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Subject: Chalkhills Digest #10-29


         Chalkhills Digest, Volume 10, Number 29

                 Wednesday, 14 July 2004

Topics:

                     A pedant writes:
                     re: Duncan WTF??
                      Legal Schmegal
                 Simple Simon's Savy move
       In Which The F'n Pizza Analogy Rides Again.
                   Those Pesky Ruskies
                    Fuzzy Warbles 5+6
                  Thomas Dolby Remembers
                    learning my place
          I know it's useless, but...(to Duncan)

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You don't steal from the rich to help the poor.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 16:19:28 +0100
From: "Stephen Jackson" <planet_skaro@btopenworld.com>
Subject: A pedant writes:
Message-ID: <002b01c4675a$766eb1a0$67ea7ad5@default>

Ben wrote:

 <<But if you're going to play
early 1990s Britpop, and if you're going to stake a whole album on it,
then you'd better pull the cotton out of your ears and listen to some
albums made *after* 1991.  Jon Brion, Robyn Hitchcock, Pernice Brothers>>

Why? Er, surely the whole raison d'etre of Britpop is that it is pop from
Britain,  made by Brits influenced by British bands? The Pernice Brothers?
Which part of this fair isle are they from? Jon Brion? Is he from
Manchester?

Elsewhere:

<<."  This makes the "Elemental"
comparison apt, as some songs appear to have been recorded at the same
time as mid-1990s Tears for Fears hits.>>

Mid 1990's? Last major hits for TTF was "Sowing the Seeds of Love", "Woman
in Chains" etc. from 1989, unless you consider the Orzabal only release
"Break it down again" in 92. Mid nighties? Only that Kings of Spain
nonsense, and no notable "hits", at least in Britain.

Steve.

------------------------------

Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 03:04:17 +1200
From: "Gwilym Wogan" <frostcircus@hotmail.com>
Subject: re: Duncan WTF??
Message-ID: <BAY9-F56r9wamaqFTcg00018a42@hotmail.com>

It may or may not make a difference if you consider that Duncan himself is
an extremely talented musician, he's struggling to make a living out of it,
and right now is only reliably able to do so by producing other people's
music. Which, from personal experience, is something that can be all kinds
of debilitating, and nothing I'd ever want to get into seriously. It's
essentially a day job. The point is that he can't live off his music, which,
given the level of effort, time and prowess you can hear in his music, is
something he has every right to be pissed about.

And knee-jerk "Hey, he's shouting at me, I should shout back" reactions
aside, I'm pretty surprised and vaguely disgusted at the backlash to his
rant, the main point of which jumps out at me as a painfully obvious one:
the bulk of people defend the various degrees of musical piracy with the
"Most of it goes to corporate fatcats anyway" argument. Sure, this is true,
but -some- of it goes to the artists as well. It follows that if less money
goes to the fatcats, less goes to the artists. Basic mathematics. This
-some- is now small enough that it's extremely rare to find a new, dedicated
musician who isn't forced into menial plebwork simply to survive. More time
spent digging ditches equals less time spent perfecting craft.

As for who exactly this 'you' person is - hardly requires intensive
sleuthwork; just work backwards from the message. If your views contradict
his, it's pretty obvious that it's you he's talking about. I'm not sure
exactly what brought it on either, but I must admit to not reading every
single recent post to a T. Perhaps he was addressing the internet in
general, where the tendency towards musical tightfistedness is most
gratuitous - everywhere I go, I too often get (the text equivalent of)
strange looks when I mention CD purchases, with people asking, without a
trace of irony or guilt, "why didn't you download it instead?" It's
everywhere, so it'd be a safe bet that it's here too.

Oh, and guess what? He's American, too! Research people, please. Besides,
apart from a single use of the word 'American' as a simile for 'you', I
didn't see a single truly anti-American sentiment anywhere in the rant. But
hey, I'm a naive guy ...and one that will be very upset if he turns out to
be one of only a few backing Duncan up.

