Thursday, May 29, 2008

Flag Faux Pas

Steph over at Sweet Water Journal tagged me for a meme, but it'll have to wait until I get this post off my chest. I've been stewing about flags and flag etiquette since someone (someones) went around town after dark late last week and planted cheap plastic flags in everyone's front yard. I mean, EVERYONE. The town is COVERED in these things. Now that nearly a week has gone by, and the "official" Memorial Day holiday is over (although St. Johns, in a rare bout of non-conservatism, is choosing to celebrate it on the ACTUAL day of the holiday, May 30th), these flags are pretty sad looking. Most are dirty and shabby, their wooden dowel "poles" broken; some have been trampled into the ground, or even mowed over. And I got to wondering about the ACTUAL "rules" governing the flag, its use and the disposal thereof.

The rules of flag usage are found in the United States Code, Title 4, Chapter 1. They're FASCINATING, mostly because so many self-described "patriotic" Americans don't know diddly-shit about them. I've known for a long time that the flag techinically should not be turned into articles of clothing, and that the best way to dispose of a worn-out flag is to burn it (despite contradicting laws on the books of many states that expressly forbid this). I know that the flag should be illuminated if it's left flying all night, and that you're not supposed to let it touch the ground. But, I DIDN'T know that The flag should never be...embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.

Whoops! Looks like someone forgot to tell these guys. Of course, they seem to be sold out of the napkins...either they found out that they're a no-no, or, perhaps more likely, people gobbled 'em up like crazy. Here's another:

Hmmm. Apparently "showing patriotism" is completely different from "understanding the laws." Oh well; President Bush CLAIMS patriotism right and left, and he often has no clear understanding of the law. Anyway...this napkin also has writing on it, something that the code expressly forbids: The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature. So, clearly THESE are problematic:

I'm sure both the heritage flag folks AND those nice women of the Red Hat Society didn't PLAN on breaking the law...just as I'm sure no one is going to arrest them. Hell, they're being PATRIOTIC, right?? Hmm. Maybe. I guess that even THIS is technically not allowed:

Further proof (as if we needed any) that the government doesn't always follow its own rules. I mean, clearly that's a flag, right? And, written on it is "37/USA," right? Oh, hell, but that's not REALLY a flag, is it? It's just a stamp, a PICTURE of a flag, and an incomplete one at that! Surely THAT doesn't count!

The words "flag, standard, colors, or ensign", as used herein, shall include any flag, standard, colors, ensign, or any picture or representation of either, or of any part or parts of either, made of any substance or represented on any substance, of any size evidently purporting to be either of said flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States of America or a picture or a representation of either, upon which shall be shown the colors, the stars and the stripes, in any number of either thereof, or of any part or parts of either, by which the average person seeing the same without deliberation may believe the same to represent the flag, colors, standard, or ensign of the United States of America.

Whew! That's wordy, but what I get from it is, if it LOOKS like the flag, and if a person understands that it's SUPPOSED TO BE the flag? Then it's the flag. Even if it's a picture of the flag. Which kind of shoots a hole in THIS logic:

Turns out that following 9/11, so many people wanted flags that some of them ended up being made in China. Big, BIG whoops! You probably have to 'click' on the picture to read the photo caption, but the guy's argument is that car antenna flags AREN'T flags; they're toys. Sorry, no. They're flags.

Those irritating car magnets purporting to "show support for the troops" walk a fine line; many of them are technically "bunting," which is a drapery of red, white and blue. So, these magnets seem to be bunting:

While THESE here, with the addition of white stars on a blue field, are clearly meant to be flags:

These are especially loathsome because they contain space for buyers to put their own text; not only is this writing on the flag, but it could be used for advertising purposes. The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.

One part of the Code that seems to be broken the MOST often is when people actually WEAR the flag. Hell, what could be more patriotic than wearing the flag as a t-shirt? Well, according to the code the flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. And, since almost all of these rules fall under the Respect for the Flag entry, I would think this dog hat is rather disrespectful:

As far as "patriotic t-shirts" go, have a look at this infant/toddler shirt:

It comes in sizes as small as 6 months. And, clearly someone that young is going to be learning to crawl and spending a lot of time on the ground. The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor... Hmm. I think THIS particular piece of flag-clothing is going to spend a LOT of time being right there on the floor. In addition to being forbidden as clothing or drapery, the flag ALSO shouldn't be considered part of a costume: No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. I guess that means that Ms. Parton's intended patriotism went wrong right from the start:

But, as wrong as this is (on many levels, too), it pales in comparison to - you guessed it! - flag lingerie.

