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ART Appreciation "class" #2 Impressionism and Post-Impressionism
6/1/05 | republicanprofessor

Posted on 06/01/2005 4:08:07 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor

I had such fun with my first Art Appreciation "class" last week. Thanks for all your support. For this second “class,” I’d like to discuss the basic ideas behind Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Please continue to post more images that appeal to you; it’s great to have a continuing dialogue.

Let’s look at Impression: Sunrise by Claude Monet (1840-1926). This was done in 1874, and when it was exhibited, the slurred comments by a critic about it being only “an impression” gave the name Impressionism to the movement. Nowadays, however, we appreciate how it moves away from detailed realism to give us a different feeling of the moment. What is the weather, location, probable season? These were the concerns of the Impressionists. What kind of weather makes the sun so red at sunrise?

Later in the 1890s, Monet began several splendid series of works of similar subjects caught at different times of day: morning, noon, evening. He did these with grainstacks (or haystacks), Rouen Cathedral and poplar trees. Some complain that these works were just about light, color and atmosphere. (Cezanne is reputed to have said “Monet is just an eye, but what an eye!"). However, one article I read noted that these subjects are essential in French history and identity: the poplars are a national symbol, the grainstacks look like farmer’s thatched huts and thus glorify agriculture and farmers. Finally, the cathedrals are resonant with French gothic glory, since gothic cathedrals were initiated in France in 1144.

You can often guess the time of day in Monet’s Cathedral pieces because the entrance of these churches (in Europe) is always on the west side. Thus the light in the left image is clearly in the early morning. If you look on line, you can see different images from other times of day.

Monet’s latest Waterlilies series from the 1910s-1926 were awesome, but I’ll get to those later.

Another complaint of Monet was that his work was “formless:” that he had no hard edges, traditional space nor modeling (or shading). The Post-Impressionists like Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) added stronger forms, shapes and edges to the color of the Impressionists.

Gauguin’s Vision after the Sermon 1888. Done about the same time as Monet’s works, but notice how much more solid are the shapes (more fancily called forms). There is a sense of solidity and mass (or weight) about them.

A question I always ask my students about this work: is the space flat or is it deep? This is a very important question in modern art. The small cow in the upper left shows a sense of distance, especially from the huge (Sally Field Flying Nun-type) nuns’ hats. But the diagonal and red background really flatten the space. That diagonal, the cut-off forms, aerial perspective and non-heroic, daily subject are strong influences from Japanese prints, which were inundating France after Admiral Perry opened Japan 1853.

What’s happening in Gauguin’s work is that these Breton women of northern France have come out from church and are visualizing a reenactment of their sermon: Jacob wrestling with the angel. (My problem with Gauguin is that he often doesn’t touch my heart, as Monet does. One writer, I believe it was Rosenblum, said that Gauguin watches others worship, but we don’t feel him worshiping. That’s true of his later Tahiti works as well.)

Gauguin’s Day of the Gods from his later Tahitian period. I love the abstracted, colorful swirls of the water. Here even the water is solid. Note the Tahitian god in the background.

Now, here’s my toughest concept of the “class.” That flattened space of Gauguin, the flat space that also hints at a deeper space, is an essential theme of modern art. Renaissance perspective is old-fashioned, and after the invention of the camera, artists are trying to explore different kinds of space. Now, if you can see a movement back and forth between two and three dimensions, that creates a new kind of energy in painting. And, to me, this is a spiritual energy that affects my eyes, my body and my soul. Modern art can be seen as very spiritual, for it does affect the spirit and soul in a new way. This is not the traditional kind of Christian images seen in the past.

I have given short shrift to so many other Impressionists: Renoir, who preferred people (while Monet preferred landscapes); Degas, whose melancholy pervaded even his now-famous ballerinas; Mary Cassatt who updated the traditional Mother and Child icon to middle-and upper-class mothers and their children.

In the next “class,” in about a week or so, I want to compare and contrast the emotional works of van Gogh vs. the more controlled (but equally influential) works of Cezanne.

BTW, the latest thread by Liz on Klimt falls into this time-line of the Art Nouveau of the late 1890s. Symbolists like Klimt were a subcategory of the Post-Impressionists.


TOPICS: Arts/Photography
KEYWORDS: appreciation; art; artappreciation; cassatt; degas; gauguin; monet; renoir
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1 posted on 06/01/2005 4:08:07 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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To: Republicanprofessor

I find this work's Ethereal Otherness to be profound, yet insipid.

2 posted on 06/01/2005 4:12:07 PM PDT by martin_fierro (Art in the Dark)
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To: Republicanprofessor
How's my "impressionistic" version of Howie Dean coming along, prof?


3 posted on 06/01/2005 4:13:25 PM PDT by anniegetyourgun
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To: All

In the future, post these in the arts topic on the General Interest forum.
Thanks.


