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Origins: Mike Fink's Bet

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MIKE FINK


Related threads:
Lyr Add: On a Day Like Today (Bob Dyer) (7)
Obit: Bob Dyer of Boonville, Missouri April 2007 (8)


olddude 24 Nov 09 - 04:38 PM
Jeri 24 Nov 09 - 04:46 PM
Jeri 24 Nov 09 - 04:51 PM
Art Thieme 24 Nov 09 - 05:53 PM
olddude 24 Nov 09 - 06:10 PM
Art Thieme 24 Nov 09 - 06:19 PM
olddude 24 Nov 09 - 06:52 PM
catspaw49 24 Nov 09 - 07:52 PM
SINSULL 25 Nov 09 - 08:06 AM
clueless don 25 Nov 09 - 08:54 AM
catspaw49 25 Nov 09 - 09:32 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Nov 09 - 10:42 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Nov 09 - 10:50 AM
catspaw49 25 Nov 09 - 01:15 PM
catspaw49 25 Nov 09 - 03:27 PM
Joe Offer 25 Nov 09 - 03:39 PM
EBarnacle 25 Nov 09 - 03:41 PM
olddude 25 Nov 09 - 03:45 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Nov 09 - 04:04 PM
catspaw49 25 Nov 09 - 04:22 PM
olddude 25 Nov 09 - 04:53 PM
Art Thieme 25 Nov 09 - 05:33 PM
catspaw49 25 Nov 09 - 05:41 PM
catspaw49 25 Nov 09 - 05:42 PM
olddude 25 Nov 09 - 05:46 PM
olddude 25 Nov 09 - 05:49 PM
Joe Offer 25 Nov 09 - 08:29 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 26 Nov 09 - 03:04 AM
Art Thieme 29 Mar 10 - 11:44 AM
catspaw49 30 Mar 10 - 12:19 AM
olddude 30 Mar 10 - 09:37 PM
clueless don 31 Mar 10 - 08:11 AM
Art Thieme 21 Apr 11 - 03:52 PM
Art Thieme 27 Dec 12 - 09:13 PM
Amos 27 Dec 12 - 09:44 PM
Nigel Parsons 28 Dec 12 - 05:31 AM
Pete Jennings 28 Dec 12 - 07:28 AM
maeve 28 Dec 12 - 07:30 AM
Amos 28 Dec 12 - 12:22 PM
Pete Jennings 28 Dec 12 - 01:42 PM
Dan Schatz 28 Dec 12 - 01:45 PM
Bill D 28 Dec 12 - 03:08 PM
Art Thieme 28 Dec 12 - 10:11 PM
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Subject: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: olddude
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 04:38 PM

Art Thieme does a remarkable version of this song. Does anyone know the origins of it?

Was their really a Mike Fink,   I remember the name as a kid watching the disney Davey Crockett movies.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Jeri
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 04:46 PM

A real guy. Here's a Wikipedia entry on Mike Fink.

(Hi, Dan!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Jeri
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 04:51 PM

(And excuse me, but WHOA!!! Check out the links at the bottom of that page!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 05:53 PM

Dude, hello.

There was a time I played music on a steamboat on the Miss. River -- and I was in need of a related recording to hawk to passengers. One day in the late '80s I went into a friends studio in Chicago and recorded lore and songs of the river. Mostly, it was all first takes. The cover of it was the bar napkin's stylized drawing of the Str. Julia Belle Swain. Most of our passengers then had no use for CDs, so for a decade I sold that recording as a cassette on the steamboat J.B.S. and on the diesel-electric excursion boat Twilight.

MIKE FINK's BET led off the first side. It was a very short tall tale I used as an introduction to the first song:

Mike Fink bet a fellow he could jump the Mississippi River. He jumped---and realized pretty quick he wasn't going to make it. -- So, he turned around and went back!

I'd been talking to Sandy Paton about possibly having it come out---with some extra material, like my Great Turtle Drive story -- as a Folk Legacy CD. I was giving it to Folk Legacy, Caroline and Sandy just to say thank you for having me on board, hell, to say thanks for all of it. But it didn't happen...

So that's Mike Fink's Bet---for what it's worth.

I hope you are well!

