Book reviews

Book reviews

LEDERER’S LANGUAGE & LAUGHTER

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

February 2, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) -- Lederer’s Language and Laughter is Richard Lederer’s sixtieth book. It is full of humor from all sorts of situations from making puns about situations, to quoting signs and newspaper headings. There is humor bound to entertain everyone.


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YOUR FABULOUS FIRST BOOK: HOW TO WRITE WITH CLARITY, CONFIDENCE AND CONNECTION

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

January 26, 2023 (San Diego) - Your Fabulous First Book provides support and guidance to the first-time, non-fiction writer. By helping an author overcome writing blocks and other challenges, starting with finding a subject, San Diego author Andrea Susan Glass pulls the writer along until their book is completed and, hopefully, published.


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RED CHAOS: THRILLER FROM THE RED HOTEL SERIES BY ED FULLER AND GARY GROSSMAN

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh 

January 1, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) – Red Chaos details events across that sound very much like events that have happened across the globe. All the crimes have but one perpetrator but it’s not a person, it’s a nation.

“Hello, Mr. Reilly. Please hold for Mr. Shaw.”

 

The call was from Chicago—Nancy Barney, the assistant to E.J. Shaw, President and CEO of the Kensington Hotel chain, one of the world’s largest hotel corporations. Shaw was Dan Reilly’s boss.

 

“Dan, we have a program,” Shaw said.

 

We. Reilly immediately knew the we was about to become he, his problem.

 

“Where: What?”

 

“A murder in our Mayfair property. In a London suite.”

 

“Oh God!” Reilly’s mind raced. The hotel was hosting a regional oil conference. He stated to ask for detail, but Shaw interrupted.

 

“A visiting oil minister….”


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THE BODY IN THE BARREL: AUTHOR OF SAN DIEGO CRIME NOVEL TO HOLD LOCAL SIGNING DEC. 8

 

By Richard G. Opper

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

December 4, 2022 (San Diego) -- The Body in the Barrel is a compelling crime novel set in 1973 in San Diego.

The book opens on October 15, 1973: “I shifted the Smith & Wesson Model 10 to a more comfortable place on my hip, which was feeling tender this morning. The bay had a smell of rotting plants, and together with the smell of the diesel it triggered thoughts about the Mekong—which was not so long ago, even if it was half a world away. It was the reason my hip ached, but that life was over. I was back home in San Diego, and glad for it. Whatever I’d thought I was going to accomplish in the Navy’s swift boats turned out to be a bad dream. A nightmare. So, the fact that I ended up in the Harbor Police is a whole lot better—but still a whole lot of not much. I was out of the shit storm and into a more peaceful life, but for crying out loud, at twenty-eight here I was with nothing really going on, already going nowhere. But who cared? Other than my dad, I guess, and that only went so far.”


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THE DEVIL’S HALF ACRE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF HOW ONE WOMAN LIBERATED THE SOUTH’S MOST NOTORIOUS SLAVE JAIL

Book by Kristen Green, reviewed by Pennell Paugh

November 21, 2022 (San Diego) -- In The Devil’s Half Acre, Author and former San Diego Union-Tribune journalist Kristen Green provides details about Black lives in America, starting in 1619 and ends in recent times. Green takes us from slavery, through details about the lives of Blacks during the Civil War and after. More specifically, she closely shares details about 19th-century Richmond, the center of slave trading, giving the reader a view of slavery from an enslaved person’s experience.


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THE SPIRIT OF SHY MOON LAKE: A HAUNTING READ BY REINA LISA MENASCHE

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

October 19, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) -- The Spirit of Shy Moon Lake is a spooky, sometimes creepy, often mysterious tale, filled with tension and foreshadowing. Award-winning local author Reina Lisa Menasche is also the long-time host of the “Bookshelf” segment on East County Magazine’s radio show.


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BOOK REVIEW: HISTORIC TALES OF LA JOLLA

By Patricia Daly-Lipe

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

October 14, 2022 (La Jolla) -- Location, location, location. This is the mantra for real estate. But it is precisely “location” that helped define La Jolla. Historic Tales of La Jolla tells the story of the place: its name, even its initial creation by natural forces, followed by the people who found and fell in love with it. This is history from a personal perspective. What did La Jolla do for the people who came, and what did these people do for La Jolla and, in many cases, for the rest of the world?


