Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Category: music

What is Best in Life? 2018 Edition

Nothing like an end of year round up. A time to reflect, a time to take stock, and a time to project.
Overall, 2018 has felt like a year of building pressure. Whether we get a glorious wave into 2019, I don’t know, and whether I have the balance to ride that wave and not get crushed I also do not know. But I’ve done my best to stay positive and keep wheels behind the scenes moving, so while I didn’t publish a lot this year, I did prep 4 pitches, and put the scripts for one project to bed, and wrote a tonne on another one, and have lined up a few one-shots with artists I’m excited to bring it all together with.

If everything I worked on in 2018 came out in 2019, it would be a stellar year. So we shall see.

And while I said I didn’t get much out in 2018, what did come out was stuff I’m crazy proud of. The BEAUTIFUL CANVAS tpb landed in Feb, collecting last year’s acclaimed mini-series, and the month before it we started the year strong with ETERNAL, and I’ve been saying if you only publish one new thing all year, but that thing is ETERNAL, then it’s been a good year. Eric Zawadzki and Dee Cunniffe deserve all the praise this year.

Now, onto some things we can list!

MY TOP COMIC OF 2018

I really dug some good good stuff this year. Image tops the list with so much quality: GIDEON FALLS was something I got caught up on recently, and that book is very fine, as is CEMETERY BEACH, for totally different reasons. SHANGHAI RED was my jam in the same way SINK at ComixTribe is. PAPER GIRLS and SAGA and DEADLY CLASS continue to be masterpieces, and I really enjoyed MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES, but the top book really has to go to something that’s one of my very favourites from my very favourite creative team:

KILL OR BE KILLED

Just a stellar end to a wicked story where both Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker were on superbly fine form.

MY TOP NOVEL OF 2018

Man, THE OUTSIDER from Stephen King could have run away with this, if I’d only stopped before the final hundred pages. It’s not *bad*, but it is not as blistering as the first half of the book. That first half is pound-for-pound King at his dark criminal best.

I also really dug PLATO WYNGARD AND THE ARMOUR OF THE GODS, the second novel from my two brothers, Marc and James Lindsay, but that feels a bit nepotistic, and would make them far too happy.

I took a few weeks to smash through HANGMAN, where Jack Heath writes such a ballistic crime novel that you can’t help but be impressed with the layers of familiarity he builds into his characters alongside the wild intricate puzzles and violent moments.

But there can only be one, so, I’ll lay this one at the feet of:

WE RIDE THE STORM

This fantasy epic from Devin Madson was something I bought because she showed the opening line on her table, and it’s a banger:

I honestly hadn’t read a fantasy book since my David Eddings days in high school, but I was keen to try this out. It’s Book One of a bigger story, so the opening hundred pages is a lot of table dressing, but by the final hundred pages it’s just fistfuls of food being slammed into your mouth faster than you can chew. And I mean that in a good way. The action and character drama continue to rise, and I was hooked on all three plot threads as they wind ever closer.

There were also two particular chapters where I finished them and thought…damn, that’s some good reading.

If you get the chance, track this down, it’s bloody, glorious, and bloody glorious.

MY TOP TV SHOW OF 2018

THE GOOD PLACE came so so close to running away with this one. The third season has been just as good as the rest, and in a way that’s different from S2, which went about it different from S1. The show is a titanic force, and I’m a better writer for having watched it, but something else from this year jumped ahead of it through sheer force of will. And it wasn’t DAREDEVIL S3, or GLOW S2, or THE KOMINSKY METHOD S1 which came out of nowhere to absolutely thrill me, nor was it my marathon catch up of three seasons of THE LEFTOVERS, which I’m discounting because it’s an older show. No, the top gong is kinda easily held onto by this one which should be absolutely obvious when you really think about it:

ATLANTA S2

This show good, this show real good. Some of these episodes, mostly in the middle in and around the Teddy Perkins ep are just A+ analyses of the modern world as told through gonzo noir small screen cinema. So so perfect.

