Now that I am 30…

A nostalgic look back at the childhood of a small English kid.

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Do you remember the Boglins?

Posted by iwata33 on Sunday 14 September 2008

Do you remember the Boglins?  Released in 1987, I remember that they dominated the adverts of all kids T.V. in the late eighties to the point where parents were socially obliged to buy their kids a Boglin just to avoid the pointed fingers that accused them of child abuse, because if you listened to the T.V. “every child should have one”.  Well o.k. they didn’t say that but they might as well have done.  There were many trends and fashionable toys during the eighties in fact the eighties were so intense with this sort of thing, think about it films like Star Wars and cartoons like Transformers that appeared at the end of the seventies and start of the eighties started the toy craze that has not stopped right up until today.  And of all the toys that have come and gone, I never wanted anything more than I wanted a Boglin.

I recently rescued my two Boglins that you see in the picture above from the dusty loft and I really wished I had kept them in the original packaging.  The packaging was really cool, they came when you bought them in a cage, well the big ones did, you see you could buy them in different sizes, even really tiny ones.  Check out an image search on Google and you will see the sort of thing I am talking about.  The Boglin on the left, the blue one, spat water from its mouth, which meant you needed to keep remembering to fill the little plastic tub up when you were playing with it.  The brown one of the right was simply just a hand puppet, and that it the most amazing thing about these toys, they are just hand puppets.

The makers and marketers of these toys were geniuses, they turned a 200 year old idea into the most sought after toy in the late eighties (although I admit my memory on just how popular they were might be a little distorted by my own feelings on these… things).  And even better it was a hand puppet that was aimed at boys, and boys mainly bought them.  Boys asked, no begged their parents to buy them hand puppets, wow I never thought of it like that before, well I guess it is no surprise we (as a society) will buy any old crap so long as enough poeple want to buy it (remember Buzz Lightyear or even Cabbage Patch Dolls).  But never the less it is still one of the most cherished memories of past old crap that I have.

If you have never sampled the delights of Boglins or any of the other cool stuff from the eighties check it out at this cool website I found

http://www.doyouremember.co.uk/index.php

Enjoy the evil Punch and Judy dolls

Chris

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Speaking of Buffy…

Posted by iwata33 on Tuesday 5 August 2008

In the last post I mentioned Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of my favorite sci-fi type programs.  Well I know it is not brand new, but I have just got around to watching ‘Dr Horribles Sing-a-long blog’.  Written and directed by the legendary Joss Whedon, it is a musical in the same vain as the musical episode of Buffy and chronicles the exploits of Dr Horrible and his nemesis Captain Hammer.  It features Neil Patrick Harris (from Doogie Howser fame and Starship Troopers), Nathan Fillion (Serenity and Slither) and Felicia Day (Buffy and The Guild).  It has all the Whedon trademarks of a good story and very funny and the music is very fitting and enjoyable to listen to.  I really enjoyed this 45 minute of Whedon goodness.

You can watch this for free at www.drhorrible.com, or if you live in America you can buy it from iTunes for about $3 which is also well worth it.

Happy Singing

Chris

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When did the X-Files become daytime T.V.?

Posted by iwata33 on Monday 4 August 2008

 

 

Now that I am 30 years old, I am old enough to remember some of those relatively new T.V. programs that are yet old enough to not be remembered by the students I teach at my sixth form college.  I am sat here watching ‘The X-Files’ at 5.00pm on a Monday afternoon.  When did The X-Files become daytime T.V. programming?  The daytime programming I know of starts with ‘Jeremy Kyle’ and ends with ‘The Weakest Link’ in between it includes repeats of ‘Cagney and Lacey’ and ‘Murder She Wrote’.  It should not include sci-fi classics such as X-Files, Buffy or Angel, all that now seemed to have been condemned to endless repeats on cheap cable channels such as ‘Living’ and ‘Virgin 1’.