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YOU GOT THIS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO MASTER AUTHENTIC PUBLIC SPEAKING

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

 

September 21, 2022 (San Diego) -- As an authority on public speaking, San Diego author Lisa Kleiman shares thoughtful and thorough advice for any time you might need to speak to a group of people, even at funerals in You Got This: Everything You Need to Master Authentic Public Speaking. The book helps anyone prepare to stand in front of any group and successfully deliver a message with clarity, confidence, and authenticity.

After graduating college, Kleiman was called on to speak often enough that she developed techniques to lower her anxiety while increasing her clarify.Actually, Kleiman did not find speaking before others to be easy when she started. “Sitting in my high school English class at age seventeen, feeling nauseous in anticipation of my turn to stand up in front of the class and give a formal presentation about a famous historical author, I never would have guessed that I’d spend many years of my life helping others improve their public speaking skills, especially in the role of instructor. The idea of speaking in front of an audience as a profession seemed awful. I didn’t understand why people would want to purposely expose themselves to possible ridicule and embarrassment. 


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'I DID IT' : GINA CHAMPION-CAIN EXPLAINS EPIC PONZI DOWNFALL TO LA JOLLA AUTHORS

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  La Jolla couple Barbara Bry and Neil Senturia with their new book on Gina Champion-Cain. Times of San Diego photo illustration

September 2, 2022 (La Jolla) - Gina Champion-Cain hasn’t read her own book.

The former toast-of-the-town businesswoman, whose San Diego career became toast, is the speaker in “I Did It: The Largest Woman-Run Ponzi Scheme in American History.”

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REVIEW: RESET BY SARINA DAHLAN

Review by Pennell Paugh

August 27, 2022 (San Diego) – Reset, a romantic science fiction story by San Diego author Sarina Dahlan, is thought-provoking. Reset will make you cherish your life’s loves and losses—allowing them to give your life deep meaning and purpose.


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RIVER WOMAN RIVER DEMON WEAVES A SPELLBINDING TALE

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

August 11, 2022 (San Diego) - River Woman River Demon by San Diego author Jennifer Givhan weaves together the threads of folk magick, with personal and cultural empowerment in a first-person spellbinding psychological thriller. (The term `magick’ is used by spiritual believers in in supernatural powers, to differentiate from `magic,’ or staged magicians’ tricks.)


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WAREHOUSE DREAMS: A LOCAL AUTHOR’S DELIGHTFUL FANTASY NOVEL

Book by Theresa Halversen

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

July 21, 2022 (San Diego) -- This delightful fantasy by San Diego author Theresa Halversen is a fast, fun read from the first page to the last. The story in Warehouse Dreams occurs in a world where the quality of each person’s genes reflects their parents’ wealth.


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FRAZZLEBRAIN: BREAK FREE FROM ANXIETY, ANGER, AND STRESS USING ADVANCED DISCOVERIES IN NEUROPSYCHOLOGY

Book by Gina Simmons Schneider PhD

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

June 26, 2022 (San Diego) -- While we often cannot control stressful life events, we can learn to control our brain's response to those circumstances and reduce our suffering. Relief from worry and stress can be found through powerful techniques grounded in clinical experience and neuroscience described in Frazzlebrain.


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THE THIRD SECRET: PROPHECY PROMPTS PAPAL INTRIGUE

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

June 9, 2022 (San Diego) – The Third Secret by Marco De Sio combines historical fiction and political intrigue. The tale is told through the life of an Italian immigrant, Big Al. His story takes us from a small fishing village in Italy to the United States, through two world wars, and into intrigue within the Vatican that could transform the future of the Catholic Church.


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MYSTERY AT THE BLUE SEA COTTAGE: A TRUE STORY OF MURDER IN SAN DIEGO’S JAZZ AGE

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

May 28, 2022 (San Diego) – Mystery at the Blue Sea Cottage: A True Story of Murder in San Diego’s Jazz Age by James Stewart is a wonderful book for history buffs. The author investigates a real case during the 1920s. A jazz dancer’s body turns up on a San Diego beach.

