Archive for June, 2012


So last night my future roommate came over to talk logistics. She sized up the available space and mentally made a checklist of what she’s bringing and what will go to her family’s house. Then we just kinda got all off track talking about random things. I like the fact that we can have conversations like that, so I’m thinking this looks like a good fit. My last two roommates were cool and all, but we didn’t just sit around and talk. April was usually too distracted by television or video games, and chances are if we had a conversation that lasted longer than a few minutes it revolved around one of those two subjects. David and I would talk a lot about music, art, politics, you name it. But he was pretty withdrawn and kept to himself a lot, so there really wasn’t much “hang out” time at all. It should be a nice change of pace to have a roommate I can just chat with once in a while. Fingers crossed.

Tonight I ended up having to call Charter. When I got home from work I had no internet, and no combination of resetting the modem, router, or restarting/refreshing my IP seemed to fix it. I think they must get paid based on how long they keep you on the phone, because when something like this happens they never seem to think the problem is on their end and keep me on the phone for half an hour doing all of the things I’ve already done that didn’t fix the problem before they finally give up and flick a switch somewhere and I have my internet back. Next time I’ll try telling them to just cut straight to that part and skip all the rest.

Tomorrow I may or may not be going out to dinner with a friend. I guess I’ll find out sometime during the day. She’s been pretty bad about cancelling on me, so I’m thinking there’s a good chance it might not happen. Sunday my family will be coming to visit me for a few days. I think they’re leaving on the fourth, which seems kinda silly to me, but oh well.

Other than the usual routine of work, paint, watch mindless TV programs, eat, and don’t get enough sleep, that’s pretty much all that’s going on right now. I seem to have avoided that ancient curse of leading an interesting life, for better or for worse.

 

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Before I go any further, let me just get this out in the open… This was without a doubt the best concert I’ve been to in 2012. Okay there, I said it. Now let’s continue and find out what made it such a good show…

The opening band was called Daytona. I’d never heard of them before and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised, they were great. They were a three-piece, your standard guitar-bass-drums combo. They live in Brooklyn and play indie rock. Yet somehow, everything they did was new and fresh, not in any way the cookie-cutter type stuff one would expect from a Brooklyn three-piece indie rock band. For starters, they sounded absolutely huge. Through some creative sampling, they managed to layer guitars and backing vocals until it sounded like ten people were on stage. On several songs the guitarist (who was also the primary vocalist) would start with an echo-y arpeggiated figure, sample it and loop it, and later in the song play distorted power chords or solos over it. A few tracks saw the bassist and drummer looping their “oooohhh” and “aaaahhh” backing vocals. The bassist himself got into the looping action on one song, beginning with a motif high up on the neck, then looping it and switching to a fuzz pedal and playing a deep groove over it. The drummer was insanely creative as well, often using maracas, tambourines, and sleigh bells in place of drum sticks. On one song he played with his bare hands for part of the song, giving a sound almost like a bongo drum. As for their music itself, it’s just good jangle-pop-influenced rock, with a tendency to jam and get lost on strange sonic detours. A good starting point might be later Pavement, with perhaps a bit of The Slip (the indie rock/post rock/jam band/whatever, not the Nine Inch Nails album). I bought their vinyl EP, which comes in a sleeve hand-painted by the bassist. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was this impressed by an opening act. I’m eagerly anticipating a full length from these guys.

I’m going to take a little detour of my own while I try to collect my thoughts. I’m not really sure how to capture Lost In The Trees in words, so I’ll ramble a bit instead. After the opening band left the stage and the lights came up, an adorable short girl turned around, asked me if I was here to see Lost In The Trees, and when I said yes she high-fived me. We started chatting and hit it off pretty well. She introduced me to a few of her friends, who all seemed really cool as well. Seeing as how I couldn’t find anyone to go to the show with me, they adopted me into their group. As we continued chatting it appeared that tonight would be a replay of yesterday at the laundromat, and when the show was over my suspicion was confirmed – amazing, beautiful, sweet, friendly, intelligent girl with good taste in music… and a long-term boyfriend. ‘Tis the story of my life – the more amazing a girl seems to be, the more likely she is either happily taken or completely psycho. Yay.

