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  • Show me that smile again….Or, whatever happened to the TV theme song

    tapesThe 80s and 90s were a golden age of music…we had New Wave, alternative, pre-alternative, punk, and a million other amazing genres. Even the theme songs from sitcoms knew where it was at. We had such classics as Family Ties (what would we do baby, without us?), The Facts of Life (You take the Good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have), Perfect Strangers, Who’s the Boss, Silver Spoons, Full House, Friends, The Wonder Years…I could literally fill this entire article up with examples of memorable, and quite frankly, amazing sitcom theme songs from 1980 through the year 1999. I can’t even fill a quarter of this article with good theme songs from 2000 through 2015. What the heck happened?

    whatchutalkinboutwillisMaybe I should back up and ask a different question: what makes a good sitcom theme? Let’s look at the following: The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, and The Flinstones – all theme songs I would bet most Americans know. Yes, yes, I realize those are all from a time-frame outside of the periods I’m talking about, but I’m viewing these three as a control – as a canon in which to judge all other sitcom theme songs. As I stated before, most Americans (and I’m guessing many people in many other cultures) could recite or sing the lyrics to all three of these by heart. This is one measure of a good theme song – it’s memorability. They are catchy and they are something one might catch oneself singing, or at least humming in the shower. A second criteria – these songs tell what the show is about. For example, The Brady Bunch tells us about the merging of the two families into one; Gilligan’s Island tells the tale of how the castaways got to the deserted island they’re stranded on. The Flinstones theme tells of the prehistoric family, and even invites the audience to watch their zany adventures as they live their lives.

    The third, and most important thing in a sitcom theme is that it is something that becomes part of the culture. The theme song becomes something more than just a song which tells us a show is about to start – it becomes something we find ourselves singing when we’re drunk or in a silly mood or what have you. Granted, cultural relevancy is closely related to the fact that the theme song must be memorable. A song won’t become part of the culture if the song is not memorable, though that does not mean they are one and the same. A song must have culture relevancy. When I was a teen, I remember hearing a preacher trying to shame us because we could sing the theme song to the Flinstones easily but very few in that crowd could recite certain Bible Verses. That preacher did not understand, that while said Bible Verses are not necessarily part of the culture, the theme to the Flinstones is very much a part of the culture. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the theme from the Flintstones over a thousand times. Aside from maybe John 3:16, I’m not sure I can name one Bible Verse that I’ve heard recited as often. One does not walk down the street to hear Romans 3:23 being whistled by some random passerby-er, or Psalms 119 being played from a nearby television. They aren’t really part of the culture; they are part of certain subsets of the culture, but not the American culture at large. However, the theme from the Flinstones, the theme from the Brady Bunch, and the theme from Gilligan’s Island are indeed part of the American culture at large. That’s why we were able to recite them. That’s why youth groups sing Amazing grace to the tune of Gilligan’s Island, that’s why I heard someone singing the Brady Bunch on the bus just the other day (note: this might sound like anecdotal evidence – however in this case I think we can forgive the lack of scientific data). Granted, cultural relevancy is closely related to the first point I made, ie the fact that the theme song must be memorable. A song won’t become part of the culture if the song is not memorable, though that does not mean they are one and the same.

    To be fair, there are a few of theme songs that really don’t fit all these criteria, but are great nonetheless. Most of them, however, are instrumentals and do fit points one and three. The Theme from the Office is a classic example. However, even those are becoming few and fare between. I used the Office as an example, because it is the only sitcom in the semi-modern era I could think of. The others I thought of were Seinfeld (1989 – 1998), The Simpsons (while current, it began in 1989), and Night Court (1984 – 1992). To be fair, I did think of another which is indeed modern era: The Crazy Ones. The theme for the Crazy Ones made me very happy, and is very memorable to me – however, most people really didn’t like The Crazy Ones. Despite staring a beloved cast (we miss you Robin), the show, and by extension, the theme didn’t really become part of the culture.