MY TOP MOVIE OF THE YEAR

It’s one thing to announce a tie, and it’s another to give that tie to two polar opposite things. Both of these flicks did what they needed to do nigh perfectly, and they left me in very different places, and I can barely separate them. One will be endlessly rewatchable, one will be a hard watch again, though I will. One is high pop bubble gum joy, one is brutal art house insanity. Both, though, are long. I can’t separate it, so I’m letting the chips fall where they may – the top flick[s] of 2018 are:

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and SUSPIRIA

Watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe come to this big break moment at the end of Infinity War was something to behold, a truly special feat. The movie is top notch event comic action fun. It’s *BIG* and it’s wild and it’s a smile injected into your lips. It’s not high art, and it shouldn’t be. It’s not a great character study, and it shouldn’t be because there are about 500 principal hero cast at play – though it is a study of Thanos, which is both as bold as it is brilliant, and it’s for that reason it crossed the line at the top.

However, across the aisle, SUSPIRIA does everything different, and is most likely the more true superior flick. It is high art, it’s weird, it’s a character study, or more of a location study, a look at witch hierarchy in dance schools. It’s unsettling, and everything holds huge gravity – which is funny when you consider the death count in Suspiria must be about 0.0000001% of the other cape-inclined movie. I feel like Suspiria is more likely to sit atop Best Of lists when we look back in 20 years, but Infinity War will be more remembered, and more wildly remembered, and will sit on its own Best Of lists, too, for its own reasons.

MY TOP PODCAST OF 2018

I’ve gone deep into WOW IN THE WORLD and STORY PIRATES with the kids on all commutes, and they’ve fed my brain in wonderfully small ways. SERIAL returned and was interesting, but lacked that central narrative engine that makes it a binge-worthy podcast. I also found it crazy depressing, to the point where it almost felt like it was inducing anxiety in me after listening for an ep, and maybe that’s a huge point: if listening to it all give me the shivers, imagine living it 😐

I’ve caught up on a tonne of the GOOGLE TEACHER TRIBE PODCAST just to keep my dayjob game tight, and it’s worked a treat, making me feel energised about all kinds of things for work, especially going into 2019.

But, I think this year goes again to OFF PANEL, the comic interview podcast where the creators are well picked and always get down to real talk. I still love this podcast, and still get a constant stream of quality inspiration and joy from it.

MY TOP MUSIC OF 2018

There was new Sarah Blasko this year, I got DEPTH OF FIELD and it’s a great writing record, but it lacks the punchy catchiness of her other albums, so I think sneaking in at the top might be the SUSPIRIA soundtrack.

And I think that’s a wrap. 2018 had some good stuff, and it also felt like mental quicksand. But walking into 2019 will feel like walking free, so I better make the most of it.

Here’s to building a better stronger list of live in yet another year.

What Is Best In Life? – 2017 Edition

I love a good year end list. And this list is very much about me, and my year, and what works for me. If you dig what I usually dig, then seek these things out.

Oh, and this just means things *I* did/imbibed in 2017, not necessarily things *from* 2017 because I’m crazy behind on things all the time.

Okay, roll the thing!

Read the rest of this entry »

What is Best in Life? – 2015 Edition

2015, I believed.

BEST COMIC

DEADLY CLASS by Wes Craig and Rick Remender

Just loved every single panel in this crazy messed up book. It’s a wild idea, wrapped up by a wide array of intriguing characters, in a $10 intro trade, with some of the most nuanced and superb comic making I’ve seen in a while. Just an utter joy to behold – well, in a sense of how it is made…most of the actual narrative is as bleak as leftover coffee the next morning.

BEST TV

HANNIBAL

Just the best in show for everything, really. This year was S3 and it closed out the show and did it so masterfully that I’m still in awe. This is one of the few things I just keep bringing up to people and gushing to them about. It’s a show I want to share because it represents so many things about storytelling I love, and I wish I could do.

I’d love more seasons but I also love how tight and wonderfully this is all stitched up. This year, everything else paled in comparison.

BEST MOVIE

INSIDE OUT

And I mean hands down, best flick of the year. I crazy loved the idea but the execution was better. With a simple narrative throughline, they then explore emotions in such a deliberate and delightful way that my 5yo man dug it but I was floored by it. I cried twice in the damn flick and then when I got home and tried to explain it to the wife I started tearing up again. She thought I must’ve had a stroke. So good, and who knew we needed HERMAN’S HEAD the kid adaptation so bad?

BEST MUSIC

NEW BLASKOOOO!