-Gwilym

------------------------------

Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 11:54:59 -0400
From: Gary McBride <garym@usa.com>
Subject: Legal Schmegal
Message-ID: <A9C4A6CA-D352-11D8-BE6E-000A95B4767A@usa.com>

> Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 19:23:27 -0400
> From: "Duncan Watt" <dwatt@fastestmanintheworld.com>
>
> (snip)      offering basically THE ENTIRE XTC CATALOG, 15 ALBUMS, 238
> SONGS, LEGALLY,  FOR DOWNLOAD, FOR ABOUT $11.90

Legally, being the operant word here-- the notion that this is legal is
crap... this is bootlegging, pure and simple, if not an outright
identity theft scam. (Do you have to give them a credit card to "buy"
this music?) Maybe there's no law against it in Russia, or there's
nobody to enforce the law, but that does not make it legal anywhere.

This is essentially file sharing for a fee, and in many people's minds,
if there is a fee involved, and the website says its legal, they
rationalize that it's OK. Whether the RIAA will raid these people's
homes, I'm not sure.

Yes, it is outrageous that criminals can operate in broad daylight like
this, but it's not about the music being devalued in any sort of
legitimate way. That is happening in an entirely different manner as
the record labels shove true artists off their rosters in favor of mass
market product. If 20% of the acts sell 80% of the records, (and they
now control which 20% will get the exposure necessary to sell at all)
why waste time and effort with the other 80% of the acts?

It used to be that they didn't KNOW what acts would sell, and which
would sink, so it made sense for them to support a wide variety of acts
to improve their odds. Plus, they were satisfied if an act generated a
small profit. Now that the label is owned by the same company that owns
the TV networks and the newspapers and magazines and movie studios and
even record stores, what they say goes. And there is no longer interest
in a small profit. All or nothing.

It also used to be that the labels valued certain "prestige" acts, even
if they didn't sell so well. Bob Dylan rarely sold a ton of music
himself, but he attracted artists who wanted to be on the same label as
Dylan, giving Columbia the inside track to signing guys like Bruce
Springsteen.

Good music is being marginalized and driven back to independent labels.
And if you can believe that old Salon article Courtney Love did on the
mathematics of the record industry, it could be that someone like Andy
will do a lot better for himself owning a serious slice of a smaller
pie, than getting to lick the tin of a great big pie.

One thing that does drive me crazy about "cult" acts like XTC or
whoever, is that they rarely take advantage of the cult following and
make tons of stuff available. If there was an official XTC sheetmusic
book, I'd buy it. Fuzzy Warbles V-XXXVI and most of us would be there.
Live video, etc. I know there are a lot of legal obstacles to Andy
doing some of these things, but there are a lot of opportunities that
are never exploited.

That's what started the bootleg record business in the first place...
people would hear about amazing work that wasn't made available
commercially for stupid reasons, so they would buy the bootlegs
(Dylan's Great White Wonder and Springsteen live recordings, for
instance). Pearl Jam had the right idea with the CD release of all
their shows... they're not going to sell a ton, but they're going to
keep the bootleggers out. Because most fans would rather buy a
legitimate release than a bootleg, to feel they're supporting the
artist.

So, the less we can do to publicize that Russian wholesale bootlegging
operation, the better.

(Sorry for the long winded rant)
G

------------------------------

Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 16:42:47 +0000
From: "WAYNE KLEIN" <wtdk12@msn.com>
Subject: Simple Simon's Savy move
Message-ID: <BAY3-F15OQaFgpXYLcV0003b866@hotmail.com>

>From Kevin or Duncan--can't determine which:

>Well, the only response I have to talk that Rhino, the seemingly Perfect
Beast, rumbling in stampede over all else, is a mere shadow of its former
self and that it is merely a reissue arm of the bigger ghost in the
machine, Warner Brothers, is to ask how the hell did they suddenly get the
rights to the entire Paul Simon catalogue?  Now there was a reissue
campaign that completely floored me!  Okay, Paul Simon now records--or did
record--for Warner Brothers or a subsidiary thereof, and it is possible
that *HE* has the clout to push for removal of all his work from those
Columbia/Sony vaults, but I more see this as Warner Brothers once again
shoving their weight around to buy up just about every label under the
sun...and where does that put the rights of musicians to own their music or
run the show the way they would have wanted?<

Simon's contract gave Columbia and Warner the exclusive right to distribute
his music for a given period of time but he owns his solo albums (like
McCartney) and has since he signed with them. As to Duncan's rant, I don't
belive it was directed at anyone on the list. I think he's just kind of
frustrated at the world we live in where those who produce the art, as
usual, get screwed.