But enough of that detour… let’s get back to the concert.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, Lost In The Trees is a band centered around Ari Picker, a classically trained composer and former member of The Never, one of the most criminally underrated bands of the past ten years. They play a very symphonic brand of rock, a little bit like a cross between The Moody Blues and Radiohead. While they haven’t really broken big just yet, they have a very passionate fan base. Everyone I met asked me if this was my first time seeing them, and when I said yes proceeded to tell me what I’ve been missing out on. A few people tried to convince me to go to Charlotte tomorrow and see them again. These people love their band, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an audience that was more into a show than this one. The next hour or so would surely make a believer out of even the most hardened cynic. As the band played off the crowd and the crowd in turn played off the band and turned things up a notch, the whole thing basically turned into a giant love fest. This is the sort of vibe you can only get by seeing a lesser known band in a small club and just letting the music and the passion take over. There really aren’t words to describe the experience, you really had to be there.

While they focused mostly on songs from their newest record, A Church That Fits Our Needs, they played a lot of songs off of their first album and their debut EP. While Ari’s guitar and painfully sincere vocals were the main focus, the rest of the band members threatened to steal the show on a number of occasions with their incredible musicianship. A beautiful blonde named Jenavieve played violin, did some background vocals, and even broke out an autoharp for a few songs. Next to her was Drew, who mostly played cello, but occasionally played bass guitar. The usual bassist, Mark, played everything but the kitchen sink, including but not limited to tuba, electric guitar, synthesizer, and glockenspiel. Their keyboardist Emma, who somehow remembered me from a Never show over five years ago, also played various percussion instruments, French horn, and sang. I’m not sure the drummer’s name, and Wikipedia is no help, but let’s just say he was amazing. One particular technique blew my mind – he placed a small cymbal on top of his snare drum and whacked it with a mallet. The sound it made most closely resembled a synth drum, bright and tinny. My drumming skills are very limited, so I’m always looking for new ideas to inspire me and help me create the sounds in my head. I’m definitely going to have to mess around with this idea and see what I can do with it.

Ari proved to be a pretty animated frontman, jumping and wandering all around the stage, sometimes nearly crashing into his bandmates. He switched back and forth between a beautiful hollow body electric guitar and an acoustic that was originally a twelve string, but with the other six tuning pegs completely ripped out of the headstock and six strings strung normally. He and Emma did most of the talking, thanking the crowd and saying how much they love Asheville. Evidently Ari stayed here briefly and wrote a lot of songs during that time, most of which were on their previous album, All Alone In An Empty House. They played a few songs off of that album and a few off the Time Taunts Me EP. Most of the newer songs were played with more aggression and volume, calling to mind the songs off the debut EP, but never losing the intimate beauty of the newest album. They mixed in some unexpected bits, like a sound collage of feedback and some droning synthesizers in between songs. They closed with an epic ten-plus minute medley of two songs off their newest album with some jamming in between.

As they walked off the stage the crowd went berserk, and you knew an encore wasn’t far behind. However, they turned the tables on us and walked into the crowd. An all acoustic lineup of Ari on guitar, their usual string section, tuba, and a single snare drum took its place in the middle of the audience. He proceeded to tell us that they wouldn’t be quite as loud as they were on stage, and might need some help. The crowd had no problem obliging, singing every word to a hauntingly beautiful rendition of “All Alone In An Empty House.” As the song ended and the thunderous applause faded I started to make my way over to my new friends. Everyone was pretty much in agreement – the only word that could describe this concert was “amazing.”

In addition to buying the Daytona EP I also bought A Church That Fits Our Needs on vinyl. Instead of coming with a download code, which has become pretty standard these days, it came with the actual CD of the album. Not to mention a lyric sheet. Evidently they’ve done the same thing for their first album, and their debut EP includes a CD and a download code. I joked around with Emma and Daytona’s merch guy about what else might be included in the more limited pressings of the album – “the band comes to your house once a week to play the album in its entirety” was probably the cleverest idea to come out of our brainstorming. And it wouldn’t surprise me if that became an option at some point in the future. This is a band that loves its fans (one of the band members remembered me from a concert from years ago) and loves to use its music to reach out and touch you. This isn’t a band that tosses off disposable hit singles or headlines faceless stadium tours. This is a band that creates beautiful art and plays best in an intimate setting, one where they can hang out in the middle of the audience and chat with fans after the show. Their music is moving and powerful, and they’re a genuinely nice bunch of people. What more could you ask for?