Yes, a new Sarah Blasko album dropped and she’s still amazing. ETERNAL RETURN has fuelled some words in the last few months.

BEST PODCAST

COMIXLAUNCH

Every time I listen to this podcast about using Kickstarter for making comics it inspires me to make some more comics. I just get the fire in the gut again. You need to have that fire, and stoke it, and shift it, and kick it, if you’re going to survive this stupid ride we repeat again and again making comics.

The ComixLaunch podcast is just gasoline all up in my bonfire of life. I was also on an ep, dig it, it’s all about kickstarting DEER EDITOR and doing a digital only campaign from Australia [LINK]

BEST BOOK

ELEKTROGRAD: RUSTED BLOOD by Warren Ellis

This ebook was like two bucks or something stupid and it was a tight, short, very interesting read. And I’m finding it hard to hang on to novels because they are taking me crazy amounts of time to get through so short novella stuff is just right and this book was aces [LINK]

Are there other best things from this year I should be considering? No app jumped out at me this year, and no way could I single out all the cool art I’ve been able to scope in my travels with collaborators, so I think this is it.

2015 was a building block year, and it built in me patience. Hopefully I can use it to calmly slaughter 2016.

NOIRVEMBER 007 ~ Sea of Heartbreak

When it comes to music, I tend to steer to the saddest shit possible and I don’t even know why. There’s something about that aural connection that makes my office need to soak up all the sads.

Maybe it stems from my father. His favourite band was The Platters. My lords, they are amazing. One of his favourites was ‘The Great Pretender’ and as a family we all loved it. Especially as Freddy Mercury also sang a version and we were and continue to be a huge Queen family.

Now imagine me, many years after my father’s suicide, really contemplating the fact this was one of his favourite songs. It’s kind of gutting. And yet I still love the song.

I also love ‘Twilight Time’ and ‘Harbor Lights’ and pretty well their whole damn ‘Best of’ album, which we owned on CD and spun goddamn daily in enjoyment, then in tribute.

blasko

For something more recent, I find myself in a crazy ear crush on Sarah Blasko because her music sounds like it’s scoring someone’s downfall. It is the perfect score to me writing, both my inner process as well as what comes out on the page.

But when it comes to a great noir song, I’ll always stop at ‘Sea of Heartbreak.’ Why?

The lights in the harbour

Don’t shine for me.

And with those opening words, my heart breaks. This song brings out the very best in noir in that it’s someone’s eternal turmoil over love lost. Because noir isn’t always death as opposed to life, sometimes it’s death inside as opposed to living. These lyrics paint a picture of a million words and only really talk about the emotion and the distance. It’s not a classical narrative story, it’s a response.

And you are allowed to fill in the gaps. Which is always the worst because my mind will always reach further than it needs to in order to destroy itself. I’ll imagine something so bad that it’s near impossible but that doesn’t stop its possibility being a complete curtain over my brain. So this song utterly stalls my brain and sets it floating on ‘this seas of tears.’

I am now certain you can only imagine what then occurs when you double-bill this song with ‘Teen Angel,’ an actual narrative song and the very saddest thing you’ll hear on this fine day.

‘Teen Angel’ is about a young picaresque high school couple whose car stalls in front of an oncoming train, and, well, it’s easier if you just hear it.

That fateful night the car was stalled

Upon the railroad track

I pulled you out and we were safe

But you went running baaaa-aack.

From there, the train hits, the girl dies, and when the young buck investigates to see why, oh why, would she go and do something so stupid, he finds his ‘high school ring, clutched in your fingers tiii–iight.’ We then follow him to her funeral and we know he’s broken for life, as you would be.

It is horrific.

It is also a song that featured on a 50-60s double cassette album of rock and roll hits that my father bought and loved and I listened to a million times as a kid. From ‘Rock Around the Clock’ to ‘Blueberry Hill’ to ‘Chantilly Lace’ these tapes had it all, and yet I never knew they held this piece of lovesick noir. And I knew the words to the song, I sang along, and it wasn’t until one day, in my late teens, I was in my car, tape jammed in, jamming along, when I paused and took stock of the words coming out of my mouth. I was floored. I rewound, I listened again. Why the hell was this even a song?