I remember when I first saw The X-Files, it was 1993 and I was doing my maths homework in the dinning room of my mum and dads house.  I would have been about 14/15 years old.  The episode I saw was the one where a creature comes back from Mars via a probe or astronaut, it was awful. Luckily the next one I saw was the Shape Shifters one with the North American Indian werewolves.  That was it, from then on, I loved that show and I loved Sci-fi and I have enjoyed anything like it since.  In fact I am really enjoying the current X-Files esq. program airing, called ‘Supernatural’.  It all comes from a love of the X-Files.

But as I sit here and watch it thinking what should I have for tea I am also thinking “should I really watch this, daytime T.V. is rubbish, wow isn’t the X-Files looking old”.  I mean I guess it is old, 15 years old give or take a year or two.  But that is besides the point I should not be thinking doesn’t X-Files look old, I might as well be saying “geez I feel really old”.  ‘The X-Files’ and other programs of the same ilk should only ever be aired in the evenings and they will always be remembered as classics.  So that I can say to my kids in years to come, “Oh I love this, this is a classic…oh god”.

 

Happy Investigating

 

Chris 

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All those songs…

Posted by iwata33 on Tuesday 22 July 2008

I recently bought this triple disk album on the strength of some of the adverts I had seen on T.V. and it has brought lots of memories flooding back of being in high school and college in the early to mid nineties.  The album is ‘Connected 90’s 12″ Mixies’ and can be picked up (in the U.K.) on play.com or any supermarket (these are the cheapest places anyway).  It consists of 3 disks with about 12 songs on each disk and has all sorts of classic 90’s song remixed, from Snap – Rhythm is a Dance to Adamski – Killer.  See below for a complete song list.

For someone of my age, I entered Corpus Christi High School in Preston in 1989 and left to go to Cardinal Newman College in 1994, I then left Newman in 1996 (and then again in 1997) to go to UCLAN until 2000.  So the nineties saw me move through my education to become a fully grown man with a wide palette for many different types of music.  Of course a lot of the songs that are featured at the time of original release were classed as ‘Rave’ music and would often appear on compilations called ‘Rave 93’ and such like.  Now they are just great memorable songs, the best of the decade, and if they must be put into a genre, then they are just dance songs.

I also find that music (for me anyway) really is the best reminder of past events and feelings.  Of course scent is generally considered the best at bringing memories forward and I remember many a time when I have smelt a particular perfume and it has made me think of a past girlfriend from those terbulent teenage years.  However if it is the perfume that reminds me of that person it is then the music that will bring the memories flooding back of what we were doing at the time of that song playing, or where I was when I first heard that song.  There are some songs out there that I still cannot listen to, ‘I will always love you’ by Whitney Houston being one of them (I know it is always the embarassing songs that bring the strongest memories as well).  But I am glad to say that all the songs on this album bring back the best of memories from my teenage years and for that I am very thankful.  If you like 90’s songs, or you are a fan of dance music, or you like remixes of old songs that you know and love, then trust me this will be a good purchase for you.

 Disc 1

  1. Stereo MCs – Connected (12″ Mix)
  2. Leftfield / Lydon – Open Up (Chemical Brothers Remix)
  3. The Blue Boy – Remember Me (12″ Mix)
  4. The Beloved – Sun Rising (Tom’s Drum & Bass Edit)
  5. The Stone Roses – Fools Gold (Bottom Won Mix)
  6. England New Order – World In Motion (Carabinieri Mix)
  7. The Soup Dragons – I’m Free (12″ Mix)
  8. Paul Weller – Wild Wood (Portishead Sheared Wood Remix)
  9. Primal Scream – Funky Jam (Club Mix)
  10. Kula Shaker – Tattva (Lucky 13 Mix)
  11. Moloko – Fun For Me (Doctor Rockit Mix)
  12. James – Come Home (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

 Disc 2

  1. Snap! – Rhythm Is A Dancer (Extended Mix)
  2. Felix – Don’t You Want Me (Hooj Mix)
  3. Utah Saints – Something Good (12″ Mix)
  4. Electronic – Getting Away With It (Extended Mix)
  5. The Grid – Swamp Thing (Southern Comfort Mix)
  6. Adamski – Killer (12″ Version)
  7. Alison Limerick – Where Love Lives (Knuckles & Morales Classic Mix)
  8. Sub Sub Feat. Melanie Williams – Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use)
  9. M People – How Can I Love You More? (Classic Mix)
  10. Incognito – Always There (Morales Classic Mix)
  11. Freak Power – Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out (Pizzaman Remix)
  12. Beats International – Dub Be Good To Me (Norman Cook’s Excursion In The Version)