    I'm no superman!
    I’m no superman!
    Going back to shows that meet all three criteria, I can only name two that fit the current criteria: Family Guy, which I don’t count because it started in the 90s, and The Big Bang Theory – which is a stretch for point number two. If we add in shows that have ended, but are still in the current era, I guess we can add Srubs. Sure, there are sitcoms that failed which might have tried (Selfie). There’s The Goldbergs, which hasn’t quite ascended into “part of the American culture at large,” (yet?). There’s probably a few cable shows that I’m missing (maybe on Disney or Nickelodeon), but again they might be part of a sub-culture, but not part of the culture in general. If I heard someone whistling the theme to say, ICarly (is that still on?), I wouldn’t recognize it. It’s time to face facts – the powerhouse of sitcom songs from the 80s and 90s seems to be a thing of the past.

    But why has this happened? What happened to the TV theme song? To be honest, I don’t know that the why even matters. What matters is we somehow storm the Bastille, or rather Hollywood, and demand they give us our freaking sitcom songs back! Now! No, no, no, we don’t want a clone of Charles in Charge or Silver Spoons or Who’s the Boss – those wouldn’t be culturally relevant. We want something fresh. You can even give us a song that wasn’t originally written for the show – I’ve mentioned the shows Friends, Scrubs, and the Wonder Years; those weren’t original songs – but they were culturally relevant, they were memorable, and they explained the general premise of the show. So please, production companies – for the sake of the culture! Of all mankind! Bring us a renaissance of sitcom theme songs! Just think about this, it’s free advertising. Every time I hear the theme from Friends, it makes me want to watch friends. Sure, the show is in syndication, but one day I won’t be able to pull it up on TBS or Nick at Night, and one of these days it won’t be on Netflix. That is the day I shell out a couple hundred bucks for the entire damned series. That is the day you get my money, all because I heard a stupid song.

    I leave you with this tribute to 80s sitcom theme songs…

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  • Coffee Lost numbers: Buffy vs Twilight

    sm_monkeyIf you read the title for this post and said “What a bunch of foolish gibberish!” while throwing your device of choice out the window because you thought that aaronjedwards.com was supposed to actually make sense, well…I’ve got news. Firstly, you’ve got some issues: I mean, when has ANYTHING on aaronjedwards.com ever made sense? Secondly – that title IS gibberish – kind of. The terms “coffee,” “lost numbers,” and “Buffy vs Twilight” are the top three terms of all time that direct google users to aaronjedwards.com. This has inspired me to write a post which does nothing but capitalize on every search term that has ever directed people to this website…..far be it from me to not use an already proven method! So here goes nothing:

    Coffee – social mercy in Buffy Session 8 and Bob Dylan’s drug of choice. The lost number, lost humor, and Einstein Lost explain what happened to Starbucks in 2007. Overlooked movies of 2010, How to make a Dutch Bros Annihilator, and burning books not withstanding, Aaron James Edwards coffee pic made Hulk bubbles. Meanwhile, Spike and Buffy Fanfiction and radiohead decline makes one ask “Is REM Anti Christian?”

    Excuses are bad decisions. What is mean of life? Sparkly vampire T-shirts and coffee cups. Not to mention songs about alternative lifestyles.

    Man sipping coffee, 5 overlooked movies, censorship burning, and кофе фото made pro wrestler’s political beliefs look like Transformers 3: Sunshine Cleaning. I write fanfiction Jinx. Think about this: Einstein – Nazi Germany, Hitler meeting an Alien. Weird Al and stumptown comics.

    Buffy spike, angel, Buffy kils Edward. Buffy stakes Edward. Twilight sucks, Buffy rules, Joss Wheddon knows an Einstein comic. JJ Abrams and Star Trek will stump other bands. Buffy Buffy Buffy, willow Buffy Buffy.

    So, with Dylan’s house of the rising sun, coffee and smoke,” I leave you with this thought: Other bands hate Radiohead.


    My brain officially hurts, but maybe this post shall bring in new readers to aaronjedwards.com. Maybe the new viewers will tell all their friends about the exciting and wonderful posts they read here. Or maybe they’ll see this post as a troll to get hits, and hit their browser’s “back” button. Regardless, to the person searching for Aaron J Edwards in Colorado, I hope you find them.

