Crowdfund Acquisitions #3 – In Memoriam: Terence McKenna (April 3, 2000) – Excerpts from Esalen 1999 in ‘Green Egg’ Magazine

Eighteen years ago today, April 3, 2000, Terence McKenna passed on as a result of a rare brain tumor. In it’s May/June issue of that year, the pagan-oriented magazine Green Egg published a full-page memorial that mostly consisted of a standardized description of Terence’s bio (similar to what appeared on his own books). However, it begins with a set of excerpts by Terence from Esalen in December of 1999, only a few months before Terence’s death, which I thought would make an appropriate object of attention for our remembrance…

“Everything is a blessing and everything comes as a gift. And I don’t regret anything about the situation I find myself in. If psychedelics don’t ready you for the great beyond, then I don’t know what really does. And we’re all under sentence of ‘moving up’ at some point in our lives.

“I have an absolute faith that the universe prefers joy and distills us with joy. That is what religion is trying to download to us, and this is what every moment of life is trying to do — if we can open to it. And we psychedelic people, if we could secure that death has no sting, we would have done the greatest service to suffering intelligence that can be done.

“And I feel that death is close, and I feel strong because of the (psychedelic) community and these people and plants that it rests on, and the ancient practices that it rests on, and I am full of hope, not only for my own small problems, but for humanity in general.”

-Terence McKenna (Esalen, December 1999)

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I’d also like to re-share Robert Hunter’s all-too-little-known poem ‘Words for Terence’, written on the occasion of Terence’s death and read aloud by Phil Lesh at a memorial:

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Terence McKenna Birthday Raffle Acquisitions (2017)

For Terence McKenna’s birthday this past year (Nov. 16, 2017), the Terence McKenna Archives held a raffle for a set of photos of Terence. The first-prize winner, Graham St. John, won the full set of photos, and runner-up Jeff Lerue won a single photo of his choice. Everyone else who participated received an email thanking them for their contributions, which included a unique document compiled by the archivist with details about the locations of copies of a rare art book which Terence collaborated on.

I had also promised that I would make a blog post detailing which items I was able to add to the collection with the profits from the raffle. This is that blog post. Thanks, again, to everyone who contributed! You’ll be glad to know that we were able to make bargains with some of the sellers, which allowed us to save $70 on the total cost of the items.

Here is what you helped to add to the Terence McKenna Archives:

1. All 4 issues of ‘Towards 2012’ magazine (edited by Gyrus)

Towards 2012 was a magazine produced in the late 1990s that was partly inspired by the work of Terence McKenna. From 1995 to 1998, the series editor, Gyrus, created five well-produced, and now very difficult to find, issues (the final two issues were housed in a single magazine, making four volumes in all). Within the volumes there are several articles which refer to, comment on, or reconsider Terence’s ideas, a transcribed version of Terence’s Tryptamine Hallucinogens & Consciousness talk (his first-ever talk at the Esalen Institute), an interview with Sasha & Ann Shulgin where some differences with Terence come up, some interesting Terence-related art (I particularly like the ‘stoned ape’), and several ads for Terence-related material, including his website. Of particular note for the archive is an advertisement for a “hefty zine” called Heads and Tales, which lists “Terence McKenna” under the contents for Issue #1. If anyone reading this has any further information about this zine or if you have a copy that you would like to scan, send, or sell, please contact terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com. This is a publication that is not represented in our physical or digital archives.

This is a finite project, created to take a close look at the transmutational possibilities that lay before homo sapiens as we approach the millennium… At the heart of the project is the intuition that the human race is fast approaching a catastrophe cusp point – a phase transition period… 2012 CE is a date that may as well have been singled out arbitrarily for the title of this journal. As it happens, it is the date that ethnopharmacologist Terence McKenna points to as the precise location of the ‘catastrophe cusp’ in the temporal dimension; it is the date beyond which futurologist Robert Anton Wilson has stated that he is unable to project possible futures; and it is the end of a Great Cycle of the ancient Mayan calendar system. We are facing the end of the world as we know it, because it has outlived its viability.

