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  1. #1

    NY Times Review: Mary Wilson Solo Debut!!!!!

    Auspicious enough to get an NYT review, Mary goes solo!

    https://www.nytimes.com/1979/08/30/a...lo-singer.html

  2. #2
    This was luckwarm at best

  3. #3
    Lukewarm is the word 😂

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by TomatoTom123 View Post
    Lukewarm is the word 
    Right, Tom? I remember the review at the time but did not remember it being quite so ... lukewarm. Hope all is well with you!

  5. #5
    That same week, Mary's debut solo album was being promoted in newspapers. Motown gave advertising dollars to E J Korvette, Alexander's, Two Guys and other chains that sold albums, so the fable of no support from Motown seems to be wrong.

    Also, from the ad, Mary was known as Mary Wilson at least for a minute before she went back to putting the Supremes' name in her billing

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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by milven View Post
    That same week, Mary's debut solo album was being promoted in newspapers. Motown gave advertising dollars to E J Korvette, Alexander's, Two Guys and other chains that sold albums, so the fable of no support from Motown seems to be wrong.

    Also, from the ad, Mary was known as Mary Wilson at least for a minute before she went back to putting the Supremes' name in her billing

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    But according to Marys self appointted publicist and self proffessed confident (LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL) Motown didnt promote Marys solo album.

  7. #7
    [QUOTE=milven;537957]That same week, Mary's debut solo album was being promoted in newspapers. Motown gave advertising dollars to E J Korvette, Alexander's, Two Guys and other chains that sold albums, so the fable of no support from Motown seems to be wrong.

    Also, from the ad, Mary was known as Mary Wilson at least for a minute before she went back to putting the Supremes' name in her billing

    No amount of publicity and promotion could have saved this hot mess from instant oblivion, but good to see that Motown did at least make an effort with it.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by milven View Post
    That same week, Mary's debut solo album was being promoted in newspapers. Motown gave advertising dollars to E J Korvette, Alexander's, Two Guys and other chains that sold albums, so the fable of no support from Motown seems to be wrong.

    Also, from the ad, Mary was known as Mary Wilson at least for a minute before she went back to putting the Supremes' name in her billing

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    I worked near Herald Square at the time and shopped (at least) weekly at Korvette's. They were THE BEST for record buyers, with lots of rack space and great prices. I discovered so many lps there by strolling through the Soul section. I do remember this ad - it was quite impressive and featured in the big circulation local papers (NY Post and NY Daily News) and probably also the NY Times.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Roberta75 View Post
    But according to Marys self appointted publicist and self proffessed confident (LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL) Motown didnt promote Marys solo album.
    The 'poor promotion' trope is always put into use when a release fails to sell! Best to you on this Sunday, Ms. Roberta.

  10. #10
    And for those who say that Motown could not walk and chew gum at the same time, i.e.. promote Diana and Mary and/or The Supremes at the same time, here is an ad promoting new releases by Diana and Mary. And Motown also reduced the list price of Mary's debut album so that it could be sold at a lower price - which Alexander's passed on to buyers in this ad.

    And to those who say Mary and or the New Supremes got no promotion, there were tons of ads in the trade magazines such as Cash Box, Record World, and Billboard. Yes, those were read by people in the business such as program directors, retail buyers, store managers, disc jockeys etc. Those are the people who decide what is on radio and on store shelves.

    About the only other thing that Motown could have done was to have had someone go door to door giving their product away. And if truth be told, they did go to many retailers giving the product away so that it could be dollar averaged with the bought product and then sold for less to customers thereby creating more sales and hopefully being placed higher on the charts

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  11. #11
    In my city, the album was not promoted and yet "Red Hot" made #7 on the WAMO playlist. The album was not easy to find, as I found it in a store by college and they only had one copy under W. In the Sunday local paper there was a photo buried on about page 7 of the entertainment section of her debut. I wouldn't call that adequate promotion for a solo career of an ex-Original Supreme. Her first album was supposed to just start her career and Motown gave her Hal Davis and formula disco. Listening to her songs for her proposed second album were far, far better and had they promoted her as a soulful balladeer would have fared so much better than that. Miss Wilson said her reviews for her debut were discouraging and she then went to Europe to learn "how to sing more than ooh's and ahh's". This review states, at least, that she has a strong voice even if they felt it wasn't "distinctive". Miss Wilson also stated that since she had sued Motown that when she did come back to record, she was made to feel like a rebel and an outcast and I am sure that colored the perception of lack of promotion. I can say that Motown backed "Mary Wilson" just slightly more than they did Scherrie & Susaye's "Partners", which was nowhere to be found in my city or on the radio. Still, Miss Wilson has a new book out and will be on Dancing with the Stars 40 years later and I think she has accomplished a great deal without anyone behind her. I personally celebrate that we still have Misses Wilson,Ross, Payne and Greene still out there entertaining and doing it so well in all of their works.

  12. #12
    I never saw that cool ad, but I lived in Bloomington and Chicago that summer and record stores in both cities had posters of the album on display in the record stores and every club, I assume, I was given a copy of the album because I heard red hot and lots of clubs…… And sending out promos to clubs is promotion. Those posters are promotion. That moronic lament of lack of promotion is usually only uttered by losers. Did you ever hear diana ross Barbra Streisand Whitney Houston Janet Jackson Stevie wonder Paul McCartney anyone successful ever blame a record bombing on lack a promotion? This excuse is usually reserved for those who don’t wanna take responsibility for their own career and have to blame their failures on others. It’s sad. I don’t think the album is that bad - it’s not great, but there was no real reason to put all its resources into this album because they didn’t feel she was a major talent…… No one did. Mary couldn’t get a record deal anywhere, and as evidenced by this review, she was rather mediocre …… Fast forward 30 years, and she’s grown into a hell of a cabaret singer with a set that she could be very proud of - Especially when you consider that she may Lure you in with the supreme’s name, but the success of the show has nothing to do with the Supremes hits, Of which she does very few and too many people, not very well. However, there is unanimous Wild Support for the rest of her show.

    Making a big deal out of the fact that Motown didn’t make Mary into a solo star I think it’s the most ridiculous conversation in the world as it didn’t make Motown some sort of aberration of the music industry…… A company looking to do disservice to this deserving artist… Mary took that deal because she couldn’t get a deal anywhere else and afterwords she still couldn’t get a deal anywhere else and the industry knew that her album had been promoted because they would have seen it, they also knew that the album never caught on… Nora couldn’t get any measurable amount of support on radio. Mary was not a name and she was not a draw and she was not a talent to be reckoned with at that time. She was a former supreme who wanted to be a solo star And that was not enough to generate interest in her. Mary made her self into the success she is today and I’m proud of her and I can watch her show over and over and over again.
    Last edited by TheMotownManiac; 09-15-2019 at 01:06 PM.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by milven View Post
    And for those who say that Motown could not walk and chew gum at the same time, i.e.. promote Diana and Mary and/or The Supremes at the same time, here is an ad promoting new releases by Diana and Mary. And Motown also reduced the list price of Mary's debut album so that it could be sold at a lower price - which Alexander's passed on to buyers in this ad.

    And to those who say Mary and or the New Supremes got no promotion, there were tons of ads in the trade magazines such as Cash Box, Record World, and Billboard. Yes, those were read by people in the business such as program directors, retail buyers, store managers, disc jockeys etc. Those are the people who decide what is on radio and on store shelves.

    About the only other thing that Motown could have done was to have had someone go door to door giving their product away. And if truth be told, they did go to many retailers giving the product away so that it could be dollar averaged with the bought product and then sold for less to customers thereby creating more sales and hopefully being placed higher on the charts

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    Interesting information and a great throwback ad to see. And ultimate proof that Motown had Wilson's LP right there in the promo dept with megastars Diana Ross and the Commodores. Ultimately it was a case of, as Lamont Dozier said, 'Fish Ain't Bitin'.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    That moronic lament of lack of promotion is usually only uttered by losers. Did you ever hear diana ross Barbra Streisand Whitney Houston Janet Jackson Stevie wonder Paul McCartney anyone successful ever blame a record bombing on lack a promotion? This excuse is usually reserved for those who don’t wanna take responsibility for their own career and have to blame their failures on others. It’s sad.
    No, what's moronic is your inability to state your opinion regarding the reasons Mary's album failed without resorting to name calling and attacks. What you have demonstrated in your post is the mark of someone who is a much bigger loser than anyone who holds the opinion that Mary's album suffered from lack of promotion. Perhaps you may want to evaluate why you're so bothered by opposing viewpoints within the subject of music.

    Diana Ross complained that Motown wasn't promoting The Boss. She was at the height of her career. Nothing "loser" about her. Yet there she was pointing at lack of promotion as an issue between she and Motown. Guess what? It happens all of the time. Artists are always blaming bad promotion on failed projects. Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong. Maybe you seem to be of the opinion that record labels do the right thing all of the time, but I know better. Wherever there are people, there will be mistakes or malicious intent. And record label execs are notorious for allowing business to become personal, as Ross seemed to suspect regarding lack of promo for The Boss, that it was personal from Berry's hand.

    Stevie Wonder also complained that "Bad Weather" suffered from lack of promotion. He's not a loser either, whether or not his opinion was valid or invalid.

    For the record I don't know whether Motown adequately promoted Mary's album or not. I think it would be interesting to hear from record industry insiders who have an educated understanding of what good promotion is vs inadequate promotion. It would also be interesting to hear what more proponents of the "Mary's album failed because of lack of promotion" thinks needed to be done. My personal opinion is that Motown could've pulled out ALL of the stops (and I doubt they did simply because of my belief that the label didn't care all that much for Mary at this point, album or no album) and the album still would've tanked because it sucked. No amount of promotion is going to turn a mediocre debut album into a blockbuster.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    Making a big deal out of the fact that Motown didn’t make Mary into a solo star I think it’s the most ridiculous conversation in the world
    What is with you being so bothered by other folks opinions? It's almost funny. How do you quantify a term like "ridiculous" as it relates to someone holding the opinion that Mary could've been a bigger solo star? How do you prove such a statement, that it's "ridiculous"? I get that you and others may not think Mary had a chance. That doesn't bother me. All of this stuff is taking place in the 70s and 80s, so where's the argument? I personally think Mary could've been bigger than she was, if only marginally, with a certain amount of luck on her side (among other things that I've listed ad nauseum in previous threads), in a business that seems to be chocked full of talented artists, some of whom make it all the way, some who barely get out the gate. What's that saying about it? That it's ten percent talent and 90 percent luck, or something like that?

    If believing Mary Wilson was good enough to be a consistent recording artist and occasional hit maker (that's my opinion of Mary), makes me ridiculous...where do I get the t shirt?

  16. #16
    my thoughts are that the review was more disparaging about the songs she sang rather than her specific performance on the songs. yes it mentions that she isn't a highly distinguished vocalist. but it really sort of slams here MOR pablum that she was using. Odds are the reviewer didn't realize that the song list was frustratingly similar to the final Sup shows

    Everybody gets to go to the moon/corner of the sky
    Midnight Dancer (replacing Let Yourself Go)
    Dialog
    Supremes medley - come see, happening, reflections
    The way we were
    Sup medley - you keep me hangin on, where did our love go, baby love, love child, stop
    Stoned Love
    Driving wheel
    Can't take my eyes/quiet nights
    You're what's missing
    I love a warm summer night
    red hot
    song for you/how lucky
    Someday we'll be together

    Frankly this show format wasn't all that inspired or exciting when the Supremes did it. so to pull out all of these old orchestra charts really is pathetic. Sure the first medley of Sup hits where she just sings the backing parts was cute. But the rest really is poor. Instead of another sup medley, she should have pulled Don't Let My Teardrops or You Are Heart of me. at least do some of HER songs from the Sups era

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    No, what's moronic is your inability to state your opinion regarding the reasons Mary's album failed without resorting to name calling and attacks. What you have demonstrated in your post is the mark of someone who is a much bigger loser than anyone who holds the opinion that Mary's album suffered from lack of promotion. Perhaps you may want to evaluate why you're so bothered by opposing viewpoints within the subject of music.

    Diana Ross complained that Motown wasn't promoting The Boss. She was at the height of her career. Nothing "loser" about her. Yet there she was pointing at lack of promotion as an issue between she and Motown. Guess what? It happens all of the time. Artists are always blaming bad promotion on failed projects. Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong. Maybe you seem to be of the opinion that record labels do the right thing all of the time, but I know better. Wherever there are people, there will be mistakes or malicious intent. And record label execs are notorious for allowing business to become personal, as Ross seemed to suspect regarding lack of promo for The Boss, that it was personal from Berry's hand.

    Stevie Wonder also complained that "Bad Weather" suffered from lack of promotion. He's not a loser either, whether or not his opinion was valid or invalid.

    For the record I don't know whether Motown adequately promoted Mary's album or not. I think it would be interesting to hear from record industry insiders who have an educated understanding of what good promotion is vs inadequate promotion. It would also be interesting to hear what more proponents of the "Mary's album failed because of lack of promotion" thinks needed to be done. My personal opinion is that Motown could've pulled out ALL of the stops (and I doubt they did simply because of my belief that the label didn't care all that much for Mary at this point, album or no album) and the album still would've tanked because it sucked. No amount of promotion is going to turn a mediocre debut album into a blockbuster.
    I'm not bothered by opposing viewpoints in music nor was I calling those with opposing viewpoints losers. I was referring to the artists who resort to that time and time again. I think if you re-read my statement you’ll realize I was not referring to anyone here with that comment and, used The adverb usually because i’m Sure there’s cases where it truly applies. I have respect for everyone’s opinion on this forum as I have stated many times. I love reading all opinions and many times I’ve been in lightened resulting in a change of opinion.

    For the past several months I’ve been spending the majority of my time helping family members displaced by the floods and I’ve had very little time for this for him as much as I enjoy it, so I usually just dictate a response because I’m a slow typer, and sometimes don’t re-read it to check for accuracy in transcription or grammar or punctuation. It’s not for me it’s just I don’t take the time I normally would. However I reread my comment and I stand by what I said: I do feel some artists rely way too much on blaming lack of promotion and Mary made a big deal of this in her books while pushing her conspiracy theory…… And I personally just don’t buy it.

    Ive never heard of Ross complaining about promotion for The Boss, or anything else. When and where did this happen? In any event, assuming she did - it was very rare for her and she had plenty of flops. I also did not hear firsthand that Stevie Wonder was complaining about bad weather not getting promoted - it was SAID that he complained, but I never read it in an interview or comment direct from him. He was Motown‘s biggest selling artist at the time and I would imagine Motown would’ve done whatever they could to keep him happy. In any event, two exceptions for the gigantic example I used, doesn’t mean much to me. Our own blue Brock is an industry insider and I would love to hear what he considers promotion.

    It’s my opinion that Motown promoted mary‘s album because promotional singles 12 inch singles and albums were furnished to radio stations and clubs all over the country including some on red vinyl. This is provable because of the number of fans who own these copies from used record stores that have the radio stations markings on them.The in-store posters that many fans saw are also promotion. The co-op dollars for newspaper advertising is promotion. I’m basing my opinion on the fact that I personally witnessed the promotion. Was this adequate? I don’t know what that measurement is - but it is at least the norm plus as the posters were not all that common. What impressed me at the time was that stores put them up instead of trashing them. That also is promotion as I assume most stores could have used that wall space for more commercial artists. Certainly they could’ve done more but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear and no amount of promotion is going to make her weak record a big hit - but I don’t, like you, think it sucked. It was listenable for me. I’m sure that Motown could’ve provided cocaine to radio stations or hookers or whatever it is radio stations wanted in terms of emollients for airplay, and who knows maybe they did. My point is there are facts that the record was promoted and yes I’m sure they could’ve done more but no record company is going to pull out the stops for a record that they don’t believe in and an unproven artist they don’t believe in. I saw a lot more action for mary‘s album than I did for partners which I saw nothing of.

    MCA stood on their heads for Martha’s solo debut and it tanked huge.

    I’ve never stated anything to suggest that record labels always do the right thing or the wrong thing for that matter. I’ve been extremely vocal about what I consider to be mistakes Motown made. In 1979, Motown wasn’t exactly flush with cash and wasn’t selling a lot of records.they had Stevie ross and the Commodores And it’s my personal opinion that if they felt that there was any gold to mine out of mary wilson they would’ve done so because their business was making money.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    What is with you being so bothered by other folks opinions? It's almost funny. How do you quantify a term like "ridiculous" as it relates to someone holding the opinion that Mary could've been a bigger solo star? How do you prove such a statement, that it's "ridiculous"? I get that you and others may not think Mary had a chance. That doesn't bother me. All of this stuff is taking place in the 70s and 80s, so where's the argument? I personally think Mary could've been bigger than she was, if only marginally, with a certain amount of luck on her side (among other things that I've listed ad nauseum in previous threads), in a business that seems to be chocked full of talented artists, some of whom make it all the way, some who barely get out the gate. What's that saying about it? That it's ten percent talent and 90 percent luck, or something like that?

    If believing Mary Wilson was good enough to be a consistent recording artist and occasional hit maker (that's my opinion of Mary), makes me ridiculous...where do I get the t shirt?
    I have stated many times that Mary had talent and could have, with the proper direction, have had a much more lucrative singing career. What I find ridiculous is blaming Motown for her failure to launch a solo career in 1979. I say this because Motown never showed the slightest interest in Mary as a soloist with the group, cancelling gigs if she was the only one left to sing lead etc. they only did her album as a legal settlement- not an act of faith in her future as a solo star. No other company was interested enough to take her on, and no mentors like Tina got who took her from oblivion to the biggest female in the industry. To clarify: I did not ascribe “ridiculous” to those who felt mary could be a bigger star, as I was one Of them. I was referring to the inference that Motown somehow owed her something or “should have.........” done something or felt some sort of obligation to develop a talent they did not believe in.

    Mary lacked vision back then and had no one to direct her except Pedro......nuff said? She adapted, learned, developed and grew all on her own into a bonafide artist.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    I'm not bothered by opposing viewpoints in music nor was I calling those with opposing viewpoints losers. I was referring to the artists who resort to that time and time again. I think if you re-read my statement you’ll realize I was not referring to anyone here with that comment and, used The adverb usually because i’m Sure there’s cases where it truly applies. I have respect for everyone’s opinion on this forum as I have stated many times. I love reading all opinions and many times I’ve been in lightened resulting in a change of opinion.
    Your post read to me like you were attacking those people in the forum who often make the "promotion" argument for Mary's solo lack of success at Motown. But you know what you wrote and what you meant and thus I have to apologize for misunderstanding what I read.

  20. #20
    in regards to promotion, there's a LOT more to it than a few magazine and trade publication ads. I'm in a different area of marketing so i don't know all of the details. What i've picked up though is that during the 60s, the Supremes did ALL of it:

    *trade publication ads
    *posters and displays in record stores
    *PR releases
    *publicity/media kits
    *attending key record industry conventions
    *meeting with influential djs and stations while touring
    *meeting and doing appearances in cities that were sponsored by top stations
    *occasional appearances at key stores in cities
    *promotional copies of records
    *Motown sales teams working personally on their behalf to encourage their songs being in heavy rotation
    *radio ad spots
    *on-air interviews

    and i'm sure this is just a partial list

    for Mary's album, i have no idea what of these items were considered as part of her publicity campaign. Also we don't know what was budgeted and how that compared to biggest motown artists and groups. was Mary's budget on 1/3 of theirs? who knows

    For Diana's The Boss lp, it's a similar set of questions. maybe motown still did a lot of the basics but that bullet about "motown sales teams working..." is very important. that person-to-person interaction could be critical. and maybe that's where motown started to drop the ball

    As for the 70s sups, we've discussed this in many posts. clearly through mid 71, motown was still quite actively promoting the group. They were investing in expensive record packages (the poster on Right On, the fancy die-cut and gatefold cover for New Ways and Mag 7), a special interview version of Touch, magazine ads, tv appearances. Were they doing as much as they did with the DRATS? i have no idea. again, would be fascinating to see the budget allocations. Other than Right On though, all of the 70s lps charted drastically lower than DRATS albums and lower than DR solo. I think the blame falls more on idiotic management of the group. the duet albums diluted the impact and charting of their group work, the stupid cover and title for New Ways, the sequins were starting to get a bit out of date, etc.

  21. #21
    All interesting points Sup. Makes sense too. As I said in another thread, Motown also wasn't the same in the 70s as it was in the 60s. Motown 60s seemed to be a well run machine. Motown 70s was all over the place. Maniac points out that the label wasn't the lucrative machine it had been in years prior. I believe it was because of the leadership, or lack thereof.

    Another sign of good promotion for an album would be the actual singles, seems like to me. In Diana's case, six month gaps between singles can't be good for an album. Or the ridiculous way the singles were issued for Baby It's Me. And that's DIANA ROSS. I don't care what kind of way it was going to be sliced, Mary Wilson wasn't going to get what The Boss Ross was getting in terms of attention and promotion.

    I understand major support being thrown behind projects that are believed to do well vs doing the bare minimum for projects that aren't expected to do much, but it seems like to me, if as a label you're going to go the extra mile of recording and packaging the product to be shipped out to stores, you'd want to take the project as far as humanly possible. Motown heard every last one of those songs Mary cut before anyone else heard it and they knew it was mediocre, yet they still processed it and sent it out.

    I do believe that the debut album was Motown's contracted obligation per the terms of the lawsuit. It would explain why Mary did experience the rarity of being shown the door with the masters to her second project in hand. They weren't interested in dealing with Mary a minute longer than they felt they had to legally. A bit of shame because the four songs from the scrapped second album had the potential to make Motown some money, unlike the debut album.

  22. #22
    I think "Mary Wilson" got decent promotion. The "Red Hot" single was issued as a Disco 12" on red vinyl. There was a fair amount of press around the solo debut. I think the plain fact is, it just wasn't a very good album. I listened to it again not that long ago and it still seemed to me to be generic disco, dull original songs with bland arrangements for the most part.

    I think the sessions Mary did that included "Green River" that stayed unreleased for years were better suited to her voice than the music they put together for the debut album.

    Mary doesn't have a big voice and seems that she would require certain material. To me, she's never really found the right material for upbeat or dance music as her voice is more suited to ballads.

    I think Cher has similar issues with her voice. When she records dance music over the usual thumping 4/4 arrangements, her voice seems to get lost in the mix. But when she's given a ballad or material that is more offbeat or quirky, as is her voice, she seems to excel.

  23. #23
    motown was definitely struggling throughout much of the 70s. I haven't paid super close attention to the various books and stories written about this period. But i remember a few things

    Through 71, things were still pretty hot for motown. J5 was everywhere, the Sups and Diana were hitting strong the Tops had come back with Still Water. The temps were big with Psychedelic Shack, Ball of Confusion and Imagination. Miracles hit with Tears of a Clown, Stevie had If You REally love me, Signed Sealed. So the decade started great.
    but then Berry got focused on movies and Hollywood and so the music component started slipping. In 72 and 73, hits were few and far between. artists were leaving. even the top hit-makers of Diana, J5, Temps were inconsistent. each had some big hits and some duds.

    In the 60s, Berry was, literally, the czar of Motown. he ran a tough ship. but once his attention was diverted, people weren't as productive, infighting among staff, less pressure.

    Then they moved to LA in mid 72. that really seemed to disrupt things. less focus, less good corporate management and strategy.

    in 73 Berry shifted to Chairman and made Ewart Abner president. from the little i've read, Ewart Abner might not have been the strongest president for the label. by 76 or so, berry realized the staff he selected to run the record division wasn't performing.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Your post read to me like you were attacking those people in the forum who often make the "promotion" argument for Mary's solo lack of success at Motown. But you know what you wrote and what you meant and thus I have to apologize for misunderstanding what I read.
    Its all cool. I do need to re-read what I post to be sure it’s clear to those not privy to the rusty mechanism that passes for my mind these days.

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