Things That Go Bump in the Mind

Things That Go Bump in the Mind
Look for a new post every Sunday morning.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

How to Spot a Fool

The fool on the hill sees the sun going down, and the eyes in his head, see the world spinning 'round.” – Paul McCartney

     Last year, 43 people met their fates at the hands of government employees who were commissioned to snuff out the life of America's most notorious criminals. People, of course, like to argue about the merits of capital punishment and whether or not the government should be in the business of offing its most loathsome citizenry, but I'll save all my arguments for it and against it until another day. Today, I want to talk about “Fools,” and I have a good story about someone who was once executed on death row that illustrates the rhetorical point I want to make.
The number of people killed by the government, with full intent and in front of reporters who witness the event in order to write about it, is down by more than half since 1999 when we ended the Millennium off with a bang by launching 99 criminal explorers into the dark void of The Great Unknown. One of the first lessons they teach in a basic news reporting class is the list of values that make a story “newsworthy” typically includes such factors as prominence, proximity, timeliness, impact, and human interest. Even when we're knocking off the nation's ne'er-do-wells on almost a weekly basis, it makes for a pretty good news story; however, back in 1966, when the country went that entire year with only being able to check off one name from its list of people on Death Row, putting someone into an electric chair to toast the soul out of them made an exceptionally good news story.
     James French was only thirty years old when the State of Oklahoma strapped him into an electric chair and sent his wind sweeping down the plain, but by then, he was ready for it. French was one of those people your parents warn you about when you are learning to drive and you're tempted to pick up hitchhikers. Contrary to traditional parental wisdom, not everyone who is meandering around this country by sticking out a thumb and taking rides from strangers will kill you – I, for one, hitchhiked from Athens, Ohio to Yellowstone National Park and back when I was a vacuous college student, and I made the whole trip without killing anyone. French, however, was one of those horror movie type of hitchhikers who pretty much ruined it for all the nonviolent ramblers who are simply out to score a free ride. I don't know if it was just a rookie mistake or what, but French had only made it from Texas to Oklahoma when he decided to take his benefactor hostage for a while and then kill the fellow for his car.
     After French was caught and he came to the inescapable conclusion that he was going to have to live out the rest of his days in prison, French decided he would rather have the management shorten the length of his stay rather than prolong it. Three years into his new career as a lifer, French murdered a cellmate in order to insure that he could get his name added to the list of people waiting for a coveted oneway ticket to ride Old Sparky to the Outer Banks of Eternity. Back in the mid 60's, it was easier to catch a ride in a rusty pickup truck on a dusty two-lane road in Texas than it was to secure a seat in an Oklahoman electric chair.
     Perhaps it was the heat of that hot day in August of 1966 when French took his final walk that inspired him or maybe he'd been thinking about it from the moment he found out he'd won his chance to be the only guy to be killed by the government that year, but French came up with the perfect rejoinder to the reporters who were anxious to have a good quote from the prisoner when they asked him, “Do you have any last words?” French said to them, “Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French Fries’!”
     This type of sardonic remark is what separates genuine fools from mere posers. Contrary to whatever you have heard, fools are not stupid. Fools recognize where they are and who they are with, and nonetheless, they say whatever's on their mind without regard for its propriety or its ramifications for themselves or others. A genuine fool isn't courageous in face of danger; a fool is unconcerned by it.
     There are lots of ways of dividing people into two groups: the rich and the poor, the young and the old, and those who prefer chocolate over vanilla – to name a few. Separating people into the groups “the intelligent and the obtuse” doesn't really get at identifying the qualities of fools because fools are neither intelligent nor obtuse. Fools exist in a space that is not defined by their degree of knowledge or intelligence, but is distinguished, rather, by their heedless behavior. There are people who support the systems that direct their lives (call them “followers,” perhaps); there are people who fight against the systems that direct their lives (call them “rebels”); and there are the people for whom the system doesn't really come into their decision making – not because they rage against it or want to challenge its prescriptions, but because they simply don't believe the rules that applies to everyone else actually applies to them, and these are the people who merit the title “fools.”
     A rebel can be an idealist who images a better world in which the systemic order that controls people's lives has changed, and a rebel can be willing to accept the consequences of challenging the system that controls them. A rebel understands (or at least works under the assumption that he or she understands) the motives of the authoritarian forces that are in control, and the rebel operates to subvert the powers that are indifferent to their notions of injustice. A fool, on the other hand, is no rebel. A fool has no desire to change the system because the fool is either unaware of the system or believes the system is unaware of them. A fool isn't necessarily stupid and willing to sacrifice his or her own dignity to appease the Powers That Be; a fool lives unconcerned with the opinions of the Powers That Be because the fool is too preoccupied with living in a world defined by the fool's own epistemological boundaries.
     In many card games, the Joker is a wildcard that can replace any other card and thus, act like a magical card that randomly appears from a player in need of taking a hand. In the original games based upon the Tarot decks where “The Fool” (the card that later became the Joker in modern decks) appears, “The Fool” card does not replace another card (that is to say it takes on the identity of another card) it merely temporarily excuses the player from following suit. Thus, the original wildcards were not like cards with superpowers that could suddenly out-trump any other card on the table, the purpose of the original Jokers were to create a space for the player where the rules were temporarily suspended and did not apply to the player. Thus, fools are neither people who either seek to win by following the order supplied by the rules nor are they people who seek to change the rules for the benefit of themselves and others; fools are people who simply exist outside of the game, and they allow us to recognize how we are playing the system that they, themselves, cannot recognize. That's enough for now to think about. As we approach the first day of April, let's just remember that people do not choose to be fools, fools are merely who they are.
     Keep thinking rhetorically and I'll be back in a couple of weeks. I'll be taking next weekend off to spend time with the family and to recover from an anticipated overconsumption of chocolate bunny ears.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Blarney Has a First Name: Lucky