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Now, perhaps, the ‘archaic revival’ proposed by Terence McKenna, and the term ‘modern primitives’ popularized by the Re/search body art manual, can be seen in an evolutionary context. The prime characteristics of rave culture – the use of psychedelics, the utilisation of percussive music for altering consciousness, its neo-tribal structure, the rise in nomadic lifestyles, the popularity of body-piercing and tattooing – may be seen as a cultural return to a more primitive model. From this point, having regressed back beyond the cultural and social blind alleys of recent human history, a “creative leap forward” may be made to escape WoMan’s over-specialization.” -Samuel Lawson

Sasha Shulgin: I was listening to Terence McKenna years ago at Esalen. He was talking about how if a drug comes from nature it’s okay, but if it comes from a lab it’s suspect. Suddenly he realized that I was sittin gin the audiences (laughter). In essence, I said, “Terence, I’m as natural as they come…”

It is interesting, then, that around Dionysus…we find so much debate about whether his worshippers’ sacrament was wine or mushrooms… Most scholars…conclude that Dionysus’ rites involved both intoxicants. Astoundingly, McKenna does not pick up on this symbolic psychoactive cross-over, but clearly recognizes the importances of Dionysus as a transitional one. -Gyrus

Psychedelic experiences and dreams are chemical cousins, they are only different in degree. -Terence McKenna

 

2. 5 issues of ‘TRP: The Resonance Project’ and 1 issue of TRIP magazines (edited by James Kent–it can’t be said that the editorial staff didn’t have a sense of humor), including relevant interviews with Terence McKenna, Dennis McKenna, Rick Strassman, and D.M. Turner, articles mentioning TM, reviews of books that have contributions by TM, and more.

3. ‘Bookways’ magazine #8 (1993)

This journal which is dedicated to the art of bookmaking includes a review, by Barbara Tetenbaum, of the 1992 collaboration of Terence McKenna with artist and bookmaker Timothy Ely. The Terence McKenna Archives will be holding a major crowdfund campaign early in 2018, in part in order to acquire a copy of this book, called Synesthesia, from a private owner who is making a copy of this rare item for the archives if I can raise the funds by early March. Tetenbaum has kindly donated her review to the crowdfund effort for a document that I am creating to offer to donors. Here is just enough to give a hint…

 

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4. ‘boing boing’ magazine #10 (1994)

This is a volume that has long been on the list of items to acquire for the archive but has usually been unavailable. Fortunately, a reasonably-priced copy became available at the same time as the raffle. I knew that there was both an interview with Terence and a review of his Timewave Zero software, both of which made it a high-priority item. So, it was a pleasant surprise to also find references to Terence in two other places in the magazine: in Thomas Lyttle‘s interview with Peter Stafford and in D’Artemis Hart(wo)mann’s article reflecting on the role of prostitutes in religious history. There was also an unexpected review of the Experiment at Petaluma video project produced by Terence’s friends at Rose X Media and an ad (one I’ve never seen before) for a company, Fringeware, selling Terence’s Timewave software.

 

5. ‘High Times’ magazine #385 (July 2001)

This is another item that has been on the acquisitions list for some time. It is an issue of High Times magazine from July 2001 containing a letter from Dennis McKenna offering some words on Terence’s passing and making readers aware of the Journey Through the Spheres tribute album produced by The Novelty Project.

Terence was a complex person, blessed with a restless mind and curiosity that led him down many little-traveled pathways of thought and speculation. As his brother…I can testify from experience, it was a long, strange trip indeed. -Dennis McKenna (via Internet)

6. ‘Utne Reader’ magazine #53 (1992)

This issue of the Utne Reader from 1992 contains an excerpt from Terence’s book Food of the Gods, which had just been published by Bantam. The excerpt in the magazine appears under the heading ‘Just Say Yes: Rethinking our Relationship to Psychoactive Plants’.