 Disc 3

  1. Deee-Lite – Groove Is In The Heart (Remix)
  2. Diana Brown & Barrie K Sharpe – The Masterplan (12″ Mix)
  3. Arrested Development – People Everyday (Metamorphosis Mix)
  4. Jamiroquai – When You Gonna Learn? (JK Mix)
  5. Young Disciples – Apparently Nothin’ (Soul River)
  6. Martine Gerault – Revival (12″ Mix)
  7. Driza Bone – Real Love (Original Mix
  8. James Taylor Quartet- Starsky & Hutch (Funky People Mix)
  9. DJ Krush & Ronny Jordan – So What! (Tuff `N’ Smooth Mix)
  10. Marxman – All About Eve (Sax `N’ Flute Mix)
  11. Omar – There’s Nothing Like This
  12. Tricky – Aftermath (LP Mix)

Happy Listening

Chris

P.S. My finacee bought Ministry of Sound Chill 1991 – 2008 and that is a very good album as well.

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Apologies…

Posted by iwata33 on Tuesday 22 July 2008

Hi Guys

If you have subscribed to the posts on this site, then I owe you an apology.  I reliese that there has not been a new post in over two months, but you see I am a teacher by trade and the last couple of months have been quite busy.  However never fear I will be putting up some more posts very soon, in the meantime please feel free to leave me any feeback about what you like or don’t like about the site.

Regards

Chris

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Whatever happened to montage movies?

Posted by iwata33 on Monday 5 May 2008

Yes, whilst still on the old 1980’s film fix, me and my fiancee picked up the three original Karate Kid films quite cheap.  We have been watching them, and it sparked a discussion between us and some friends about 80’s films and in particular montages in 80’s films.  It seemed to us that montages are a particular characteristic of 80’s films more than any other type of film.  In fact when montages appear in modern film it tends to be in films that have some association with those old 80’s movies (Rocky Balboa and Rambo being two recent examples).  Of course this is far too simplistic to be true and after watching Iron Man last night it seems like Superhero movies have taken up the mantel of the montage (Iron Man by the way was brilliant and well worth seeing).

The main function of the montage of course is to show the progression of time and is usually there to show something being built (a la the A-team effect), or as is the case with a lot of films, someone training for some sort of event, hence the karate Kid movies.  Oh and by the way, I was never a great fan of the Karate Kid movies but after watching this old movie again from so long ago, I was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t quite as bad as I remember.  In fact now that I am a martial arts teacher myself I can relate to and understand much of the misconceptions the film is trying to dispel.

Anyway if you would like to read further articles on 80’s movies and in particular montage movies then check out the link below for a really good article.  I have also included a clip from you tube that I came across of some favorite bits from 80’s movies and it happens to be a montage, yea.

http://www.cracked.com/article_15068_80s-movie-montage-hall-fame.html

Happy Training

Chris

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Oh those eighties films…

Posted by iwata33 on Friday 18 April 2008

I recently decided that DVD’s are taking over my home, they are everywhere like unwanted vermin spreading their plastic cases and shiny discs all over the place. So myself and my partner decided that enough was enough. We condemned half of our collection to eBay (and have been making quite good money there) the other half was safe but is now destined to never be increased. Instead we have joined a popular online rental site in the UK (www.lovefilm.com, the reason I advertise it here is because it is a fantastic service that has been flawless up until now in giving me everything I have asked for). We now rent any dvd we want, we can have as many as we want and whatever we want for a fixed fee. So for the last month we have been getting all the latest releases. Well this week I have been off work (belated Easter holidays), and I decided that I wanted to revisit some classic 80’s films, the first on my list was this absolute gem, ‘The Goonies’.