A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.” – Tyrion Lannister
They got little baby legs that stand so low, you got to pick em up just to say hello.” – Randy Newman

A few weeks ago, a student of mine suggested that my St. Patrick's Day post should be dedicated to leprechauns. So here it:

     Eloquence is a sort of magic, isn't it? At the heart of magic is the idea that invisible powers controlled by mere words can somehow manifest changes in the physical world. Everyday we use magical words to get what we want – sometimes we get what we want by by speaking into small, shamanistic, expensive, electronic devices that hurl our words at the speed of light to people many miles away and within half an hour, they bring us a pizza.
     What's that you say? Cellphones are not magical? I disagree. Cellphones are magical; cellphones employ the wizardry of contemporary technology to send our ideas, our desires, our pains, and our insights into a world of silence. Then, magically, what we send out comes back to us – reshaped, refined, and disguised as response that emerges from a collective intelligence that somehow has heard our intangible words and was moved by them. You do not need to understand the physics of frequencies to speak with someone on the other side of the world; you do not need to speak the magical tongue of binary code to send a text. Do you need to understand the mechanics of eloquence to make its magic work on your behalf to get you what you want? No, of course, not. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but magic rolls off the tongue.
     Here, then, lies the paradox of leprechauns. What is the source of the leprechaun's magic and how do we explain its limitations? If the leprechaun's magic is powerful enough to produce pots of gold, then why isn't the magic powerful enough to defend the leprechaun from occasionally falling into the clutches of mere humans who can exploit his magic for their own personal gain? The rules seem simple enough: catch the leprechaun and hold him tightly in the grip of your fingers, and he will be obligated to grant you three wishes (or at the very least, a sugar-coated breakfast cereal packed with marshmallow shaped like stars and moons). Don't look away, the folklore warns, for if the leprechaun catches you looking away, even for a brief moment, he's sanctioned to blink away and leave you holding smoke. Three wishes – no wishing for extra wishes – three as in the Christian Godhead, the bones of your elbow, the states of time, and parts of an atom – three, that's all you get, three. There are stories that can explain where the leprechaun's gold comes from (I'll tell you below) and there are psychological explications for his diminutive size (yeah, I'll give you that too), but how do we explain how such a powerfully magical being is incapable of living other than as a fugitive? Leprechauns are always on the run; where are they running to? Where are they running from?
     Some anthropological historians tie the stories of leprechauns to the Tuatha Dé Danann, a group from Irish mythology who were driven into hiding in underground dwellings to escape the bloody swords of Gallic invaders. Over the course of many centuries, as group after group of violent invaders arrived to plunder and kill the local population (no wonder there's so many people with a temper living in “ire”land), the Tuatha Dé Danann, or "peoples of the goddess Danu,” became literally smaller in the imaginations of the people who stayed to live on top of the ground as they envisioned the nearly forgotten ancestors who had vanished when they went underground. As for the “pots of gold” – throughout the many dark centuries when the constant threat of invasion hovered overhead like dark and menacing storm clouds, people who were able to accumulate a little wealth often buried their money in pots to keep it safe from being plundered by violent outsiders. When the original owners of these pots either died (from war, disease, accident, or malnutrition) or they simply forgot the right location for their buried treasure, then the “forgotten” riches became the windfall of the forgotten people who came to be known as the luchorpán, the Old Irish term that literally meant “small body.” After all, being an underground people gave them a valid claim to anything found beneath the soil.