4 posted on 06/01/2005 4:15:05 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: Sam Cree; Liz; Joe 6-pack; woofie; vannrox; giotto; iceskater; Conspiracy Guy; B Knotts; Dolphy; ...

Ping.

Let me know if you want on or off this Art Ap "class" ping list.

BTW: Liz has a great thread going now on Klimt in general chat (which is where I should have posted this and will do so in the future). I don't want to impinge on her thread, but I went to a contemporary art musuem today and was inspired to go back to the old masters and do the next installment to this series.


5 posted on 06/01/2005 4:17:27 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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To: Admin Moderator

I will. Sorry. I wasn't sure how to do so. Thanks for switching us over.


6 posted on 06/01/2005 4:21:02 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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To: Republicanprofessor

dislike the post modern french but the art of this period IMpressionism is unique in its emotional content -
and genius..waiting for the next great movement with the same impact of expanding the minds eye.

Thanks for the great images posted here. Bravo


7 posted on 06/01/2005 4:21:38 PM PDT by ConsentofGoverned (mark rich, s burger,flight 800, waco,cbs's national guard-just forget thats the game)
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To: Bella_Bru; Mark in the Old South; ALPAPilot; nuconvert

Ping.

I noticed, on the Klimt thread, that you wanted to be added to Liz's list. So I thought I'd ping this to you. If you want to be on this other list, let me know.


8 posted on 06/01/2005 4:22:41 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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To: Republicanprofessor

Thanks for the thread.

I like Gaugin. My art tastes are a little odd, I guess.

I also like Henri Rousseau (I know some art critics don't think much of his work.)

And if you asked me why I like them, I probably couldn't give you an answer, but the colors and the shapes appeal to me.


9 posted on 06/01/2005 4:24:04 PM PDT by dawn53
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To: dawn53
I also like Henri Rousseau.

I like some of Rousseau's works: especially The Dream and Sleeping Gypsy. But other works are a bit weak in color and shape.

10 posted on 06/01/2005 4:31:44 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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To: Republicanprofessor
Thanks for the info! This era of painting is one that I know very little about.

FYI, those aren't nuns. Those are Breton peasant women wearing the traditional costume. The elaborately crimped and trimmed starched hats are typical of French, Swiss, and some German traditional costumes.


11 posted on 06/01/2005 4:33:54 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: Republicanprofessor
A discussion of Impressionism should include a reference to Gustav Caillebotte. Caillebotte was an Impressionist painter himself; but more importantly, he was a patron to other painters. Many great works of the period are available to us because he willed his collection to the French government. His condition for the gift was that the paintings be displayed, not warehoused.

Caillebotte's collection can be seen in some of his paintings. This self portrait, is a fine example...



He painted this in his apartment. Notice what is hanging in the background?
12 posted on 06/01/2005 4:43:13 PM PDT by Redcloak (We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces singin' "whiskey for my men and beer for my horses!")
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To: Republicanprofessor

Please add me to your ping list. Thanks!


13 posted on 06/01/2005 4:49:08 PM PDT by StrictTime (Shameless BUMP for Taglinus FreeRepublicus!!)
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To: Redcloak
Best Caillebotte:

Were his shoulders really deformed? I have known one other person with the big head and extremely narrow shoulders. It certainly didn't impede him in any way, but he looked odd.

14 posted on 06/01/2005 4:51:13 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: AnAmericanMother
IIRC, he was injured while serving as an engineer in the French army. That may be the cause of the dis-proportionality in his shoulders. He also had lung problems that eventually lead to his death.
15 posted on 06/01/2005 4:57:43 PM PDT by Redcloak (We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces singin' "whiskey for my men and beer for my horses!")
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To: Republicanprofessor

Lets not forget the homegrown. Robert Henri.

or Twatchtman

I like the casual elegance of the ordinariness of the city affected by light, and the misty New England mood.

16 posted on 06/01/2005 5:00:04 PM PDT by Kay Syrah ((*))
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To: Republicanprofessor

Oooooo, please add me to the ping list.

I am a passionate lover of Impressionism, though I am a novice of the historical aspects. My home is filled with Monet and Renoir Prints. Renoir is my absolute favorite. I love the way he focuses not only on people, but it seems to be in many cases, the relationships or solitude revealed in each one that I find so appealing.

My favorite is Luncheon of the Boating Party. A group of friends, in what appears to be summer time, enjoying each other's company touches me.


17 posted on 06/01/2005 5:00:43 PM PDT by conservativebabe
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To: Republicanprofessor


18 posted on 06/01/2005 5:03:43 PM PDT by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: billorites

LOL!