Twenty-year-old Fritzie Mann was four months pregnant. Did she commit suicide, accidentally drown, or was she murdered?


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THE COLONIZED AND THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA: LA MESA AUTHOR’S TRUE STORY DEPICTS STRUGGLES IN KENYA

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

Author to hold book signing at Julian Library on May 10 at 1 p.m.

 

May 5, 2022 (La Mesa) -- The Colonized and the Scramble for Africa, the first of The Colonized series, provides true stories of how the author, Wanjirũ Waramaher family and community lived in abject poverty on British colonial farms in Kenya.

Warama, a resident of La Mesa, is a member of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild. She will host a book signing in Julian at the County Library on May 10 at 1 p.m.


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THE GENIUS UNDER THE TABLE: GROWING UP BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

March 28, 2022 (San Diego) – The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain was written by Eugene Yelchin, who is a member of the San Diego Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The topic is relevant at a time when Russia has launched a war in Europe threatening freedom of neighboring Ukraine, rekindling memories of the iron curtain, an invisible barrier which separated free nations from others in Europe until the Soviet Union collapsed.

In Leningrad, Russia, Yevgeny grows up in an apartment. Except for the kitchen and bathroom, each room is occupied by a separate family. One room has a government spy. Every apartment is like this.


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THE AFTERMATH OF THE JANUARY 6, 2021 INSURRECTION

 

PAMELA BOUTE’ – KILLER D.A. by Darryl Littleton (Independently Published, Inglewood, CA., 2021, 89 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

November 21, 2021 (San Diego) - Pamela Boute’ – Killer D.A.is the story of a Department of Justice employee who issues out her own justice when the system fails to put away the guilty. Her latest list of victims – the insurrectionists of January 6, 2021.

This fictional story by renowned comedian Darryl Littleton resonates with me, for I know full well of the challenges faced in federal government employment. If there was a movie to be made about this book, and I could see it happening, Pam Grier comes immediately to mind.


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9/11 FROM DUST TO DECEIT, FROM BUSH TO BUTCHERY

 

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS: What the September Eleventh Families Asked and the 9/11 Commission Ignored, by Ray McGinnis (NorthernStar Publications, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2021, 421 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

November 14, 2021 (San Diego) - Having been a juror in the “San Diego Citizens Grand Jury – Presenting the Evidence of the Crimes of 9/11” on April 14th, 2007 at San Diego State University, this book by Ray McGinnis resonates with me on so many levels.

Unanswered Questions is a brutally persuasive book for  those who want answers to the real origins of the Afghanistan war. Ray McGinnis’ book digs deeper and hammers harder for the unvarnished truths, Ex-President Bush, currently on a good-guy speaking tour speaks without remorse or responsibility for the unmitigated catastrophe he set in motion 20 years ago, according to many. President Bush famously said, in another of his statements that everyone seemed to relish; “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” But he rejected an offer by the Taliban to hand over bin Laden in exchange for the U.S. to stop bombing their country.


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"HOW DUMB CAN A NATION GET AND STILL SURVIVE?"

 

Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2021, 482 pages)

Book Review by Dennis Moore

          “We have much to do in this winter of peril.” -- President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in his inaugural address, January 20, 2021, at the United States Capitol

October 12, 2021 (San Diego) -- Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa is the scariest book that I have read among my more than 400 book reviews, for it portends the destruction of our democracy as we once knew it. The publishers of this well written book, Simon & Schuster, states: “The transition from President Donald J. Trump to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. stands as one of the most dangerous periods in American history.”

This book is scary for all the revelations made in it about the former president, which is ongoing in the aftermath of the January 6, 2021 attempt at a coup at the Capital Building in Washington, DC, and the ties between former President Trump and his supporters. The co-author of this book, Robert Costa, gives a riveting audio presentation to NPR, which readers can listen to by clicking here.


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FATHER JOE CARROLL'S MEMOIR

 

Update: Hear our interview with Kathryn Cloward: The author of Father Joe: Life Stories of a Hustler Priest"  provided an interview aired in June on the East County Magazine Show on KNSJ:  https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/au...

