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WE'VE MOVED! Click here: http://www.hartwilliams.com/blog/blogger.html

Saturday, April 22, 2006

be a patriotic American

FINAL STATS:

Blog Name: Skiing Uphill

Composition/Publication: March 12, 2004-April 22, 2006 (761 days)

Final Word Count: 509,920

For comparison:

Finally, in the fall of 1949, [J.R.R. Tolkien] finished writing The Lord of the Rings ... It turned out to be more than a half million words long, and the publisher agreed to bring it out in three volumes* ...

Garrison Keillor - Writers' Almanac
http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/programs/2005/07/18/index.html

* LOTR = 1200 pages.

THE LAST AUDIO BLOG
or, HOUSEKEEPING

Here are the two pieces heard on KOPT Friday morning, April 21, 2006.

The first presents, in Rummy's own words (with some help from Dr. Evil and 'Buster' from "Gettysburg") his reasons for ignoring all criticism -- lest we "throw in the towel."

It's a 1 meg download. The (hilarious) piece runs 2:05.

Download the MP3 (right click and "save as"):

http://www.hartwilliams.com/drevil.mp3

And, finally, from Friday's show, Hart's Farewell to make you feel serene in the midst of this splatterback from the Giant Fan of History. It's sappy, maudlin, and maybe just a wee bit humorous.

It's a 0.95 meg download. The (weepy and self-indulgent) piece runs 1:56.

Download the MP3 (right click and "save as"):

http://www.hartwilliams.com/byebye.mp3

And keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

Courage.
.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
SHAMELESS PLUG

[NOTE: information has been removed. Book has been withdrawn by author.]

You can purchase Volume 1 of this blog Skiing Uphill, Vol. 1: The Death of Democracy, from: [removed]

Book Details (price doesn't include shipping):

    • Price: $****
    • Paperback: 457 pages
    • Binding: Perfect-Bound (Trade paper)
    • Publisher: [removed] (May 2005)
    • Product Number: [removed]
.
SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH
or, I'M FRESH OUT OF ALTERNATE TITLES

THE OLD WOMAN [indignantly] Oh! and I might have been so much wickeder! All my good deeds wasted! It is unjust.

DON JUAN. No: you were fully and clearly warned. For your bad deeds, vicarious atonement, mercy without justice. For your good deeds, justice without mercy.

-- George Bernard Shaw, "Don Juan in Hell" (Act III, Man & Superman, 1903)
The last entry ( April 19, 'Full Circle') was the last in this blog. This one is just housekeeping. And thanks.

I can't maintain the schizophrenia of giving my work away for free and at the same time trying to sell it as a free-lancer.

As noted, this is my thirtieth year as a professional -- which I date from my first recompensed writing, a free book entitled THE GOD CELL by a fellow named Bradbury (no, not that Bradbury) which I reviewed in late fall, 1976 for DELAP'S F&SF REVIEW. It appeared in 1977 (the cover story was "J.G. Ballard: Where does he fit?"), but I got "paid" in November 1976, so I date my professional work from there.

And, it's time to once again "put food on the table with the typewriter." I have several book projects that are not only hanging fire, but preclude me from continuing this blog, even did I want to -- and I DO enjoy, just this once, writing without editorial interference, without the "brilliant" ideas of some tyro, and without having to deal with the psychoses of clients, etc.

Publication announcements will be made in this space when it's time, but for now, everything is strictly hush-hush.

DON JUAN. Because hell, Senora, is a place for the wicked. The wicked are quite comfortable in it: it was made for them. You tell me you feel no pain. I conclude you are one of those for whom Hell exists.

THE OLD WOMAN. Do you feel no pain?

DON JUAN. I am not one of the wicked, Senora; therefore it bores me, bores me beyond description, beyond belief. [ibid.]
In other words: I'm booked up. I'm slammed; I'm jammed, I'm fresh out of time on my schedule for blogging.

And, as an aside, I'm rather tired of being -- once again -- condemned out of hand to yet another literary ghetto. I started out in science fiction (a famed literary ghetto), moved to 'pornography' (another ghetto denied even the suggestion that it's 'literary') and am now a "blogger," which the supine, clueless and unprofessional national media sniff at, and consign -- with a sneer and a slur and scarcely a clue at all -- to the "lacking in credibility" internet(s) and the non-incredible non-press.