The time has come to rethink our fascination with the use of psychoactive drugs and physioactive plants… [W]e cannot simply advocate “Just say no” any more than we can advocate “Try it, you’ll like it.” Nor can we support a view that wishes to divide society into users and non-users… The suppression of the natural human fascination with altered states of consciousness and the present perilous situation of all life are intimately and causally connected… As a consequence, the maladaptive social styles that encourage overpopulation, resource mismanagement, and environmental toxification develop and maintain themselves… We pursue a business-as-usual attitude in a surreal atmosphere of mounting crises and irreconcilable contradictions… The government not only restricts research on psychedelics that could conceivably yield valuable psychological and medical insights, it presumes to prevent religious and spiritual use of them as well… [E]ncounters with psychedelic plants throw into question the entire worldview of Western culture… We are killing the planet in order to keep intact wrongheaded assumptions.

It is time for change.

-Terence McKenna

7. The Shamen – Hystericool: The Best of the Alternative Mixes CD (2002)

Terence’s hit song with the British band the Shamen is remixed here by the geniuses of psychedelic electronica, Future Sound of London. Listen here.

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8. Psiconautas: Exploradores de la Conciencia (edited by Juanjo Pineiro) (2000)

This book contains Spanish-language interviews with an exciting swath of the psychedelic community, including a 20-page interview with Terence McKenna. Anyone who wants to volunteer to translate this interview into English, please contact terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com.

 

9. Bang Pudding by Steve Taylor (1995)

Terence read this book and, “at several points,” “burst into real laughter” at this work that is “steeped in the unutterably Other” and “alarms, even as it amuses.”

10. Bright Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental Knowledge by Kevin T. Dann (1998)

In his analysis of the phenomenon of synesthesia, Kevin Tyler Dann, touches down on Terence’s ideas at several points.

 

11. Lucid Waking: Mindfulness and the Spiritual Potential of Humanity by Georg Feuerstein (1997)

George Feuerstein is notably disdainful of Terence and the ‘chemical path to ecstasy’.

12. The True Light of Darkness by James Jesso (2015)

Jesso’s autiobiographical account includes his encounters with the ideas of Terence McKenna.

13. Sacred Mushroom of Visions, Teonanacatl: A Sourcebook on the Psilocybin Mushroom by Ralph Metzner (2005)

Ralph Metzner’s sourcebook on psilocybin mushrooms includes several passing references to Terence, mostly showing his major linguistic influence on how people interpret their psychedelic experiences.

14. The Evolutionary Mind: Conversations on Science, Imagination, and Spirit by Ralph Abraham, Rupert Sheldrake, and Terence McKenna (2005)

An edition of this book that I’ve hoped to add to the archive for some time but has simply not taken priority up until now over other, harder-to-come-by, items. A very welcome addition, though. Eventually, we’d like to have copies of all editions (and translations) of Terence’s books represented.

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15. Heavenly Highs: Ayahuasca, Kava-Kava, DMT, and Other Plants of the Gods by Peter Stafford (

Peter Stafford’s book mentions and quotes Terence throughout, including a couple of brief comments by Susan Blackmore in her Afterword.

16. 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect: A Revolutionary Spiritual and Physical Survival Guide for 2012 – 2020 (Discovered by Bob Thiel, Ph.D.) (2009)

This one I actually just randomly found at a thrift shop and thought I’d include it here. The Timewave is invoked here (via Robert Bast) among a string of expectations for 2012. At some point, I have plans to make a whole extended blog post about the occurrence of Terence’s name and ideas in the rise of 2012 literature after his death. You’ll notice quite a few ‘2012’ books in the physical holdings of the TM Archives.

17. The 99th Monkey: A Spiritual Journalists Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics, and Other Consciousness-Raising Experiments by Eliezer Sobel (2008) (Paperback)

….a few mentions of Terence here, too.