 

I have a dilemma.

I’ve always been a very logical person. I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic. I’ve never believed in love at first sight. After today’s laundromat experience, I’m not so sure about that last one.

I was waiting on one of the cheap washing machines to open up. A load of clothes finished, so I went to take it out and put mine in. Just as I’m about to do that, a girl comes toward me. I ask if they’re hers and then we start talking. Two hours later we said goodbye. In between those two events I had my mind completely fucking blown.

We’ll start with the obvious – this girl is gorgeous. She’s a redhead, my one true weakness. She’s a little shorter than average, with a very petite frame. Her eyes are gorgeous, and she has a bit of a snaggle-tooth thing going on, in a cute way like Jewel. She was wearing a cute dress with a shawl of some sort over it, some hippie chick sandals, and big dangly earrings. From the very second I saw her I knew I was destined to spend the rest of my time there following her around like a puppy dog.

The good news is she didn’t seem to mind, and appeared to genuinely like talking to me. We talked about everything from music to blood type. She’s an artist. She plays flute and cello. She was doing laundry so she would have clean clothes for a fashion shoot for some clothing boutique downtown.  She’s into astrology, and somehow managed to guess my moon sign before even doing my natal chart. She put forth a theory about my diet being the result of my blood type. Note to self: call mom and find out what my blood type is.

We started talking about music, and she has amazing taste. She’s heavily into jazz, so I asked her if she had heard of Ahmed Abdul Malik, a jazz bassist who plays the oud and mixes a lot of Moroccan music into his stuff. She said that she loves his music because she used to live in Morocco. Yes, you read correctly – she lived in Morocco. We talked about Rabat and agreed it is one of the most amazing places on the planet. She had actually gone to the town I lived in, in spite of the fact that it’s in the middle of nowhere. She speaks a little darija. She shared my experience of a Moroccan mother trying to stuff you full of food. She’s also done a lot of traveling to other places that I would love to visit. She gave me a coin, not really sure where it’s from, but it’s Arabic.

Tomorrow night I’m going to see Lost In The Trees at The Grey Eagle. I asked her if she would like to join me. And herein lies my dilemma… She said something to the effect of, “sure, but it would have to be a friends-only sort of thing, I’m seeing someone…” And just like that my heart had fallen into my feet. She said that we had such a cool vibe going on, and that we should hang out with her sister sometime. I’m not sure if that was a genuine attempt to unite a group of people who all share a similar vibe, an attempt to put a buffer in between us so as to insure things stay friends-only, or an attempt to hook me up with her sister to take my attention off of her. With all do respect, I don’t really give a shit. The second she says she wants to get together I fully plan on jumping at the invitation. She invited me to a party she’s going to have at an undisclosed time in the near future, in which all of her artistic friends will get together and paint a mural on her walls. Sounds pretty good to me. I like art, I like artsy people, I like painting murals, and I would definitely like to spend some time with her. It might take a little time to work up to it – my heart falls into my feet at the sight of her Facebook pictures posing with the guy she’s dating. But eventually the desire to see the girl of my dreams will outweigh my fear of awkward social interactions. And once it does, well….. probably nothing.

And that’s my dilemma. Blah.

 

Boredom

It feels like it’s been a while since I wrote something here, yet I don’t have much of anything to write about. I’m pretty boring.

The other night it was so hot and humid (my bedroom is upstairs with no air conditioning) that I couldn’t sleep and kept waking up in a pool of my own sweat. The next night I bought a dehumidifier. It didn’t really do a whole heck of a lot, so I’ll probably return it and get my money back on my next day off.

No new art or music news. I still have a stack of unfinished paintings that I need to work on instead of procrastinating. No new dating news, I’ve pretty much kept to myself for the past week or so. With the exception of the concert on my birthday I haven’t done much of anything except work and goof off online.

I guess the only other news would be about my grandmother. They’ve pretty much decided that she doesn’t have much time left, and my dad’s side of the family is once again acting like a bunch of selfish little kids. My parents are coming to visit me the first week of July, and they’ve basically told my aunt that no matter what happens that’s not going to change. She essentially said she wasn’t going to have a wake or anything, so it’s not like we’d be missing a whole lot, right? Stupid.

