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Had a whirlwind trip to Sydney over the weekend for Distant Worlds.  It was, as expected, fairly awesome.

The weekend got off to a great start when I hopped off the plane straight onto this double-decker train from the airport! Yes, I am a country girl who is easily amused by such things.
Then, once leaving the safety of the subway tunnels, discovered that it was pouring rain.  Apparently it was Sydney's wettest day in 10 years, which is actually kind of weaksauce if true. Perception of 'wet' may be altered coming out of the Queensland floods.

Stayed at the Menzies!  It was a bit more expensive than I normally choke out for a hotel, as I reasoned being able to walk back from the Opera House after Distant Worlds instead of forking out for a cab made up the difference.

But god, was it fancy.  There were doormen!
Also the bed was enormous.  This angle does a poor job of displaying this fact.  It wasn't big enough for just two people, you probably could have fit four comfortably.  It was bigger than some of my old bedrooms.  It's like one of those beds you read about in those OT4 fics.  I was actually kind of tempted to kill the afternoon in the hotel, since it was raining and the hotel room was luxurious and awesome.
Fortunately, the lure of chocolate and soundtracks was powerful enough to entice me away.

Queen Victoria Building: got ugly scaffolding?  NO PROBLEM.
Went here to visit FISH, a small store which specialises in classical music/jazz/opera/musicals and soundtracks - basically all the genres that get squished into the out-of-the-way corner at JB. Soundtrack pickings were rather slim this time, but came away with a brilliant find with the world premiere recording of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Sunset Boulevard.  It is one of my favourites!  Though there have been precious few musicals I haven't liked, so maybe that doesn't say a lot.
Inside the Queen Victoria building, there was this curious door.  It only opens questions, apparently.
Aside from that one sojourn, my Saturday afternoon seemed to be largely comprised of bookstores.  Went to Kinokuniya, which is always awesome and has the best non-fiction range of any bookstore I've yet found.  Drooled over many books, somehow dragged myself away by reminding myself I only had carry-on luggage and am supposed to be saving money.
This must be the grandmother of all Dymocks stores.  o__o
My grand plans to save money by not buying books was swiftly put to a stop when I discovered this place.  Yes, it is as magical as it looks.  Entirely sci-fi and fantasy!  A whole bookcase just of Star Wars novels!  Guys, I think I just found my personal heaven.
Wound up leaving with a modest number of Philip K Dick novels, presumably because it's been far too long since I last challenged my tenuous grip of reality. :|
My Saturday having mostly disappeared in aisles of paperbacks, headed over to Circular Quay an hour or two before the concert.
The goal here was simple:

Ordered a pot of peppermint tea and some kind of chocolate cake and hazelnut praline ice-cream. It wound up being kind of expensive. Possibly because they put edible gold dust on the dessert.  Not even kidding.

Thus I headed to the concert high on both sugar and giddy anticipation.

Sydney Harbour Bridge was looking wonderfully ominous under the gathering storm clouds.

As was the Sydney Opera House.

Is it weird that one of the things that most impresses me about the Sydney Opera House is that they backlight their toilet roll dispensers?  It's very futuristic somehow.
*_____*  There's definitely something totally amazing about seeing a game concert poster outside a major venue in Australia amidst all the usual theatre and choirs and ballets.

One and only shot from the inside.  Technically you're not supposed to take pictures, but the rule seems very poorly enforced.  I am always surprised by how small the Concert Hall in the Opera House is.  Had a fantastic seat, worth paying the premium price.
Okay, I'm about to talk about Distant Worlds in excruciating detail now.  SKIP TO THE NEXT LINE OF STARS IF YOU'RE NOT INTERESTED.