Father Joe: Life Stories of a Hustler Priest, as shared with and written by Kathryn Cloward (Kandon  Unlimited, Inc., San Diego, 2021, 277 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

April 21, 2021 (San Diego) - I consider it a privilege and an honor to write this review of Father Joe: Life Stories of a Hustler Priest, Father Joe Carroll’s Memoir, as shared with and written by Kathryn Cloward, for some very profound reasons. This book is replete with humorous anecdotes that will lift your spirits, as well as being motivational and inspirational.

The story of this man, Father Joe Carroll, needs to be told and shared with everyone, for it borders on Sainthood. His story told by the author reveals a man who has possibly done more for San Diego than anyone that I could imagine, and I actually had a bird’s eye view of his accomplishments as I once lived in the St. Vincent de Paul Villages homeless shelter for a short period of time after coming here to San Diego from Chicago about 15 years ago – not knowing a soul and with 2 bags of possessions in my hands!

Audio: 


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HOW TO CREATE A NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH TECHNOLOGY AND NATURE

 

Experience Nature Unplugged: A Guide To Wellness In The Digital Age, by Sebastian Slovin & Sonya Mohamed (Nature Unplugged, Encinitas, California, 2021, 240 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

March 30, 2021 (San Diego) - Sebastian Slovin and Sonya Mohamed has written a thought provoking book that resonates with me, and may very well change the trajectory of my life going forward, Experience Nature Unplugged: A Guide To Wellness In The Digital Age.

Sebastian Slovin and Sonya Mohamed  founded Nature Unplugged in 2012 with the mission of inspiring wellness in the digital age.  Basically, this book is about nature and improving on mental health. As a matter of fact, throughout this well written book the central theme seems to be about mental health, and how to optimize it. It should be noted that the authors are actually husband and wife.


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BLACK HISTORY MONTH: UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN

 

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN, by Emmanuel Acho (Flatiron Books, New York, NY, 2020, 244 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

February 28, 2021 (San Diego) - Emmanuel Acho believes the only way to cure our nation’s oldest disease – racism – starts with a profound, revolutionary idea: actually talking to one another. No, seriously. Until it gets uncomfortable … and then some!

In Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, “An Oprah Book”, Acho connects his own experience with race and racism – including his majority – white prep school education juxtaposed with his time in majority – black NFL locker rooms – with the lessons of history, culture, and the wisdom of other voices. The result is an essential guide to the conversations we should all be having to increase our understanding and join the anti-racist fight.


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WAS DONALD TRUMP A RUSSIAN ASSET?

 

AMERICAN KOMPROMAT: How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power, and Treachery, by Craig Unger (Dutton, New York, NY, 2021, 345 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

February 25, 2021 (San Diego) - Craig Unger, author of the New York Times bestselling book, House of Trump, House of Putin, has written an explosive and provocative book that is destined to be another bestseller; American Kompromat. Unger asks; “Was Donald Trump a Russian asset? Just how compromised was he?” There are certain aspects of this book that reminds me of Robert Ludlum’s The Matarese Circle, which was also published by Unger’s publisher.

Listen to our exclusive interview with the author on our "East County Magazine Live!" radio show by clicking here.

This is a story of dirty secrets, and the most powerful people in the world. It has been quoted as stating: “Damning in its accumulation of detail, terrifying  in its depiction of the pure evil of those Trump chose to do business with.” I couldn’t put the book down!


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AMERICA'S FINEST CITY: HISTORY RECALLED IN SAN DIEGO MEMORIES III

Hear our interview with Roger Showly on East County Magazine Radio Show's Bookshelf: https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/au...

San Diego Memories III: A Time Of Change – The 1960s and 1970s, by The San Diego Union-Tribune (Pediment Publishing, 2020, 176 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

January 21, 2021 (San Diego) - Roger Showley, who provided the chapter introductions and captions, as well as the foreword to this fantastic book, San Diego Memories III: A Time of Change – The 1960s and 1970s, puts this book in perspective by stating: “This pictorial history of San Diego in the tumultuous 1960s and 70s is coming out at an extraordinary time of a pandemic, when life seems just as uncertain and unpredictable as it was 50 years earlier. A generation that came of age back then thought it would change the world, that no one over 30 could be trusted. They reveled in sex, drugs, and rock and roll, led civil rights marches, demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and were drafted to fight in it. In many ways the now – aging Baby Boomers in their 60s and 70s are seeing another social upheaval led by their children and grandchildren who are ready to throw out the norms and follow a different path.”