     And here, I'll give you some speculation. Why are the “pots of gold” to be found at the end of rainbows? My guess is that even without the Biblical influence of Genesis – in which God offers “the rainbow” as a gesture of His promise that He would henceforth eschew genocide to resolve any future disappoints He may be having with the human race – the rainbow is an archetype for peace because we see them so often after the violence of storms have passed. Once the violent invaders have left, it's safe to go dig up your pots; once the storm has passed, the rainbow will show you where you buried your wealth. It's almost as though the gold itself would be shedding its light to the sky instead of the other way around.
     Leprechauns, of course, in our current popular imagination, are always wearing green outfits – which makes sense if you are small, secretly rich, and you need as much camouflage as you can to keep strangers from manhandling you. The Irish country is lush with its green flora. Oddly enough, however, the elfin mascot of Irish kitsch that we think of is inevitably clad in green is more a product of 20th century marketing than medieval folklore. Up until the late 19th century, the most common depiction of leprechaun in poetry and prose was in red, and even this was highly dependent upon the location in Ireland where the leprechaun was believed to be living; in some locations, he was just as apt to be clad in plain brown leather.
     Here in the US, the most famous leprechaun is Lucky, the mascot for Lucky Charms. Lucky seems not to give a hoot for gold, but he's got a meth addict's mania for oddly-shaped marshmallows. Lucky Charms was the brainchild of a guy named John Holahan who in 1962 first came up with the idea of throwing marshmallows into breakfast cereal. In the history of “Great Food Ideas,” Holahan stands shoulder to shoulder with John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who came up with the idea of sticking meat and cheese between bread so he could eat and play cards at the same time. Holahan's first idea for Lucky Charms is the marshmallows were supposed to represent the tiny icons that could be added to charm bracelets (which were in vogue in the early 1960s), but that idea eventually became crushed under the pagan mysticism of Lucky's occult affiliation with the Tuatha Dé Danann. According to the secret lore of General Mills, the different shapes of the marshmallows invoked a wide variety of shamanistic abilities: Shooting Stars gave consumers the power to fly, Horseshoes conveyed the power to speed things up, and Blue Moons could invoke the power of invisibility. Click here if you think I'm making this up.
     Does God exist? Of course He does. How else can we explain that Lucky Charms is no longer available in Ireland. General Mills stopped selling their Lucky Charms in Ireland (and the rest of Great Britain for that matter) sometime in the mid 1990s. There are still some diehard fans in Ireland who pay roughly $12 a box online to have it shipped to them across the wide Atlantic ocean. General Mills most likely stopped selling the cereal in the United Kingdom because Lucky the Leprechaun became too politically incorrect to defend, and it was only a matter of time before someone called the cereal company out for using a twee character to hock their sugar. General Mills, of course, never felt obligated to explain why they decided to pull the plug on their overseas shipments. You say you don't believe in magic? Let me introduce you to the great wizard
     Keep thinking, rhetorically or otherwise, and I'll be back next week. And may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward; Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