The vibe of excitement at this concert was unbelievable.  There was an absolute crush of people at the merchandise stall the minute the doors opened!  There were a couple of people in cosplay too - spotted a Yuna, a Sephiroth, and a few Turks.  One couple were wearing white Distant Worlds T-shirts with the logo wings drawn on the back, along with a headband with moogle ears and bobble.  XD  IT WAS KIND OF HILARIOUS AND ADORABLE.
Nobuo Uematsu came out and sat in with the audience, the clapping and cheering when he turned up was amazing!  He played up the crowd very well, no doubt experienced at concerts by now (seems like every single concert on the Distant Worlds tour has him there as a guest, wonder when on earth he gets the time to write FFXIV's soundtrack).
The big screen set up played relevant footage for each piece of music, which was a nice touch, and occasionally hilarious when they turned back to old-school graphics.  The symphony was being performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by the choir 'Cantillation'.  And sponsored by BigPond, which was vaguely baffling but whatever it takes.
They opened with FFVII: Prelude - which is a darn good choice of a rendition for the classic main Final Fantasy melody.  When this first bit of music started to swell, I nearly started crying out of sheer joy, no exaggeration.  Actually, that was the reaction for almost every piece of the concert.  I will spare you the repetition by merely stating now that it happened a lot.
THEN, THEN - FFVIII: LIBERI FATALI.  OMG.  THIS WAS AMAZING TO HEAR LIVE.  *__*  Though I will break away here with my one small complaint from the concert - everyone would get super-excited when they recognised the piece (Despite the set list in the program, a lot of people apparently don't know the track names and so were somehow surprised) and would start cheering and clapping, and while I can't blame them because I kind of wanted to cheer and clap too, guys, you're drowning out the music.  It's not a rock concert!  

This was especially prevalent in the following Victory Theme, which was so short as to barely warrant a place on the program and the entire thing got drowned out by excited applause. :|
Fortunately somewhere halfway through the first set everybody mostly got their giddy impulses under control.  If nothing else, it must have been novel for the Sydney Symphony.  (Except that one old violin player in the back row who looked terribly displeased by the whole endeavour.)
Next was FFX: To Zanarkand.  This is a beautiful piece, and the extra texture rendered by a live performance makes it nearly heartbreaking. ;__;
FFVIII: Don't Be Afraid (better known as the FFVIII battle theme) was awesome, but that surprises nobody.
FFV: Dear Friends slowed things up a bit.  This piece has a very Greensleeves sort of feel, but it's very pretty and the symphony made me like it a lot more than I used to.
FFIX: Vamo' alla Flemenco: This one was the big surprise of the night for me.  I recalled the music quite clearly from the game, and while I liked it, didn't expected much from the orchestration.  I was sorely mistaken.  This track fairly exploded with energy, the original version is now forever trash.  This is a lesson in adaptation.
FFVIII: Aerith's Theme.  Dammit, even Nobuo Uematsu is spelling it Aerith now.  I may be forced to adjust.
It's just.. there's never any words to do this one justice.  You just say 'Aerith's theme' and everyone understands.
FFVIII: Fisherman's Horizon: A fun, more light-hearted piece.  Brilliantly done, but not my favourite.  Sort of an odd choice, really.
Especially when it's immediately overshadowed by FFV: Clash on the Big Bridge!  *____*  FFV's music was largely forgettable for me, but this track is far and away my favourite, and they did a fantastic job with it.  It was so bombastic!  alsdkjflsjfalskjf Sydney Symphony, you are so perfect in your execution and dynamics! \o/
Chocobo Medley 2010 was kind of hilarious, mostly because the video guy clearly had waaaaaay too much fun mixing his rather selected clips of chocobo footage together in interesting ways.  Had both the traditional chocobo theme and samba-de-chocobo!
Then to close out the first set - FFVII: J-E-N-O-V-A.

Second set opened with perennial classic FFVII: Opening - Bombing Mission.  This piece never fails to send shivers down my spine.
...They sure had a lot of FFVII pieces.  Not that I'm complaining.  But we missed out on anything from FFI-IV....  (*is greedy*)  (Next on the wishlist is The Price of Freedom.)
THEN - Surprise guest!  Japanese pop idol Kanon turned up to sing Suteki da ne and FFXI's Memoro de la Stono.  She did a fantastic job, I'm always surprised whenever I hear a pop idol sing so beautifully live!  Don't know why, must be all the lip-syncing scandals we normally get. 
They took a brief break from Uematsu to play some of Masashi Hamauzu's work - specifically FFXIII: Fabula Nova Crystallis (which truth be told was a fairly non-descript and very short piece - normally associated with Serah).  Would have preferred to hear Oerba's theme, really. Next was FFXIII: Blinded By Light (much more awesome piece better known as Lightning's theme, or the main battle music of FFXIII.)  This was perhaps the only piece where they may have dropped the ball slightly with the arrangement - the dynamics didn't feel quite as punchy live as on CD, and percussion kept crowding out the main melody.  But then, they've likely had far less time to perfect this arrangement compared to the rest.  Still very enjoyable.