I took the tape home and played the song for my brother, he had also never really ‘heard’ the song before. We both stood there, paused, and that feeling that death is all around you, has always been around you, finally soaks in as you realise how comfortable you’ve become with it. How inured you are to things ending before they should. How much your brain protects you from the darkness all around.

All these songs, as bleak as the other side of the moon, and yet I can’t get enough.
As I write the downfall of so many characters, you’ll find these songs scoring their trip to the underworld, across the sea of heartbreak.

NEGATIVE SPACE Coming Out Your Boom Box

NEGATIVE SPACE has a Spotify list [LINK]

Screenshot 2015-06-02 22.38.40

So if you wanna know what kinda jams bring me completely low enough to write a suicidally depressed guy then get down on it.

For those wondering about purpose, I often use music to get in the writing zone for certain projects. When writing HEADSPACE I found listening to ‘Harbor Lights’ by The Platters instantly put me in Carpenter Cove. For Guy Harris, I find hearing ‘Everyday’ by Buddy Holly puts me in this weird place where I feel his pain but also desperately want it to feel better for him. It’s heartbreaking and perfect to get in the right place to bring him to live on the page.

From there, the highlights of the list so far are:

EVERLONG [ACOUSTIC] – Foo Fighters – because this song is amazing and when done acoustic and slow, my lord, it’s soul rending stuff.

THE GREAT PRETENDER – The Platters – imagine your old man was a huge Platters fan, then imagine this was one of his favourite songs, then imagine he kills himself, and then imagine years later you suddenly see the saddest irony ever that your childhood was spent with him singing this song like it was something grand when it was the most subtle cry for help you ever missed.

IN YOUR HONOR Disc 2 – Foo Fighters – because Dave Grohl is my depression spirit guide, haha. This second disc of the album is one of the best things to Fooeys ever did. It’s gorgeous, crazy, insane, and I could listen to it on repeat forever.

Sarah Blasko – seriously, anything she’s ever done, haunting. She’s always writing fuel but for NegSpace she was a supreme goddess.

And I’ll continue to add to it over time because even just writing press [or this post] it helps to keep the brain in laser focus.

As always, if you’re going to follow us down the rabbit hole on this crazy story, I have to thank you. Independent comics live and die on the vine based on word of mouth and preorders. If you spread the word in cake writing, sign language to the blind, or anything else, I’m grateful. All good things are great things to us.

And finally, if you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

I Make You A Mixtape at Eat.Geek.Play

Over at Eat.Geek.Play they asked me to make them a mixtape.

The RKL Mixjams Vol. 2

I tried to slap together a variety of things, the sorts of things that inspire me and fuel my process. A peek into what’s on as I work, but also what’s been on before that’s shaped my brain. Because when I work, I have playlists for tone and projects and I use them like prescription. Music has always been a great mental trigger for me. That’s why music also attaches to memories so well for me. Certain songs/albums/bands really define periods of my life, friendships, and relationships. I like having that ability to delve into an album and have my heart transported somewhere else for 45 minutes. It can really help the writing sometimes.

Rereading the post, I realise how real I get in a few entries. It’s nice to write about real stuff. We should always be honest.

Enjoy the tunes, peeps.

What Is Best In Life? – 2013 Style

It’s always educational to reflect on the year you just imbibed. I have to admit, having a new baby (and it making two for the house) and scoring some larger writing gigs meant my pop culture intake was down a lot this year. I kept abreast of the best comics around but everything else suffered. Nonetheless, here’s some stuff I dug in 2013.

Top Comic – FATALE

I read the first 3 issues of this and then completely fell off. The singles I bought kept stacking up. The more I hadn’t read the more insurmountable it felt to catch back up, but I kept buying the floppies and I know I’d get there one day. And holy cats am I glad I did.

FATALE is the sort of comic that does what it does exactly as it should so if you want a crime horror comic then this is quite simply perfect for you. For my wheelhouse, this comic is king. I spent a sick day off work reading like 14 of these issues in a row and it was insane how good this book is. I’ve long been a fan of SLEEPER/CRIMINAL/INCOGNITO and this book ably joins the gang as a perennial favourite. Philips is just at the top of his game now where he’s stacking these panels densely and with intense purpose. The writing from Brubaker is airtight with every word feeling like it slipped from an aging paperback. The pacing and plot are great but there’s a tonne of little lines and moments that will stop you and inspire you. I wanted to go write for days straight after reading these issues.

I’ll also say, yeah, I dig this book more than SAGA. And I dig SAGA a lot but this book is just that touch more perfect, and more perfect for me.

Honourable Mentions

HAWKEYE – the top cape book right now (sans capes). This book does so many things right and it’s a process treasure trove.

THE MASSIVE – I love the singularity of this book, it’s like nothing else. The characters all pop, the art teams are so damn fine, and I’m liking the whole painting this story provides.

SEX CRIMINALS – I did not see this coming at all. This romance comic (and that’s what it is) is so damn real and beautiful. This should be the only Valentine’s Day present anyone ever needs again.

LOCKE & KEY – it finally ended and I’m so damn sad.

EAST OF WEST – another entry I was dubious about and yet caught up on the first trade’s worth of floppies and my oh my this book is tight. Hickman delivers a slew of simply amazing lines and Dragotta’s always been great.

ULTRANOVA – my favourite indie one-shot this year, Peterson and Ferrier drop a cerebral sci fi tale that stuck with me all damn year. Buy it on the cheap right here and thank me later!

HIGH CRIMES – the best Monkeybrain book by far this year, Moustafa and Sebela craft this beautiful and intricate character study amidst high altitude crime shenanigans. Also, possibly the best covers of the year.

FIVE GHOSTS – Man, this pulp massacre is just fun to read and so pretty to look at.

DAREDEVIL – Samnee and Waid brought me right back into the fold this year. Some great stories and always gorgeous.

THE WAKE – this is basically an action movie with solid characterisation and I’m digging these mermaids.

SAGA – it is a very good book, don’t you know?

STRANGE NATION – I know I write a column in it, but that doesn’t stop this book thoroughly entertaining me with every issue.

D4VE – only one issue dropped but it was so good. Ramon and Ferrier are doing a book like nothing else, and the sort of thing that should insta-open any door in the industry.

BLACK SCIENCE – I finished reading this and could see the problems with it and yet didn’t care because it was so much fun. I like fun comics.

Special Shout Out

FEAR AGENT LIBRARY EDITION VOL 1 – I finally read this beast and it was beyond brilliant. The art at that size is like nothing else. Remender feels really pure and raw in these pages. It’s pulp sci fi. There is every reason for me to love this book. I don’t even mind that Vol 2 keeps getting delayed. if it’s going to come out this good, I’m happy to wait.

Top Book – Fiction – JOYLAND

This tight pulp thriller from Stephen King through Hard Case Crime was better than I had expected. King is back on a high for me after the very very good 11.22.63 so I hoped for this and he really delivered. The overall plot isn’t too insanely intricate, and parts of the resolution do less than wow, but the craft with which King plans and executes his chapters is like a study of razor precision. There are many great lines in this book and that’s something I really appreciate now – someone who beyond plot knows how to use their words.

This also has me hoping for DOCTOR SLEEP to be good. I’m a fifth of the way in, and I’m enjoying it, and I’m such a fan of THE SHINING that it has to prove itself as good enough to exist so here’s hoping for the coming weeks/months.

Top Book – Non-Fic – MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY

This was a stellar read. I’m kind of the ideal audience as I love comics but also love the behind the scenes malarkey just as much but I cannot state enough how interesting some of the history of Marvel Comics really is. As someone who kind of knew some of this, and knows all the people and characters, this was a perfect read. Sean Howe did a very good job assembling this.

Top Movie – PACIFIC RIM

I’ll have to admit, I think these are the only two flicks I saw at the cinema this year. Admitting this makes me so sad. And while iron Man 3 might prove out to be the better film, I give this to PACIFIC RIM because it was just so enjoyable to watch. I haven’t felt that happy and in awe for a while so it made for a very rad night out. And sometimes I just want a flick to entertain me on the purest level. It’s like PREDATOR, brilliant because it entertains. This flick, the same thing. Though this screenplay was a touch more off in places (really off in some) but I could overlook the cheese and obvious set ups and logic holes just so I could get on with enjoying the show.

Honourable Mentions

IRON MAN 3 – a Shane Black cape flick that plays out exactly how you’d imagine such a flick to play out.

Top TV – BREAKING BAD S5 Part 2

Really, how could there be anything else? This show is the great American novel written in front of us over 6 years. This show had the best writing of any and the character arcs were beyond anything else ever attempted and the writing offered it up but every single actor nailed it. The show ended on a perfect noir note. There will be little else this good in our future.

Honourable Mentions

HANNIBAL – this show is my selection to take up BREAKING BAD’s throne. Deft writing, creative cinematography, superb acting, and an end note that if they can stick it right in S2 will show the world this series is a true contender. And I wasn’t even going to watch this show because who the hell needed more Lecter in our lives? I humbly rescinded my first opinion and now cannot wait until February.

THE WALKING DEAD – I continue to enjoy this show.

Special Shout Outs

TERRIERS – whoo, boy, this show was built for me. I really hope it gets kickstarted one day VERONICA MARS style because that would be immense. I also wish it was a comic, and I could write it.

THE WIRE S4 – I finally watched this. It seems THE WIRE is taking me years to watch. But when I pop a season on, I shotgun the hell out of it. And this one was about teaching so it hit me very hard.

Top Music – ENTER THE DRAGON OST

I discovered Spotify and my life has changed. Man, they have everything on there. So I’ve fiendishly been making playlists for projects but I also set up a list titled OST madness and it’s got a tonne of soundtracks on there, and first up is the ENTER THE DRAGON OST. It’s just great, for starters, but I also wrote a kung fu one-shot you’ll be seeing this year and the dna of this music is infused to its pulpy core.

Top Podcast – LET’S TALK COMICS

This is a late entry but it’s kind of the perfect podcast for me. It’s not shilling, it’s just career talk, process chat, open words. Great creators come on and discuss how and where they started and then every step along the way to breaking in and staying in. It’s fascinating stuff. It’s like the best parts of Word Balloon, which I still love.

Honourable Mentions

NERDIST – with the right guest, this show is amazing.

NERDIST WRITER’S ROOM – I find I don’t even know half the names but it’s all writing process (mostly tv but it all rings true). They also now have a comics themed segment of eps on the pod, and it’s pretty good.

WORD BALLOON – always good, Siuntres knows how to do his job.

VODKA O’CLOCK – this gives smaller creators the chance to chat (myself included) and I like that view from the underground, plus Amber is a top host and superb person.

POP CULTURE HOUND – another great interview show, and they get a wide variety of good guests.

COMICS EXPERIENCE MAKE COMICS – this started on the iFanboy podcast and is now it’s own thing. Good, short, clear, snippets of process talk focusing on one section of the game at a time.

THE Q+A – film chat pod where Jeff Goldsmith asks all the right questions.

FATMAN ON BATMAN – when they have the right guest, and Smith doesn’t get in the way, this can go some really interesting places.

Top iApp – WUNDERLIST

A late discovery but something that’s clearing up my head. It’s just making lists and you have the ability to tick off what you’ve done and it moves down but you can still see it all. You can also add due dates, this helps me not freak out too much. It’s also free, which means the world to me because I am cheap.

Honourable Mentions

ComiXology – gotta love the sales.

Zite – an intriguing media reading aggregating/personalising app that’s bringing me new content to read (when I ever have the time).

Coffitivity – this sounds like such a stupid app, but I kind of love it 😐

Dropbox – perfect for viewing the pretty art people send me on the fly.

Top Kid – My Second One

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She is gorgeous, adorable, cute, insane, and constantly learning little things (tonight she played peek-a-book with her towel and my heart grew three sizes). The perfect person to round out our little family.

So, that’s been my 2013. I hope yours was just as rad 😀

My Ten Favourite Songs List

10, {explain} – Sarah Blasko
9, Breaking The Girl – Red Hot Chili Peppers
8, Paint It Black – The Rolling Stones
7, The Midnight Special – Creedence Clearwater Revival
6, The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash
5, Modern Way – Kaiser Chiefs
4, Twilight Time – The Platters
3, Rough Diamonds – End Of Fashion
2, Gravedigger – Dave Matthews
1, Miss Misery – Elliott Smith

*Correct at time of publication. No doubt different now. Completely different. I know I’ve forgotten something.

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