Wayne

------------------------------

Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 13:30:55 -0400
From: "Duncan Watt" <dwatt@fastestmanintheworld.com>
Subject: In Which The F'n Pizza Analogy Rides Again.
Message-ID: <200407111725.i6BHPw9t012619@secure.sinewave.com>

Hmmm... okay, all at f'n once. I promise to try and be nice. Sorry I
couldn't be more concise:

> What exactly would YOU do to make things better?  How would you rather have
> had it?
(snip)
> Like some others, I believe the industry-as-we-know-it is on the verge of
> collapse.  I think it's already started.  Already it bears no resemblance to
> when I worked in it in the 90s.

..yes, that's my point exactly. I've no problem with *change*! I think
individual fee-based downloads are, generally-speaking, a great idea! You
can even find my own material on iTunes! But the new business model that's
replacing the old one is flawed, because nothing's being done about piracy.
You(in the collective sense) just taught AN ENTIRE GENERATION OF YOUNG
PEOPLE that recorded music should be FREE. Yes?

How would *I* have it? I'd've had people around the world realize what
they'd be doing by encouraging worldwide piracy of intellectual property.
(Yeah, that would have happened.) Now? It's kind of late, the tiger's
already out of the bag and eaten most of the children. That's my point!!
But... make filesharing of copywritten music and intellectual property to be
*truly* illegal, and police it, internationally, with severe monetary
penalties for ISPs individuals and orgs that run target servers (such as
colleges). Establish true international copyright of intellectual
property(remember, it's just music now, but as bandwidth increases and
technology moves on, think of the potential... imagine if someone made a
sweet, sensual leather-bound flexible e-book reader, and it was easy to
digitize any book from the library in say, about 25 seconds... there goes
the writing industry...). Allow the new legal business models (such as
iTunes, etc.)to do their job. Make it illegal for sites to simply 'take'
intellectual property(as the Russian site is doing) and re-sell it, just
like any property. Of course, if you could simply make our global culture
respect art as having value, as it did at least generally up until a few
years ago, that would be nice to. Good luck with that one, too, cat...

How am I doing? Being nice enough? Ooookay...

> Now stop blaming the Americans.  Your English seems pretty good, so I assume
> that you live in an English-speaking country.

...and...

> Who, exactly, on this list, are you yelling at? (Maybe you meant it as a
> rant directed elsewhere, but hey, when you use "you" so many times, it's
> hard for one not to think it's directed at them personally.) Do you really
> think that only Americans are to blame?

Now, guys/gals/whatevers, don't get all Toby Keith on me now, I'm a 'Merken,
too(and, coincidentally, I'm subbing on piano/B3 for a country band that's
opening for Mr. Toby "Boot-Up-Your-Ass" Keith on the 24th at Gillette
Stadium, in case you're just sitting around, have $180 for a ticket, and
feel like shakin' your fist in the air in some quasi-political
indignance-or-close-enough thing. 61,000 righteous Republicans, 6 huge
Label-Whore acts and little 'ol Me... seesh. Look, cut me some slack, it's
$$. I've got two kids and the whole recording thing's shot, right? Maybe
I'll look good in a Stetson. Wish me luck, I'll put some photos up if'n you
want me to). I'm not shooting at Americans (although upon rereading my post,
I can see how you could read it that way, sorry 'bout that), I'm shooting at
the people all over the world who invented, developed, supported, used,
defended (and continue to defend) "sharing" music as a legitimate way to
avoid paying for it in any form...

> Who the "F" (to paraphrase your lovely
> letter) do you think you are, Duncan?
>
> I honestly believe that musicians will always be able to find avenues to
> release their music that will result in at least some kind of money coming
> back to them for it, whether it's per album or per song. Sites such as
> iTunes are a step in that direction, actually.