Why, I get a patriotic stiffy just LOOKING at this hot little Betsy Ross. Not sexy enough for ya? Covers to much? Well, how about THIS clam-shell?

C'mon...find me a red-blooded all-American male who wouldn't hoist a salute (tee-hee!) for this patriotic pussy-cover!

From the same site are available these hot fuck-me boots:

Which, for all that they break the Flag Code, I must admit I find rather appealing. Not SEXY, mind you, but cool in a sort of so-awful-it's-great kind of way. Reminds me of everyone's favourite Amazonian princess:

I don't know if Ms. Carter's get-up here is supposed to be the FLAG, per se...but who gives a shit?? She looks great! On the other hand, one of America's most enduring superheroes of World War II is CLEARLY decked out in the flag:

Kind of a shame, isn't it? Such an iconic costume (I even include the ridiculous buccaneer boots in that statement)...such a blatant violation of the Code.

Those who know me - and perhaps even regular readers who DON'T - will certainly recognize my familiar brand of facetiousness in this post. I understand the principle of patriotism with the presentation of all these flag-related items (well, except perhaps for the thong), but I'm also a rules kind of guy. I want people to adhere to the rules that are set down, to understand them and then not ignore them, but abide by them. In this, modern American "patriots" are a lot like many modern American "Catholics," who claim to BE that thing, but ignore so many of the rules that it borders on lunacy. If the Pope is the voice of God on Earth, and if the Pope says GOD says you can't use birth control...well, then you can't use birth control. If the Flag Code says you have to treat the flag with respect (as it's considered a symbol of our "living country"), then you probably shouldn't use it to cover your count.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Animal Makes Music

So, I'm really NOT trying to out-do The Rozzle and her excellent marimba skillz. But, just the same, I DO have a vested interest in music-making, and I thought I'd toot my own horn (er, so to speak) for a little bit and do a (rare) professional post. I promise, I'll soon get back to bitching about politics and Kiss. Really.

This is going to be a busy summer for us, but NOT in the way I'm used to. If you remember, last summer saw a plethora of posts ("Would you say that I have a *plethora* of posts, Jefe?") about the renovation of our stairwell and upper hallway. That's normally the kind of busy I am during the summer: forget about the music, get out the wallpaper steamer and patching plaster, and get to work. This summer, though, a soon-to-be 1-year old makes major renovation work a little dicey, and, truth to tell, I'm kinda tired of living in a mess. About the only rooms we have left to do that NEED restoration are the living room and office, and frankly they look pretty good as-is. I think we'll move before we tackle that work. So, there's some stuff to do outside, but for a change I'm loaded up on musical schtuff. To wit:

1) Miss Tessmacher and I have been gigging with our friends Andy & Carmen of the Folias Duo. Under the moniker Folias Latin Dance Project, we've been playing concerts around Michigan of original compositions and arrangements of various, well, Latin dance music. Ahem. We did concerts last spring at Albion and Aquinas colleges, and this year did a good show at Bethlehem Church in Grand Rapids. I wrote a grant to fund the recording of a CD, which brings us to #2 on the list...

2) The recording of same. We moved all our gear up to Mt. Pleasant last Monday and Tuesday and, in a wonderfully supportive and overall relaxing environment, recorded our disc! I'd only ever been involved in a few concert band recordings before, so this was an all-new experience for me. Tess and Andy & Carmen had all done more intensive recording, and by their accounts this time around really WAS easy...or, as easy as it gets. We all sweated a few moments in different pieces - mine really revolved around the keyboard work I had to do on a couple of the tunes - but in general this was really (dare I say it?) a good time. It was FUN! ("Fun? FUN!?! Y'know, Danny...")