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  • If Windows 8 was a Star Trek Movie

    win8hellI’m typing this on my brand new Laptop. Said Laptop came with the dreaded software bug, otherwise known as Windows 8. I HATE Windows 8. It’s clunky, it’s interface is designed for a touch screen (vs. designed for a full on computer), and it’s extremely unintuitive (I had to make a short cut to the control panel because it’s so buried), and it’s changed so many standards that we’ve come so familiar with (coughs – start menu!). A friend of mine said if Windows 8 were a movie, it would be Star Trek V: the – oh I can’t even remember the name of that crappy movie. Just that it was crap. Crap on a stick with butter and toast – but I digress…

    For arguments sake, We’re going to lump all pre 95 versions into one version. They, just like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, have never been fan favorites. They had their merits, and to be fair, there wasn’t much to compare them to. Still, they were clunky and hard to operate. They probably would have been duds if there were any other options out there. But Trekies and computer users alike were forced to go with what they had, or not at all. Ok, computer users could have gone with a Mac, true, but that’s besides the point. In all honesty though, I look back at Star Trek: The Motion Picture with the same fondness I have for Pre 95 versions of Windows. It’s clunky, it’s stupid – but it’s also so nostalgic and despite the plot and memory holes, it feels like a simpler, more innocent time.

    And then came Windows 95 – like a Genesis missile launching to a planet, giving new life to everything. I know this is going to make some people really upset, but if there was one single piece of software that changed the world, it was probably Windows 95. It became the standard pretty early on, and the OS that really made home computing a friendly experience. It even brought the internet to the forefront of technology. And a bonus feature – every time you got the BSOD, an “illegal error,” or whatever, you almost wanted to yell KAAAAAAHHHHNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or maybe GAAAAAAATTTEEEEESSSSSS. So yeah, if you hadn’t guessed by now, Windows 95 is the Wrath of Kahn. It showed us what a computer could do, just like Star Trek II showed us what a Trek movie could achieve. Hmmm, does this mean JJ Abrams is going to reboot Windows 95? Suddenly I’m remembering how I had to reboot every single time I changed something. GAAAAAAATTTEEEEESSSSSS!!!

    A few years later came Windows 98. To be fair, it wasn’t a bad OS. It fixed a few things in Windows 95. It tried to be it’s own OS as well. Having said that – it really wasn’t much more than a splash in a pan. There was no real innovation – just evolutions on the existing OS. It wasn’t really a dud, it just – was. I would almost see it as a filler OS, just like, The Search for Spok (only not quite as slow -www.instantrimshot.com).
    Windows 2000, while never meant to be a “home edition” really shook things up for the Windows user. In a good way. To be honest, while I can’t name one physical thing that Windows 2000 did, I can say that when I upgraded to Windows 2000, my BSOD rate plummeted dramatically. I think most people would easily say their computers ran a lot better with Windows 2000. Oh, but what Star Trek Movie does this equate to? Well, we could go with Generations I guess. It was a bridge. A bridge between stability and lack thereof. I’m bored with this paragraph – moving on…

    Enter Windows ME. The last two paragraphs might have been dry – boring in fact. Well, I had to save all the humor I could for this paragraph. Windows ME SUCKED. And not just in a metaphorical way. Windows ME sucked the life out of everyone that used it. Seriously, I think a better name would be Windows Vampire. But it didn’t just suck the life force from everyone who came within a mile of a computer running said OS, it also sucked the resources of the computer itself. BSOD jumped up 5000% from previous versions of Windows [citation needed]. It required as much RAM as you could give it – and then forced you to close down every program you weren’t using immediately – because evidently Windows ME didn’t believe in Multi-tasking. Oh, but what about the Star Trek movie? I’ve already used Star Trek V: Shatner’s revenge. That’s ok, Insurrection fits the bill quite nicely. Windows ME sucked the life-force of out of computers and their users, Insurrection was about aliens trying to get their life force back by sucking the life force out of the audience. I can’t believe I saw that movie twice on opening day! Just call me a sucker.