This film (for those that haven’t seen it, and by the way shame on you, you are missing one of the best films of that decade, yes thats right ONE OF THE BEST FILMS) came out in 1985, was directed by Richard Donner and starred amongst others Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), Corey Feldman (Lost Boys and Stand by Me), Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) and Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix). Most of the stars were kids and this was their first feature. The film is about a group of kids that call themselves the Goonies who due to reasons that are not fully explained but only serve as a catalyst for the plot, have to move away to another town and so the weekend in which the film is set is that last one they will be spending together. After finding an old pirate map and a story of a lost explorer the Goonies decide to go and find the lost treasure of ‘One Eyed Willy’ aided by Brandon the older brother of one of the kids and his two female friends. Just to make matters worse they are being chased by a gang of murders called the Fratelli’s (insert joke here about the band) who are on the run and also after the pirate treasure.

This film was one of many kid orientated films that came out of the 1980’s, hot on the heals of family favorites like Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Other films that were similar and also classics in the their own right were ‘The Monster Squad’, ‘Explorers’, ‘Flight of the Navigator’ and ‘The Lost Boys’ (however this last one although focuses on a group of kids is maybe intended for a slightly older audience, oh and by the way they are doing a sequel to this cult classic called ‘The Tribe‘, it should be out this year). Thats one of the things I miss about the 80’s, they just don’t seem to make these types of films anymore, sure they make films with kids in them but this sort of adventure type film is of it’s time, the only things that comes close recently are things like National Treasure and Sahara, which although goods films in their own right don’t quite capture the feel and magic of those old 80’s films. I suppose part of it is that in the 80’s the special effects weren’t polished, the acting could be a little goofy and the plot didn’t always make sense. Nowadays most mainstream films sparkle, they have a clean look (even if they stink) but when the script or some of the acting doesn’t quite measure up it stands out a mile. Back then films had a gritty quality, even a kids flick like this, that made inadequacies in parts of the film forgivable.

Now, I realize that I am looking at this through rose tinted glasses and that you might be thinking to yourself what are you talking about it’s awful and certainly does not represent the best of what the 80’s had to offer but that is the thing about nostalgia most of the time you remember something fondly and then you go back and experience it again and it never quite measures up to how you remember it (so many video games are like that). However for me watching Goonies again, for the first time in years yesterday, I found that this wasn’t the case and that like a good Mario Game this film is timeless and I enjoyed as much now 23 years on (thats quite a scary thought) as I ever did all those years ago.

For anyone that hasn’t seen ‘The Goonies’ and would like to check the trailer out, here it is, however I must warn you this isn’t a particularly well put together trailer so bare with it and don’t let it put you off.

Happy Exploring

Chris

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What made me a collector?

Posted by iwata33 on Thursday 17 April 2008

My Granddad died on my tenth birthday in 1987, back then it wasn’t really explained to me why he died but now it is evident it was from the vast amounts of incredibly strong cigarettes he would smoke each day.  It wasn’t until I was older that I really found out how dangerous smoking can be, even in 1987 there wasn’t that much anti-smoking sentiment in society.  The reason I bring this up is because without my Granddad smoking those woodbine fags we would never have had anywhere to store our Brooke Bond tea cards.

Back in the late eighties PG Tips main promotional campaigns was to give away cards with it’s boxes of tea.  You would also get vouchers for the albums that you could then stick the cards into.  My Granddad was the one that got me into being a collector because as any young boy will know going to ones grandparents isn’t always the most exciting thing you can do on a Saturday afternoon.  However going knowing I was going to spend a couple of hours going through the new cards, gluing them into albums and seeing what new collections there were  made the excessively smoky atmosphere and my granddads yellow fingers very bearable. (I realize it doesn’t sound like a great afternoon but remember I was ten years old and it was either that or watch Coronation Street all afternoon).