You can believe it all you want, my friend, but you're just rationalizing.
Without the development of a police-able policy of prosecuting pirate
product(PPOPPP) do you really think that business models such as iTunes are
sufficient to support recording musicians? A "step in that direction"? More
like "after 35 steps backward, here's one step forward"! Keep in mind, the
customer will always pay the least possible amount, and my point is that
iTunes is fun and all, but if you can get songs for 5 CENTS APIECE LEGALLY
(le-f'n-gally??!??!!??!!!) then why pay 99 cents? Of course the Russian site
isn't going to topple iTunes by itself, but if one site can do this, then
there's no reason to believe there won't be hundreds in a year. That's a
"step in a direction".

Moreover, you're suggesting that, again, without the PPOPPP thing, iTunes
and the like have a chance of supplanting filesharing (free downloading) as
the main way that most people will get their music in the future. Don't be
shortsighted! Sure, it's in flux now, but there's an ENTIRE GENERATION of
kids that have been taught that music should be FREE. In a few years, you
expect them to just decide to start paying for it? Cobblers!

(that's "Bullshit!" in Toby-Keith-speak.)

> And if you think that this
> is the end of good music as we know it, you're sadly mistaken. There will
> always be great musicians/songwriters getting their music out there.

Am I? "Getting their music out there" was never in question. Making *a
living* while "getting it out there" is. Yes, those who decide to GIVE IT
AWAY FOR FREE will be at the forefront of the new paradigm. I'm not being
facetious, I'm serious. I truly believe that most non-Top-40 recorded music
will be simply given away for free in a few years, to act as a loss-leader
for the ticket- and merch- sales, similar to how music videos are used as
promotional tools. "Good music"? What does "good music" have to do with
selling merchandise? "Good merchandising" sells merch, "good performances"
sell tickets. "Good music"(specifically good 'recorded music') should,
theoreticlly, sell CDs or downloads or whatever. BUT NOT AT 5 CENTS/SONG!

Next! Apparently, our next caller thinks my points are moot because I
broadcasted the URL to the Russian site. There's some logic for you, thanks
for that... He goes on to defend stealing of all music in general, because
he did it as a kid. Mayhaps an English major :) Using the
"I'm-so-poor-I-have-to-steal-it"defense, too! Let's see:

Judge: "You broke into the mansion and stole the stuff!"
Defendant: "I'm too *poor* to buy the stuff myself!"
Judge: "Oh, okay then, you can go..."

> Wow, thanks for the tip, Duncan! Do you work for them, perchance?
>
> Cos, uh, I didn't. Except that I did. I got into XTC's music by copying
> CDs onto cassette tapes. There was no other way for a poor kid like me
> to have their music.
(snip)
> But now that I know I can get the entire catalogue on MP3, I'm gonna do
> just that, until I get some more money and I can send some of it to
> Ape.

Oh, please! "Poor kid"? Unless I'm seriously misunderestimating what you're
claiming(to which I'll apologize right now, if applicable), that's the
lamest f'n excuse ever! Even at stupidly inflated major-label prices, you
can buy a CD (which you'll listen to forever) for about the price of two
six-packs(which should last you, I'm guessing, about 6 hours. Me, about 3
hours, but I'm a pussy). Or packs of Yu-Gi-Oh cards, if you'd like to stay
age-specific. Yes, CDs shouldn't cost more than $10 in general. Yes, CDs
should be priced individually, by the market, not priced across-the-board.
You can, and could, still easily afford to BUY them! Now, with iTunes etc.,
you can even listen to and SKIP BUYING the tracks you don't even want! Can't
even afford that? Hey, then STEAL it! The Judge said it's okay!

Look, there's a difference between kids making a CD copy for friends and
DEVALUING ALL MUSIC TO ALL PEOPLE TO BASICALLY FREE, isn't there? Can't you
see that?

(snip)

> I'm not denying your right to rant; I'm sad that there's no new XTC (or
> Blur, or even Stone Roses) material. But I'm just saying that it's not
> that simple, and that MP3 is not the enemy. Greed and inflexibility and
> stupidity (all of which most record labels are guilty of) are.