In Praise of Corporate Education -- Encomium to Ephemera


     How many times in the course of a week do we take the mouse in hand, move the cursor over an underlined word, and click on a link without so much as a second thought? Hypertext has given us the gift of intellectual liberation and the joy of perpetual distraction. Once upon a time in the dark and declining years of the late 20th Century, people who wanted to read for information were forced to limit their attention spans to one artifact at a time – on paper nonetheless. In those primitive days, prior to the Age of the Internet, human brains were shackled by the inability to focus upon more than a single idea at a time. Many young people today cannot even imagine the horror of being required to think critically about a single topic in depth. Now, however, like our children, we are blessed to live in a technical paradise where every individual awareness is able to buzz around cultural ideas with the freedom, curiosity, and intellectual acumen of bees in a field of infinite flowers. So much “cognitive” honey comes from our technically-advanced ability to gather the sweet random nectar of informational blurbs that we ought to live in perpetual gratitude that – like our friends the bees – humans can sustain themselves indefinitely on sugar and need never fear any disease that could theoretically arise from the ceaseless ingestion of sweets.
     I have heard the whining of doubters and naysayers, Luddites from an obsolete era, who bemoan the “sacrifice of substance over style” and who remain fettered to their antiquated belief that knowledge without understanding is vacuous. These frumpy curmudgeons like to hide behind their rich vocabularies, their extensive life-experience, and their astute perspectives as though expertise should matter more than the popular opinions of wealthy corporations, bribed legislators, or bemused consumers. Anyone who wants to argue that the sustained contemplation of significant subjects is more important than the immediate digestion of poorly-considered sentiments has no place in either modern education or on Facebook.
     Teachers today have it so much easier than their counterparts had it in that long ago era of ten or so years ago. Back then, instructors had no choice but to rely up a competent understanding of their disciplines; those teachers of that bygone age did not enjoy the modern luxury of a checklist of factoids that students need only memorize without having to go to all the bother of learning the context that would make it meaningful. As a society, we have come so far so quickly that it's easy to forget that it was only a few years back when teachers were charged with inspiring enthusiasm for their subjects and stimulating intellectual curiosity among their students rather than galvanizing them with fear for the next round of high stakes tests. Today's teachers are freed from the anxiety of authentic assessment (say by getting to know each student as an individual through their written responses or their classroom responses), and need only worry about constructing the mounds of evidence their administrators require to demonstrate they have methodically, robotically, and tirelessly covered their checklist of generica (otherwise known as their “state standards.”) Contemporary teachers have been freed from the burden of even the need of having to like their subject matter or their students; to demonstrate success as a teacher today, practitioners need only manufacture small mountains of paperwork proving that everything that must be taught has been taught. Teachers who have been able to adapt to these current mandates can be as sympathetic as headstones as long as they can provide evidence they have been force-feeding students nothing but the isolated and disconnected details off their state-mandated checklists.
     The ubiquity of the internet allows us instant access to an endless flow of delightfully insubstantial and ill-considered postulations. Let us all be grateful then that there is more to life than wisdom and significance. Because consumers are trained by wildly entertaining advertisements to ignore the duplicitousness of marketers, it is more than a wonderful coincidence that corporations have taken over the curriculum now provided to public school teachers. If, as in days gone by, teachers were allowed to motivate students to go beyond the platitudes of facile compliance and encourage students to investigate the complexities of their subjects (rather than mouth the rote material that will allow them to demonstrate the competence of their test-taking abilities), students might find themselves in the uncomfortable and scary position of actually questioning the thinking behind what they are being told. Many well-intentioned corporations are paying legislators good money to insure that state departments of education lean on local administrators to prevent any nonconformity among their teaching staff in allowing any original or unauthorized student work to be considered as evidence of “learning.” Anyone who believes teachers should be allowed to offer their own opinions on the competence of their students should be driven out of town on the horse and buggy they came in on. The only fair way to insure that every student is being programmed to mindlessly accept the philanthropic generosity of our corporate overseers is by not allowing teachers to value any student output that will not be covered on their standardized tests.
     In order for the corporations to maximize their profits from the production of standardized tests, they need to be able to rely upon the steady stream of income that comes from selling remediation materials to the same students who end up flunking their tests. Without these profits, corporations would not be able to be so openhanded in their support of state legislatures. Because of the campaign contributions that many legislators receive from the testing corporations, it clearly would appear as a conflict of interest to them if they were to subvert corporate profits away from their benefactors by allowing schools to determine for themselves who should or should not graduate from high school. By taking financing from corporations to assist them in their ability to govern, legislators have an ethical obligation to see that the children of their state do not develop the ability to question the credibility of the ceaseless deluge of useless, random, and questionable information that mollifies them on their smartphones and laptops.
     Our children deserve a happy life of mindless acceptance of corporate propaganda because in the perfect democracy of the internet, all opinions are welcome and the best opinions come with coupons for inexpensive pizza. Anyone who insists that real education is difficult and students are better off studying the complexities of academic life should take a break from being such a know-it-all and go enjoy some pictures of cats with hilariously misspelled captions. Grumpy cat agrees with me on this one.  (Oh, by the way, I submitted my retirement application this week).
     Keep thinking rhetorically, and I'll be back next week.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