19 posted on 06/01/2005 5:04:30 PM PDT by conservativebabe
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To: anniegetyourgun
Good Job!!! I am impressed
20 posted on 06/01/2005 5:07:28 PM PDT by Kay Syrah ((*))
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To: Republicanprofessor

This Monet (I think it's the right one) is in the Getty, in L.A. When I was there, my niece couldn't understand what all the hubbub was about, so I told her to go over and look closely at the "white" snow. Only then did she realize that there wasn't any white, but dabs of grey, blue and pink.

21 posted on 06/01/2005 5:11:05 PM PDT by LexBaird ("Democracy can withstand anything but democrats" --Jubal Harshaw (RA Heinlein))
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To: Republicanprofessor
My favorite Monet witch hangs in my home. I love the color and serenity of this painting.
22 posted on 06/01/2005 5:32:50 PM PDT by conservativebabe
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To: conservativebabe

witch=which


23 posted on 06/01/2005 5:33:22 PM PDT by conservativebabe
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To: Kay Syrah
Lets not forget the homegrown. Robert Henri. or Twatchtman

Henri was a bit later and more of an Ashcan artist (or predecessor thereof). His works tend to be darker, although their subject was revolutionary. I like the sunset in that work you posted.

Twachtman is wonderful, an American Impressionist but more original (I think) than Hassam or others. I love his Emerald Pool from Yellowstone.


24 posted on 06/01/2005 5:47:02 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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To: AnAmericanMother; Redcloak

Yes, Caillebotte is wonderful. I love the floor piece. I was unaware of the self-portrait or much of his history. He can slip through the cracks unless you make an effort to seek him out.


25 posted on 06/01/2005 5:48:42 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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To: AnAmericanMother
FYI, those aren't nuns.

Ooops. I guess that Sally Field image just won't get out of my head, flying around in that early TV series.

You are absolutely right about the nuns; thanks for a great picture of their traditional costumes.

26 posted on 06/01/2005 5:50:31 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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To: Republicanprofessor

Thank you for the 2nd art appreciation class RProf. Can't keep my eyes off that first Monet you posted. Beautiful.


27 posted on 06/01/2005 5:52:28 PM PDT by Liberty Valance (If you must filibuster, it's because you don't have the votes to win honestly)
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To: LexBaird
I told her to go over and look closely at the "white" snow...

I love that Monet; it's one of my favorites. I can see him outside painting the other seasons of the haystacks, but it's hard to see him painting in the snow. It's COLD outside then. So this must have been a studio work, at least in part. The sunset and the blues and purples are awesome.

28 posted on 06/01/2005 5:53:15 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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To: Redcloak

Is it a Renoir bar scene? (wild, undereducated guess.)


29 posted on 06/01/2005 5:53:37 PM PDT by fullchroma
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To: Republicanprofessor

One of Monet's early influences was the "floating world" of Japanese art of the time. Was fortunate to see many of his paintings up close (or at large, rather), while visiting Chicago sometime back. I recommend it if you're ever in the area.

An aside: Monet is one reason the French will always have my undying enmity. I wanted to visit the Monet museum - the local townfolk (including a gendarme) kept giving me wrong directions. Thus, I got there late - about an hour left 'til closing. They wouldn't admit me "You would not have time to appreciate". I swore never to visit Paris again.


30 posted on 06/01/2005 6:02:13 PM PDT by P.O.E.
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To: P.O.E.

Monet it the Barry Manilow of Impressionism. You missed little.


31 posted on 06/01/2005 6:07:22 PM PDT by fullchroma
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To: Republicanprofessor
I rather like the ones where the painting is very much like a photograph taken through something blurry, like a rain-spattered window -- if you squint at them, they could pass for photographs of real subjects.

The first one you posted of the seascape at sunrise, is a little *too* impressionistic for my taste; the boats & the water are fine, but the stuff beyond is kind of a mess -- I can't tell if the slate-colored crap at the upper left is supposed to be sailing ships, or a shoreline with mountains or buildings, or what.

But I like much of Monet's other work. I found an early one where he does a remarkable job on the water, given how little detail there is:

I don't much care for Gauguin stuff, though. The 'Vision after the Sermon' looks childish. Looks just as bad squinting at it.

I think the cow was probably just looking for a nice painting with a lush meadow and some reasonable sense of perspective (like the Monet below), but took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and ended up in Crazy Red Flatworld.


32 posted on 06/01/2005 6:08:40 PM PDT by Sloth (I don't post a lot of the threads you read; I make a lot of the threads you read better.)
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To: Republicanprofessor

I guess I'm wrongheaded or just bullheaded - I like to look at the overlooked artists. There are a lot of good ones out there!


33 posted on 06/01/2005 6:34:12 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: Republicanprofessor
BTW, that first painting reminds me of the Whistler that garnered such critical opprobrium.

Really demonstrates the difference between French light and English light -- but they're going to the same place.

And of course there was the one that led to the famous libel suit against Ruskin for his comment "a pot of paint thrown in the public's face".