They also called it a preview, which is kind of hilarious for a game that's been out in Australia for over a year now.
Then FFXIV: Navigator's Glory - The Theme of Limsa Lominsa!  Awesome piece.  A real tragedy that I will never play FFXI or FFXIV. :|
Also FFXIV: Primal Judgement.  Equally cool.  Seeing the nice hi-def trailer footage was neat.
FFVI: Opera 'Maria and Draco'!!!!!  Complete with opera soloists!
This one just blew me out of the water.  It gave me chills.  This is the thing I like best about game concerts - when they take older games with less sophisticated soundtracks but still beautiful melodies, and give them the big budget orchestration they deserve.
It was also a little eerily fourth-wall breaking.  As though you're attending the opera scene yourself, one of the many NPCs in the audience.  o__o
Then they closed out the program with FFVI: Terra's Theme.  Wonderful.  I am running out of synonyms.  They also ran a credits sequence for the performance during this.  Again with the blurring of realities.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the encore was FFVII: One Winged Angel.  :D  I just don't get sick of hearing this one live.
Only the one encore, unfortunately, despite some very insistent clapping and whistling and even a standing ovation.  That is the difference between Sydney Symphonic Orchestra and Eminence - Eminence are in it for the love of that particular music and will keep coming back until they run out of encores/get too tired/get kicked out of the venue.  (*Never misses a chance to plug Eminence*).  But I cannot fault them.  It was a nigh flawless performance.
Another one crossed off the bucket list, guys.  Attended a Final Fantasy concert.  \o/
********************** (END EXCRUCIATING DETAIL)
Wandered out from the concert in a euphoric daze, headed back to the hotel, and collapsed onto the gloriously oversized bed sometime after midnight.  Proceeded to sleep for 11 hours, which was way longer than intended.  Partly because the giant bed was sort of amazing and also probably because hotels have these amazing light-blocker curtains that make it look like midnight even in the middle of the day.  I was saved by a friend's SMS, and just barely made the hotel's checkout time.  Then, went and ate some proper lunch breakfast, since I was feeling sick guilty about only eating sugar the day before.

As wonderfully relaxing at this was, it kind of put a damper on my plans for the Sunday, as it left me with a small afternoon window without enough time to do much of anything or go very far.  Wound up wandering around.

Stopped in at Hyde Park, drawn as always by the sound of a fountain.

Also watched an old guy playing chess with himself on the oversized chess board.  Am kind of amazed someone hasn't run off with all the pieces. 

Not sure what this building is, but it looked mighty impressive.

Truthfully, Sydney has so many impressive old buildings it's easy to become desensitised to their presence.  This one still caught my interest for the precarious clock. Imagine that thing breaking off and crushing a car!  (*Clearly influenced by far too many Loony Tunes cartoons as a child*)
Stumbled across this poster and was overcome by jealousy.  Gabriel Iglesias, guys!  IF ONLY I'D KNOWN SOONER.
Another highlight of the trip was the return to 85 degrees!  This time, sampled the Hokkaido Strawberry.  Still the best cake ever.  It's so light and fluffy and such a delicate flavour~ 
Probably should not have sat down to eat it in Town Hall Square, though.  Had two hobos ramble nonsense at me then ask for money, and then a vaguely creepy guy in a purple suit tried to offer me some sort of church pamphlet.  Lesson learned for next time.
That said, there were a lot of very nice people in Sydney who would strike up a conversation!  People in elevators, people at the concert, and just about every shop assistant.  Was rather novel.  One guy was very nice and offered me his all-day ferry pass since he himself was off to the airport and couldn't use it.  Had three different people ask me to take a photo for them and two different people ask me for directions.  (*facepalm*)  ...The tragic part of that was, I could actually answer their questions.  :|
Was tempted by the Sydney Aquarium despite the lack of time, mostly because OMG LEGO EXHIBIT.
Had to be satisfied with the two on public display.