They Might Be Giants, But They Definitely Are All Dudes

Spoiler Alert: This week's column discusses Bryan Singer's film Jack the Giant Slayer. If you plan on watching the movie and you expect to be surprised by anything that happens in the film, then you might be better off skipping this post. It's not my intention to ruin this movie for anyone, but I'm not going to try to leave out the typical details readers would expect a writer to keep out of a film review. I'm not interested in writing a traditional film review, I want to discuss the rhetoric of this movie. For what it's worth, I would give the film a solid three stars out of four. It's pretty much the movie you would expect to see – lots of eye-popping visual effects, plenty of gratuitous violence, and a plot that's confined to the moral conventions of a medieval fairytale like a straitjacket. 

     Walking out of the movie theater last night, my wife, Ruth, was indignant at the ending of Jack the Giant Slayer. I don't think I'm exaggerating by saying she felt betrayed by the movie's ending, and it took probably five minutes in the cinema's parking lot for her to cool down. The source of her umbrage? She expected a payoff to the feminist undertones developed earlier in the film. I didn't expect any feminist message by the end of the film, and I was not disappointed – but then again, I'm a guy. I didn't expect a movie based on the archetypical notion that “the princess needs saving” to have any expectation of consciousness-raising for its audience. If I was surprised by anything, it was by how much Ruth expected to see the princess depicted as other than subordinated to Jack, the title character, by the time the credits started to roll at the end.
     Okay, here's what happened: A central element to the plot was that a population of evil, ugly, and hygienically-challenged giants could be controlled by anybody who wore a magical crown that had been crafted centuries before by a legendary king. During the last 15 minutes of the film, there was the inevitable struggle for the magical crown that could stop the giants from laying siege to a castle where they intended to gorge themselves on the people trapped within. (For a movie that lacked precious little possibility for product-placement advertising, I think the producers missed a golden opportunity by not having the giants refer to the king's stronghold as “the White Castle” and the soldiers they intended to eat as “sliders,” but that's neither here nor there.) Anyway, after Jack The Title Character had – at the last possible moment – realized he could kill the giant who was holding the magic crown by tossing a magic bean down the monster's gullet, the farm-boy turned adventurer then rushed outside in his climactic moment of glory to make the invading horde of giants take a knee and reconsider their whole strategy of pausing to gloat before eating their adversaries. What ticked Ruth off was that it was Jack who came smugly ambling out of the castle to control the giants and not the Princess Isabelle. Both Jack and Princess Isabelle had been alone together when the giant – who had been holding the magic crown – died of IWD (Invasive Weed Disease), and Ruth fervently expected that common farmhand would turn over the crown to his princess before going outside to prevent the invading giants from commencing with their post-victory smorgasbord of human flesh.
     Rhetorically, I think I understand why Ruth had such high expectations for Jack to hand over the magic crown and let the princess end the film by being the one who saved her realm from the hungry, hungry, huge guys. And, furthermore, I think I can explain why this ending never even occurred to the filmmakers (and if it did, why they probably never gave it a second thought). Perhaps, if the film had ended with the couple walking out together – with the two of them holding the magic crown high in the air each with one hand between them, then the movie would have had a modern fairytale ending, but it would have failed the internal consistency of its patriarchal subtext and risked offending its primary audience. The Golden Rule of Capitalism is “Never risk offending your primary audience.” Of course, I intend to explain all of this below.