Frankly, I'm sick to death of being sent to the back of the literary bus by a bunch of pikers who ain't fit to carry the pencil boxes of most of the writers I apprenticed under. But that's neither here nor there. I write well to be compensated, and for that writing I expect to be well compensated -- pots lecturing kettles notwithstanding.

But this isn't a snark or a grouse; rather, I'd like to appreciate my readers, who took the time to attend this virtual Chautauqua, to dangle virtual shoes in the virtual sawdust on the floor, to fan themselves in the virtual mugginess of our virtual tent, and allow me to entertain you. Without an audience, no performance is meaningful. In an act of communication, the listener is as essential as the communicator, and I've been watching you out there, through my magic mirror.

THE OLD WOMAN. Is there justice in heaven?

DON JUAN. No; but there is justice in hell: heaven is far above such idle human personalities. You will be welcome in hell, Senora. Hell is the home of honor, duty, justice, and the rest of the seven deadly virtues. All the wickedness on earth is done in their name: where else but in hell should they have their reward? Have I not told you that the truly damned are those who are happy in hell? [ibid.]
You are spread over six continents of the Earth (and perhaps seven, there are several hits per day from domains that can't be identified geographically). Many come from lands of legend and myth, and I feel very privileged, for the first time in the history of our species, to communicate instantaneously with all corners of the globe, simply as a private citizen with a few opinions. It's been an ultimate form of democracy, and I thank my fellow world citizens for taking a moment to give me a listen.

I would like to thank the regular readers of this little blog, scattered across the world, and single some out.


read on 6 continents

Thanks to my regular readers in southeastern Australia, and my regular in New Zealand. Thanks to my reader in Japan, and, of course, that mysterious address in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Thanks to my regular reader in Blackpool, England, and in Ile de France. To my readers in Lausanne, Switzerland, and to that stalwart in Moose Jaw, Canada. Thanks to my regulars in Delhi, India, Islamabad, Pakistan, in Beijing, China, and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I'd also like to thank my several readers in Portugal and the Netherlands. For some reason, I'm more popular in non-English European nations than in the U.K.

In the good old USA, thanks to Mark E. who's in San Diego, but who shows up at his server in Walnut Creek, California, and to my Columbus, Ohio reader at eos.net. To my regulars in Austin, Texas, in San Marcos, and in Richardson. To Greg P. in Santa Fe, who's featured me in HIS blog, and to my stalwart in Miami, Florida.

Thanks to my several British Columbia readers, and to my on again, off again reader in Anchorage, Alaska. Shout outs to my reader up on Golden.net on Hudson's Bay in Canada, and to my Newfoundland readers. And my regular in Calgary, Canada. I hope that the little blog has brought a ray of much-needed sunshine now and again.

I've been read in Kokomo and Kankakee, in Moose Jaw and Cardiff, Wales; in Aragon, Spain and Athens, Greece. Thanks to my Romanian reader, to my Swedish, Finnish and Dane regulars, and, holder of the "Greatest Distance Record" of 10,410 miles, my reader in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Some special appreciation has to go to Bill Eagle, up in St. Helens, Oregon, who has faithfully propagated this blog to his mailing list, lo these several years, and linked to it on his website. For service above and beyond the call of duty, thanks Bill.

And to Tommy C, down in L.A. who has been a long and faithful friend of this blog. To Mac McFadden, guest blogger, and passer-on of invaluable information and the latest jokes, many appreciations. To Nancy Stapp and Rick Little, I very much appreciate the exposure this little blog's been given on KOPT-AM 1600 in Eugene -- although, according to my tracking data, the strain of remembering "hartwilliams.com" has been too great for Eugene readers, and no hits whatsoever have been engendered from this, my hometown.

"A prophet is not without honor, except in his home country" or something like that.

I'd like to thank my friend Tom H. of Eugene, who knows what Hollywood is like and what Eugene is like, and, unlike our local "stars" understands the vast gulf. I had wanted to use his marvelous letter about Disneyland back in the day, but things came to a halt too soon to include it.