THE GREAT PIZZA ANALOGY STARTS HERE

Look, I like pizza, and I'm pretty sure you do to. Why don't we all just
rush the pizza places, all at once, and TAKE the pizza? Seriously, why not?
The f'n things only cost PENNIES in ingredients, the GREEDY, INFLEXIBLE and
STUPID pizza-makers are just RIPPING US OFF, right?

Seriously, why not? Because there's a LAW? We all know we could change the
law. Now, really, seriously, why is there a law in the first place? BECAUSE
IT'S HOW CAPITALISM WORKS. BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT THE PIZZA GUY/GAL/WHATEVER
HAS A RIGHT TO CHARGE WHATEVER THE HELL HE/SHE/WHATEVER WANTS TO. It's
HIS(I'll just go with 'his', okay?) pizza. You can make your OWN f'n pizza
if you want to. If you want HIS pizza, you PAY for it.

But what if, all of a sudden, you could just 'beam' his pizza, without his
permission, right onto your TV tray? Every time he makes a pizza, someone
just TAKES THE GODDAMN THING. Let's be fair, people can still go to his
place, and pay, so he sells maybe 20% of his pizzas, right?

How much longer is he going to make pizza? DON'T JUST BLOW THIS OFF, HOW
MUCH LONGER? How many kids are going to want to grow up to have a pizza
place? Moreover, HOW GOOD IS THE PIZZA GOING TO BE IN THE FUTURE? The
business model changes. Pizza-makers will make pizzas as loss-leaders for
something you CAN'T just 'beam' up. Following me?

Look, I'm screaming *theoretically* here. I WANT to be proven wrong! The
thing that blows my mind is how so few can see the signs! This kind of thing
has happened time and time again in history (just ask the huge, thriving
Professional Oboe Players Union). The Russian site is, at least as of now, a
legal business model, reported nationwide in major news outlets. Let's
assume that's enough to perceive it as a potential new business model for
everyone, or at least as a threat to the current business model. "Greed,
inflexibilty, stupidity" are the enemy? Well, duh! But what *exactly* do you
mean here? That because you think ALL of the labels and artists and stores
are greedy, and you're "poor", you should be able to steal the pizza? Uh,
thanks, you know where I'm going with this.

Every step is step in a direction. What direction are we heading in here? I
know there are way more important things to think about right now, politics,
world events, but that doesn't change the facts, Jack. Who let this happen?
People who didn't know, people who couldn't see it coming, and F'N IDIOTS!

Duncan "of all shapes, colors, sizes and Religious Affiliations" Watt

------------------------------

Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 22:43:36 -0400
From: "Neal H. Buck" <nealhbuck@comcast.net>
Subject: Those Pesky Ruskies
Message-ID: <4608CFA1-D3AD-11D8-8AD8-000A9596D28A@comcast.net>

Hi All,

Just a brief delurking. I had the guilty "pleasure" of visiting the
egregious site Dunks is referring to, and I have to admit it IS
tempting. I saw some albums and songs I haven't been able to find thru
normal channels. But, am I mistaken or doesn't this site originate in
Russia? Russian seems to be the default language and there are large
links to Russian music. Besides, I suppose that a site like that would
have been shut down by corporate lawyer types long ago if it HAD been
American-made. I haven't dug deeply into the matter, but that's how it
appears.

Neal

------------------------------

Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 08:49:46 -0400
From: John Relph <relph@tmbg.org>
Subject: Fuzzy Warbles 5+6
Message-ID: <200407121249.i6CCnkQ15667@f5.idiot-dog.com>

Folks,

I thought I should bring a little XTC talk to the party.  And thus:

According to the Pony Canyon website, Fuzzy Warbles Volumes 5+6 will
be released in Japan on September 15th.  I assume that means the CDs
will be released in England within a few weeks of that date.  Probably
afterward, the way things have gone lately.