 

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #37 – Phil Lesh w/ Lost at Last for Terence McKenna Tribute Concert

Today’s random item from the archives is from the San Francisco Examiner newspaper from December 14, 2000, eight months after Terence McKenna’s death. It is a listing in the ‘Daily Datebook’ section of the paper for an event the following evening (Dec. 15) with the band Lost at Last, with special guest Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, held in memory of Terence’s passing. In addition to the Examiner listing, this post includes details about the event, Lesh’s announcement of Terence’s death, an audio recording of the entire concert (including Phil Lesh reading Robert Hunter’s poem ‘Words for Terence’), videos of related performances with Lost at Last, and information about a follow-up event 11 years later.

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Lost at Last had performed several times with Terence raving alongside. At least two of those, one in San Francisco and one in Hawaii, were recorded and are worth viewing:

For his part, Phil Lesh had also been a long-time fan of Terence’s work, penning this blurb which appeared on Terence’s book True Hallucinations:

“How the Magellan of mentats put his mind and body on the line and discovered the source of consciousness, the end of history, and the factors that govern the ingress of novelty into our world. If you’ve been there, this book will take you back; if you haven’t, get ready.” –Phil Lesh, The Grateful Dead

Lesh’s website has a page sharing word of Terence’s death:

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Today we have lost our dear brother. A tremendous warrior. A voice that spoke the language of the universe. The language of the Overmind. Speaking all tongues and from the heart of the Eschaton, Terence will always be rembered and loved.Almost one short year ago, at Mountain Airre, Phil Lesh asked the crowd to take a moment of silence to reflect love and healing light unto those in need. A voice called out Terence’s name. My friends and I had not known that there was anything wrong with Terence until that moment.The full moon that night shown with a curious glow. An eerie feeling touched some of us, even pondering the possible lose of Terence.Now he has past. Before the great 2012 event or in preperation? He leaves us a wealth of enlightening information and awe-inspiring theories and insights into the great psychedelic Other that goes unparralled.What he did best was explore the realms of consciousness. Now his words and spirit will forever continue to shape humanity’s greater Mind. He plays in that band now, with Jerry, celebrating a life on earth that was as golden as all eternity’s love. We will miss you Terence.

Another page on Phil Lesh’s website offers a review of the event:

‘Countdown to 2012 – Celebrating the Life and Logos of Terence McKenna’. On December 15, 2000, in San Francisco, the tribe gathered for a memorial ceremony for Terence McKenna and to celebrate a new commitment to the evolving group mind, commUNITY, love and expression.The event featured 2 rooms of art, multimedia and music, including a performance by Lost at Last with a very special guest appearance by PHIL LESH, eulogy readings, invocation and decorations by many friends and loved ones of Terence’s, multimedia presentations by visual artists Robert Venosa and Martina Hoffman, mind expanding grooves of DJ FANOE and DJ JONAS, masterful visual ‘Gel-o-tronics’ by Vince D’Onofrio, and other blissful multimedia by Scott Davies, and the debute performance of Tinsel Tilde (joined by friends Daniel Paul and Diva Priyo of Lost at Last). Proceeds from the event went to help provide for expenses incurred during Terence’s illness.

Although Dennis McKenna (Terence’s brother) could not attend, he sent these words along and helped sum up what we were all feeling: “This gathering is an affirmation of HOPE, and a statement that however dark things may seem in these times, we have the faith and belief that the future will be more marvelous than we can even begin to imagine… Until that moment, we must somehow keep on keeping on…When the countdown finally gets down to the end and we make the COLLECTIVE crossing, in whatever form that takes, we will find Terence waiting for us there, bemused smile on his face as always, saying something like ‘Well, I told you it was gonna happen: what kept you?’…This gathering and celebration is a message to the world that we are up to the task ..Go forth, celebrate the future, life, ideas and hope: be as good as you can be to each other, and know that Terence is with us now, and will be with us at the ESCHATON, whenever and whatever that is…

There was a new sense of cummUNITY and magic felt by all present at the event. We were especially treated when Phil Lesh joined Lost at Last for a most appropriate version of Lost at Last’s jam ‘PEYOTE’, followed by OTHER ONE, DARK STAR, and FRANKLIN’s TOWER. To cap it off, Phil read Robert Hunter’s ‘Words for Terence’ written exclusively for the event.