34 posted on 06/01/2005 6:38:29 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: fullchroma
I admit he's been over-commercialized as "cloying". But to tell you the truth, I'm a bit of an old cornball myself. There's a lost world, where people dressed up on a Sunday, to picnic among the flowers. Sounds old-fashioned, but I'll take quaint over hip-hop anyday.


35 posted on 06/01/2005 6:39:02 PM PDT by P.O.E.
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To: Sloth
But I like much of Monet's other work. I found an early one where he does a remarkable job on the water, given how little detail there is.

Painting water is difficult. I think it was Sir Kenneth Clark who noted that the impression of water was essential to Impressionism. Think of it: if the water is not still, how on earth do you pin it down to paint it? A wave or ripple comes towards you, and it's gone before you can comprehend its shape and color. Thus you study how water works and paint an impression of it.

Monet's late waterlilies are incredible, especially at the Carnegie in Pittsburgh. There is no horizon line. What you see is reflections from a millileter of water, and the reflections of sky, clouds and willows are infinite. Plus he is doing this at what I think of as sunset, at the sunset in his life. More profound than you might otherwise think.

This one is from Paris, not Pittsburgh. I couldn't sort thorugh over 2,000 images to find the Pittsburgh piece.

And Chicago does have great Monets and Impressionist works in general (including a fine Caillebotte).


36 posted on 06/01/2005 6:48:05 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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To: Republicanprofessor

Ping me.

Ping me.

Gonna take a rope and ping me.

From the branches of the highest treeeeeeeeeeeeee eee!

Woman, don't you weep for me!


37 posted on 06/01/2005 6:50:28 PM PDT by mlmr (CHICKIE-POO!)
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To: Republicanprofessor

Yes sir add me to the list, thanks.


38 posted on 06/01/2005 7:24:07 PM PDT by ALPAPilot
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To: Republicanprofessor

Thanks for the ping!


39 posted on 06/01/2005 8:01:45 PM PDT by toomanygrasshoppers
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To: AnAmericanMother

Excellent


40 posted on 06/01/2005 9:05:06 PM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: Republicanprofessor

Thanks. You can keep me on your list.


41 posted on 06/01/2005 9:10:28 PM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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bump for later read


42 posted on 06/01/2005 9:12:13 PM PDT by Mr. Mulliner (Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati)
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To: fullchroma
It's Bal du Moulin de la Galette as is seen above in the original post by Republicanprofessor.
43 posted on 06/02/2005 12:02:54 AM PDT by Redcloak (We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces singin' "whiskey for my men and beer for my horses!")
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To: Republicanprofessor

add me to the ping list please.

TIA - Y


44 posted on 06/02/2005 12:09:18 AM PDT by Yehuda (America: Land of the free, THANKS TO THE BRAVE! [" Choke on it, pinkos!"])
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To: Republicanprofessor

Thanks, Professor!


45 posted on 06/02/2005 9:03:54 AM PDT by Argh
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To: Sloth; Republicanprofessor
I agree with Sloth. And thanks Sloth for the new way to look at these. If you squint they actually look good sometimes.

I like the Caillebotte's from post 14 and post 36, the Twachtman's in 16 and 24 (although the 16 is a better painting even though I love the real Emerald pool. God is the best artist of them all), the Monet's in 22 and the two Sloth posted (although the second is better than the first)

The Monet's posted in the article are too formless and dreary to go over the sofa. Likewise the haystack just doesn't catch the eye or the imagination.

46 posted on 06/02/2005 10:07:46 AM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: John O
Addendum. If I have to work so hard to see the impressionist type paintings (squinting etc) then I'd rather do the three dimensional geographics that were all the rage in the shopping malls a Christmas or two ago.

It's a pity the old masters never did an Enterprise fighting a Klingon battle cruiser painting. :^)

47 posted on 06/02/2005 10:10:34 AM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: Redcloak

Ah ha! I saw the the similarity but dismissed it, forgetting that the image would be reversed in the mirror Caillebotte must have used. Thanks for the little lesson on Caillebotte -- I've always liked his work and will now read up on the man.


48 posted on 06/02/2005 10:52:00 AM PDT by fullchroma
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To: LexBaird
I love going to the Getty. I find myself spending more time out on the grounds checking out the architecture. The buildings are beyond amazing.
49 posted on 06/02/2005 1:03:17 PM PDT by Feiny (They're not people, they're hippies.)
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To: feinswinesuksass
One of my students visited the Getty this semester and took his own video, which he then gave me. He was fascinated by the architecture, so I did more research on that as well. From tram to all those six buildings at the top, and gardens, it must be the most amazing and ambitious museum yet. Hope to get to the "left" coast sometime to see it.

Are the collections as awesome as the architecture?

50 posted on 06/02/2005 1:48:07 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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