3) This group, the FLDP (known in-house as "Folded Diaper," because it's an otherwise unpronounceable acronym), is going to play as part of the Mackinac Island Community Foundation summer concert series. We're at St. Anne's church on Sunday, July 27th at 3:00pm. C'mon out, it'll be a good time! We're using this gig as a "warmup" for our big showing at...

4) The National Flute Association annual convention, in Kansas City on Friday, August 8th at 5:00pm. The well-intentioned but otherwise careless programmers actually put us opposite a MUCH more well-known duo performing - wait for it! - exactly the same Piazzolla work. Whoops. Luckily, Carmen threw her weight around (which, from a literal standpoint, ain't much...get a STEAK, Carm!) and the committee is allowing us to switch our program. This is good for us, because while we enjoy doing the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, we'll NOW be doing original compositions. Yay! I'll have to bring my vibes, which isn't the MOST convenient, but'll be worth it.

5) Tess and I are doing our second wedding gig, this time for a high school chum of hers. It'll be simple: a couple of arrangements I did for pro- and recessional music. It's nice; I absolutely abhor practicing, which is primarily why I switched to a composition major. However, I now am really having a good time with the performing aspect at least. I like working with Tess, and now that the FLDP recording is out of the way we're going to have a "quartet naming party" with Andy & Carmen (likely accompanied by copious amounts of wine & cheese from a shop in their neighborhood) and come out as a NEW ensemble to free ourselves from the necessity of sticking with simply Latin music. Which means more original works from me, and the rest of the group, and more performances...who knows where this could go? An all-new art music ensemble, right in mid-Michigan. Wo-hoo!

6) Lastly, I'm having a fairly big premiere on Mackinac, exactly a week after FLDP performs. The Community Foundation commissioned me to do a piece for the summer series, and I'm writing Echoes of Mackinac for flute, clarinet, violin and bass. My earlier work Scenes of Mackinac was intended to be musical settings of the literal way I see the Island. Echoes is more about using legendary and literal stories ABOUT the Island, imagined through my musical "lens" as it were. This also worked in my favor to score a performance of the piece at the Michigan Story Festival in October.

Whew! That's a LOT of horn-tootin', ain't it? Sorry if that seemed rather egotistical; I'm just having fun jamming with friends, and at the end of the day it's all stuff that looks good on my vita. So, fun + job advancement = Yay Team Animal! Enjoy these photos from our recent gig in Grand Rapids.

Good group shot of us goin' at it.

Grrr...concentrate, man! CONCENTRATE!!

Playing Cancion de Lejos, using my eBay-scored bomba leguero.

Resident babes Carmen & Miss Tessmacher, doin' the devil's work on their duet.

Artsy shot of Tess & my hands. Mmmm...Tess & my hands...

Another sweet-ass eBay score: red sparkle Ludwig congas!! Mwa-ha-ha-haaa!

Unexpected appearance of church member Tony Kramer. Hiya, Bony!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rozzle Makes Music

While Miss Tessmacher and I visited Grandma last weekend, The Rozzle took an instant liking to Dad's vintage marimba...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kissing Off

Fair warning: this is going to be a blog heavy on Kiss: my well-earned opinions on the current lineup of the band and their seemingly never-ending nostalgia tour. It probably won't be for the faint of heart, so you may be better off finding a Buffy fanboard or knitting blog if this kind of geeky fan obsessiveness isn't your cup o'tea. (Smirks and winks to those who deserve them following that know who you are.)

Okay. So: Kiss is currently embroiled in a "world" tour, taking them first around Australia and Europe (so far only two U.S. shows are planned). They're playing some odd places, like Bulgaria, Greece and Russia...places they've never been before. They are drawing HUGE, record-setting crowds: selling out 20-30,000 seat arenas in under half an hour is not uncommon. The world outside the U.S. seems to be going through a mass Kissteria. (Har.) Which is, you know, good. I like that "my band" is popular, and that the music survives.

Thing is...Kiss is half of a tribute band now. See, things are complicated, because there are two ways to do the math (rather like counting delegates to the Democratic convention...). The first way is to say that Kiss, as a popular entity, consists of four original members who contributed equally to the sound and style of the group: Gene Simmons (bass), Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar), Peter Criss (drums) and Ace Frehley (lead guitar). The OTHER way to calculate the group is to give credit to the first two guys - Gene & Paul - as the "originators" of the group, born from the ashes of early-70s AM radio mishmash Wicked Lester. By this logic, Gene & Paul "hired" Criss and Frehley, and the "creative direction" of the band is theirs alone.