     First, here's why I think Ruth expected Princess Isabelle to save the day with the magic crown. At the very beginning of the movie, the film cut back and forth from two parents telling reading the same bedtime story to their children – Jack's dad reading to him the story of the giants' previous defeat at the hands of magic-crown-holding King Erik and Princess Isabelle's mother, the current queen, reading the identical story to her. By inter-splicing these two stories of Jack and the Isabelle in the opening, it would be reasonable to expect that perhaps the film would portray the two protagonists as equals. As the film leaps ahead 10 years to show Jack as a young man traveling to the city to sell off a horse, the viewer soon encounters Isabelle traveling in disguise in the same market as Jack. The two quickly run into each other. Again, with this first encounter between the two main characters, it would not be unreasonable to expect that the rest of the film would try to maintain a balance of “his story” to “her story.” Furthermore, given the film's early depiction of young adult Isabelle's willingness to defy her father's injunction against traveling alone outside of the castle, it's not difficult to understand how Ruth (and other people expecting a more contemporary portrayal of womanhood) would read into the story that this princess is not going to be the typical traditional heroine who will need a man to save her, but rather a post-modern, feminist princess who will demonstrate her independence by seeking out her own adventures – regardless of whatever her father's patriarchal rule demands of her. Later, after Isabelle has been transported to the land of the giants by the miraculous growth of the beanstalk beneath the hut she had been trapped in, both the film audience and the other characters in the movie have it pointed out to them that given the choice of climbing down the beanstalk to return to the safety of her father's domination and the dangers of independently exploring the territory of cannibalistic giants, Princess Isabelle opts for the risk of the giants. While in generations past this decision to go it alone in the wilderness may have been played off as a sign that a princess is not smart enough to go back down a beanstalk, in the context of this film, it is clear that she was bravely looking for her own adventure. Additionally, when this film is put into the context of other recent “fairy tale” movies, such as last summer's Snow White and the Huntsman in which Snow White fights like a ninja, it is perfectly reasonable to expect that perhaps by the time the movie ends, Princess Isabelle would end up holding the crown that controls the dreaded giants as a paragon of female empowerment.
     And here's why I think it never even occurred to the filmmakers to end the movie with Isabelle saving the day (or at the very least, sharing the day with Jack). Although the movie winked at the audience with a self-awareness of modern irony (in one scene, for example, a giant attempted to bake “pigs in a blanket” with actual hogs enveloped in flour blankets), too much attention was given to maintaining the traditions of patriarchy within the story itself. When Jack encounters Isabelle at the market for the first time, Jack takes a punch in the face to defend Isabelle from some ruffians who clearly had no idea who they were dealing with. From this moment on, it is clearly a “guy film.” One way to distinguish a “guy film” from a “chick flick” is count the number of explosions it depicts, but another is to actually count the number of female characters. With the exception of the queen who reads to Isabelle as a child, and whose disappearance by the time Isabelle comes of age is reduced to nothing more than the screenwriters' need to explain the princess' “rebelliousness” in her insistence on going off alone, there are virtually no other female characters in the movie. Not only are all the giants filthy, rude, and violent, they are all dudes as well. All the king's knights who travel up the beanstalk to rescue the princess are men and all the soldiers who fight off the giants at the movie's conclusion are men. If there are women shown among the crowd at the market or within the crowded castle, they are nothing more than scenery. If I wanted to really push how masculine the undertones of this film really are, I'd point out that the princess's name “Isabelle” is meant to point out how pretty she is; she “is a belle.”
     As a viewer, the rhetorical message I think the filmmakers wanted to send to it's primary audience of young men is that given enough courage and determination, anyone can overcome the stigma of poverty to defeat the giants of power, wealth, and influence. Early in the film, Jack is told in no uncertain terms that no matter what happens, there is no chance of a romance with the princess because he is a commoner and only the privileged nobles have any opportunity to court royalty. Given the gorgeousness of Nicholas Hoult (who does an admirable job of playing Jack), there is virtually no one in the audience who would believe that Jack wouldn't end up with the princess once he saves her from those awful, smelly, and apparently misogamistic giants. By the end of the film, not only has Jack defeated the giants, but he has overcome his humble beginnings as well, demonstrating the tired and medievally anachronistic message that there's nothing a little bravery, optimism, and hard work can overcome – unless you are unfortunate enough to be born too big, too ugly, and too grimy for Hollywood's perfect aesthetic, then you deserve whatever gigantic fall to earth that comes to you.
     Keep thinking rhetorically and I'll be back next week.