Thanks also go to Joe W. of Colorado, to Dave H. of North Carolina (whose almost daily responses to the blog have been a real boon in the preparation of the blog), to my aol reader in central Kansas, and, of course, to my little brother, at cox.net in Omaha, Nebraska, who has been spying on the blog on behalf of principalities unknown (but an educated guess might easily be made). To John in Antelope; to Cap'n Crusty, to Doctor Todd and to Rick my CPA friend: thanks and Happy Trails. You've all been special friends of this blog.

To Curt in Northern California, and to my mysterious reader in Sedalia, Missouri; to my regular in Kirkland, Washington, and in Brunswick, Maine, thanks a lot. And, to the ever-lovely Miss Genia, whose sage words are always appreciated.

And, a special thanks goes out to all of the Oregon politicians who have complained about, or quoted from the blog to either preclude or engender bashing of themselves and their political enemies. You'd think they'd be flattered that anyone notices, but, evidently, that notice hasn't been their favorite thing. Still, the squeals have been most gratifying.

And, to the person at the Department of Justice, in Maryland, who's been sniffing around the blog, I can only protest (in the words of Eliza Doolittle) "I'm a good girl, I am." And besides: this sedition has come to an end, and there's no need to be booking me a vacation to Guantanimo Bay. I'm sure you'll appreciate the reduction in your paperwork. (Oh, and could whoever's been tapping into my phone lines please do a better job of it?) I don't mind being listened in on -- after all, I have always assumed that anything I've said on the phone or on the internet might as well be broadcast from the street corners -- but the popping, clicking and interference is just intrusive and unacceptable. So, get it together, guys. You're supposed to be looking for Al Qaeda, remember?

It's been real, and it's been fun, but it hasn't always been real fun. But I want to thank you, and thank the many supporters of this blog, and let you know that in the past two years (since the inception of this blog in March 12, 2004) something over half-a-million words have been written, many of them pretty good.

I hope you've enjoyed this two-year run, and wish you well. I'll be around. And, to bring this to a close, let me explain why I always finish the blog with "courage," and then we'll look at the very first entry one last time.

After the Republican slime machine forced the ouster of Dan Rather of CBS News from the anchor's chair, I picked up his little post-9-11 signoff, "Courage." It sounds pretentious on TV, sure, but in print, it's just right.

And, it's a message that needs to be out there. From FDR's "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" to Bush's "Be afraid. Be very, very afraid," it's been a transition from "None But the Brave" to "In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream."

And "courage" is derived from the French, "quality of the heart," as is the English "heart" derived from the older "hart." Both versions show up, interchangeably in Shakespeare's sonnets.

DON JUAN. My dear Ana, you are silly. Do you suppose heaven is like earth, where people persuade themselves that what is done can be undone by repentance; that what is spoken can be unspoken by withdrawing it; that what is true can be annihilated by a general agreement to give it the lie? No: heaven is the home of the masters of reality: that is why I am going thither. [ibid.]
Adieu. Adios. Aloha. Here's the first (and now the last) blog entry, Alpha and Omega:

Posted: 4:39 AM, March 12, 2004

Welcome to my blog. We'll be looking at the campaign for HD8 from the inside ... of course, having been a journalist for nearly 30 years, and having done a fair bit of muckracking, it ain't gonna be pretty. Like making sausage, it shouldn't be watched if you want to keep your appetite, but it was the double dealing and back room deals that forced me -- against my will, dammit! -- to run in the first place.

May God have mercy on their souls (solds?) 'cause I sure won't.

Posted: 5:56 AM, March 12, 2004

Welcome. I am running for House District 8 State Representative because, after having been an "insider" for 8 years in Oregon Democratic and Union politics, I can't stomach the corruption, the deceit, the backroom deals and the lack of sunshine anymore. One of my opponents is blatantly and flagrantly flouting campaign law. The other is deeply and inextricably in bed with ... well, let's just say this: the second that one party's name was brought up, the County Commissioners immediately held an inquiry as to the fairness of the process that appointed him.

Oh, and I just received his first "campaign" mailing, franked from the legislature at taxpayers' expense. Time for some Watergaiety, folks. Oh, and I've been a journalist, author, writer and critic for 30 years now*, having written for venues from the LOS ANGELES TIMES to the WASHINGTON POST, with stops in between with the KANSAS CITY STAR, the SANTA FE SUN and a few others ....

[* I date my writing career's BEGINNING from 1973, my first date in print, and not 1976, my first PROFESSIONAL writing. There is no hypocrisy or distortion in the statement. - HW]

I'd like to say that this has had an effect, but it hasn't and didn't. The union thug is running unopposed in the primary for re-election, and decided long ago that I am his personal enemy for having opposed his utter lack of scruples, or for having told the truth, or both. So Lane County's "back room" politics continues. But, on the hopeful side, I received the following letter last night from a Lane County politico:

Hart, my wife pointed out that your **/**/04 story mentioning me still comes up as one of the first four or five web pages when someone googles my name. You've certainly got a right to say whatever you want about me, but I wonder if there is any statute of limitations for mistakes by politicians. If you decide you need to keep that story up, no hard feelings. Hope you and Jane (sic) are doing well.
Well, except for misspelling my wife's name, it's hopeful. And, in the immortal words of the (clearly mortal) Douglas Adams, so long and thanks for all the fish.

THE STATUE. Your flow of words is simply amazing, Juan. How I wish I could have talked like that to my soldiers.

THE DEVIL. It is mere talk, though. It has all been said before; but what change has it ever made? What notice has the world ever taken of it?

DON JUAN. Yes, it is mere talk. But why is it mere talk? Because, my friend, beauty, purity, respectability, religion, morality, art, patriotism, bravery and the rest are nothing but words which I or anyone else can turn inside out like a glove. Were they realities, you would have to plead guilty to my indictment; but fortunately for your self-respect, my diabolical friend, they are not realities. As you say, they are mere words, useful for duping barbarians into adopting civilization, or the civilized poor into submitting to be robbed and enslaved. That is the family secret of the governing caste ... [ibid.]
Courage.
.
PS: It's a bit pricey, but it'll be a collector's item. You can purchase Volume 1 of this blog "SKIING UPHILL, vol. 1 The Death of Democracy," from [removed]

Book Details (price doesn't include shipping):

Price: $****
Paperback: 457 pages
Binding: Perfect-Bound (Trade paper)
Publisher: [removed]

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
FULL CIRCLE
or, WHAT THE HELL


Tax season is over. Line 10 checks (for whether they filed a schedule A last year, and whether they received a tax refund, and, thus, whether or not line 10 should be filled in, and whether the computer program ported the number to line 15 of the Oregon OR-40 as a subtraction) are ended.

And I realized that I know much more about taxes than I've ever wanted to learn. But that wasn't what I wanted to tell you.

I wanted to tell you about a young man, an artist, who was filing his first tax return for his first year of making money as an artist.

Because I found myself in a strange time and place, when I was a young writer, filing MY first tax return that showed any writing income.

The prior year, 1977, I hadn't managed to sell anything over a couple hundred dollars and some free books. But in 1978, I wrote something over $10,000 worth of stuff, a couple of hundred dollars at a time, with a semi-irregular paychecks from the Los Angeles HERALD-EXAMINER for free-lance stuff, a couple of Knight Publications checks for the same $125 per article that I would get for the next ten years, and several thousand dollars' worth of audio scripts I wrote for a radio producer down on Santa Monica Boulevard, a few blocks from the Sunset Strip and down the street from the Troubador.

My first wife worked at a place called "Western Dye House" which was across the street from the Troubador, right before West Hollywood turned into Beverly Hills. She asked the CPA who did the company books if he'd take a look at my tax returns, and he said he would, as a favor to a pretty young lady.

His name was Mr. Irwin L. Trust, and I always thought it an extremely propitious name for an accountant. He had an office right off of Wilshire Boulevard, down La Cienega ("Restaurant Row"), or, about a block from the current corporate offices of HUSTLER Magazine, the LFP Building (Larry Flynt Publications), and where Art Linkletter has his office.*

[* A couple of years ago, when I was down in LA on business, I dropped off some material for the film & video editor, having paid a pretty penny to park in the basement lot -- the sole constant of HUSTLER for the past quarter century, it would seem, is that it's always expensive to park there -- and, taking the elevator up, it stopped at a prior floor, and Art Linkletter walked into the elevator, saw that it was going the wrong way, mumbled something about meaning get on the "down" elevator, and walked out. On my way back out, I noticed that his name was listed on the building register in the lobby.]