Since there wasn’t really much time to do anything else, wound up wandering around Darling Harbour and Circular Quay and people-watching. Listened to all the buskers.  Took a short run on the ferry too. 
Doesn't this just make you simultaneously want to cringe and yet, go 'awwwwww.'
Ate a very late lunch at Circular Quay before heading to the airport.  Chose an alfresco cafe with a lovely view of the Harbour Bridge and all the ferries coming and going and ordered a sandwich.  Took my seat.  Received my food.
Then the seagulls came.

These two brutes formed a perimeter around me, bullying away the others gathering with fierce gumption, despite the fact that I had not thrown them even a morsel and had no intention of doing so.  This did not matter to them.  They crowded on the edge of the umbrellas overhead.  Stalked a steady circle around my table.  Screeched repetitively at me, demanding their share.

These seagulls had decided: my sandwich would be Theirs.

There were plenty of other diners eating around me. For some reason, however, the seagulls were only interested in my lunch. To be fair, it was a pretty excellent sandwich. I’m surprised the seagulls instinctively knew this without having had the slightest taste.
They were patient.  I must have been well over halfway through my sandwich, when, in a moment of clear oversight, I leant back in my chair to take a drink of water.

And then the seagulls flew down and stole my lunch straight off my plate.  :|
So concluded my Distant Worlds adventure in Sydney.



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 21st, 2011 04:04 pm (UTC)
I'm always greatly amused by your picspams (and the captions, I lol'ed at your comment about the OT4 fics) xD btw pretty much all the trains in Sydney look like that hahaha

So sad I missed you again on this trip!! I think you might've liked hanging out with us during our shoot, it was a laid-back horror shoot and we got a lot of really beautiful shots (here's one of my two friends that was uploaded recently). It was a shame you couldn't be there ... but I'll do a picspam soon I guess lol ♥

Come to SMASH! so we can hang out you. XD
Apr. 22nd, 2011 03:50 am (UTC)
XD Really?! It's kind of weird and interesting! I've seen double-decker trains before, but they've normally been long-distance 'coach' style trains.

Yes, I'm sorry I totally stuffed things up on Sunday, I was looking forward to tagging along and meeting up finally! But when I saw the time, figured that by the time I managed to meet up with you guys I'd be there for only a few minutes before having to leave. :( That one horror shot looks amazing, though, looking forward to your picspam! ♥

Ahahaha, I think I actually probably will come to SMASH! :) (Eminence is holding a concert there that night! \o/)
Apr. 21st, 2011 07:36 pm (UTC)
lkjasdhjksahkf EXPLODING WITH ENVYYYY D: Had I been there I would probably be sniffling at every song I recognized and making so much of a ruckus that security would drag me outside XD

Maria and Draco! asdghjkashdjkasd WITH REAL OPERA SINGERS. I can faintly remember playing that part, it was always so darn hard for me to follow Celes' moves. >___> AND LIBERI FATALI LIVE. I SHIVER JUST FROM IMAGINING IT.

Caaaaaaake. *___* Having random people spoil cake enjoyment must suck a lot. Also this post has awakened in me a hunger for cake at the worst possible time, as no cake shops are open in my vicinity. Whyyyy. D:
Apr. 22nd, 2011 03:52 am (UTC)
Wish you could have been there! It really was amazing. They've released a recording of the opera though, so you can at least hear it?

This is the eternal problem with cake. It's a very inconvenient craving. :|
Apr. 22nd, 2011 04:12 am (UTC)
Ugh, I'm soooooo jealous!!! *A* I live in America and the concert was just in New York. I don't have any FF friends to accompany me though and I didn't really have the time/money to attend anyway. Nonetheless, I was pretty disappointed. It sounds like it was AMAZING!!
Haha, the first (only) time I went to NYC, some toothless hobo approached my friends (I was in the Metropolitan at the time and they were waiting for me outside) and tried to sell them a pack of his poetry and a Yankee hat. They bought it cause "he was really nice." Gullible boys they are. . . lol. Your hobo story reminded me of this. =)
That cake looks delicious!
Apr. 22nd, 2011 04:45 am (UTC)
Aww, that is a shame! They'll certainly swing back around there soon enough, though. Seems to hit New York almost annually.