    And then came XP……Would I compare XP to any Star Trek movie per se? Maybe Star Trek VI. Honestly, this is where the argument goes into that of apples and oranges as the comparison of the two are less than intuitive. Yes, the two can be compared on the basis that they’re both among my favorites of the Star Trek Series and the Windows series, but really that’s where the analogy comes to a screeching halt, much like Captains Kirk and Sulu halted General Chang’s plans to…..wait, I said the analogy halted. The point is Windows XP was a great OS. I ran XP on four different machines – more than any other windows OS to date. And to really stretch the analogy, I probably watched Star Trek VI more than any other Star Trek Movie. How can I resist Captain Kirk kicking that alien in the knee nards?microsoft-store-300x220

    My comparisons of Windows versions have almost been sequentially parallel to the Star Trek Movie I’ve compared them to. This was an intentional thing, and even a throwback to an earlier version of this article. Having said that, it’s a really good thing I rethought this – because Windows Vista does not, in any way shape or form, equate to Generations. Yes, some people didn’t like Generations – but I did. I did not, however, like Vista. I did not like it so much, that when it came to buy a new laptop circa 2007, I intentionally got a laptop with XP. At the time of Vista’s release, I read articles where businesses were actually going to switch to using LINUX because of Vista. That never really transpired mind you, but the fact that these unnamed businesses were even considering this move speaks volumes. The main problem with Vista is that Microsoft focused on Security and forgot about usability. I think Sheldon Cooper said it best – My new computer came with Windows 7. Windows 7 is much more user friendly than Windows Vista. I don’t like that. It just made a bad OS altogether. So….if Vista is not Generations, then what is it? I’ve used up all the bad Star Trek movies thus far except for one – Nemesis. Vista had so much potential, as did Nemesis, but neither lived up to their respected potential. In fact, I would argue that both of them lowered the bar so much that the next version of Windows, the next Star Trek movie, HAD to be good because they were NOT the last crap fest Microsoft / Star Trek threw at us like so many zoo caged monkeys! bill-gates-borg-150x150

    So, does that make Windows 7 Star Trek (2009)? That would make Windows 7 the equivalent to the very best Star Trek movie ever, First freaking Contact! The borg had invade with their inferior version of Windows – but did Picard and the crew of the Enterprise give up? Hell no! They freaking came back and took back the Enterprise, just like Windows 7 took Windows 7 and made it back into a decent operating system. I’ve had two computers that used 7, and I confess – I’m in love with it. I wish this computer had Windows 7. I wonder if I can downgrade…..

    Reboots in movies are tricky. When things change, people get confused and are often times left in the dark. But if they’re done properly, they can add value to an established lore. The same can be said about total redesigns of computer software. Windows 8, if had been done properly, could have been Star Trek (2009). Instead, we get Star Trek V. As I’m typing this – I’m downloading Windows 8.1, and hoping to God it’s better than Windows 8. But I’m not holding my breath – too many flaws in 8 for it to be fixed. I know Microsoft want to give us “one experience for all devices,” but the way I operate a laptop is NOT the way I operate a tablet or a phone. And until Microsoft drags Steve Ballmer to the guillotine realizes this, they’re going to give us crap.

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  • Buffy vs Twilight in Buffy Season 8

    ©Jinx, Inc. Used without permission. Please don't sue me, Jinx! I love your t-shirts!!!!I’ll be honest: I cannot stand sparkly vampires. I have even considered buying a T-shirt depicting Buffy dusting Edward. I have even contemplated writing fan fiction along the same lines. But why should I write fan fiction, when Buffy goes toe to toe with the Twilight Vamps canonically? In the Buffy the Vampire: Season 8 graphic novels, we find an interesting subtext involving the evils of even the nicest and incompetent vampires. This evil, is not just limited to the Buffyverse: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 shows that even the sparkly vamps of the twilight universe are evil creatures, and should probably be disposed of, lest they win the hearts of the innocents.