Robert Hunter’s poem, ‘Words for Terence’, read as follows [if you can decipher any of the parts that I was unable to, please comment with suggestions]:

A wealthy soul hath he

A bellicose capacity for wonder

As braving the dread tactility of infinite ice

He astonishes angels in their (horizons?)

Consorts with actual imps in virginal dimensions holy and obscure

There is no tongue he does not speak,

Chemic, mathematic, philosophic rap, nor thunder rattle

Nor medusa hath he left uncourted where she sits beside elliptic windows contemplating Asia in the setting sun

Salutations, thou who was and is and is not.

Ave atque vale

There is no death, only final preparation

To discover all numbers are multiples of one

You can listen to the entire concert at archive.org.

A subsequent, follow-up concert, also dubbed ‘Countdown to 2012’ was held 11 years later in December, 2011.

The event also once again payed tribute to Terence McKenna  – author, speaker, visionary, and overall psychonaut – who created the infamous Time Wave Zero Novelty Theory  which postulates that “the universe has a teleological attractor at the end of time that increases interconnectedness, eventually reaching a singularity of infinite complexity in 2012, at which point anything and everything imaginable will occur simultaneously.” Dennis McKenna participated by appearing via a special Skype video message. Sadly, Terence died in 2000 as result of the deadly brain tumor Glioblastoma. In memory of Terence and on behalf of Countdown to 2012 and 13:28 Productions, a portion of postproduction proceeds were donated to the National Brain Tumor Society  and information and literature was made available to help raise awareness of this deadly cancer.

The 2000 event is still listed on the top of the index for Terence’s website:

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Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #34 – Saturday Night: From Mike’s Flat to a Parallel Universe (DMT)

Today’s randomly-selected item from the archives is Alix Sharkey’s profile of DMT that appeared in London’s The Independent newspaper on November 27, 1993.

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The article, Saturday Night: From Mike’s Flat to a Parallel Universe, can be accessed in full at The Independent‘s website. Sharkey only mentions Terence McKenna in passing, noting his description of DMT as a “megatonnage hallucinogen,” but is noteworthy as a focused public treatment of a substance that tended to get very little public PR.

As I lit the pipe and took a deep draw, I heard a rushing sound. Before I could exhale, Mike and the room leapt forward, saturated with colour… DMT had fired me into a parallel universe. I found myself inside a multi-coloured holograph of Mike’s flat posing as a scene from the Arabian Nights being art-directed by Walt Disney, the Dalai Lama and Hieronymus Bosch – continuously and simultaneously…

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Earlier in the same year (July 9), The Independent had published another of Sharkey’s “Saturday Night” pieces, titled Saturday Night: A Psychedelic Trip Up the Ladder of Evolution. This earlier article had been a profile and commentary on a lecture that Terence had given to about 40 people at a private home in London (apparently owned by a fellow named “Danny, who runs an audio-visual company called Project Love). If anyone was at or has any more information about this event, please do let me know.

I THINK we should deal only with the facts when we talk of Terence McKenna, don’t you?

Mr McKenna contends…that this humble mushroom is now ready and waiting for us to complete our ontological correspondence course, if we would only tear ourselves away from smack, crack, coke, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, sugar, cocoa, uppers, downers and all the other bad substances we are addicted to.

His theory states: ‘No perception without hallucination.’

We are in a small house in west London. There are 40 people sitting on cushions around the room, which is large and airy, full of plants and dominated by a huge skylight. We all face Mr McKenna, who sits cross-legged on a black leather armchair, wearing a pair of baggy no-brand jeans and a T-shirt that says ‘DMT’… His Birkenstock sandals are placed neatly nearby, and he wears black woollen socks.

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A bearded academic type, Mr McKenna does not need fashion to prop up his arguments. His learning and powers of language slowly unwind and coil around us, until eventually we are mesmerised, our token resistance crushed by the irresistible force of his rationale.

This is the McKenna ‘rap’, the reason why people have paid 30 pounds a head to be here.