XD The hobos weren't anything unusual or that much of a problem, it mostly just amused me that I accidentally chose their local hangout. Hahaha, poetry and a yankee hat though, that's original.
Apr. 22nd, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC)
Lego exhibits are awesome~ Went to Legoland in England when I was little, it's pretty amazing, they had the changing of the guard parade at Buckingham palace legolized and put some robotics in so it moved ♥

I want to visit that music store! Love finding random musical and classical recordings. I've seen the movie version of Sunset Boulevard which was pretty awesome, but not the musical, sadly it's such an old musical I wonder if a company will revive it one day on stage. I have heard bits and pieces of the soundtracks, really really love the songs 'With One Look' and 'Sunset Boulevard'.

Love the second last photo of the bridge/sky/water~ blue ♥ and the cathedral? photo looks really cool.
Apr. 23rd, 2011 08:15 am (UTC)
*___* That would have been amazing! Totally jealous.

I heard the rights to Sunset Boulevard have finally been released (it's always been a bit of legal quagmire, what with being an adaptation of the film), so maybe the musical will come back! \o/ Apparently the last time it was on tour was in 1996 (With Hugh Jackman, of all people), which is some 15 years ago now, about time it makes another run! Oooo, good choices of songs, I also really like 'The Lady's Paying' and 'Girl Meets Boy'.
Apr. 23rd, 2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
Hugh Jackman!well that explains why I found a youtube video of him singing the title track XD
Apr. 23rd, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
I REALLY DON'T KNOW WHERE TO START ON THIS POST. REALLY. IT IS SORT OF TERRIBLE AND I FEEL LIKE I SHOULD BE INSERTING MYSELF SOMEWHERE HERE. :| Like I was there and therefore don't have to comment because I can smugly say I was there and saw it all in first person. :| :| But because I wasn't and FAILED AS A FRIEND-ADVENTURER I will keysmash my way through. :D

Hotel beds! *___* EVERY TIME THERE ARE HOTEL BEDS THE URGE TO ROLL ON THEM IS IMMENSE. I would have done that to yours. :| And yes, it does look huge! :D (Are you now converted to the luxury of a queen now Sin? I'm still remembering how you said you prefer singles last Melbourne. >:D I BET YOUR FEELINGS HAVE CHANGED.)

KINOKUNIYA AND GALAXY. NNNNGGGGGGGH. We don't have a Galaxy here, or Kinokuniya but I can imagine the love. After that taste in KL of Kinokuniya I desperately want to go back, so endlessly envious that you went in, but scoffing at that crazy restraint of yours to not buy. Am glad you let up in Galaxy~

GUYLIAN CAFE. DID NOT KNOW IT EXISTED. AM HALF GLAD I DID NOT GO WITH YOU BECAUSE ARTERIES. GUHHHHH. But ohmygod, gold dust? Could you taste it?! Could you see it? Was it worth it? Jaw aches because I want to eat it. :E

In response to that music keysmash, I will say I am always gleeful at seeing your gleeful reaction. NOTHING BRINGS OUT THE FANGIRL IN SIN LIKE MUSIC CONCERTS. /regrets And heee, Chocobo Hot and Cold!

Hyde Park! (Once again Australia, time to get your own names for places!) Giant chess though. *___* It want to cling to them and not let go. ...It was sort of be epic as a place to cosplay too. *_* IMAGINE DEATH NOTE OR SOME OTHER CREEPY MASTERMIND ANIME.

Caaaakeeeee. Looks delicious but really?! Best cake ever? Explanation, I demands it!

And oh boy, seagulls. Ah, they knew you were weak, Sin, and they knew you were alone and gangpressed you until they saw an opening! ;;


Apr. 23rd, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
AHAHAHAHA, YOU KNOW, IT ACTUALLY FELT REALLY WEIRD NOT HAVING YOU THERE SOMEHOW? LIKE I'VE BECOME USED TO HAVING YOU AS A TRAVEL BUDDY. XD You really were there in spirit! ♥ (Also I want to hear about your adventures at the markets!)

