deli, sport shop, hobby store, firehouse, carmel corn shop (et al), and ice cream parlor were just a few haunts where we were all known by our first names and, therefore, were purposefully on our best behavior - or else!

The trouble we did get into (halos were only evident when necessary) was dealt with promptly when we got home. The phone would ring, and we took our medicine without much argument.

The next day we would be friends with those we had recently fisticuffed, sharing an apple or some sour rhubarb, or choosing up teams in the field again because the 12-15 kids who inevitably showed up on any given day were ready to run-yell-hide-laugh until darkness fell and the day -filled to capacity- came to an end.

Dandelion Wine always sets memories racing when I read or teach it. Mr. Bradbury's tales touch the essence of our humanity.

(For the millionth time..."DW needs to be a movie!")

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Junior Member posted 11-13-2002 04:34 PM
You can share Green Town with your progeny-to-be: some of the vignettes make wonderful bed-time stories, and as the kids grow up, you can bring in the more difficult ones.

You can also cull some "Dandelion Wine"-like stories from Ray's story collections; and, when they're old enough, graduate through "The Halloween Tree" into "Something Wicked This Way Comes." If the "Martian Chronicles" colonists can take bits of Green Town with them to Mars, you should have little trouble.

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Moderator posted 11-14-2002 05:24 AM
Concerning environment, Ray is much into urban renewal. He has said we are going to save the small towns and bring them back to life--referring not only to rural communities, but to setting up distinct small communities within urban settings. To some extent this is already being done, but needs to keep happening. Now, a question: anyone ever play "Kick-the-Can"? It is mentioned in at least one of Ray's stories, and is the title of a "Twilight Zone" episode by his friend Charles Beaumont, so must have been a common childhood game. Anyone play it or know rules or variations thereof?
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Green Shadow
Member posted 11-14-2002 03:37 PM
Great memories. I enjoyed reading them and the images you conjured up. Good writing, too. Mine are not as picturesque, but I have engrained memories of trick or treating (at age 6) until 10 at night. I would fill up a grocery bag full, and then return for another bag to fill again. No worries about knocking on anyone's door. Just wild and care-free greed!
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Member posted 11-15-2002 12:19 AM
The basic rules that my wife grew up with in her version of "kick the can" was to play the game at night. Have someone be "It" set an old can in a open lot then have a group of kids go hide while they counted to some number while staying next to the can, then the "It" would go looking for the other kids. "It" still had to be within range of the can when spying someone "It" had to run, and jump over the can saying "Over the can on so and so"! The object of the other players is to sneak back,
and kick the can before the "It" spyed you
calling out your name. There are some other fun twists those that are caught now become
"It's", and get to go help search for the others hiding out in the dark. There is also an added incentive if someone can kick the can all of the caught "It's" can go hide
again. The original "It" has to start spying, and hopping over the can again. I asked her when did the game end. She said when every one was caught, then the first one caught was the next it. Or you did'nt want to play it any more. I figure you would have to play this with one old tough steel can. I asked my Wife when she played this game, her whole street of kids would play from dusk until pitch dark, she said all Summer long. She said they loved it.
[This message has been edited by uncle (edited 11-15-2002).]

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Member posted 11-15-2002 09:10 AM
Uncle: Similarly, without the can, we used a tree as "home free." If you were discovered in your hiding place but were able to run back fast and yell "Home free!" as you touched the tree (before "It" got there and yelled "You're out!" or Gotcha!"), you would still be alive to hide again.
Of those caught, someone would then become the new "It" and the next game began.

The best parts of the game - thumping heart from the excitement of nearly being spotted, the fading away of the day and the complete darkness in which you had to run.

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Moderator posted 11-16-2002 03:37 AM
The "Twilight Zone" version had a definite hide-and-seek element. Thanks for the enlightenment.
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Junior Member posted 12-13-2002 02:26 PM
Your future husband may have a better life and better living in a smaller town than in a city. Some people need to own more than one television; others cannot imagine life without a climbing tree in the yard.
We chose to earn less money and live in a town of less than 5,000 people; smaller than Green Town. Greener too, possibly. We have problems like anyplace; punks and thugs and gangs and even skinheads. But it's easier for the good kids to stay good, because there are friendly and familiar faces almost anywhere you would need one.

There is no symphony or big box superstores, and The Who will not include Ojai on their next tour. One must commute to work, and during floods and fires we can find ourselves quite isolated, but never alone.

There are local bands and a Shakespeare festival and a storytelling festival and a film festival and more. There are trees for kids to climb in and REAL pumpkin patches at halloween.