Personally, I think most fans didn't know diddley-squat about Wicked Lester when they fell in love with Kiss, and so the band was pretty well represented in the magazines as an "equal foursome." The heavy-handed rulership of Gene & Paul only became apparent when original members (some substitute the word "founding") Peter & Ace left in the early 80s, to be replaced by Eric Carr (drums) and a host of lead guitarists: Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, and Bruce Kulick. A sort of revisionist history of the band began, a retelling of the group as being Gene & Paul's "baby." And while the original Kiss was made of up four lead vocalists (with MOST of the work going to Gene & Paul), the newer versions of Kiss gave 100% of lead vocal work to those two alone, effectively cutting in half the amount of diversity on the group's albums. This 80s-era Kiss soldiered on, sounding not remarkably different from most of the other radio-friendly metal of the day. BUT: new music DID come out of the group, at a pretty regular rate. New tours followed new music, and songs from the new albums always found a place alongside classic hits in the live shows.

Eric Carr died in 1991 (on the same day as Freddie Mercury, pretty much guaranteeing that no one would know), and was replaced by the shockingly blond Eric Singer. The band that recorded 1992's Revenge album was arguably the most solid, musically talented group that Kiss had ever been. I LOVE this album. It's modern (for the time), heavy-hitting, and finally presented a non-makeup Kiss as a tough, leather-clad group of no-bullshit rockers, finally avoiding the heavy glitter and neon colors of most of the 80s. THIS was a band that could move forward musically, and the last album of this lineup (Carnival of Souls) proved this without a doubt.

Somehow, though, the ever-present fantasy of a "reunited" Kiss began to finally take shape, brought about ostensibly by their powerful showing on MTV Unplugged. Classic costumes were updated, clown white was ordered by the case, and by the summer of 1996 the fantasy was real: the "original" Kiss toured the world, playing ONLY the classics that those four particular men had played the first time around. Fans went APESHIT, myself included. I'd seen Kiss in makeup, but never the original group, and so for me, this was a sort of lifelong dream. I worried, though, what this meant for the FUTURE of the group. How long would the renion last? What happens to Eric & Bruce in the meantime? Most important to ME: what about new music?

Well, as it turned out, the contract signed by Ace & Peter (having long ago given up their 1/4-stake in Kiss Ltd.) was for five years. We got a new album out of the group - Psycho Circus - that was a solid effort. It was NOT their best, but then again, neither was Asylum or Dressed to Kill. But a solid CD nonetheless. There was a tour that followed, with updated versions of DIFFERENT costumes, and new songs worked in. And finally, in 2000-2001, the five years were up, Gene & Paul were pissed off at Ace & Peter again, and a "farewell" tour ensued, playing hits from the entire Kiss catalogue.

This is where things get dicey, because I genuinely believed that I was seeing Kiss live for the last time. When they started the reunion, Paul SPECIFICALLY mentioned that he did not want to see Kiss become one of those incessant "nostalgia" bands, who constantly tour playing only their hits. So when Ace was replaced by Tommy Thayer (a longtime employee of Gene's, and the guitarist from 80s band Black & Blue), and Eric Singer was brought BACK to replace Peter, I kind of thought: "WTF?" When Eric Carr came into the band in 1980, new makeup was created for him. Ditto Vinne Vincent in 1982. But now, Tommy & Eric are wearing Ace & Peter's makeup. And the story Paul gives has changed, first subtly but lately in a kind of desperate self-defense. Instead of denying that Kiss has become exactly what he once swore it wouldn't - a nostalgia act - he's being kind of a dick in reaction to fans who don't like that people other than Ace & Peter are effectively "playing" those characters. Likewise with his defense of a lack of new music. What follows are some of his answers to questions by interviewer Marko Syrjälä:

(When asked about the membership of the band, and whether or not Kiss could continue without Gene & himself):

I think Kiss is much more than a band...someone else's idea of what Kiss is, it doesn't necessarily speak for the majority. So somebody says "Oh, it has to be the four originals." and now they go "Oh, it's gotta be Gene and Paul.", I don't necessarily agree. I believe what Kiss stands for...goes far beyond the individuals in the band. It's just funny how you have some people who want Kiss to be their private band and to be exactly what they believe Kiss should be. Most of those people are in the minority. You know, fifty, sixty thousand people in Melbourne came to see Kiss, the shows in Helsinki sold out because they're there to see Kiss. The unhappy few will remain few.