And that’s really about it. I can’t think of anything else eventful enough to write about. Fun.

 

I just got back from the show. Even though I’m physically tired, my brain is still wide awake, so I might as well write a blog about it…

The day began with me doing a little shopping. First I went to Target and used a coupon I have for 5% off a whole day of shopping. I bought a pair of Converse, in the hopes that they will be more comfortable for standing in one place all day at work than athletic shoes, which seem to only be comfortable when you’re moving around. I also got a pair of shorts, some Sudafed, and a CD by a band called Walk The Moon. I’d never heard of them, but it looked really cool and was only $7.99, so I decided to check them out. I listened to a few songs on my phone and was sold. They’re kinda dancey, maybe like a cross between Foster The People and The Killers, but with a dash of punkish guitar, and some really sweet falsetto vocals. It might not ever be one of my favorite CD’s, but I’m pretty sure it will get plenty of spins whenever I’m in the mood for something fun.

After Target I went to Amazing Savings. I chat a lot with the girls that work there, and when I told them it was my birthday they gave me 10% off. Not too shabby. The highlight of my grocery purchase was undoubtably a frozen treat that basically amounts to a Rice Crispie Treat but with chocolate ice cream in the middle. Why did no one think of this sooner? I came home and listened to some music and did a little doodling and then got ready for the evening.

I met up with James and Nici outside of Doc Chey’s, but evidently they’re closed on Wednesdays. Sarah was running a little behind, and just as I was about to call to tell her they were closed she came walking toward us. I was still in the mood for noodles, so we opted for The Noodle Shop right down the street, which was pretty good. We all split a crunchy squid appetizer which was incredible. I got the chicken Pad Thai, which while it wasn’t amazing, was pretty good. Sarah paid for dinner and James and Nici gave me their usual random WTF-inducing Dollar Store birthday presents, which this year consisted of a box of Fiddle Faddle and some silly string. They left after dinner and Sarah and I headed to the Orange Peel.

We got there pretty early and just hung out for a while. A girl approached us and asked if the seat next to us was taken. We started talking and she mentioned how she’s here in Asheville for a summer internship and doesn’t have any friends, so she always ends up going to concerts alone. We chatted some more and exchanged numbers and talked about the possibility of going to see a show sometime. Midway through the opening band’s set she left to go to the bathroom and I never managed to track her down again. I sent her a text, so who knows, maybe she’ll make good on that and we’ll go to a concert soon.

The opening band was called Delicate Steve. Horrible name aside, they were pretty good. Their sound is an interesting mix of jam band, spacey prog rock, and a little of the Vampire Weekend style ethnic yacht rock. For the most part they were instrumental, and on the few songs that did have vocals they were mixed so low you couldn’t hear them. Their lead guitarist was absolutely incredible, using all sorts of weird sounds and tones in conjunction with blues based soloing and some slide work. The rhythm guitarist switched to synthesizer for several songs, and they had a lot of loops and samples thrown in for good measure. A few songs sounded like The Mars Volta, while others were closer to the sort of stuff that you would expect from a band opening up for Yeasayer. I’m not sure how well their sound would translate to a recording, but live it was a great experience.

During the intermission I made my way closer to the stage, while Sarah hung out in the back. When I had gotten about as close as I could I decided to just settle in and take in my surroundings. I noticed two girls, one of whom immediately caught my eye. She was extremely short with curly brown hair, with a bright red streak in it. She had a beautiful tattoo of what looked like a hummingbird on her back, but it was hard to tell because it was partly covered up by her shirt. I kept my eye on her throughout the show and decided that when it was over and I wouldn’t have to scream above the music I would say hello and tell her that I liked her tattoo and then hope for the best. However the very second the music stopped her and her friend headed straight for the back and I lost them. Oh well, maybe I’ll write a “missed connections” ad on Craigslist 😛

So by now you’re probably wondering when I’ll quit rambling about nonsense and talk about Yeasayer. Okay here goes…

