Posted in Books, Movies, Televison, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday Dear Batman

The Batman.1bat28
Caped crusader?
Eccentric billionaire with delusions of grandeur?
Traumatized vigilante?
Whatever he is, however you see him, he looks good for 75.

The Batman is cool, but the villains he must vanquish to save Gotham and its citizens add spice to the mix.
Joker, The Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, Scarecrow, Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, Bane, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Catman, Calendar Man, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Hush, Killer Moth, Clayface, Mr. Freeze, Anarky, Deadshot, Professor Hugo Strange, Soloman Grundy, Red Hood, Phantasm, Mutant Leader, The Reaper, Victor Zsasz, The Mad Hatter, Man-Bat, ok, someone may have gotten stuck for names; so many wicked baddies.

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And sidekicks, companions, helpers. The proficient and enigmatic Alfred, various Robins, Superman (when they get along), Wonder Woman (you know they had something going on), Batgirl, Green Arrow, Bluebird and my fav, under-rated but remarkable, Commissioner Gordon.

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1bat1Why has Batman, sorry about any spoilers, aka Bruce Wayne endured were so many have faltered and fallen?
Why do we love our tormented bat who keeps crime in line?
Not from another planet, not mutated, doesn’t have supernatural powers, etc.; he’s a different kind of superhero.
He does have physical prowess; expertise; dexterity; mad acting like a drunken idiot skills; master of access to some trippin’ gadgets and hot cars; he’s a genius with his memory clicking pictures all the way; of course, he’s hot, and what’s that other thing, oh yeah, super-duper rich.

Bob Kane, with the help of Bill Finger probably had no idea what they had done when they created this distinctive masked, skilled crime fighter who fights his past and his own demons as much as any villain.1bat21

Batman comics are awesome and I still think the ‘60s Batman (Adam West) is a hilarious, droll satire of the Dark Knight, cheesy yes, but in a good way.

Cartoons, video games, movies, TV, comics, merchandise – The Batman just keeps flying into our psyches.

Arguably the most successful Batman incarnation, the Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight trilogy, beginning in 2005 with Batman Begins. Special effects, cool costumes, great stories, and a mind-melting cast. It’s a nerd castle in the air.

The Dark Knight in 2008 brought us to even darker depths with the late Heath Ledger as the mesmerizing and disturbing Joker. He delivers one of the best ubercreepy movie lines ever,  “Well hello beautiful…”, preening himself as he walks toward Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

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The Dark Knight Rises (2012) was enthralling and yes, now I’m speaking in a Bane voice, don’t judge.

Ben Affleck is suiting up as the next Batman in Batman vs. Superman1bat24I’m going to reserve judgment.

Granted, I have a Superman thing too and sadly, Bane when portrayed by Tom Hardy, but that’s another post or therapy session.

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So Happy Birthday dear Batman, Happy Birthday to you!

Glad you finally cut back on the underwear outside the tights, what looks cool and eccentric when you’re young just looks confused at 75!

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Posted in Books, Christmas, Uncategorized, Zombies

A Place For Your Stuff

1clutter11Lived in one home for 50 years?
Move every 5 years?
Or every few months?
No matter, human beings acquire stuff.

I love the George Carlin routine about how we need a place for our stuff.
It’s true, we have versions of our stuff, at home and work.
In garages, sheds, storage units.
In purses, backpacks, wallets, suitcases.
On vacation. In cars. Wherever.
Now we’ve added computers, smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. to the list. Oh my, wouldn’t Carlin fun with that?

So what do we do with this stuff, well, we definitely dust, rearrange, reorganize, store, and bemoan it.
We keep it because it might fit someday, we might use it sometime, might need it somehow, or maybe it was a gift, or it will come in handy during the zombie apocalypse…

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1clutter1I think self-help books are like recipe books, sometimes you learn something new, or it reminds you of something you used to do.
Donna Smallin (best-selling author of The One-Minute Organizer, Secrets of Professional Organizers, Unclutter Your Home, Unclutter Your Mind, etc.) is at it again, offering readers, Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness (Storey Publishing) which gives more one-minute uncluttering and household tips. I like her idea of doing 10 minutes a day, may not sound like much, but it adds up.
Like her other books, Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness is full of great advice; precise, practical suggestions, all presented in an extremely efficient manner (I would expect no less).