(When asked about some fan outcry that Tommy is not only "posing" as Ace, playing all of Ace's solos note-for-note and copying his moves, but now also singing Ace's signature song):

Who cares! I mean, honestly, it's insane to think that we wouldn't play a Kiss song. From what I hear Ace is playing Kiss songs too. He's doing "Love Gun" and “I Want You” and it's fine, I have no problem with that. Again, fifty thousand people were happy to hear "Shock Me" again, you know, five people hated that, but you can't please everyone.

(Side note: Ace did in fact play several Kiss songs at his recent Mt. Pleasant show that were not written by him...the difference being, I think, that he didn't have a guy in Paul Stanley makeup onstage, pretending to BE Paul Stanley, singing them.)

(When asked about the necessity of this "Kiss Alive 35" tour and the lack of new music):

Well, I mean, obviously "Kiss Alive 35" is the 35th anniversary of the band and that's really all it is, you know. We're not at a point where every time we go on tour we need an album. Especially since it's really kind of a croc of shit, the idea that when you get down to it people talk about wanting a new album, but at the end of the day they don't really wanna hear a new album. Nobody does, nobody wants to hear The [Rolling] Stones' new album (ed. note: RIAA sales in US & UK of 1 million units for "A Bigger Bang" as of 12/31/07), nobody wants to hear [The] Who's new album. You don't go to a concert to hear new music...why go in the studio and do an album when understandably people wanna hear the classics? A new song is fresh but it has no connection, so you listen to it five times and then you say "That's really nice, now play 'Love Gun'."!

I don't know about YOU, but to ME that sounds REALLY defensive and, frankly, kind of bitchy. Hey, you wanna go onstage every night and play like it's 1977? Go for it...but DON'T pretend it's anything other than it is: a nostalgia show from a band that's half it's own tribute band by now. There are LOADS of Kiss tribute bands, with names taken from song titles like Strutter and Mr. Speed and Cold fact, Tommy Thayer PLAYED "Ace" in Cold Gin. Now, he's playing "Ace" in Kiss. How is this different than any of the other tribute bands, except with more money and a bigger stage show? I think that ultimately basic egoism - especially Gene's - will prevent a future Kiss made up entirely of replacements, but I can't rule out that it MIGHT happen. Think of it: various versions of Kiss, touring the country, personal names buried in favor of the "characters" of Kiss: Demon, Starchild, Space-Ace and the Cat. Like it's some fucking Broadway show, where you go to see Wicked at your local theatre and don't care that Kristen Chenoweth isn't playing Glinda.

On the one hand, Kiss IS the perfect band to pull this off, and maybe - MAYBE - this is exactly what Gene & Paul were thinking when they put the makeup back on: "live forever," in a certain way. You go to hear the Glenn Miller orchestra, nobody cares that Glenn hasn't been in the band for over 60 years. On the other hand...well, it's just a fucking BAND, mates. Y'know, the Beatles (arguably the greatest rock band in history) were always so down-to-earth about what they accomplished, claiming "Yeah, we were just a great little band." Uh-huh. RIGHT. That only influenced every OTHER fucking band SINCE then...Kiss being perhaps THE prime example. So, I for one am a little tired of this "no one wants to hear new music" attitude. I DO want to hear new music, and if that makes me the minority...well, this is one minority who's going to kiss off going to live shows. I'll still scrounge eBay for vintage merch, and I'll go see Ace in concert, and Peter if he ever DOES one. And I'll buy new solo material from ALL the Kiss members...with Bruce Kulick perhaps being the most recently prolific. But for me, the touring version of Kiss is done. I said "farewell" in 2001.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Randomest Post EVAH

Woo-hoo! Tess is down in Ann Arbor doing a recording, The Rozzle is fast asleep upstairs, and I'm already knee-deep in the hootch, mis-typing like crazy. Uh-oh! "Did you drink & blog?!?" Yes, sir, ossifer, I did do that. Onward, then...

