Sunday, November 29, 2015

All the World’s a Stage Productions

We're standing in a small off-Broadway theater in New York City. The marque out front says "All The World's a Stage Productions." 

Perry Block:   Umm, Mr. Shakeman, sir?  I was ... told to introduce myself to you.

Director William Shakeman:  And you are?

Perry: I’m your new assistant, Perry Block.

Will:  Oh, hullo, Perry.  Welcome to All the World’s a Stage Productions.

Perry:  Thank you, sir.  If I may, Mr. Shakeman, I'm afraid I don't really know what kind of show you put on here.

Will: Oh, sure.  What we do here, Perry, is write, direct, and produce everything that goes on in the world everywhere all the time.

Perry:  What?  Gee, I always thought all that stuff just ... kind of happens.

Will:  No, Perry, nothing  just kind of happens.  

Perry: No?

Will: No.  For example, today we’re going to be presenting a short scene in Kliman’s Bar, Abilene Texas on June 15, 2016.  I’ve just gotten the script in now.

Perry:   Gotten the script in now?  Doesn't everybody just speak for themselves?

Will: Of course not!  Remember: All the World’s a Stage.  

Perry:  I always thought that was just a metaphor or something.

Will: No, not at all.

Perry: Well, who writes the dialogue?

Will: Aaron Sorkin, of course.  But all the dumb people on Earth are written by the Farrelly Brothers.

Perry: That does make sense.

Will: Now, everybody, hit your marks and let’s do the scene!

Bar Owner Ernest Kliman:  You’ve had enough hootch, Sidney.  I’m shutting you off.

Sidney, the Town Drunk: Horsefeathers!

Will: That’s it. 

Perry:   That’s it?

Will: That’s all that happened that day in Kliman’s Bar.

Perry:   Let me get this straight: you cast all the roles for everyone in the whole world, produce everything that happens everywhere all the time, and bring it in on time and on budget? You must have a lot of investors.

Will: Seven point three billion, to be exact.

Perry:  But... but ...this has all gotta take an incredible amount of time!

Will: Tell me about it:  hey, what’s a weekend? What’s getting home before 12:00 AM?

Perry:  How do you do it? Direct everything that happens involving everybody in the entire world!

Will: I must modestly admit I’ve got me a bit of a knack for multi-tasking. 

Perry:  Mr. Shakeman, I mean no disrespect, but all of this, every scene, everywhere in the world. This will never work!

Will: Been working for thousands of years.

Perry:  What?

Will: You think Alexander the Great conquered the world by himself?  We had a cast of thousands and one terrific makeup man.

Ralph:   I can’t believe it!

Will: Remember: All The World's a Stage. You should see the scenes of your life. Always get laughs! 

Perry:   So that's why I can’t make it with chicks? 

Will: Yes, Perry, that's why.  But it's great to leave 'em laughing.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Climbing Ol' Sally (FF)

FF means Friday Fictioneers

They called her Ol' Sally, and the boys in the pink house grew up in her shadow. But Caleb and Kevin couldn't understand why nobody had ever climbed her.

"Kev," said Caleb, "with Ma & Pa away, let's me'n you climb up Ol' Sally."

The two set out on the narrow path as steep as the side of a barn, and Caleb was the first to reach the top. 

"Cal," shouted Kevin, "whadya see up thar?"

"I cain't believe it, Kevin," gasped Caleb, "but now I git why ain't nobody ever climbed Ol' Sally."

"Why, Cal?"

"Ol' Sally's a dawg! I'm lookin' here at a 8 foot flea!"


Yeah, I saw a dog right away in the above picture prompt.  I'll bet some of you did too (I hope). See her nose jutting out, her feet at the bottom, her green coat? I dunno, maybe she dyes it!

Why hasn't she moved in all the years the boys have been alive?  Maybe she didn't feel like it. You want an explanation, call Animal Planet!  And about my attempt at countrified speaking?  Well, I tried; what do you want, I'm a Jew from Philadelphia!

Click here if you want stories that may be more logical than this, but knowing the Friday Fictioneers crew I wouldn't count on it.  Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Thanks A Lot

What do I give "Thanks a Lot" for this Thanksgiving?  

Well, for starters:

1) That I do not have Comcast.

2) That since I have gotten Vitiligo I have not encountered anyone with one of those sharp mini-golf pencils who's enamored of playing "Connect the Dots."

3) That my motto is and has always been "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again. Then quit."

That I never paid good money to see Cirque de Soleil in Las Vegas featuring Dr. Ben Carson.

5) That I am not one of the co-stars of the movie "Youth."