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: olddude
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 06:10 PM

Now I get, I thought that first song was called that but it was just the intro... ok now I understand, Thank you.   Now I know he was a real guy also ...

should have checked google first.

Thanks Art and Jeri


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 06:19 PM

No problem, guy. It was fun to recall all of that---sort of like a time machine.

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: olddude
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 06:52 PM

It is your remarkable guitar work on "Julia Belle Swain Blues" that I was thinking about and thought it was "Mike Finks's bet


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 07:52 PM

When I was a kid, like many others I watched the Disney "Davy Crockett" series with enthusiasm. While I loved Davy and Georgie (Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen) the series became really great when they met Mike Fink on the river.   Jeff York, a regular player with Disney, portrayed a sort of likeable and laughable bully with a heart of gold. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

I enjoyed the tales of Mike Fink for years until I ran across a library with a wealth of wonderful old books and low and behold, here was an entire life and times right there! It was in a collection that had to be read in the library so I stopped in every now and again. Then and later I discovered that Ol' Mike was about the least likely and most disagreeable bastard ever to enter American Foklore!

I'm not real sure how he came down through history to be even remembered except as a mean and cantankerous son of a bitch with a need and the ability to fight who had no real feelings of pain (they say and its beleivable). Lots of other folk heroes were truly not too nice or too great either but for sheer meanness I doubt that Mike Fink has a peer. While its true that Davy Crockett may have known him, why old Walt chose to throw him into the series is beyond me. Of course it did give Big Mike a whole new life and legend and the Mike Fink Riverboat Restaurant in Cincy is a helluva' fine seafood and chophouse!!! (I think they're currently closed for a refurbish)

BTW.......I'm sure I'm not alone in watching the Crockett series back then. If you're anywhere around 60 I'd bet you had a coonskin hat or really wanted one. I'll bet you DON'T know that a former 'Catter (who sadly only rarely drops by) was a young man then who played one of the Indians that Davy fought. He still has the "necklace" he wore in the movie and wears it as a hatband. He even has some stills to prove it............. I was impressed!


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: SINSULL
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 08:06 AM

Ole Betsy, grinnin' a bear to death, Farewell To The Mountains...yeah I had a coonskin cap.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: clueless don
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 08:54 AM

I had a cap as well, and I remember the Mike Fink episodes of the Davy Crockett series. I remember the chorus of Mike's song as

Pretty girls cry,
brave men shiver!
I'm Mike Fink,
the king of the river!

I believe that there is another Mudcat thread where somewhat different words are given, so I may not have it right.

Since then I've heard some other tall tales concerning Mike Fink, which certainly do not portray him as lovable. But I haven't yet read any tales that qualify him as the "most disagreeable bastard ever to enter American Foklore". Guess I need to read some more!

Don


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 09:32 AM

Actually Don, I was the guy posted those lyrics back in 2002. THis was all we heard in the Disney series. Here they are again PLUS a link to the "Riders in the Sky" EXPANDED version! Also a link to the "Riders" singing it.

King of the River

Listen to the Thunder
Hear the Winds roar
Hurricane's a-comin'
Board up the door
Load up the cannon
Call out the law
Worstest calamity
That folk ever saw
Girls run and hide
Brave men shivver
I'm Mike Fink
King of the River

(Chorus)
Oh, he's a ring-tail roarer
And a tough old alligator
Oh, he's a bulldog bully
And a real depopulator
Oh, what a fightin' devil
He'll spit right in your eye
He's gonna live forever
Born too mean to die


Expanded Version

30 second clip


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 10:42 AM

OK, this is what happens when you spend time & mental energy which really should be devoted to other things trying to remember the name of Mike Fink's boat, without cheating and looking it up on Google, and then when you do finally think of it   (ahhh... Gullywhumper...)   you have to go Google it anyway and what you get?

THIS


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 10:50 AM

Didn't Davy have a boat too, at one stage, for some arcane reason? I vaguely recall a scene of the two of them trying to race and Mike Fink cheating or being a bad loser or something.

Other thing I can't remember and refuse to give it the satisfaction of Googling:

Tomorrowland
Frontierland
Fantasyland
Adventureland

and ...? what??? I'm sure there were five of them (and it warn't Yesterland, that's for sure).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 01:15 PM

There may have been something that failed but I don't recall what. The only major area beside the four "lands" was "Main Street."