Yeasayer put on a very fun, high energy, larger than life type show. There were crazy laser lights and giant mirrors, strobes and colored spotlights that blinded. The vibe was absolutely huge, it reminded me a lot of the Bear In Heaven concert I saw a few months ago. They played a pretty good mix of songs from their first two albums and songs from their upcoming disc, but they tended to focus more on the dance and rave oriented songs and shied away from ballads and their more middle eastern sounding stuff. Their new material sounds really solid, with a few unexpected sounds. One song featured a very prominent bassline and some weird percussion. Another new song was built around vaguely Latin sounding bongos, but then out of nowhere the song was taken over by keyboards that sounded like they were ripped straight out of “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. I found it rather curious that their percussionist was standing the whole time, usually letting loops and synths take the place of the kick drum, and focusing instead on snare, bongos, and various pads and triggers. The primary singer also played a little percussion here and there, banging on a synth drum and shaking a tambourine when he wasn’t dialing up sounds on an analog synth or wandering all over the stage. The other singer usually played guitar, switching to keyboard on a few songs. When he played guitar it was usually so buried in effects that it didn’t even sound like a guitar. The same can be said for his vocals, as he often sang through a harmonizer and various other effects. There were a few songs where the two singers formed a three-part harmony with the bassist, recalling their early days in a vocal quartet. After a rather lengthy set they performed an encore consisting of two new songs and two old songs. The crowd was heavily into things from the very first note, and the band played off that energy. While it would be difficult to say that they “rocked” in a conventional sense, their performance was intense, fun, and full of great grooves and top-notch musicianship. The songs from their debut album were given new life and room to breathe, the songs on their second album sounded much better live than on CD, and based on the new songs they played, I’m eagerly anticipating their next album.

So yeah, that’s about it. Now to wind down and attempt to get some sleep before waking up dreadfully early for work. The End.

 

At some point during the writing of this entry, assuming I put my usual care and time into writing a novella of an entry, the clock will strike midnight. While I wasn’t technically born until sometime around 7:00, nonetheless the new day will be the beginning of a new year for me. Continue reading

New paintings…

In preparation for my show at The One Stop, I’ve been painting a lot. They have a ton of wall space and I need to fill it! I’m currently wrapping up not one, not two, but three pieces…

The first was done with spray paint, acrylic, and newspaper. It depicts a bridge connecting two banks, and the river in between them is newspaper. The sky is purple spray paint and the cliffs and bridge are generously applied acrylic. I feel like it’s missing something, but I’m not quite sure what. I think I’m going to play around with a few sheets of vellum I have and try to figure out some sort of overlay, perhaps flames or something. It looks too serene and pretty, it needs something weird to bring it in line with the rest of my work.

The piece I’m currently working on is a doozy. The canvas I used was a damaged one I snagged from work. There’s a part of the frame where the wood is nasty looking and the canvas was sitting on it in a weird way, leaving a big dent. I got the idea to cut away that part of the canvas in the shape of a triangle. I painted the exposed parts of the frame with wood stain and then slopped on a beautiful mix of Payne’s grey and white with a paint roller. I’ve just now gone back in India ink and drawn some barren trees, and then very subtly using felt tip markers drawn the squiggles and shapes of a brain, with each hemisphere flush to one of the edges of the triangle that was cut out. Eventually I plan on putting a piece of paper behind the canvas, perhaps with something drawn, painted, or printed on there, and then sewing it to the canvas using waxed linen. Should be really interesting, so far I’m liking it a lot.

In between those two pieces I finished a painting that I am extremely happy with. It went through several incarnations, but finally became what it is now. There’s a sun-like circle done in gold leaf, and lines in the background in metallic paint. There’s a big hill type thing done in acrylic, with some highlights using the metallic green from the background. I’ve titled it More Afraid Of The Inconvenience (Supernova IV). There are currently no pieces named Supernova I-III, but who knows, maybe one day there will be. But alas, it’s a lot better to show you this piece than to talk about it. So here goes… what do you think? I think it’s probably the best painting I’ve done in 2012…

 

 

So I have a really crazy story. A story in which I take someone I’ve only known a few days to the emergency room at 2:00 AM. A story in which a drunk redneck with a mullet, wife beater, and trucker cap gets escorted out of said emergency room by security officers. A story in which I spend the rest of my evening helping someone cope with opiate withdrawal. A story in which the next morning, my car, which was parked at a very steep angle, refuses to start, meaning I have to walk a mile to a gas station and buy a gas can and fill said gas can with gas, most of which spilled all over my feet because I have no idea how to use said confusing gas can.