6) That women do not burst into flames when I fantasize about them because the net effect would be terrible for the Earth's environment and because only Dame Judi Dench would be left. 

7) That I have finally stopped saying self-deprecating things, which is no mean feat for someone with as little self-control as I have.

8) That the picture I use on Twitter has not aged quite as badly as I have. 

9) That I have throngs of readers who love my work and also that I am sufficiently well-versed  and erudite to know the meaning of the word "throngs," which is "two."

10) That Donald Trump has never been cast to star in Anne of Green Gables.

11) That all emojis will perish in El Nino.

12) That although there is "The View," "The Talk," and "The Chew," there is no meaningful competition for my upcoming TV show "The Boring."

13) That the silly Presidential custom of pardoning a turkey will certainly end if Chris Christie is elected President.

14) That I have successfully managed not to read the latest Internet article promoted on Facebook "15 Stars You Didn't Know Didn't Know You Didn't Know That About Them." 

15) That only God can make a tree, but with the right lawyer we can break his monopoly.  

16) That so far as I know no one has ever given me an intentionally or maliciously inaccurate tooth check.

17) That Scarlett Johansson has finally stopped calling me.  Pathetic! 

18) That with a watchful eye and split second timing one can actually eat a banana when it is ripe.

19) That I have gone back in time and killed Hitler. Hey, jerk, you're welcome!

20) That I am able to enjoy a beautiful sunset. And the night of binge drinking 'til I'm sucking the carpet that follows.

Happy Thanks A Lot


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Vitiligo! Woah-oh!

Vitiligo!  Woah-oh!

No, it's not a song sung by Dean Martin back in his glorious heyday of the 50's. It is rather a disease I happen to have contracted some 20 years ago --- very much not my glorious heyday or the 50's --- that has somehow now returned to stalk me once more.  
And frankly scare the shit out of me too.

Vitiligo Whoah-oh! (actually, Vitiligo) is a condition that causes the skin to lose color in blotches. It may be localized, as in my case, or it may be all over the body so that you eventually wind up looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost. That's just what this liberal needed at this stage of my life: a disease to make me look more white! 

One fine day back in the last century, I began to notice white blotches erupting on my arms, hands, and way down where the sun don't shine.  I swiftly went to my family doctor who failed dismally to diagnose the condition, insisting it was a rash I picked up while gardening despite my protestations that the closest I ever got to gardening was paying the guy who does my gardening.

The rash gradually subsided but all of its handiwork did not, and I was left, among other things, with a gentlemen's genital that looks like a Popsicle with two different flavors, and flavors that have proved appealing for very few at that. But those rash remnants aside, I did not think about the condition for many years thereafter.  

That is until last month when I awoke one morning, after typically cursing the alarm, to find an alarming sight.  The back of both of my hands were as white as Mickey Mouse's!  I counted up fingers to determine that I still had the requisite five per hand, Mickey having four, and bounded into the bathroom to get a better look.

It had all seemingly happened overnight.  As I flicked on the light in the bathroom to check my hands out more thoroughly I looked up and....


My forehead was as white as broadcast television in the 1950's!  I'd become a photographic negative of Harry Potter!  Damn, I certainly didn't need to be losing more cuteness points at this stage of the game, especially considering how few I had left to lose!

In a panic, this time I went to a prominent dermatologist named Dr. Joy Davis. She explained that what I had was a condition called Vitiligo Whoah-oh!

That's enough, Dean.

"This is the same condition that Michael Jackson had," Dr. Davis explained, "except of course being white and Jewish, you have no associated rhythm."

"But what does all this mean?" I asked her with increasing alarm.

"Looks like you first got this 20 years ago, then it went dormant.  It often appears on extremities like the hands, arms, face, and genital area."

Checkmark there.

"Now it's returned, including an extremely unsightly blotch on your forehead." 

"Thanks so much for the observation, Doctor. But what can I do?"

"It may stop on its own and sometimes it even reverses itself. I can prescribe a steroid cream that might help."

"Well, that's encouraging," I said, brightening.  

"Or it may continue to progress rapidly until Frosty the Snowman melts himself in shame."

Nothing like a dermatologist with a good sense of humor to make sure you take your medicine.  So I've been working diligently with the cream, and I am getting some results. The back of my hands look a bit better and even some of the 20 year old blotches on my arms are improving.  But my forehead? 

It continues to look as if someone shmeared cream cheese upon it.  And I hate cream cheese.  

I suppose I'm lucky I've come down with a disease that doesn't kill you, make you blind, or turn you into a fan of ABBA, and you've got to be thankful for that. So I'll continue to battle my Vitiligo tooth, nail, and steroid cream until the battle is won. 