And if you read down thru the link, Davy's boat is also there---the Bertha Mae

Spaw


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Subject: Lyr Add: MIKE FINK (Bob Dyer)
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 03:27 PM

Here's another song a bit more "honest" about Mike Fink by Bob Dyer. Cathy Barton and Dave Para also do it on one of their early Folk Legacy recordings and that CD is available still at Folk Legacy Records. Lyrics are below.


MIKE FINK........Bob Dyer


Well, my daddy was a bear in the Allegheny Mountains
And my mother was a 'gator in the Ohio.
I was born full-growed at the forks of the river
And I cut my teeth on a catfish bone.

Oh, my name is Mike Fink, I'm a keelboat poler,
I'm a Salt River roarer and I eat live coals .
I'm a half-alligator and I ride tornaders,
And I can out-feather, out-jump, out-hop, out-skip,
Throw down and lick any man on the river.

Well, I poled the Ohio and I poled the Mississippi
And I poled the Missouri when she's choked with snags.
I poled on the wilds and the salts of the Kentucky
And I never met a man that I couldn't out-brag.

Well, Betsy is my shooting iron, she shouts like the thunder
And she flashes like the lightning and she kicks like a mule.
I can clip an Indian scalp, knock it cleaner than a whistle;
I can knock a tin cup off the head of a fool.

Well, Carpenter's a name that I guess you've heard tell of;
I taught that critter everything that he knowed.
But he done me dirt on the Yellowstone River
And I crossed his eyes with a musket ball.

Well, some say I died on the Yellowstone River
Or was shot by a man by the name of Talbot.
But if you want to know the truth about what really happened,
You're gonna have to come knocking on the devil's door.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 03:39 PM

So, are there any traditional songs about Mike Fink, or are the Disney and Bob Dyer songs the only ones we can find?

I gotta say, I remember the Disney song from my youth, so there's a voice deep inside me that keeps saying, "Isn't that traditional?" But I know the Folk Police would arrest me if I said it out loud....

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: EBarnacle
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 03:41 PM

Looking at the pictures of both boats, I'd say it was a miracle that no one got wet earlier. Putting passengers that high would really have messed up the center of gravity of the boat. All it would take to make the boats unstable would be for the upper deck passengers to move a foot or two to one side or the other. That would also explain the caveats mentioned in the auction.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: olddude
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 03:45 PM

Remember the banjo guy that would sing on the barge what the people were carrying so they knew what to look for when they rob them. He was in league with Mike Fink but Davey outsmarted them ... "yeller gold was the song" I always wanted the coonskin hat ... never got one.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 04:04 PM

Me either. But I got Mouseketeer ears, which was even better because all I really wanted in those days was to BE Annette.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 04:22 PM

At that age I wasn't sure what it was but I know there was something I wanted to do with Annette. Actually though, I was more of Hayley Mills junkie...........

Joe.......The link to the Riders version has the lyrics credited to Tom Blackburn and George Bruns. They were a writing team that worked for Disney and did the music for a boatload of Disney movies.But hey ...... We're both 60 and that was over 50 years ago......Its traditional.....well, it is for us. Get out the barricades for when the Folk Police show up. I'll get some weaponry................


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: olddude
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 04:53 PM

Well Spaw, I will mix you and Joe up some sure fire hotloads fer when yer carryin yer hoglegs!!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 05:33 PM

On the Mississippi I told the tall tale about the winter that was so cold in Illinois that the catfish grew fur. Folks would go after 'em for their pelts. The hats made out of those were highly prized. They'd keep one warm just like the raccoon skin caps. Only difference was that the tail hanging down in back was a fish tail.

And, of course, that IS a fish tale!

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 05:41 PM

Say Art (said Spaw playing the straight man), wren't those barges on the river called something else and what all do they carry?


Spaw (awaits a true Art Thieme Classic)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 05:42 PM

I mean, weren't there some that transported birds?

Spaw (in for a penny.......)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: olddude
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 05:46 PM

LOL !!! Was it you that told the story or Jerry or Kendall about it being so cold that noises froze in the air and when it thawed out people kept hearing strange sounds all spring


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: olddude
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 05:49 PM

I ate a raccoon once as a kid. For some reason my dad hunted them and thought they were great roasted with bbq sauce ... yikes. I should have saved the pelts could have made me own hat !!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 08:29 PM

Oh, Bonnie - to me, you are Annette...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 03:04 AM

Flattery'll get ya EVERYwhere ...