So did anybody else get The Secret Life of the Milk and Honey Band?
What exactly is Andy Partridge's role?  Executive producer only?
Is it even worth listing the release in the XTC discography?  Or
perhaps should I start a section expressly for Ape House records?

	-- John

--
"Who cares?!"

------------------------------

Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 07:34:33 -0400
From: Steve Dockery <sdockery@mac.com>
Subject: Thomas Dolby Remembers
Message-ID: <72155759-D3F7-11D8-B2B1-0003938AC4BC@mac.com>

This is probably old news to many of you, but I just found it. Thomas
Dolby talks about XTC briefly on his website. Here's the relevant text:

> A band I'd always admired tremendously was XTC. I used to push my way
> to the front row of all their early gigs and watch Andy Partridge
> careening around the stage like some demented Chuck Berry while
> playing the most mind-boggling guitar riffs known to man. My, how I
> wanted some tragic gardening accident to befall Barry Andrews, their
> keyboard player, requiring me to bravely step in and play his keyboard
> parts (which I happened to know by heart.) This sadly was never to be,
> but as Andy rightly points out, it would have been far too much ego
> for one band. However I did manage to talk him into helping me produce
> some of my own songs. These were 'Urges' and 'Leipzig', and we
> recorded them on a converted barge moored in the canal at Little
> Venice in London. With Andy's experience, and my total ignorance as to
> the 'right' way of doing things, they turned out pretty well. They
> were released late in 1980 as a single on Armageddon Records, home of
> RobynHitchcock and the Soft Boys.

I'd read about the XTC/Dolby connection from Andy's perspective, I
hadn't seen it from Dolby's side before.

-Steve

------------------------------

Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 07:33:36 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jim Smart <jimsmart1@yahoo.com>
Subject: learning my place
Message-ID: <20040712143336.97576.qmail@web13522.mail.yahoo.com>

"I dream of a world where musicians are at the top of
the social-economic ladder.  But they're not."

And they never were. Check out how Mozart and Bach
were treated by the aristocrats who commisioned their
works (and therefore controlled their lives). How
about the court musicians before that?

I am often reminded when I play around town with my
band how low musicians are. We are basically grouped
with the waiters and janitors, or just treated like
noisy furniture.

No offense intended to waiters and those who serve,

Jim

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 09:06:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: Happy Puppy Records <happypuppyrecords@yahoo.com>
Subject: I know it's useless, but...(to Duncan)
Message-ID: <20040713160618.89684.qmail@web53904.mail.yahoo.com>

> Duncan is absolutely correct!  I think the music
> business is changing so fast...

But that's obvious.  Labels have been doing that for
years.  Just count the number of repackaged
collections of Beatles or Elvis P. material.  This is
just a new vehicle to do the same (making the material
available via mp3).  They aren't doing it as a result
of the changing attitudes about music - they are doing
it because it's another venue of which to make money.
They would sell us music over a copper wire, if that's
what we wanted.

Case in point: Sarah McLachlan released a 5-track live
EP to ITunes "exclusively" for $.99 a song when her
full length CD came out last year.  Of course, the
fans go "oh I must join ITunes and download them
because that's the only way I can get a copy!"  6
months later, the same 5 tracks are available on a
nice, non-compressed, CD single with artwork for
$5.99.  It's all just another way to make money.  They
do not care HOW the music gets to us, unless you tell
them.

So, Duncan, if you don't like the fact that music is
reduced to just megabytes and cents, why do you
support it?  Fight it!

If you really believe it's bad, buy your music in
stores.  If you send the message to the labels that
yes, you like to buy your music in the record stores,
they will continue to make music available in record
stores.

Last time I checked, pretty much anything you can
download legally from some music services, you can
purchase from a real record store with a real disc,
and a cover and everything.  You can even buy vinyl,
still...something you can't do at allcrapmp3.com

How much of a royalty percentage the labels pay
artists has nothing to do with us, the music fan,
really.  The label has all the control in that
department.  All we can do is support the artist, and
let the labels know HOW we like to get our music.  I
like to buy music in stores, so I go to record stores.
 If you like to do that, you should do it too.

------------------------------

End of Chalkhills Digest #10-29
*******************************

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