I borrowed this ARC from Netgalley.com (release date December 2014; I bet you can think of at least one person who needs this for Christmas), but until it’s released Smallin has many others books to help you unclutter and organize your life.

Smallin suggests rewarding yourself for uncluttering, but I think that’s rewarding yourself for having so much in the first place. Now if something finds it’s way to you as a cosmic reward, then by all means, accept it.

Here are some ideas, should you wish to edit your stuff:

1. Not an absolute yes? Then bye-bye.

2. Have a 3-ring binder to keep track of: To-Do Lists, bills, activities, household info, take-out menus, appointments, coupons, etc.

3. Everything should have a place and it should stay there, not migrate around your house.

4. Figure out your worst clutter habit, ie. not putting like items together. Work on that habit, then move down the list.

5. Declare your independence! Don’t think of uncluttering as a punishment or a chore, think of it as freedom.

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6. Plan a purge (no, not like those movies!). In the words of the infamous Red Hot Chili Peppers, Give it away, give it away, give it away now!

7. Avoid comparisons. Don’t say things like, My place may not be as clean as my Mom’s, but it’s way cleaner than people on the Hoarders. No, just, no.

8. 5 items into your home, 10 items out.

9. Keep items you use, or need for legal or sentimental purposes. Donate, sell, or trash the rest. Buy less.

10. Things are not as valuable as people or your time. If you pick something up and you’re greeted with dust (this goes for relationships and friendships as well), it’s time to say goodbye.

If you’re not using it, if you don’t love it, let it go.

This should go for every part of your life.

The world is full of literal and figurative clutter, don’t add to it.

 

Posted in Autism, Books, Parenting, Televison, Uncategorized

All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

Sometimes simple and straightforward are best.1cats1

All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopmann (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) explains Asperger’s Syndrome perfectly. And it has adorable pictures of cats being adorable.

This delightful and deceptively minimal book is the first book you should read if someone you love is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (also called Aspergers Syndrome, or Asperger Syndrome, or Asperger’s, or Aspergers).sheldon6

The only downside? Like Sheldon Cooper (played so brilliantly by Jim Parsons) on The Big Bang Theory, it makes it sound much cuter than it usually is; for those who have it and those who love them. Or Sherlock Holmes (take your pick, the most recent, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller) which makes it seem exciting…Or all the other examples of Aspergian or High-Functioning Autism on TV, in movies or books.

The truth, it’s difficult, frustrating, wonderful, sad, amazing, and confusing…for all concerned.

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IM000556.JPGThere are many great books I would recommend, but these are quite helpful, informative and above all, accessible.
Borrow them from a friend, library, or Autism association; or purchase them in store or online.

The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome – Dr. Tony Attwood; Inside Asperger’s Looking Out – Kathy Hoopmann; An Asperger Dictionary of Everyday Expressions – Ian Stuart-Hamilton; Kids in the Syndrome Mix – Martin L Kutscher, MD; The Oasis Guide to Asperger Syndrome – Patricia Romanowski Bashe & Barbara L. Kirby (Harmony Books); The Autism Discussion Page on the Core Challenges of Autism – Bill Nason (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)1cats10The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Asperger’s Syndrome – William Stillman (Adams Media)
The Asperger’s Answer Book – Susan Ashley, Ph.D. (Sourcebooks, Inc.)
Empowered Autism Parenting – William Stillman (Jossey-Bass)
The Fabric of Autism – Judith Bluestone (Sapphire Enterprises, LLC)
How To Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism or Asperger’s – Jennifer McIlwee Myers (Future Horizons)
Quirky, Yes Hopeless, No – Cynthia La Brie Norall, Ph.D w/ Beth Wagner Brust (St. Martin’s Griffin)1cats9

Thank goodness for Jessica Kingsley Publishers, I don’t know what I would have done without them.

If your child, spouse, friend, or yourself is diagnosed – don’t panic!

HHgttg don't panic
1cats3Media, doom and gloomers, people holding mock funerals for their children when they’re diagnosed, etc., even those who wish to help can intentionally or unintentionally scare you.
Don’t get caught up in the conflict people, people that love to make everything a drama.
Don’t hyper-focus on people ‘understanding’, including your family or friends, how could they understand? Just hope they’re supportive.
Focus on helping the person you love.
They’re still the same person, you just have a diagnosis that will aid you and others, to help them.
Helping the person you love find the skills and resources is taxing enough without adding fuss.

It’s also important to remember Autism isn’t a straight road, there are many, many twists and turns, ups and downs.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ~Confusius

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My son has Asperger’s and several medical conditions, but is doing better than anyone would have predicted.
Yet when a setback comes along, a medical procedure; other anxiety-provoking situations, people, challenges; illness, or something that is overwhelming I have to remember, it may seem like one step forward, two back, but he still took that one step forward.

But it’s still been a long few days.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” ~Mary Anne Radmacher

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Posted in Books, Environment, Internet, Movies, Televison

Welcome to…Jurassic Park

1jur3Why so fascinated with bringing back dinosaurs?
Size? Curiosity? That they lived before the dawn of humans?

Or merely human nature, we want to do something, if we can.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton is a big, stinky, carnivorous cautionary tale for abuse of technology and he makes no bones about it (yeah, I went for the cheap paleontology joke; sorry, it was the only thing I could dig up).

We need more cautionary tales.

We find we can manipulate genes, so as humans we think, then we should.
Clone…then we should.
Build bombs…we should.
Grow viruses…should.
Smartphones, Wi-Fi, internet…should, should, should!!!

Shouldn’t we find out the consequences first?
Everything has consequences.
Everything.

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I’ve heard the argument that God gave us the ability to do these things so we should.
a) that’s presuming there’s a God;
b) we also have to ability to kill people, should we?
c) justifying much?

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In less than 25 years we’ve become internet junkies. We overshare worldwide. No worries about pulsating signals everywhere. More children plugged in like adorable little zombies. We’re more distracted, obsessed, exhausted, overwhelmed, and less connected than ever….

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I began readin1jur29g Jurassic Park and Philosophy (edited by Nicholas Michaud and Jessica Watkins) thinking I knew what they’re going to say.  To some extent I did; philosophers examining JP in detail, scrutinizing all connotations and consequences as well as providing provocative insights regarding: genetic engineering, cloning, technology, human nature, ethics, religion, drama, humour, and even dinosaurs. Also gave me a creepy ah-ha moment – we’re the dinosaurs, a species striding boldly, masters of the planet, all the while becoming extinct.
Yes, another tremendous book in the Popular Culture and Philosophy series from Open Court. I’m so hooked, I can’t wait for the next fix.

Hammond, essentially a snake oil salesman, only cared about money, power, and his legacy, he couldn’t see he put his real legacy in danger by bringing his grandchildren to the park to figure out if it was safe, after someone was killed by a cloned dinosaur. Humans are so proud we can do, we forget to show respect for the real power, nature.

John Hammond: All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked.
Ian Malcolm: Yeah, but John, if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.

1jur12Any thoughts on the reboot of the Jurassic Park series?

Jurassic World  i1jur28s now a state-of-the-art dino theme park on Isla Nublar. 22 years after the events of the original Jurassic Park all is well; what a relief. But wait, frustrated with declining attendance, an exciting new attraction is opened, gee, I wonder what could go wrong?
The cast looks interesting, Chris Pratt, Jake Johnson, Vincent D’Onofrio, BD Wong, Irrfan Khan, Judy Greer, Bryce Dallas Howard, but I’ll miss Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Sam Neill.
Written by Colin Trevorrow (also directing) and Derek Connolly, both from Safety Not Guaranteed   https://yadadarcyyada.com/?s=safety+not+guaranteed , I’m hopeful this will be action-packed and funny. Also that it’ll continue to offer strong female characters, like Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Lex (Ariana Richards), and well, the dinosaurs were all female, right?

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Ian Malcolm: God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.
Ellie Sattler: Dinosaurs eat man … woman inherits the earth.

Any questions?

 

Posted in Books, Music, Uncategorized

Word Crimes

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Numbers never seemed to make as much sense as letters. My brother’s a math guy. I actually had a math teacher ask which one of us was adopted.

I do love to learn. Love writing.

Learning isn’t just brick and mortar-centered; learning is everywhere, if you choose to find it, or let it find you.

Weird Al” Yankovic’s latest release, Mandatory Fun (RCA Records) gives us 12 hilarious, unforgettable spoofs, altering Royals by Lorde to Foil for all you conspiracy lovers; Inactive instead of Radioactive by Imagine Dragons,and mixing-up Pharrell Williams’ Happy, oops, now it’s Tacky; and
adjusts those Robin Thicke infamous Blurred Lines to Word Crimes, becoming the supreme grammar Nazi.