As you can see (from the picture above) the albums covered many different subjects from the Kings and Queens of Britain to discovering our coast line to the 1992 Olympic games (I continued to collect the cards even after my Granddad had past).  Each of the cards was very well printed and the albums were full of interesting facts and insights.  My two favourite albums were the Unexplained Mysteries of the World (which was inspired by a program of the time which I was also a great fan of ‘Arthur C. Clarke’s Unexplained Mysteries) and The Chimps Album which featured all the chimp characters from the PG Tips adverts from that time.  You must remember the adverts with the two chimps trying to push the piano up the stairs or my personal favorite Brooke Bond himself a chimp version of our very own James bond.

Although rather dated now, looking at these cards remind me of why I love collecting so much, and have a particular fondness for collecting cards, (Magic: The Gathering, The X-Files, Pokemon, Star Wars, World of Warcraft and numerous stickers albums over the years).  In fact my collecting can get quite obsessive meaning that I have this stuff all over the house.  However there is a buzz when opening that new packet or box for the first time and seeing what you get (especially if you get a ‘Shiny’ as we used to call them).  And this is where it all started with a small ten year old boy watching his Granddad pass on a time honored practice of collecting and hording like some over sized squirrel. I still have the old woodbine packets with my ‘Doubles’ in and an old ‘fiesta soft scope’ ice cream tub that holds all the albums.  I am just glad my other Granddad did not get me into his habit for collecting…Stamp collecting.

Should you want to know more about the old (or indeed new) Brooke Bond Tea cards, then check out this link for more tea card goodness

http://www.teacards.com/

Happy Collecting

Chris

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Possibly the best games franchise ever…

Posted by iwata33 on Friday 11 April 2008

Mario Kart Wii came out today in Europe and after running to the shop to pick it up, playing it for 2 or 3 hours and then kicking some butt online, I started to think back 15 years to when I first played Super Mario Kart on the SNES. Yes thats right 15 years ago, I was a small 15 year old lad back then, I didn’t have a SNES, no I was firmly in the Mega Drive (Genesis in the U.S.) camp, but my friend did have one. Also back then there wasn’t any sort of specialist games shops at least not in Britain, so the best you could do was ‘Dixons’ or ‘Curries’ or in our case ‘Debenhems’. I remember it was a Saturday morning, we were browsing through the small games section and my friend picked up a blue box. As has become the case with me and really big surprise games, I had heard of this new racer but didn’t think it would really be that good (I also said the same about ‘Goldeneye’, ‘Call of Duty 4’ and ‘World of Warcraft’, as you can see I’m not great as spotting a sure-fire hit). So my friend bought it because he had heard that it was suppose to be very good, not only in one player but also two player, and again back then there wasn’t a great deal of multi-player games out there, you had to grab them when they came along. We took it back to his house and began to play. As many of you might remember this game had quite a steep learning curve, it was the sort of game that took a while to become good at but once you did it was incredibly rewarding. My friend got very good at it and still sees it as the very best Mario Kart game there is. (I would have agreed with him up until a couple of years ago). I could never complete the special cup though, it was just way too hard.

With the release of the N64 I became a nintendophile through and through. I have have bought every Mario Kart game on the day of release (the only one missing from the picture above is the GBA version and that is the only one I haven’t kept over the years). Mario Kart 64 wasn’t well received at the time but I really liked it, some of those courses are still classics and being able to play 4 players made it one of the first true party games. Mario Kart on the GBA was great and harked back to the SNES days even giving us some of the old tracks to play again. Double Dash tried to combine the new look of 64 version with the old racing style of the SNES and did it with some degree of success and Mario Kart DS really perfected what all the other versions had tried to do and with the added online play it made this game one of the essential buys for the new system.