    Let’s begin with issue 21: “Harmonic Divergence.” Harmony, the ditsy cheerleader turned Vampire Princess, is spotted in California drinking blood from the neck of an unnamed celebrity. Through a course of events, she gets her own reality show on MTV, and a worldwide interest in, and love for, vampires emerges. But Harmony as evil as ever, even more so. Not only does she heartlessly kills a slayer on live television, she also endorses a line of what is later revealed to be demon controlled toy vampires! Of course, after an attack by a would be slayer (who is slaughtered mercilessly), and after Buffy’s gang destroys the toys, Harmony plays the victim, and of course, the public fall for this. Hmmm, Vampires gaining immense popularity, to the point of immense fandom and said fans claiming said vampires are not evil. Quite an interesting resemblance to the fans of Twilight, as well as the other sparkly Vamps that have emerged because of the immense Twilight Vamps. Harmony appears nice enough, she’s not out to kill anyone – at least not publicly. But when the doors are closed, she’s just as bloodthirsty, heartless, and evil as ever. And perhaps, so are the Twilight Vamps. Perhaps.

    Or perhaps I’m jumping to conclusions. Perhaps the similarity of Harmony’s popularity and Twilight’s popularity is simply just a coincidence and not an allegory showing that all Vampires are evil creatures  (even though issue 21 came out a mere two months after the release of the first Twilight movies). Well, even if this IS a coincidence, there are other damning factors against Twilight in season 8. For one thing, the Big Bad of season 8 is named, (ahem) TWILIGHT! Yes, how coincidental is that? How is it that the head evil creature is actually named Twilight? There’s no denying the fact that Season 8 shows the evils of the Twilight, when the main villain is actually named TWILIGHT!!! That’s would be like if CS Lewis had named Aslan “Jesus.” That would be like if George Orwell had called the pigs in Animal Farm “Communists.” That would be like if Herman Melville named the Whale – well whatever the heck the whale means, that one’s still up for debate. But my point is simple: Word association is a powerful tool. Its pretty unimaginable that Joss Whedon would happen to overlook the fact that his main villain in season 8 just happens to share the name of a series of books and movies which depicts good and caring vampires. When the name is different, any similarities, however blaring they might be, could be dismissed as merely coincidence. The very fact that the main villain is named “Twilight,” is a big blaring sign saying “HEY! LOOK! TWILIGHT! WE REALLY MEAN TWILIGHT!!!!”

    Oh, but wait! What about Angel? What about Spike? They’re both Vampires and they’re both good!Or are they? If I remember correctly, Spike only became “good” because he had a chip implanted in his head causing him not to kill humans. Despite anything he did after that, if it had not been for that chip, Spike would have gone on killing anyone and everyone he felt the urge to kill. Spike was pretty much tamed like a circus animal – take out his metaphorical teeth and he’s harmless. Ok, ok, Spike is evil, but what about Angel? Well, Angel just happens to be the best piece of evidence to my thesis. Angel was probably one of the most evil Vampires in the Buffyverse before his, for lack of a better word, anti-curse. And after he slept with Buffy, he lost his soul and became evil once more. Angel is no (ahem) Angel; he’s a demon who is only good because people were so sick of his terror, that they decided to put a spell on him. But never mind that. an interesting fact was revealed about Angel recently. The writers of Buffy Season 8 has revealed that Angel, who has not previously been portrayed in season 8, has been in the background of Season 8 this entire time. Angel has been wearing a mask—the same mask that Twilight wears. Angel is Twilight! The kindest, most gentle, and dare I say Edward-like vampire in the Buffyverse turns out to be the Big Bad that’s trying to kill Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies! Case closed! Never mind the neon sign, we now have a blaring horn bleating out that even the sparkliest of vampires is evil and vile and will kill you if you give it a chance. And yes,I said  it! They are not people! They are evil THINGS that need to be disposed of properly and by all means necessary.

    Oh the path we weave when we decide evil is good, and good is evil. Oh the twisted, sick perversions, oh the death and destruction – but I digress. In all seriousness, I really don’t believe Vampires exist, despite my enthusiasm in this article. Vampires are a great literary device to describe all that is evil and dark in this world. A little Vlad the Impaler, a little Black Plague, a little dark magic, and voila! Dracula – one of the most formidable literary villains of all time – is born. But even Dracula has his good side, right? He helped Buffy and the Scoobies in Tokyo, right? Well, yes….but only because that served his best interest. Mark my words, in any other circumstance, Dracula meeting Buffy would have meant a reenactment of Season 5’s first episode – only this time the end might depict a role reversal – IE Dracula standing over Buffy’s grave. Every vamp is something to be weary of. Like I said, I don’t believe in vampires – but if I ever meet one – I’m running the other way as fast as I possibly can. And you should as well. Now. Don’t stop. Just freaking run already!