Or until I vanish into a snow storm.  That's the way it is with Vitiligo Whoah-oh!

Oh shut the fuck up, Dean!


Note: The picture above is not actually my hand. Neither is the picture above of Dean Martin actually my hand either.  My thanks to @JoyRossDavis, not really a dermatologist, for her support and inspiration.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Little Shoe Lost (FF)

© C.E. Ayr

It had been a rather unhappy year for Evelyn. 

A series of setbacks had hampered her at work. She had gotten sick, a man had left her, and she’d made a few highly noticeable mistakes. Finally she received her termination notice.

Before long Evelyn was wandering the streets alone. Where could she go? What could she do?

Up ahead on a sidewalk grate she spied a little shoe lost, tattered but still wearable. Next to the grate on the sidewalk was the marking "E48."  Why shouldn't she go for it? There was no reason not to. 

She decided she would!

Inside the trendy Bistro E48, Evelyn feasted on Lobster Newburg, thought about how good it was to have a Golden Parachute, and admonished Claude the proprietor to get rid of the unsightly little shoe lost on the grate next to the restaurant's name on the sidewalk.


Yes, nobody need feel sorry for Evelyn. After dinner she'll wander the streets alone back to her penthouse condo and her several hundred pairs of designer shoes. Ain't unemployment a bitch?

The other Friday Fictioneers have many other takes on the picture prompt above and you can access them all by clicking here. There's no telling what they've done with the little shoe lost.

Maybe somebody even polished it.  In that case, I think I'll take it! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tattered Hat in the Ring

 Yep, Hail to Me!  It's only a matter of time.

I have finally decided what I am going to do for the Great Second Act of my life.

I am going to run for the Office of President of the United States. Some people might also call it the Potus, except to me that sounds like a disgusting weed you've got to pull out of your garden every spring, so I would rather you didn't.

Why am I running for President?  Because....

a) I am as ignorant as Donald Trump, as bland as Dr. Ben Carson, and as wildly sexual as Carly Fiorina.

b) I am as thirsty as Mario Rubio, as ham-handed as Jeb Bush, and have a name that can as easily be made into something sexual as Mike Huckabee's (Block = Cock, Huckabee = Fuckabee)

c) I have need of a toupee similar to Rand Paul's, have a grin as goofy as Rick Santorum's, and am the size of Chris Christie were I to have just eaten Chris Christie.

But why do I want to be President, you ask?  Because I want to effect true change to help our country fulfill its innate potential and greatness.  Also I'm looking for something to do when The Walking Dead isn't on.  Earlier today I huddled with my team of crack advisers to develop my campaign platform, and we would have finished it too had it not been their bowling night.

Herein are the major positions I am taking, assuming I'm flexible enough 
at my age to take any position:

1) We must pound ISIS and pound them hard!  After that we should cut them into thin strips, bread them, and pan fry them.  (And then do the same and 100 times more to the real ISIS.)

2) I am not afraid to stare down Putin. In fact, I can win just about any staring contest two out of three unless my opponent is somebody really stupid looking like Ted Cruz.

3) I believe climate change is one of the most serious challenges of our time other than easing Adam Sandler out of the motion picture business.  My approach to combating global warming will be to build a gigantic fan the size of the lead actress in Precious and retain the cast of The Expendables to wave it back and forth.

4) We will not build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.  We will build a shark-infested moat, and we will get the sharks to pay for it.

5) We must have comprehensive reform on Wall Street that goes far beyond Dodd-Frank all the way to All Beef-Frank.  I submit that no company is too big to fail, and I will never bail out any bank unless I have a buck or two in it.

Now you may ask once I am President if I will appoint only Jews to my Cabinet. Not at all!  I will appoint gentiles to the Department of Gentile Affairs and to the Office of the War on Christmas. And just to make sure I have the diversity and sensitivity issues fully covered, I'll make certain one of them is a woman and a woman possessed of hot smoky looks and large boobs too.

I know what you're asking now.  Political campaigns cost a lot of money even when the ideas are stellar and the candidate is A-1 Groovy.  Where is the necessary funding going to come from?

Hey, buddy?  Can you spare me ten million?


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Evening Shades (FF)

It was a several centuries old graveyard in Philadelphia that I had always meant to explore. Tonight I hesitated, though, because it was nearing darkness and there existed a rumor that it was haunted by Revolutionary War spirits.

But I entered, and as I walked among the headstones of many distant figures of heroic proportion, I saw a light and two small girls sitting on the grass. Trembling a bit, I approached them.

"Children," I said, "you are not of these times, are you?"