Wow, “Weird Al” sure turned into a big dic, um, tionary.

I adore “Weird Al”, even now I’m singing Amish Paradise and know from there I’ll move on to Jurassic Park, then Angry White Boy Polka followed closely by eBay, Spam, Like A Surgeon, First World Problems, Canadian Idiot, and more.

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1eng3Watching the video for Word Crimes by “Weird Al” reminded me of all the amazingly fun children’s literature out there, most of which teaches, even if it’s subtle, like adding veggies to mac’n’cheese or chicken nuggets.
If you’re trying to teach, make it fun. Authors like: Greg Tang, Lynne Truss, Cindy Neuschwander, Loreen Leedy, Amy Axelrod, Marilyn Burns, Ann McCallum, etc. explain math, grammar, and so much more in straightforward and amusing ways. For example, Don’t Dangle Your Participle by Vanita Oelschlager and Mike Desantis (Vanita Books; VanitaBooks.com) – turns out the title is a little misleading, but makes sense because it’s for children, it’s actually about grammar. A fun way to teach essential skills. If books like this had existed when I was in school I might have been tempted to pay more attention.
Maybe not, Charlie Brown’s teacher sounded exactly like mine, at least to me.

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The best thing about children’s literature?1eng10
It gives a child joy, hope, understanding, life information, lessons, compassion, empathy, and so much more while traveling to Oz, Neverland, mysterious islands, finding treasure, finding friendship, battling mythical creatures, fighting pirates, or learning to be a wizard.

They can visit the past or the future, go to space, into the corners of their own house, garden, barnyard, or imagination.

Visit a chocolate factory, have a series of unfortunate events, have a terrible horrible day while it rains meatballs and pancakes.

Travel down a river, land a plane, save the world, save the environment, save the universe, or save Christmas while finally trying green eggs and ham.

Be King of all the Wild Things then visit a magical kingdom. All the while, learning.

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“Weird Al” and all these authors clearly want to make money and write, but they have a point, when we learn something when we’re happy and having fun, it stays with us, in a positive way.

So have some mandatory fun; sometimes participles dangle, the world’s an imperfect place.

Posted in Books, Chocolate, Doctor Who, Food, Movies, Political, Televison, Uncategorized, Weight

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Turns 50

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I’m celebrating 50,000+ views on my blog (Thank you! Thank you!) and the 50th anniversary (published 1964) of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, published 1964.

Loved with this book, then I saw the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – my mind was forever altered.
A factory full of chocolate? It was one thing to read about it, another to see a river of chocolate

I still love the 1971 Gene Wilder version best (directed by David L. Wolper), maybe because it’s steeped in childhood memories or because for me, it’s Gene Wilder’s definitive performance.

This is where I fell in love. Gene Wilder and chocolate. Sign me up!

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Wilder is the ultimate Willy Wonka. He didn’t go over-the-top weird, instead opting for a subtle, damaged man-child who was trapped in his own reclusion, a Howard Hughes-like creative genius who couldn’t cope in a reality that wasn’t of his own making. Wilder’s transcendent blend of cordiality, callousness, awe, and animosity make you think he is Wonka, he just is.

Jack Albertson was delightful as Grandpa Joe, who apparently couldn’t get out of bed to get a job, but could dance a jig and spend the day at a chocolate factory.

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Charlie Bucket is the only child Dahl and Wonka even remotely like due to his meek and accommodating nature, but Charlie wasn’t as obedient as he seemed, he spent money on a chocolate bar that he wasn’t supposed to; so even in the most co-operative child Dahl found a fault.
The 1971 version was renamed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to cross-promote UK’s The Willy Wonka Candy Company who had bought the rights from Roald Dahl.

I never understood why Roald Dahl was classed as a children’s author, he clearly disliked children, at times rather intensely. His stories and books reflect this.
What he hated more than children were their parents, specifically parents who didn’t raise their children properly, at least from his point of view.

Imagine what Roald Dahl would think of children and their parents now?

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The Friday Project/ Harper Collins

I recently read A Brief History of Chocolate (Steve Berry and Phil Norman) which I must warn you will not only vastly entertain and inform, but make you crave chocolate.