‘We have to recognise that the world is not something sculpted and finished, which we as perceivers walk through like patrons in a museum; the world is something we make through the act of perception.’ He talks like a man reading out his own thoughts in essay form: at one point he actually says ‘paragraph break’. Only he has no notes, no prompts.

When he answers questions his words are vivid and his thinking clear and unhurried… I’m damned if you are not getting a glimpse behind the dusty old drapes of ‘meaning’ and ‘reality’ even as he speaks.

As we break for food and drink, I realise how fast his argument has proceeded and how far we have climbed… And he has taken us all this way with not so much as a cigarette paper in sight. Forty people, soaring on one man’s imagination, logic and humour.

‘But the point is not to listen to Terence McKenna,’ he says. ‘The point is to go home and get loaded.’

What bothers me is that, as a tax-paying professional, with Significant Other and five- year-old daughter, great friends, a good home and neighbours, I certainly do not think of myself as a radical. So I was worried because nearly everything he said made sense to me.

Somehow I knew he would dare me to act on my beliefs, and he did. Commitment, that is what he wanted. ‘When are we going to come out of the closet?’ he asked.

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Finally, to round out Alix Sharkey’s Terence McKenna-related pieces for The Independent, after Terence died in 2000, Sharkey penned a long obituary for the newspaper, which you can find the text of if you search (or scroll) on this forum page.

A charming, playful and exceptionally erudite raconteur

From the outset he was open about his condition, his website
featuring typically offhand updates: “This is a mad and wild adventure at
the fractal edge of life and death and space and time,” he wrote last
summer. “Just where we love to be, right, shipmates?”

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #22 – Dearly Departed in the Arts, 2000

The San Francisco Chronicle, on the final day of the first year of the new millennium, published a long list of the ‘Dearly Departed’ to remember “those in the arts who died in 2000. Terence McKenna (d. Apr. 3, age 53) appeared on that listed under the heading ‘BOOKS AND LITERATURE’ between journalist Art Hoppe (d. Feb. 1, age) and novelist Penelope Fitzgerald (d. Apr. 28). The only other person in the list to have died on the same day as Terence was artist Ann Carter (age 31). Other “notables” who listed are cartoonist Charles Schulz (d. Feb. 12, age 77), bandleader Tito Puente (d. May 31, age 75), actors Walter Matthau (d. July 1, age 79), Alec Guinness (d. Aug. 5, age 86), Bill Barty, (d. Dec. 23, age 76), Jason Robards (d. Dec. 26, age 78), and, only 12 days after Terence, the wonderful artist Edward Gorey.

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #3 – Obituary in Esotera: Das Magazin Für Neues Denken und Handeln (July 2000)

Today’s random item from the archives is a memorial article written by Irene Dalichow shortly after Terence’s death in April 2000 for the German alternative spirituality magazine Esotera: Das Magazin Für Neues Denken und Handeln and appears in their July 2000 issue. I would be greatly obliged to any capable German language readers who might be willing to provide a translation of the article in English (which would be much preferable to a Google Translate version)–please email translations to terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com or just post in the comments below.

The title for the piece is simply (translated) ‘Obituary on Psychedelic Researcher Terence McKenna’. The Google translation of the quote attributed to him in the opening photograph is a good example why translation by a real person is still preferable to translation by a computer. There are nuances and idioms that are difficult to translate literally: “I saw the light of eternity shining through every sheet.” I’m sure there is a more evocative rendering of whatever Terence said in English, which was then translated to German, and which we are now attempting to translate back into English. I wonder how close our final English renderings after going through that translation and reverse-translation process come to whatever Terence’s actual original words were. Anyway, there’s also some nice photos of Terence here that I don’t think are otherwise represented online at the moment. So, the community of TM-enthusiasts and meme-makers will no doubt be happy about the addition of those to the general corpus. Unfortunately, the magazine doesn’t give photographer credits. If you shot either of these photos, or know who did, please do get in touch.

[Update: a Facebook member was kind enough to crop and clean up the two photos of Terence, so I thought I’d add them here for your enjoyment. Thanks, Micki!]

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