"No, kind sir," replied one. "We are the children of the heroes you see interred beneath."

"But why are you here?" I asked.

"We have brought a message for you." 

"A message for me?”  

"That is right, kind sir."

"What in heaven's name is it?!!"

"If you are going to visit this hallowed place, please make sure your fly is zipped up first!"


Well, folks, I am very well pleased to present this wise counsel for you to remember any time you visit a historic, religious, or Disney-owned site anywhere in the world. Please keep this principle foremost in your mind while also keeping backmost in your mind that I went over the word limit today by, oh, a time and a half.

Can I help it that the spirits of those two little girls were verbose?  

Verbose or otherwise, you can read some of the other Friday Fictioneers takes on the prompt above by clicking here. But first, time to check you-know-what!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

All the World’s a Stage, with Commentary by a Regular Guy

All the World’s a Stage, 
by William Shakespeare
with commentary by a Regular Guy

From As You Like It. 
(I like it. I hope you will too!) 

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

So how come we're not all being paid scale?

"They have their exits and their entrances." 

Exits and entrances? Doors opening and closing?  So life is like an English bedroom farce, like Noises Off?  

"And one man in his time plays many parts ..." 

You mean like Jerry Lewis in The Family Jewels?  I had no idea you Brits loved ol' Jer as much as the French! 

"His acts being seven ages."    

Seven ages?  Crap,I was counting on at least eight or nine.  I better hie me hither to yon bucket list ASAP!

"First the infant, mewling & puking in the nurse's arms." 

Oh, nurse!  If I were in your arms, I might be mewling but I sure as hell wouldn't be puking! 

“Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school."

Verily, he creepeth like snail because his doggeth ate-eth his homework!

“And then the lover, sighing like furnace ..." 

Y'know, ‘sighing like furnace’ doesn't exactly grab me as the perfect simile for winning the heart of fair lady, unless she’s an electrical contractor. No wonder Shakespeare didn’t get many dates!  

"With a woeful ballad, made to his mistress' eyebrow." 

Really? You’re singing to your mistress’ eyebrow? Your woeful ballad might be aimed a couple of feet woefully too high, if you catch my drift. 

“Then a soldier, full of strange oaths and bearded likes the pard."

Don't worry, if those oaths include four letter words or start with the initials M and F, there’s nothing strange about ‘em at all. And hey, that's one cool beard, but you might want to trim it every now and six years. 
(And I googled "pard," Shakespeare. You're not going to one up me!)

“Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel …”

If you don’t mind, I'm gradual and slow in quarrel because I tend to get the shit kicked out of me otherwise. And I'm not jealous in honor although I am jealous of anyone who's got a jacuzzi.

"Seeking the bubble reputation, even in the cannon's mouth." 

Un-huh.  If it's all the same to you, maybe I could seek my bubble reputation by, say, winning the lottery instead of signing on to become cannon fodder?  

"And then the justice, in fair round belly with good capon lined."

Well, to tell you the truth my capon is not so good.  In fact, I actually have kind of a lousy capon, but at least it is fully lined.  And as for this fair round belly, I don't give a shit, I'm not giving up Coke!

“With eyes severe and beard of formal cut.” 

So you got your beard trimmed, and now you look like a member of the Highway Patrol?  Dude, it was just a suggestion. Hey, don't squint at me with those goddamn severe eyes!

Full of wise saws and modern instances, and so he plays his part."

Wise saws?  Modern instances? Okay, here's one: "There once was a man from Nantucket ..." Yep, got my wise saws and modern instances all covered here!

"The sixth age slips into the lean and slippered Pantaloon."

Nice trim figure, you crazy Pantaloon you. Hey, even nicer slippers! You're pretty much all set now until you get to that time of life where you're missing all your parts, six quotations down.

"With spectacles on nose and pouch on side."

Hey, what’s in that pouch?  Is that what I think it is? What do you want for the pouch?  Sure, you can keep the spectacles.

"His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide for his shrunk shank." 

Well, there’s certainly a lot worse things to be shrunk than my shank! 

 "And his big manly voice, turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound."

Like Truman Capote?  Maybe I'll write me a best seller!

"Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history ….”

You mean the epilogue? Like in a cop show? Always my favorite part!  

“Is second childishness and mere oblivion." 

Childishness?  Gonna be great to be a kid again!  And it's also great to know I’m only facing mere oblivion, not total oblivion!  

"Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." 

Well, at least I'm certainly not sans nose!


Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Pardoner's Tale

As the 2016 Presidential campaign moves toward the Thanksgiving holiday many Americans want to know the answer to a very important question: how good at pardoning a turkey are each of the major candidates?