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  • Top 5 soundtracks of the ohs!

    I was not going to do this list, but its pretty much writing itself in my head anyways. Besides, there were so many great soundtracks this decade, I almost HAD to write this list. So without further Adieu, I give you the top five soundtracks of the ohs!

    5. Team America: World Police (Film – 2004) : OK. This film is rude, crude, and at the very least, NSFW. But it is also funny as heck. And the soundtrack was done so well! Who could forget classics like “Freedom isn’t Free” and “Montage?” Not to mention the anthem of patriotism that is the song, “America! —- Yeah!” But as funny as the soundtrack is, what made this soundtrack great was the fact that when it (and the movie) was made, we were (and are still) in the midst of a war that doesn’t seem to have an end. It was a time of extreme patriotism at the expense of those of us who dared question why. Team America: World Police dared lampoon these political zealots, as well as those who stood blindly to oppose them (ie the Film Actor’s Guild). This soundtrack and movie was an expression in free speech. I dare say the creators have indeed, with the making of this great piece of art, put in their buck oh five (cause freedom costs a buck oh five).

    4. Spamalot (Stage – 2004): As I type this, I have the song “Run away!” going through my head. Spamalot was based on the classic movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I dare say, the producers found the one thing missing from the film: MUSIC!  “The Song that Goes Like This” lampoons the cheesy hit song that is inevitably in every serious Broadway production. “Find Your Grail,” while comedic in nature, has a good point – one should indeed search for their “Grail.” And who could forget (ahem – sings in my best voice),  all for one, two for all, four for some, and three for all. So bring out your dead and always look on the bright side of life! Even if you’re not yet dead – or wed.

    3. Avenue Q (Stage – 2003): One of these days I might actually get to see this show live (as opposed to the crappy video floating around on youtube), but for now, I have this marvelous soundtrack. And what a soundtrack! I’ve often asked myself  “What Do you do with a BA in English?” I’ve often wished I could go back to college, and I find myself singing “It Sucks to be Me” on a regular basis.  I’m pretty impressed the writers of Avenue Q throw political correctness out the window with “Every One’s a Little Bit Racist.” And “Schadenfreude?” Well, that just makes me laugh.  The Avenue Q soundtrack is not safe for work by any means, but I find myself playing it at work on a regular basis anyways.  Avenue Q may not be the best for those who are offended easily, but it has more than its fair share of valid points.  One has to wonder what the Avenue Q soundtrack would have been like if it had been a television series – somehow I don’t think it would be the same.

    2. Dr Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog (Internet / DVD – 2008): If you haven’t seen this yet, go to Hulu right now and watch it. OK? Watch it? Good. Wasn’t that amazing? And what about the music? A high point on the album (and the video itself), is the song “A Man’s gotta do,” which outlines a pivotal scene in song. The scatting in the second chorus between Penny, Dr Horrible, and Captain Hammer is probably my favorite part of the entire video (the remote control is in my hands! Balls!).  That’s what makes this soundtrack so great – the music is not there for the music’s sake – the music is part of the plot. If you took the music out of the production, there would be no storyline.  If this is what happens when writer’s go on strike, maybe writers should go on strike more often!

    1.  A Mighty Wind (Film – 2003): The soundtrack for “A Mighty Wind” did something different than any other soundtrack mentioned on this list: A Mighty Wind’s soundtrack included songs not in the movie. One notable instance is the Folksmen covering “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones.  They take a traditional sex, drugs, and rock and roll song, and make it a folk song. Quite intriguing actually. And while the soundtrack features other instances of songs not mentioned in the movie, one can also judge between the “toothpaste commercial” New Main Street Singers version of “Never Did No Wandering,” or the Folksmen version which is musically truer to the lyrics. On a side note, if you have not seen this film, you should! The soundtrack is the best of the Ohs, but the movie itself is the best mocumentary of the ohs. I could think of far worst things to do with an hour and a half.

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