Mr. Trust was on the second floor of an office building that was overshadowed by every other office building on the street, and I finally found it by sheer triangulation. I had parked (more cheaply than at HUSTLER, which was, at the time, the Great Western Savings Bank building: an oblong cylinder of black smoked glass at La Cienega and Wilshire Boulevard). I walked around the block, looking for the address on the business card I'd been given. There was nothing "Beverly Hills" about the building. It was a perfectly staid and sober building, not too modern, nor too old.

Mr. Trust took me into his office, and asked me various questions, asked me about books and records and mileage, and when it was all over, he produced a tax return that showed me turning a modest profit, but not paying any taxes.

Finally, he said: "I normally don't handle writers. I only have one other writing client. I only handle businesses these days."

I nodded.

"You might know of him," he said. "He's a television writer."

"I know some television writers," I said.

"His name is Gene Roddenberry," he said, and I knew that he was of a generation that knew and cared little about Star Trek.

"I know who he is," I said.

And then, because we didn't have anything else to talk about, he told me he'd drop off my tax return to Western Dye House. I thanked him and left.

I got into my faded lemon-colored 1970 Toyota Corona -- a vehicle with all the esthetic charm of two saltine boxes stacked atop one another, but it was dependable and the price had been right -- and I drove home, finally, a 'real writer' in a way that I'd never felt before.

Once another writer and I were having a long talk in the mid-eighties, the question was set out: "When did you first realize that you were a writer?"

It wasn't when you made your first sale. That might have been a fluke. And it wasn't the next "N" number of sales. My friend, David J. Schow, then came up with the best definition I've yet heard.

"It was," he said, "When it became a job. Then I knew."

And that afternoon, in Mr. Trust's office, writing became my job.

So, on Sunday night, in the wee hours of the morning, I took the young artist's tax return, and began to make sure that he'd shown a profit, but didn't have any tax to pay. And as I filled out his Schedule C, I realized that I was now doing for him, perhaps, what Mr. Trust had done for me, long ago, in Beverly Hills, California. When he sees his tax return, he'll realize, in black and white (and no red) that he really IS an artist, and that it's no fluke. Or maybe not. But I know what I felt on the other side of Mr. Trust's desk.

And, like me, the kid was driving a used Toyota, too.

Full circle. So, let's go back to the beginning and bring it all the way 'round.

###

At the time of that tax return -- as I noted a couple of days ago -- I was reading a lot about the Gnostics, and the Nag Hammadi codices, and Joseph Campbell's THE MASKS OF GOD (vols 1-4). That first year that I needed a tax consultant was the same year that I'd started selling well. In fact, the Nag Hammadi Library was purchased with audio script money.

And, I was still trying to send out science fiction/fantasy short stories. As I'd been doing for a couple of years. Ever since ...

This was the first one I ever got into publishable manuscript form, but, aside from ten or so editors or slush pile readers who rejected it, this is the first time that human eyes have been laid on it since 1978 -- when I stopped sending it out after two years.

I fear that it was perhaps too arch, keeping too much necessary information from the reader. It began my career-long fascination with the meaning of individual words that turned up in stories like, "Akimbo," "The Waters of Lethe," "Lagan," and, of course this one, "Ragnarok."

A word will repeat itself to me, and I will dutifully look it up in the dictionary (a vow I made to myself in junior high school: if I see a word I don't know, or can't quite define, I look it up. This "superstition," as Grant called it in his memoirs, has been of invaluable benefit to my writing over the years.)

That word will suggest a story, and the story will be written to fit the layers of meaning in that word.

Ragnarok means either "The Doom of the Gods," or the "Twilight of the Gods." In Wagner's Ring cycle (the one that Tolkien sort of borrows very heavily from in LORD OF THE RINGS) and in the earlier German mythology, it was "Gotterdamerung" -- the end of the world.

It is the apocalypse in the Norse Mythology, but this apocalypse takes place in a different religious tradition ...

###

Ragnarok
By Hart Williams
(c) 1976

He paused, in His palace of purple and golden hues. Shifting His weight in the immense, ornate throne, He cast His golden eyes downward and wept bitter tears. I have failed, He thought.