So how does the new Mario Kart Wii live up to this history, well Nintendo does not have a habit of disappointing its fans (unless you speak to some of the fans who played Mario Kart 64 back in the day, and with Star Fox 64 (See Infendo Radio) ‘Do a barrel role’, oh and by the way Scott Slippy is one of my heroes). Well in this case they have done it again, this is about as much fun playing a game as you can get whilst holding a big plastic ring, in other words, a lot of fun. First of all you have the normal amount of new tracks, four cups, four tracks per cup so 16 new tracks. Then you have another 16 tracks that have been hand picked from all the other games and well you know the rest, hopefully from reading one of the 101 other reviews out there, and if you haven’t then pop over to one of them and check it out for a more professional review. All I want to say is that Nintendo are really doing a good job of pleasing lots of different demographics, I would consider myself a serious gamer (not to happy with the word ‘Hardcore’) and I have found it to be immensely fun, deep, challenging and addictive but equally my girlfriend will pick it up, have a bash and have fun with it and she is about as casual as you can be with games. The online options are really well thought out and I can’t wait until they activate the online challenges that the game promises on its online screen. And to top it all off the Wii Wheel works really well its responsive and fun and as a result I have just played the last three hours using nothing but the wheel. I never thought I it would be that good.

Suffice to say Nintendo have honored the proud tradition of the Mario Kart series and given us, it’s fans, what I think I consider to be the best in the series so far, man I can’t wait for SSBB.

If anyone would like to meet me online for a leisurly drive (with Shells!!) then here is my friend code

2406-5257-6793

Go get this fantastic game and happy driving

Chris

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Atmosfear (otherwise known as ‘Nightmare’)

Posted by iwata33 on Thursday 10 April 2008

I am not sure where my love for board games came from.  I know I played them from a very young age, and that quite early on it was evident that I favored the more fantasy based game.  However I never went all the way, Dungeons and Dragons wasn’t something I was ever introduced to, until of course it was too late and by that I mean I’d entered my mid-teens which meant of course that the peers I associated with would never allow a 15 year old lad from Preston to even mention the word Dragon never mind spend time pretending to slay one.  Even now to use the word elf or wizard in front of my oldest and dearest friend is like using some disgusting adjective to describe his mother, either that of course or fits of laughter and a mimic of someone pushing up some very large imaginary glasses that have fallen onto the end of his nose.  However I did play a few fantasy based games in my youth, Heroquest being my absolute favorite (and the subject of a later and lengthier post).

Atmosfear on the other hand was one of those bridging games and by that what I mean is that you could play it with your role playing friends and pretend to be the vampire or the mummy but you could also play it with your mum and dad and extended family when they came around from a Christmas party where all the adults would just sit around watching the football results and rating this Christmas against other Christmases for crapness.

Atmosfear when it first appeared in 1991 was a bit of a revolution.  It took advantage of the fact that since the mid eighties every home in the UK had gotten itself a VHS player, and so with this game you received a video tape that would be played throughout the game.  This had never happened before, or certainly not to a group of British kids who’s main staple of games up until that point had been Buckaroo and Ker-plunk.  It was exciting and fun to play.  On the tape was a guy known as ‘The Gatekeeper’, it was his job to control the flow of the game, make people do silly things and generally be mean to the players.  This added a whole new element to the game that made it feel fresh and new.  Another first as far as we could tell was the fact that you could get add-on games for the main set and they came in the form of sets that concentrated on one of the 6 characters from the game.  As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, I had the main set and the vampire expansion.

A few years on and Spears Games the company that had released the first game, decided to repackage Atmosfear, again with all the same elements, but this time around the presentation was a lot better.  The version I got came with the only expansion I think the new game had which was the ‘The Soul Rangers’ game.  The production values on the tape was better with the same guy as before receiving better makeup and a new location to stand in.

And now we have the DVD version of the game.  The sad fact of the matter is that I no longer have a VHS player that is readily accessible in my house any more and so playing these older versions of the games is impossible.  I did try to have a look around the web to see if Spear Games or someone else offered free upgrades providing a DVD copy of the original tapes.  However as of yet I have found none.  I suppose if I want to play I could transfer the videos onto DVD but that just seems like a hassle.  I suppose I will have to purchase a third copy of the game.  Or thinking about it I could get one of my friends to dress up like the gate keeper, and get them to stand in front of the TV calling the players ‘Maggots’ and throwing stuff at them.  Oh yeah my friends don’t like role playing, well I suppose that is out then.

If you want to find out more about this game or indeed other games, the best place on the web is ‘Board Game Geek’, which you can find at the following site.  Enjoy

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/5641

Happy Hunting

Chris

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