I grew up in suburban Orange County, believing "blue sky" was just a quaint expression. But my neighborhood still provided most of what counts for an idyllic childhood: a little bit of nature, a lot of mysterious places, and enough adults who behave like adults.

Thanks, DZ

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Moderator posted 12-16-2002 04:12 AM
Your family should be able to say along with George Lucas that they lived in California but grew up in the Midwest.
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Junior Member posted 01-18-2003 12:44 AM
Are you sure that your memories pale in comparison because of WHERE you lived or did you just have an unsatisfying childhood?

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Member posted 01-18-2003 02:00 AM
Well, how satisfying a childhood does anyone have?
I understand that strange feeling of longing for a time and place you never knew. That's the magic of Bradbury. He made me nostalgic for an era I missed by several decades.

I felt sorry for myself for a while. Why couldn't I have a rich past like that to look back on? The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized what Dandelion Wine was really teaching me: to really live every moment, savor it, and appreciate it for what it is.

After all, the magic of Green Town isn't so much in the place or the time, the magic is in the man or woman who has learned to love and appreciate their own existence for the miracle that it is. Green Town isn't *out there*, Green Town is *in us*--each of us.

Ray explains a bit in "Just This Side of Byzantium":

"I was amused and somewhat astonished at a critic a few years back who wrote an article analyzing Dandelion Wine . . . wondering how I could have been born and raised in Waukegan . . . and not noticed how ugly the harbor was and how depressing the coal docks and railyards down below the town."

"But, of course, I had noticed them and . . . was fascinated by their beauty. Trains and boxcars and the smell of coal and fire are not ugly to children."

"In other words if your boy is a poet, horse manure can only mean flowers to him; which is, of course, what horse manure has always been about."

And we can all be poets. That's what Dandelion Wine has to teach us.

[This message has been edited by WritingReptile (edited 01-18-2003).]
Posts: 2769 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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A nice kick-off for Dandelion Wine month, even if it is "early". Of course we can just make this "Dandelion Wine Summer" and thus smooth over all those wrinkles.

Sorry, I won't be able to start the book early. I'm on the quarter system here at UCLA and we go till mid June. I was really looking forward to reading the book with you, so read s....l....o....w....l....y.
Posts: 229 | Location: Van Nuys, CA USA | Registered: 23 September 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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No one's even mentioned August. What book would be best for Ray's birth month, or should we make August choose-a-Bradbury-book month?
Posts: 7266 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I know I'm a little late joining this group. Hope I can keep up since I've never read Dandelion Wine all the way through. Here's my summer memory to add to all of yours.

We slept beneath open windows with screens filtering the scents of jasmine, climbing roses, pink geraniums and Japanese plums, indigenous of summers in the Big Easy. Some days, our bikes would glide like the wind and jump familiar curbs, landing in City Park, where for $2.50, we could rent paddle boats or canoes for one hour of mayhem in the mossy-covered lagoons. Other days, we�d take the long ride to the lakefront and watch the sailboats while sprawled on beach towels with snow cones and teen magazines. Then there was my twelfth summer�the endless summer. Hurricane Betsy landed in New Orleans and struck the base of the massive oak tree across the street, its branches busting through our living room window and stopping cars in their tracks. It took seven days to get the power back on in Lakeview, ten days more before St. Anthony would re-open and over two weeks of being crowned queen of the mountain. Perched atop my uncontested throne, I owned the neighborhood, halting all challengers and forcing them to creep backwards down the street. Those days were a study in human nature, offering a unique vantage point in the center of the street. I made friends with confused squirrels and ate breakfast with robins. After a few days, bicycles owned the street, bringing more and more kids to climb and sit on the parts of the tree that had never before felt human arms and legs. The summer ended abruptly the day the tree crew came and took my kingdom away. I was glad school was back in session. If I had witnessed the abolishment of my throne, I might have staged an embarrassing protest that I couldn�t possibly win. And deep inside, I know if I had watched the once-majestic giant humbled into manageable stumps and carted off in a dump truck, a part of me would have died. And when that first car drove past our house and made it to the corner, I might have wanted to pitch an acorn at it. Funny, how quickly a taste of power can manifest and take root...and how just as quickly it can be snatched away.

[This message has been edited by Celestial (edited 06-03-2003).]
Posts: 118 | Location: Gulfport. MS | Registered: 10 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thank you for encouraging me to pick up Dandelion Wine for the first time in a few years. I used to read it every beginning of summer (late June, early July)as a ritual....paying tribute to the rituals that Doug and Tom talked about early in the novel. It became my touchstone, my source of comfort and serenity. I grew up in a big city, but I guess we, in our own ways, were as carefree and curious as any 12 year-olds would be. I plan on starting it soon and am eagerly awaiting the pleasant discussion (reminiscent of the conversations on the Spaulding porch). I know Ray wrote this book to, in Doug's words, pass it on.

"I sure did. I think I passed it on."

Boy do I wish I lived in Orange County so I could see the plays and the book signings............


[This message has been edited by guapodevil (edited 06-05-2003).]
Posts: 19 | Location: Connecticut | Registered: 24 November 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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One of the early passages in Dandelion Wine seems to talk to Bradbury's quest for life.

I like the passage (in part) as it reminds me of a NT challenge issued by Christ: In speaking of the resurrection in John, he says: "Believest thou this?" It's a real challenge for us to examine the nature and reality of our faith.

In Dandelion Wine, we read the following:

"'Tom?' Then quieter. 'Tom . . . does everyone in the world . . .know he's alive?'
'Sure, heck yes!'
. . .
'I hope they do,' whispered Douglas. 'Oh, I sure hope they know.'"

One of the things that I find so magical about Bradbury's writing (and you can see it in his personality when you visit with him) is his recognition that the value of life is in how "alive" we really are and a challenge for us (if we aren't ALIVE) to become much more attuned to the excitement in just being alive.

I think much of Dandelion Wine is a kind of tribute to a life that is fully alive.
Posts: 2769 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Orange County nice place to live?
Hmm!! Used to be...and there are still some nice places....
But �ALL� the oranges, for which Orange County was originally named... are gone...
When I lived there, starting in 1976, my neighborhood (Fullerton) still had a lot of Orange Trees...and there was a very large factory in Fullerton that processed oranges, and I used to watch the great building that housed a million plus oranges, always alive with trucks and more trucks pulling up. Now all that is gone.And that's everywhere! Maybe...maybe a few trees in Irvine. Or a few avacodo trees hanging on somewheres.
Now, all it's all new buildings...
They demolished the ENTIRE downtown of Anaheim, and built a new one in the early 1990's....all new freeways...all new WIDER freeways...smog, heat, congestion, and terribly expensive housing.
I'd say you would be hard pressed to find any semblance of the magic of Green Town in this place. It's there somewhere, and like you said...it's easier to find it when you are 12. But, heck, Bradbury lives only about a 45 min. drive from Orange County...and there are those plays to go and book signings to attend...
Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It's July 1st! Besides being the first day of Dandelion Wine Month, my twelve year old turns into a teenager today! As if this event isn't scary enough, the earth spun, summer gathered in the weather and Tropical Storm Bill swept through Southern Mississippi, covering everything in his path with pools of rainwater. The street lights, like candles on a black cake, went out, and then hours later magically relit.

This morning, the sun rose a little quicker and the birds sang a grateful tune to welcome its warmth, peaking out from behind weather-beaten clouds.

[This message has been edited by Celestial (edited 07-01-2003).]
Posts: 118 | Location: Gulfport. MS | Registered: 10 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The magic is not in Green Town, it is in the imagination of the boy growing up in his own town and place. I grew up in Santa Monica-Ocean Park-Venice and they were wonderful places in my boyhood imagination. Green Town is a state of the mind. My Father grew up in nearly the Green Town of Ray's childhood: Tiskilwa, Ill. much like Waukegon. So I had the both experiences, one vicariously.
Posts: 847 | Location: Laguna Hills, CA USA | Registered: 02 January 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I couldn't agree more. I grew up in La Puente, West Covina and South Pasadena (all in the LA basin). Although much has been covered over (as Nard points out), much of growing up is in one's imagination.

Thoreau said he was born in the nick of time (he meant in the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society). I feel like I was blessed in the same way. When I was a kid, we were still surrounded by Orange and Avacado groves. We build tree houses, had orange fights, dug tunnels, played war, hiked through both dirt and concrete washes, built homemade bombs, blew up little soldiers after spending all day setting them up and building little forts and bridges for them, wandered around under the city in the water system with candles, had avacodo fights in the rain (to see the girls' shirts get wet!), played hide and seek throughout the neighborhood, went trick-or-treating to the rich neighborhoods with pillowcases for bags, hiked along the train tracks and put coins on the tracks to try to find them when the train passed, went to the beach to skim board and body-surf, went to the desert to camp, hike and catch tarantulas, hiked up Mt. Wilson, rode bikes all over creation, etc. There was plenty to do in both real life and the imagination. The recollection of my childhood is filled with great memories. Family, friends, cool girl friends who were so fun to try and figure out, etc. No complaints from me.
Posts: 2769 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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