Raising His eyes to the floating ball of light that dominated the throne room, He cursed, stood, spat, and stalked out of the great hall.

Once outside the stifling pomp of the overdone edifice, He resolved to journey back to His Waterloo, to see if there was some small chance that He could escape His fate. Drawing Himself to His full Height, He strode down the gleaming path and out of that territory.

###

Arriving, He found it much as He had left it, overdone, overrated and overpopulated by the teeming hordes of ill people. There was a new smell in the air, and new conveyances hustled them about in new styles of clothing. New buildings housed old avarice and animosity; new laws supported old goals and means: it was as He had left it.

He remembered the last time He had seen it...

###

Foul-smelling merchants guided their even fouler-smelling animals into the marketplace, ready for another day of meaningless commerce; old crones and young wives bickered over prices, or drew water from the town well, or cackled loudly among themselves. Dispassionate or bored occupation troops tried to maintain as much dignity as possible in the dusty noonday market; old men sat against brown stone buildings, striving not to appear unimportant and useless in the shade; young workers moved purposefully throughout the crowded bazaar as children made nonsense games in the filthy, open market, laughing and running with overabundant energy.

He entered the marketplace (which was the temple courtyard) and stood on the temple steps, waiting as the crowd gathered. A crowd, a sermon, the inevitable word games with Sadducees or Pharisees, and the annoyed looks from the soldiers who knew that they'd most likely have to break up the congestion.

No, it had not really changed, but He had.

Golden features hardened. He knew that this was to be His last chance, Here in this world of corrupt smells and expanding, corrupting powers. He moved Himself to the top of a desolate mountain and viewed the world one last time to be certain that His plan was right. It might work, He thought...

###

He appeared to them, one by one, in exactly the rococo or surrealist vision that they had expected of Him: mighty winds and booming voices on Daliesque landscapes; rosy-cheeked cherubim and seraphim flitting reverently about His majestic form; flashes of white light and soft forceful voices... He appeared to them in whatever form they expected Him and spoke the expected words in the expected voice.

He tried to tell them, one by one, that it was all a mistake, that He was not what they thought, that He had only wanted to show them something and not to be something. He ordered, He pleaded, He cajoled, He soothed, He promised to Help them, He promised to destroy them. A thousand, He went to. A million. Then a billion. And a few answered. But they were not as strong as He, and lost it even as He spoke it to them.

###

"Get thee behind me Satan!"

"But I'm not at all what you think I am."

"Deceiver! Liar! You think that you can shake my faith?"

"No, please, you don't understand... Just let me..."

"Begone! BEGONE!"

###

The ball of light shone much, much brighter now. The magnificent throne was ever so much more ornate and pretty. Sweet, baby-faced cherubs were materializing and nothing that He could do would make them go away. The castle was growing faster than He could move away from it.

He tried to escape, but it was hopeless: new gargoyles were forming among the delicate gold-worked and multicolored marble pillars with their intricate and ornate capitals. Pearly efflorescence flooded through the walls, ceiling and floor. Harps and strings filled the air with sickly-sweet music. And there was nothing that He could do about it.

###

He knew that He had lost, finally and completely. Golden eyes dripped myrrh-scented tears into the emerald cup Held by one of the thousands of cherubim infesting the great halls like Heavenly cockroaches. From somewhere in the great throne-room, a mighty voice boomed, "I am the Lord thy God... "

He did not know exactly where that voice was coming from, but He had His suspicions.

end

... The nine worlds will burn, and friends and foes alike will perish. The earth will sink into the sea.

After the destruction, a new and idyllic world will arise from the sea and will be filled with abundant supplies. Some of the gods will survive, others will be reborn. Wickedness and misery will no longer exist and gods and men will live happily together. The descendants of Lif and Lifthrasir will inhabit this earth.

Ragnarok does not mean "Twilight of the Gods"; that phrase is the result of a famous mistranslation. "Ragnarokr" or "Ragnarukr" means "doom of the powers" or "destruction of the powers" (where "powers" means "gods").

................ -- Encyclopedia Mythica, MCMXCV - MMVI (c)
And, with that little dollop of mythopoeic nostalgia, I seem to have come full circle: the Worm Ourbouros, or-- in the rural mythology of Nebraska -- the hoop snake.

Courage.
.
hart williams
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