C
C

(Those are supposed to be Mouseketeer ears but I can't figure out how to draw the rest of the hat) (which I wore till mine disintegrated)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 11:44 AM

Yes, often the barges were filled with pigeons on the Mississippi Rivers tows going up and down the stream. If they went aground on a sandbar, the deckhands would bang on the sides of the barges with sledge hammers. That'd get the birds to flying. It'd lighten the load so the tow could float free of the bar.

Of course, those were known on the river as "Pigeon Tows"

When filled with Tic-Tac candy, they were Tic-Tack Tows.

And when filled with hammers, they were...

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: catspaw49
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 12:19 AM

Geez, I'd forgotten about this thread Art, but I thank you for finally coming back here. I thought I had wasted my time as a straight man setting you up and all but kust like the guy you are, you returned to give us all a groan!

BTW, I read that some of those barges carry corn chips and are called..........yeah....that's it.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: olddude
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 09:37 PM

do ya get sea sick on the river? I don't go out in the lake, i toss my cookies .. i am a land lubber


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: clueless don
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 08:11 AM

I remember reading a story about Mike Fink, in which he wins a shooting contest with Davy Crockett. The way he does it is, after the two of them have been matching each other shot for shot, Mike fires a shot that just creases the scalp of his (Mike's) wife. Davy refuses to put a lady in jeopardy, so Mike wins.

I could possibly find the book where this appears. It was not a Disney tale.

Don


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Apr 11 - 03:52 PM

I think I first heard that short tall tale from a fellow named ERNIE JOHNSON who I worked with during the summer of 1957 in the shipping department of my Uncle Bud's factory--Evansville, Indiana. The factory was just about a block and a half from the Ohio River.

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Dec 12 - 09:13 PM

Old Dude, Just tday my son Chris got the laptop you sent to me so graciously set up so, even I, with no feeling in my hands can operate it. Thanks so very much. I will get here alot more often after this.


We are doing as well as can be expected.. Some days are better than others. The pressure sore on my backside is all healed, but it took 5 months in bed with great caregivers here at the Crystal Piines nursing home in Cystal Lake, IL where Crol and I now reside and share a room.   ---------------- January 3rd, 2013 will be our forty-sixth anniversary.

Love to all and thanks for your tremendous support.

Arrt


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Amos
Date: 27 Dec 12 - 09:44 PM

I knew all about the legendary Mike Fink before the Disney version came out; I think it came from reading a biography of Davie Crockett that included the stretchy parts. :D

A


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 28 Dec 12 - 05:31 AM

From: Art Thieme - PM
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 11:44 AM

Yes, often the barges were filled with pigeons on the Mississippi Rivers tows going up and down the stream. If they went aground on a sandbar, the deckhands would bang on the sides of the barges with sledge hammers. That'd get the birds to flying. It'd lighten the load so the tow could float free of the bar.

Of course, those were known on the river as "Pigeon Tows"

When filled with Tic-Tac candy, they were Tic-Tack Tows.

And when filled with hammers, they were...


And then there were the the ones carrying "ships of the desert"...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 28 Dec 12 - 07:28 AM

I used to have a coonskin hat, complete with tail!

Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the wild country!

Geez, I'd forgotten about that...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: maeve
Date: 28 Dec 12 - 07:30 AM

It warms the cockles of my heart to see Art Thieme posting here again.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Amos
Date: 28 Dec 12 - 12:22 PM

Pete, that's "wild frontier". Ya gotta get it right, man!


A


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 28 Dec 12 - 01:42 PM

Of course, Amos!! My memory! And thinking about it...my "coonskin" hat was probably made of nylon. Not that it mattered to a boy of, what, 6 or 7?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 28 Dec 12 - 01:45 PM

Art! Nice to see you back, friend!

Dan


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Bill D
Date: 28 Dec 12 - 03:08 PM

Howdy Art! Good to see you!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mike Fink's Bet
From: Art Thieme
Date: 28 Dec 12 - 10:11 PM

It feel exceptioally great to be here. TThanks for waiting for e.


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