It’s really quite a story. But unfortunately, I won’t be able to tell it at the present time. You see, I’ve started the roommate search. My current roommate is moving to Oakland sometime in the next few months. I put an ad on Craigslist and have spent most of my free time replying to emails and meeting people. I had three people come over last night and one tonight, with a few more coming by over the course of the next few days. Add to this the fact that I was already sleep deprived thanks to my crazy night that I can’t tell at the present time, and you can imagine how tired I’ve been this week. It’s only 10:00 now, but I feel like I could just drop.

I think I might just do that. After this episode of American Dad that is.

 

Now that it’s quasi-official, here’s the announcement none of you have been waiting for, seeing as how I really suck at hyping up things…

I will be the artist in residence at The One Stop Deli and Bar from September 22 until November 3. There will be an opening on September 22, most likely from 5:00 until 8:00 PM, but that’s still a little iffy, it depends on if there’s a concert at the upstairs venue that night or not.

They have a ton of wall space, so I’m going to try to pull out all the stops for this one. I’ll have a lot of new pieces (including two I’m working on right now,) along with some older pieces I’ve never shown anywhere. I’ll have prints of several pieces available at very reasonable prices, along with the originals at prices which might help me claw my way out of debt.

If you’re an Asheville resident (or live close enough that I can guilt-trip you) I’d love to see you there. If you’re not familiar with The One Stop, it’s downtown on College Street, the same building that was formerly Stella Blue. As it gets nearer, I’ll probably create a Facebook “event” for the opening, along with lots of annoying friendly reminders on my Facebook page. Which, if you haven’t done so already, you should “like.”

So yeah, that’s the big news. Save the date, tell your friends, and I hope to see you there!

 

I never made it to the art opening Friday night. My new friend, the girl who came into the store the other day, had already made plans. I asked a few other friends but no one ever got back to me. I was kinda tired so I decided to just not bother.

Last night is when things got really interesting. My friend Sarah wanted me to come over and take a look at her computer. I put some anti-spyware stuff on there and a program to rip DVD’s. Next time we hang out I’ll bring my Nero disc and install it on there. When I got home I started up my computer, and I got the little nag screen from Adobe saying there was a new update for Flash Player. I had nothing else to do, so I figured I’d download it. BIG MISTAKE.

Evidently this new update is known to crash and not install properly on Windows XP. When it crashed on my system, it froze everything. I couldn’t pull up my start menu, clicking on icons did nothing, etc. So I held the button down to restart it. When it started back up it said that Windows didn’t shut down properly, and gave me the options of starting safe mode, safe mode with a command prompt, with my last known good settings, or just start normally. I tried them all and nothing worked, it just created this endless feedback loop. It would try to start, but before it could get to the screen where I enter my password it would restart itself and go back to the “Windows didn’t shut down properly” screen. I tried messing with all the configuration settings, the BIOS, you name it, and nothing worked. I had to break down and make an expensive call to tech support.

The tech support guy spent half an hour talking me through some disk checking processes and told me when it finished to call back and he would try to figure out what caused the crash. It took about an hour and a half for the disk check to finish, and when I called back he got me to go to a website and install a remote controller. Even though I knew my computer was clean, he was sure it was malware-related. He saw that I had AdAware and told me to get Malwarebytes, that it was a better cleaner and used less system resources. I figured having another scan program couldn’t hurt, so I downloaded it and started a scan, which he said would take about an hour. It ended up taking over three hours, and found nothing except two tracking cookies. By this time it was after 5:30 AM and the next day was a workday. Fun.

Today at work I felt like a complete zombie. I drank a 32 ounce Monster, which gave me about 5-6 hours of energy and then a fun crash. One of the Red Lobster waitresses came by and brought free biscuits. They tasted amazing, but upset my tummy. I ended up not eating lunch, and maybe getting a wee bit dehydrated, which didn’t help my sleepiness. Originally I had planned on going out with Katie (the aforementioned new chick) but that got rescheduled. She’s on day three of a killer migraine, and I’m not in any shape for a night out. So we decided to try again Wednesday night and I resumed my non-plans for the evening. When I got home I ate some leftovers and loafed on the couch. Which brings us up to the present. So yeah.