XD I'm amazed you remember that. NOT CONVERTED, because technically, lovely as the bed was, I actually only used a small sliver of it and wound up making a nest of pillows. :P It was more that it was just the most comfortable and amazing mattress ever.

XD If you're worried about YOUR arteries what must mine look like? You could definitely see the gold dust! It's kind of only a little bit visible in the picture unfortunately. Didn't really taste like much of anything though, its effect seems purely psychological.

Ahahaha, now you're thinking like a cosplayer! OMG but that is a great idea though! Maybe Harmony's group has already done it?

It's a REALLY good cake store. Possibly there are better but I have not found them yet. There wasn't anything even that fancy about the cake, everything was just so fresh and had such great textures and was perfectly executed?

WISH YOU COULD HAVE COME~ I'm sure I will feel the same when you get back and post about your London trip! :D
Apr. 24th, 2011 02:45 pm (UTC)
XD ME TOO. SOMETIMES I GO OUT AND THEN SEE STUFF AND THEN GO, AH IF ONLY SIN WAS HERE, SHE WOULD LIKE THIS. ESPECIALLY WHEN I AM OUT AND ABOUT AND I SEE PASTRIES. :| Am glad I was there in spirit though, I do want to see Sydney one day, so muahaha, maybe next time you go I will try and come. (But probably not for Smash since this year. ;;)

Ahaha, I sort of failed in the photos throughout the day, since we woke at 5AM to get there and I was freaking out about getting there on time? But I sold books! And Mum made cookies and sold the whole stash, and one man (who'd bought three boxes) wanted the one we were using as a lure, lol! He kept asking if we'd be back too, haha. I can understand since Mum's food is the best. >:D

NNnnngggh. I am spoilt by hotel beds. I can sleep on anything but I rarely get the chance for something that nice, which is why I was happy when we got nice beds! :DD

*__* But I figured you have become immune to these things! OR IT'S YOUR SUPERPOWER, SIN. :DDD Is it a powerup? Do you feel golden? ;)

s;dlfksd;fklsd, I didn't realise Harmony's group had done a shoot with K-chan and Aly! Which uh, if someone knows who I'm talking about IAMJUSTAAWESTRIKENFAN and not creepy at all. :| and well, *swoons*.

I have not been in enough cake stores to ever have figured out the perfect place. YOU MUST TAKE ME ONE DAY. :D And I am terribly saddened you never got to try out apple strudel. :| It is a thing of lovely and hmm, wait, if you go to Melbourne, I will somehow find a way to bring it over! :DDDDDD /no idea how to carry everything


Apr. 23rd, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
I am so jealous! The concert sounds awesome and your pics of the city are amazing.
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Apr. 27th, 2011 11:50 am (UTC)
Triple deck?! I didn't see any of those! :O FANCY. *new goal* I think you took a fair shake at sight-seeing when you went, I still haven't been to Taronga Zoo or any of those place.

XD I'm afraid we're in an increasing minority of people who played the original translation first. The time may be nigh to accept defeat graciously. I will fight on, through fanfic!

Indeed, it seems to be a common story! Just like diving for fish in the scene to them, no doubt. :|
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Apr. 28th, 2011 01:35 pm (UTC)
*A* *A * *A * you are reminding me of my last visit to Sydney *_*!

ALSO HOW ON EARTH DID YOU MANAGE TO STAY CONSCIOUS DURING THE CONCERT? And not have a heart attack of glee or something. /jealous
Apr. 29th, 2011 08:27 am (UTC)
May. 5th, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
...backlit toilet paper. that is... *_____*; another thing i must see for myself one day, i think.

your commentary is all amazing. xD ♥ oh my god, and the gulls. 8DD; FEARSOME, COORDINATED ATTACKS. ;;; i am glad the ones in melbourne aren't quite so ruthless or cunning yet. ;;
May. 6th, 2011 09:05 am (UTC)
I AM GLAD I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS BACKLIT TOILET PAPER IS AWESOME. You must! Aren't you guys heading to Sydney at some point for cosplay championships? Prime opportunity!

Ahahah, maybe they haven't had enough tourists to feed them and make them aware of this new food source yet. These were birds with no fear of humans.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )