Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer


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Post August 09, 2005, 08:29:40 AM

Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

I thought this was a sweet story. I've always loved a good fable.<br><br>Couple of points though. I would have liked a little more description of everything, though perhaps the lack of description reflects the fairy tale like style. <br><br>Also, I was unsure as to the motivation of the characters. Why did the Alligator love a Daffodil? What was so special about his name. Could the Alligator talk to all plants? It is unusual even in a fable to have a talking flower. Why did the turtle eat the daffodil? I understand he misunderstood the whole dynamic of the gator / flower relationship, but still it was a mean thing to do and risky at that. <br><br>Last but not least, why do fish swim around in "schools"? Tom never answered that question. :)<br><br>All in all though a pleasant read.
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Post August 09, 2005, 09:33:15 AM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

...I would have liked a little more description of everything, though perhaps the lack of description reflects the fairy tale like style...
<br><br>Bwahahahaha! What goes around comes around, eh, Nate?<br><br>One thing I didn't mention or change is: aside from the aural factor ('daffodil' is a funny-sounding word), why did you choose a daffodil as Gator's best friend? Do daffodils even grow in swamps? Huh? Huh? Do they?<br><br>Sohrab, if you read the story again, you will see that Tom was both ambitious and not overly bright. He thought that Daffodil's knowledge of Gator's secret gave Daffodil power over Gator, and coveted that power. Once he knew the secret, he ate Daffodil to eliminate the competition. He thought Gator would then be his puppet and he would be de facto King of the Swamp. He also thought that the Iraqi people would greet him with flowers ... oops, how did that get in there?<br><br>As for why fish swim in schools -- everybody knows that you should never swim alone. Er -- would you believe that traveling in groups selects for the strongest/smartest individuals to survive when predators attack? Or would you prefer to go with the Intelligent Design version, which probably states that God likes a good floor show (or swamp show, in this case) with Busby Berkeley-style group choreography?<br><br>Robert 'Gotta start getting more sleep' M.<br><br><br>
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Post August 09, 2005, 10:22:03 AM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

Uncle Remus without an accent? This story works, and works well. But I bet it did bother Nate to have to tone everything down to the Fairy Tale level. I mean, in a fairy tale, your primary layer of the story is traditionally geared for children. It's only when you get to the secondary layer that you get to the elements geared towards the adult readers. (And I apologise if that didn't make any sense at all.) The story's ending indicated to me that Nate was writing the story on two levels at once. So I'm betting he *decided* to reduce the level of description to keep the text from reading on a level he felt was too adult than that for which he was aiming.<br>I don't see any reason this story shouldn't have turned up in a collection of children's stories instead of here. (Might want to look into sipnning a short series off of this one, Nate. Not necessarily all set in the swamp, but in the same style of fairy tale.<br>Dan<br>
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Post August 09, 2005, 08:04:25 PM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

I'm not going to comment on much just yet, because I don't want to prejudice anybody's opinion. I will say, however, that no children's publisher would touch this with a ten foot pole.<br><br>Paraphrasing, of course:<br>"Did you see how one of your characters dies?? EEW! We can't show that to kids! Get out of here before I pepper spray you and your vile manuscript before setting it on fire for good measure!"<br><br>Besides, the children's market is a lot more competitive than you may think...<br><br>Nate
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Post August 09, 2005, 10:22:37 PM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

I thought this was a sweet story. I've always loved a good fable.

Couple of points though. I would have liked a little more description of everything, though perhaps the lack of description reflects the fairy tale like style.

Also, I was unsure as to the motivation of the characters. Why did the Alligator love a Daffodil? What was so special about his name. Could the Alligator talk to all plants? It is unusual even in a fable to have a talking flower. Why did the turtle eat the daffodil? I understand he misunderstood the whole dynamic of the gator / flower relationship, but still it was a mean thing to do and risky at that.

Last but not least, why do fish swim around in "schools"? Tom never answered that question. :)

All in all though a pleasant read.
<br><br>I think most of this is answered in the story. Didn't the turtle eat the flower simply because it was good to eat (he is a self-serving and greedy kind of turtle) and because he wanted it out of the way so he could take over the protected position.<br><br>As for why the gator loved the Daffodil, well, gators are allowed to fall in love, even big mean ones (who appear to emphasize the big mean bit because on the inside they are lonely and something of a softy). More to the point, in this world different species interact as though they are just different 'people' in a community, and in that context the 'affair' isn't that bizarre.<br><br>I thought there was quite a lot of description myself, and I liked the different accounts of the swamp from turtle and gator. Gator is something of a poet/romantic. I sensed he felt pride over his swamp but thought the excessive descriptions were to keep his 'love' happy. Apparently, he described what HE saw.<br><br>It was very easy to fall into this world and this story and that is purely due to the way this tale is written: simply yet with richness, or at least enough detail to suggest richness.
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Post August 10, 2005, 11:44:45 AM

Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

hey Greg's back. nice.<br><br>and Nate, dude, this was amazing. seriously brilliant! don't worry about descriptions/senses and all that, this story worked so well from start to finish, and hopefully the sequels will detail Gator's subjugation of Iran, North Korea, that big swamp up north that has a name starting with an O, and everywhere else Dubya deems necessary.<br><br>definitely, this is one story any kid should be exposed to. the ending was touching, the characters clear, the locales vivid and enchanting, and above all else: it had a moral, a message. loved how Tom, who boasts of living in the human world, also brings with him the corruption of that realm, a realm apparently now destroyed, probably through its own stupidity and shortsightedness. great how you only hinted at the catastrophe, this is how it's done, without all the annoyingly elaborate background info. Tom can't appreciate the beauty of the swamp, and looks down upon it as i look down upon places that don't have a Denny's. the message conveyed here, although simple and strong, has multiple layers, and i'm impressed so much can be said in so few words.<br><br>there was a typo or two, but really, no problem in that dept as well.<br><br>Nate, not that i didn't like everything else you wrote, but this is your best yet by far. didn't i say this about your last one too? must be a trend then..congrats.<br><br>Lee<br>
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Post August 11, 2005, 03:11:41 AM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

hey Greg's back. nice.
<br><br>Yeah! I never really went anywhere. I've continued to browse Aphelion from afar, but haven't had the chance to do a whole lot of reading or commenting these last few issues.<br><br>Does anyone ever feel like burying ther head in the sand, in science fiction terms? I seem to have a habit of being singled out in reviews for negative comment, and uninterrupted strings of rejections don't do the motivation any good.<br><br>I've always found the discussion here to be critcal but positive, a supportive environment rather than a culture of cutting people/work to the ground based on throwaway negative comments!<br><br>Oh, sorry Nate for the diversion.<br><br>Back to alligators.
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Post August 11, 2005, 07:28:11 PM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

Does anyone ever feel like burying ther head in the sand, in science fiction terms? I seem to have a habit of being singled out in reviews for negative comment, and uninterrupted strings of rejections don't do the motivation any good.

I've always found the discussion here to be critcal but positive, a supportive environment rather than a culture of cutting people/work to the ground based on throwaway negative comments!

Oh, sorry Nate for the diversion.

Back to alligators.
<br>Strangely, you are back to alligators, since I had one roommate in college who insisted on calling me Gator (that was a hint, and no, his name wasn't Tom, or Daffodil, or 'Sarah' either, before one of you smart alecks asks). I think only once has the discussion ever stayed on point for one of my stories. The rest disintegrated into debates on a host of issues that were anything but my story.<br><br>Pull up a stool, Greg, and tell us all about it. A) where did you manage to even get comments, and B) how were they negative? You're a good writer. Did they not notice?? Was this on your OzFic forum?<br><br>Nate
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Post August 11, 2005, 08:34:13 PM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

Pull up a stool, Greg, and tell us all about it. A) where did you manage to even get comments, and B) how were they negative? You're a good writer. Did they not notice?? Was this on your OzFic forum?
Nate
<br><br>Nate just relocated the setting of this thread to a back booth at Callahans. Bless you, my son. You have the Gift.<br>Dan<br><br>Greg,<br>Nothing you've ever sent Aphelion has ever been less than "hey, that makes me think" quality. I've found your stuff fun to read on almost every occasion. And the exceptions were just the "not my cup of tea" sort. If someone is offering you complaints it's because you frequently ask a reader to use their brains for something besides clicking their mouse.<br>I'm with Nate. What happened and how can we help?<br>Dan<br><br>
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Post August 11, 2005, 11:46:32 PM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

...I would have liked a little more description of everything...
<br><br>Or, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"? :-)<br><br>Seriously, I liked this story. I thought the description was about right for a fairy tale type story. Nate gave us the sights, sounds, and smells of the swamp, and as for taste, well, there was the turtle's daffodil snack and Harold's (that's the name I think Gator gave to Dafodil) crunchy turtle snack--and I don't mean those chocolate covered pecans.<br><br>For some reason Alligator Tears made me think of Walt Kelly's old comic strip, "Pogo," what with all those talking denizen's of the swamp. All that was lacking was a possum.<br><br>I disagree with Nate about the suitability of this story for a children's publication. Gator's munching on Tom was pretty tame compared to such fairy tales as Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood.. I would at least send it out. Those children's zines pay real good.<br><br>I agree with Lee that this may be Nate's best effort thus far. I enjoyed Sarah and Frankenstein, but thought this one was the best. Given any thought to becoming a children's or YA writer, Nate? Some writers make a profitable career at it--and a name for themselves, too.<br><br><br>Donald
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Post August 12, 2005, 01:33:31 AM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

The thing that is probably driving Nate crazy is that this is a story he wrote "15 years ago", according to his cover e-mail.<br><br>(I think I've had similar problems where I pull something out of the metaphorical steamer trunk in the attic and everyone likes it better than stuff I wrote recently ...)<br><br>But I'm sure Nate made a pass through it and cleaned it up before sending it in. I mean, SURELY a story he wrote 15 years ago can't be better than his current stuff ... ???<br><br>Robert M.
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Post August 12, 2005, 03:46:50 AM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

I'm with Nate. What happened and how can we help?
<br><br>Err, the most recent was in a review of the magazine Borderlands in Ticonderoga. I think the reviewer found the whole issue of lowish quality, and picked my piece and another as the two worst, giving mine the idenitifier 'insubstantial horror tale', with no explanation of what they found lacking in it. This is not the first time.<br><br>I'm not unhapy with the reviewer, they are entitled to think that, and formal reviews are intended for potential buyers/readers, not the writers, but this sort of comment is of no use to me. Rather than explaining where they were lost, these people seem to be objecting to the very existence of the story. And there's not much that can be done about that once it's out!<br><br>As for rejections, well we all know about those. Actually, I've had some really good rejections from some tough markets like SCIFI.com and Strange Horizons (ie. positive comments from the editors). I was just thinking it might be good to have times for just enjoying your writing with no further complications (such as trying to get published or well received), without a steady stream of rejections coming in to bring down the mood, so to speak.<br><br>So it's not that I'm a depressed writer or anything, I simply meant at times I feel like disconnecting myself from reviews and editors for a while. I'm in the amateur writing game because I find science fiction exciting, not to impress reviewers and editors; that is a secondary issue! :)<br><br>This is why I tried to start up the oz forum in the first place, to provide an alternative to fiction disappearing into the vacuum or being hacked into by harsh critics, without the sort of discussion that helps writers and editors to improve. On that front, the experiment hasn't exactly worked so far, but maybe...<br><br>What can you do?<br><br>That's easy. Keep this webzine and community alive. Like I said, it's a positive, motivating alternative. Similar forums for big pro publications seem to suffer from a lot of whinging too, like readers are upset if every story they get did not suit their tastes 100%!!
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Post August 12, 2005, 07:45:10 PM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

Nice fairy-tale type story and one that was easy to read and understand, but it had depth to it!<br><br>A work of pure creativity! For some strange reason "Animal Farm" came to my mind as I read the story.<br><br>The Alligator loved the flower for no other reason than old fashion love. <br><br>However, the turtle wanted power and he didn't think in terms of love. He thought in terms of reason, for he figured that the flower had something on the alligator!<br><br>Too bad the turtle didn't look at the beauty of a flower in a swamp. He might have seen the contrast and lived!
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Post August 12, 2005, 10:38:16 PM

Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

Tom the Turtle was like the vast majority of people, shallow, arrogant and uncaring of his fellow humans. traits he probably picked up living with the decadent species. much like those who trashed Greg's work without even bothering to say why (as these creatures often operate). i think we all know deep down inside that we're like characters in a Steve King short or maybe protagonists in a world overrun by body snatchers. those around us look human, but sure don't behave like ones, and i'm talking about most of them.<br>that's why we congregate here, for the comfort of like minded individuals with an actual soul ticking inside.<br><br>maybe one day we'll figure out a way to get rid of them "others". till then endure, my friends, endure.<br><br>Lee
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Post August 13, 2005, 12:41:26 AM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

Lee,<br>The Others will be with us always. We must live among them in near-secrecy, so that we may educate their young without their notice. Only thus can we supplant them! ;D<br>Dan<br>
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Post August 13, 2005, 10:14:42 AM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

Couple of points though. I would have liked a little more description of everything, though perhaps the lack of description reflects the fairy tale like style.

Also, I was unsure as to the motivation of the characters. Why did the Alligator love a Daffodil? What was so special about his name. Could the Alligator talk to all plants? It is unusual even in a fable to have a talking flower. Why did the turtle eat the daffodil? I understand he misunderstood the whole dynamic of the gator / flower relationship, but still it was a mean thing to do and risky at that.
<br><br>I thought the amount of description was spot-on for a fable.<br><br>As for motivation... it's a fable. Trying to apply logic to a fable is like trying to apply mathematics to Reaganomics. It just doesn't work. Think metaphorically. I don't think Aesop would have gotten very far if he questioned to himself why a fox would want grapes in the first place.<br><br>This was a dandy of a story. It took me a few paragraphs to get the feel for it, but once I did, I became hooked. As for this being appropriate for the children's market, I would say there are many gradations. Keep in mind there are different age groups and reading levels. If I were to market this, I would aim for the YA crowd and call it something akin to Fables for Teenagers (or some other glitzier moniker).<br>
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Post August 14, 2005, 12:13:29 AM

lligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

right on Jaimie, second your comments. it was a tale, a simile, an allegorical anectode, not a thriller.<br><br>Dan, there's nothing secret about us and the others. as you well know, it's open warfare most of the time. their young? why, isn't the condition genetic?<br><br>and i love the word 'supplant'. it's a classic. too bad whoever cooked it up must have been, well, supplanted, by now. how about usurp? can we do that?<br><br>Lee
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Post August 14, 2005, 07:02:30 PM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

Thanks to everybody for your kind words. <br><br>I went out of town for a few days, so let me try to answer it all.<br><br>Donald--I'd love to be a YA writer. I've got an 80,000-word YA novel manuscript about a likeable but erratic witch & her brother I've been trying to sell for 2 years now, to no avail. When you say I should be selling to children's zines... if you look at the subject index in copy of writer's market, the first thing you'll see is that there is no 'fables' or 'fairy tales.' If you cross reference between fantasy & children's/YA to see who takes both, it's a very short list. On top of that, the youth market is split into very small age sub-groups, about 3 years per. Once you've been rejected by a big one (like Carus, which does both children's Cricket & young adult Cicada), that list gets very short. <br><br>Little Red Riding Hood and other Mother Goose and Grimm are sold as classics or literary books. No one that I have found in the last (overly politically correct) 15 years publishes fairy tales. Nursery rhymes, yes, but nothing like a fable, due to their adult content. Little books about raccoon brothers not getting along, sure, no problem, but a tale where one character eats another for their wrong doings--no way.<br><br>[Hmm... There seems to be a disturbing trend for my characters to eat each other... Maybe my next character, Sally Ice Cream-Cone will fair better with David Ravenous Wolf... Maybe not. :)]<br><br>Dan--Callahan's sounds nice, but you're just as likely to hear something like that on a stool in my kitchen. I wrote this story in an allegorical sense, based on people I knew. All the extra layers of meaning just sort of happened, apparently. <br><br>Greg--Many reviewers make noise just for the sake of making noise. It keeps them employed. Perhaps you were just an innocent bystander in someone's quest for another paycheck. If that was an unpaid reviewer, perhaps it's just sour grapes that they can't write as well as you. And yes, Gator just described what HE saw. I thought you really nailed his character and motivations, at least, what I intended his character to be.<br><br>Robert--A jewel in the rough is still a gem. As we mature, out literary cutting skills just teach us how to better polish and shine. If we're lucky, the mine doesn't run out.<br><br>Lee--I liked the way you put it. I wasn't aiming at any kind of greatness or generality at the time I wrote it, however. This particular Tom was loosely based on a certain individual who managed to seduce a certain wallflower who was blind to it's happening, 'gobbling' up her innocence. If it carries higher meaning, that's great, but I'm not going to pretend I had that planned all along. Every writer occasionally gets lucky.<br><br>Megawatts--Thanks.<br><br>Jaimie--Was the opener too slow, or was it something else that made it take a few paragraphs? In tone, I was aiming for something like Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince", my own favorite fairy tale/fable. It was a way for me to relate some events in my own life and also have a story for a college class.<br><br>Sohrab--Why did Gator love the Daffodil? I think it was for her innocent nature and the trust she placed in him. And she looked pretty cute in those jeans. (Did I say that with my out loud voice? Oh, well.) BTW--I still don't know why they're called schools, either. :)<br><br>Nate
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Post August 14, 2005, 10:54:47 PM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

Jaimie--Was the opener too slow, or was it something else that made it take a few paragraphs? In tone, I was aiming for something like Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince", my own favorite fairy tale/fable. It was a way for me to relate some events in my own life and also have a story for a college class.
<br><br>I think it was just a matter of me adapting to your style in this particular piece. It seemed quite different from the other stories you've written. Once I got it through my mind that this would be atypical for you (at least based on what I've read to date), I was able to focus on the story instead.
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Post August 15, 2005, 12:58:42 AM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

I think it was just a matter of me adapting to your style in this particular piece. It seemed quite different from the other stories you've written. Once I got it through my mind that this would be atypical for you (at least based on what I've read to date), I was able to focus on the story instead.
<br>Now I'm really curious. What is my style? <br><br>That may be a difficult thing to answer, so I apologize for dropping so ambiguous a question on you. My own style is not something I can recognize, since I can't distance myself from things I wrote. Apart from the occasional sentence revision here and there, by and large I pretty much remember writing it, or what I was trying to say. Knowing what it is that makes it sound like me could be very valuable in the future. <br><br>Knowing that can help me when I want to change the tone of a story, say for a different viewpoint. Or maybe I'd be more saleable in a different voice. [shrug]<br><br>In either case, it would be neat to know, since as someone is bound to want to say, I thought I didn't have any style. ;)<br><br>Nate
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Post August 15, 2005, 12:21:31 PM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

Now I'm really curious. What is my style?

That may be a difficult thing to answer, so I apologize for dropping so ambiguous a question on you. My own style is not something I can recognize, since I can't distance myself from things I wrote. Apart from the occasional sentence revision here and there, by and large I pretty much remember writing it, or what I was trying to say. Knowing what it is that makes it sound like me could be very valuable in the future.

Knowing that can help me when I want to change the tone of a story, say for a different viewpoint. Or maybe I'd be more saleable in a different voice. [shrug]

In either case, it would be neat to know, since as someone is bound to want to say, I thought I didn't have any style. ;)

Nate
<br><br>I'd have to look at your others stories and compare them, but every author has tendencies particular to him or her. If I had to put my finger on it, I would say that this story almost seemed whimsical, whereas some of your others had a darker, edgier feel. I think this has as much to do with perspective as the topics involved. Looking at the opening in Alligator Tears, for example, when the description moves from Gator to his swamp, I had the distinct impression of a camera panning away from the alligator, the lens slowly moving across the fetid marsh. In your other stories, I always remembered the focus on the characters. When their environment is described, it is more a description of their interaction with their environment rather than a straight-out description of said environment. The character-environment relationship is much tighter, much more personal. That makes the narrative more intensive.<br><br>Of course, that’s what I vaguely remember. It’s all in my subconscious. :)<br><br>
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Post August 17, 2005, 09:11:51 AM

Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

<br>intended or not, you hit it pretty well on the head. proof is in the pudding: i'm still thinking of the story, especially when it rains.<br>and i don't believe the unconscious ones are the greatest, every good written piece comes from a real place within its author, a place living as part of us and not hidden inside to emerge when it feels convenienced.<br><br>Lee
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Post August 17, 2005, 11:29:16 PM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

intended or not, you hit it pretty well on the head. proof is in the pudding: i'm still thinking of the story, especially when it rains.
<br>Wow. A compliment indeed.<br><br>Thank you.<br><br>Nate
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Post September 16, 2005, 11:56:03 AM

Re: Alligator Tears by N.J. Kailhofer

Late to the game, but I wanted to comment on this piece. <br><br>Having spent the better part of the last five years immersed in children's lit reading to boys of 5 and 3, I see this as definitely publishable (although Nate may have to avoid killing given the more serious tone of the story). The story is strong with a good message and it need only be coupled with equally strong/creative illustrations to stand next to some of the great stories I've had the pleasure to read to my kids. <br><br>And while I'm aware of the difficulty of breaking into the children's market, I maintain that this one is every bit as good as top stories and should be submitted (ad nauseum if necessary). <br><br>Dan E.

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