1) The end of the semester is...well, ended. I turned in my final grades today (hence the copious amounts of squashed grapes), and so another chapter in my career comes to an end. I've spend 10 (mostly) glorious years at Chip Central, and...

2) There are going to be (at least) a few more. Hold your breath... (Okay, let it out, you're turnin' BLUE, for fuck's sake!) I was offered tenure. W.O.W. And...I turned it down cold. Can you freakin' BELIEVE IT?!? Shit. Great people, great school...shitty economy. The basic upshot is that it would have been the PERFECT job, if only I'd been single. As it is, the offering school had poor insurance and is the ONE place in the country that housing is actually going UP. It's the wrong move for my family: we'd have lost everything on our house HERE (selling at a loss), only to move to a place where a starting professor couldn't afford to buy one. Miss Tessmacher would have been giving up her freelance career, it would have been WORSE than starting over. So...yeah. That said, I was counter-offered a nice deal from my current employer, so we're set for awhile.

3) I have the theme song from "Land of the Lost" stuck in my head, because we've been on a View Askewniverse DVD kick for the past few nights. Y'know, Will Ferrell in "Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back?" His character's name is "Marshall Willenholly." All I can say is: Kevin Smith is a freaking GENIUS!!! GOD! He, like, includes every geek-boy 70s joke and gag in the world. All together, now: "Marshall, Will, and Holly...on a routine expedition...met the greatest earthquake ever known! High on a mountain, it struck their tiny raft (Ahhhhh!), and plunged them down a thousand feet below!"

4) My wimmin are SICK! Ugh. They finally went to the Dr. yesterday - this, after Roz sniffling and being subjected to the dreaded Snot Squeeze for over a week! - only to find they BOTH have a sinus infection. I'd say we're shitty parents, except The Rozzle is such a TROOPER! Except for a few bouts of frustrated crying (which we partially blamed on her spanking-new tooth!), she played and goofed off like normal. Alas, now BOTH my girls are on azithromycin, but are expected to make a full recovery. Oh, and it's SO hard to be the husband I want to be! I'm trying to take care of them, AND do all my end-of-semester shit, AND get the mother-fuckin' diapers washed, AND the goddamn lawn needs mowing...and, and, and. General plea to the cosmic consciousness: let me be the human being my cat already thinks I am? Thank you.

5) We're going to be VERY busy with the Folias Latin Dance Project for the next few weeks...AND throughout the summer! For those of you who don't know, Tess and I have been performing with our tango-riffic friends Carmen & Andy as the FLDP; we did two concerts last spring, and this year we're playing in Grand Rapids (on Friday), Mackinac Island (July 27th), and Kansas City (hi Steph!!) on August 8th (or whenever) at the National Flute Convention. PLUS: I wrote a grant to fund a CD recording of our project, which we'll do on May 19th and 20th. Shit. I fucking HATE TO PRACTICE!!! This is partly why I became a composer in the FIRST place! Gah. Ah well. It's fun shit, and Carm & Andy are big, BIG wine-o's, so it's all good.

6) My running has picked up. A couple of my friends (hi Mike & Mac!!) are marathoners, which makes MY running look insipid and trite by comparison. But, as I've said before: it's the ONE exercise I'll do, so bleah. I don't really like it, but since Roslyn was born I'm topping 180 again, and, well, I just don't like all that *flub* around my middle. Apple-shape/heart-disease be damned, I just want to be a sexy bitch! So, I'm running regularly again. Or, shuffling, as the case may be. Recent additions to my iPod include a Glam mix (heavy on the Sweet, T-Rex, Mott the Hoople, Gary Glitter and, of course, Ziggy Stardust) and the new David Readman LP. What?!? You don't know who David Readman is??? He's the lead singer for Pink Cream 69, you fucking MORONS! Oh, my god...just...just fucking DOWNLOAD HIS SHIT, okay, for the best that modern prog-metal has to offer. Seriously. Get on it. No, I mean it...get off this blog right now and