Audio: 


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DREAMING OF MOTHER AFRICA

From Howe Street To Accra: My Adventures Working On The Groundbreaking Film Coming To Africa, by Frank James IV (AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana, 2020, 62 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

January 14, 2021 (San Diego) - Coming at a time of the sequel to the iconic movie Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, scheduled for release in December of 2021, Frank James IV has written a memoir, From Howe Street to Accra: My Adventures Working on the Groundbreaking Film Coming To Africa. I actually envy the author for having the opportunity to go to Africa, and then, to film a movie!

Perhaps hoping to capitalize on the upcoming remake of the Eddie Murphy film coming out in December of 2021, the author writes of his experiences in Accra, Ghana. There are many anecdotes throughout this intuitive and thought provoking book that has one feeling as if they were actually there.


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THE PRACTICE OF TELLING THE TRUTH STARTS AT AN EARLY AGE

 

The Twins Say…Always Always Keep Your Promises, by Dr. Keesha Karriem (Christian Faith Publishing, Inc., Meadville, PA, 2020, 26 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

  • Ephesians 4:25 – Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

January 6, 2021 (San Diego) - Dr. Keesha Karriem, executive director of a family-owned business that provides quality residential care to persons with intellectual disabilities, as well as having an MBA from Roosevelt University in Chicago, has written a thought provoking children’s book that every parent should have and read to their young children; The Twins Say…Always Always Keep Your Promises.The Twins Say…Always, Always Keep Your Promises was actually inspired by the author’s two beautiful twin nieces pictured on the back book cover, Kyanna and Kylila. If it is true that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, surely the picture of Dr. Karriem and her nieces says it all for this heartwarming book.


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MESSAGES AND VISIONS FROM HEAVEN

 

Sometimes God is a Homeless Man: A True Story of Heaven & Healing, by Kymm Civetta (Kymm Civetta, San Diego, 2020, 193 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

December 28, 2020 (San Diego) - Kymm Civetta, a resident of San Diego (Jamul), has written a thought provoking book that may very well challenge your beliefs and Christian faith; Sometimes God is a Homeless Man: A True Story of Heaven & Healing. Civetta, an ordained minister (Universal Life Church), singer and self-professed Christian “Clairvoyant,” chronicles her upbringing and transformation in this book.

Sometimes God is a Homeless Man, is a book about soul searching, as the author specifically states:  “Until finding Kevin’s book, I found myself in an ‘in between space’ as a ‘Clairvoyant’ but also a ‘Christian.’ Was there such a thing?” I find myself asking the same thing, and perhaps those reading this book may do so as well.


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PHARMACIST EXPLAINS HOW DRUGS CAN MITIGATE MENTAL ILLNESS

By Dr. Michael Mantell, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

December 8, 2020 (San Diego) - One of the many benefits of being a long-time weekly writer for this publication/website, is the opportunity to review books that hold special meaning for me. So when Don Harrison, our beloved editor, inquires if I’d like to review a new book, the title, the content, or the author will interest me, or not. When it came to our friend Ben Dishman, Pharm.D., BCPP and his new book, "I Can Treat That...Well Maybe?” there was no question but that I wanted to read and review this book.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: HERE LIES STAND UP COMEDY (1966-2020)

 

By Darryl Littleton

March 30, 2020 (San Diego) -- Stand Up Comedy is dead!   Official cause of death – Coronavirus with Trump complications.  After a lengthy illness due to the politically correct sanctions, and despite recent signs of resurgence (thanks to Netflix), Stand Up finally succumbed this month from the prescription of no public gatherings over 10 people.  That dose was barely enough for a club staff, much less a show.   Not a Stand Up show, anyway.   Not a real one.


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