Despite best intentions this book lacked something, what was it? Oh yes, chocolate. They should sell each copy with a chocolate bar or coupon for a free chocolate bar. There, a marketing idea, no charge…although I’d take a thank you in chocolate bars.

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I also loved the darker, creepier Tim Burton vision of Willy Wonka.

Johnny Depp played him weird and it worked. Also damaged, but in a deranged-metrosexual-game-show-host-who-moonlights-as-a-rock-star-on-acid-way.

Veruca Salt was a bad egg or nut in all versions, but really, her parents spoiled her. Also, Augustus Gloop, Mike Teevee, and Violet Beauregarde. All annoying children, but allowed, even encouraged to be so by their parents.

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 The first time I walked into the Hershey chocolate factory in Smith Falls, Ontario the smell was divine, like melted chocolate floating through clouds of more chocolate just before it rained chocolate.

I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face, the pure wonder as he watched row after row after row of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups racing happily along the conveyor belt.

I’m sure I had a similar look as I saw the giant vat of chocolate I wanted to swim in, not figuratively, literally.

No Oompa-Loompas, no chocolate waterfall, trees made of taffy, Everlasting Gobstoppers, no fizzy lifting drinks, or Wonka though, but lots of chocolate for sale and sample.

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Alas Hershey closed the factory after 45 years, losing a great tourist attraction, and hundred of jobs. Several other large employers closed, shipping more Canadian jobs overseas, 1ww10leaving 40% of the town unemployed.

Now a flame has been lit as Smith Falls rallies; the factory at 1 Hershey Drive now produces medical marijuana, which, in a great cosmic irony would have made more people buy chocolate.

There are still times, when I open a chocolate bar wrapper and think I see a flash of gold.

Posted in Political, Televison, Uncategorized

All In The Family…Guy

1all15Toned down for American primetime, All in the Family still managed to rock TV land.

Based on the controversial BBC series, Till Death Us Do Part (created by Johnny Speight) and warmed up with The Honeymooners and The Flintstones, nothing had prepared us for Archie Bunker (played by the apparently sweet Carroll O’Connor).1all17

Archie was a complicated guy.
Clearly bigoted and uncouth, he was also honest and hard-working, often expressing opinions people were thinking, but couldn’t go against the politically correct times to say.
He was also an excellent way to hold a mirror up to bigotry and prejudice without shoving it down people’s throats.

This show rammed through contentious and taboo subjects, including but not limited to: racism, homosexuality, rape, miscarriage, abortion, women’s liberation, menopause, breast cancer, impotence, the Vietnam War and more.

Archie was a scared man. His comfy chair world had been turned on its head.
He knew his place and everyone else knew their place. Until they didn’t.
Archie didn’t understand why everything he felt was right in the world, especially his world, had to change.

His long-suffering wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) was patient in ways no one, including their daughter, Gloria (Sally Struthers) could understand. Despite their many issues, it was clear they all loved each other deeply.

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Gloria’s hippie husband, Mike/Meathead (Rob Reiner) highlighted the clash between The Greatest Generation (Archie as a WWII vet) and Baby Boomers, the struggle between the old guard and young people who wanted to change the world…Archie’s snug little world.

1all13And then there were the spinoffs. The Jeffersons  movin’ on up to the East Side.
Edith’s cousin, Maude (the incomparable Bea Arthur) visiting then getting a hilarious spinoff. And Good Times was a dy-no-mite spinoff from Maude. And more…

Taped in multi-camera format in front of a live studio audience, All in the Family never failed to break new ground.
I loved that they never used canned laughter. I’d prefer not to hear any laughter, but if I must, let it be genuine.

Family Guy pays tribute to All in the Family with its opening sequence of Lois and Peter playing the piano, and various other similarities…then again, the whole show is a pop culture fart. Of course, they’ve taken it much further, boldly going where even TV censors, after dying of exhaustion, knew they could go.

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American Dad! (created by Seth MacFarlane, Mike Barker, and Matt Weitzman) is an absurd animated emulation, though since the All in the Family players were more caricatures than characters, it makes sense. And they added Roger and Klaus; who can complain?1all2

All in the Family and its official and unofficial offspring influence so many; although, looking around the world today, I think a lot of the messages are being missed, or misinterpreted.

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