Donald Trump: You know, it hasn't been easy for me. I started out with just a small loan from my father in the amount of one million turkeys and I had to pay them all back with interest, including giblets and gravy. From that I've built an empire of one billion butterball turkeys! What am I going to do with them? I'll pardon the good ones and the ones that are drug runners, rapists, or have meat that's a little stringy I'm deporting to Mexico!

Dr. Ben Carson: I've led a very violent past and if you don't agree with that I'm going to knock you senseless with this tongue depressor! I've attacked a turkey with a knife, I've sliced the flesh of a turkey, and I've even eaten a turkey, although my teeth bounced off its belt buckle. Then I found Jesus who bade me to feed turkeys with grain from the pyramids (Thank you, Joseph!) and to pardon each one who formally rejects any place on the evolutionary chain.

Chris Christie:  Turkey?  Seriously? Where?!!! 

Marco Rubio:  True, I have missed a lot of votes in Congress and I may not be qualified to be President,  but that doesn't mean I can't pardon a turkey with the best of them!  I'll probably need two full bottles of water for the official pardoning ceremony. Actually better make that three, counting one for the turkey.

Jeb Bush:   My brother, my dad, and I all feel so strongly about pardoning turkeys that I am changing my campaign slogan for the next couple days. Maybe even a whole week.  It will now be: Gobble, Gobble, Jeb Won't Bobble (It!)   Sure,  my brother pardoned a turkey in 2004 that later went on a mad pecking spree in the Midwest, but Cheney was the one picked that turkey. At least that's what my dad said.

Bernie Sanders:  I don't believe it is fair that: We are the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee pardons for all turkeys who are penitent and have done community service. We are the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee healthcare as a right to all turkeys. We are also the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee all turkeys the right to an upgrade to an I-phone.  We can learn a lot from Denmark as to how a country should treat its turkeys, except quite frankly Denmark does not have any turkeys.

Hillary Clinton: The key question is: when the phone rings at 4:00 A.M. at the White House and a turkey needs to be pardoned, who do you want to answer it? I submit that would be me.  I'll be up anyway preparing for the next Benghazi hearing.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Curse of the Queen (FF)

Professor Kropotkin was elated!  There in the sand he made an incredible find.

"Is that the royal necklace of Queen Nefertitty?" asked his young assistant Bart Bannerman.

"That's Nefertiti," replied Kropotkin, "and yes. I just hope there isn't a curse."

Back in New York City the Professor presented the fabled necklace to his wife Janie. Immediately her breasts grew three sizes.

"Oh, no!" cried Janie.  "There is a curse to the Necklace of Nefertitty!" 

"That's Nefertiti," replied Kropotkin. "And there is no curse." 


So shoot me, this is what I thought of. Hey, you try being a 65 year old balding guy who's been totally out of the action since almost the time of Nefertiti, and let's see what you come up with!

I'm sure the other Friday Fictioneers will be much more socially acceptable in their takes upon the above picture prompt and you can find out by clicking here. 

I only hope Russell doesn't mess up what I just said.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Supergirl, Then And Now

Even though I'm more or less sick of the surfeit of superheroes on TV and in the movies over past years, I did watch the first two episodes of the new highly touted TV show Supergirl.

I was compelled to.  You see, I had to find out how my first female pre-adolescent crush is faring these days, and if the new show is any indication, she's faring well, and shit, she's faring quite well without me!  

In my prime comic book reading days in the late 50's and early 60's, I was always drawn to the DC Superman family of comics. While the cooler kids were reading the darker and more bad-ass Marvel Comics featuring the likes of Spider-Man and the Hulk, I was hangin' with Superman's Pal Jimmy Olson. Superman comics even featured a character named "Perry," although he was an unimaginable 45 years old or so and by far the least important character in the entire Superman legend.

Hell, Perry White didn't even have his own comic book!

Nestled within the Superman family was Supergirl, born Kara from Krypton. Although she had the same powers as Superman, the big guy chose to keep her under wraps as his Secret Emergency Weapon for several years while he wrestled with the concept of a superhero cuter than he was. But it was in those early days that Kara from Krypton, in her alter ego as Linda Lee Danvers, showed up next door to me in Merion PA.

Why someone named Linda Lee Danvers was moving into a neighborhood as Jewish as a bagel with a schmear I'll never know, but I was delighted she did. A few years older and wiser than I, she would take me flying high through the stratosphere while I popped Dramamine as fast as I could. Together we battled some of the more minor villains in the DC Universe, like Joola the Jaywalker and Matel-Ri, the Mattress Label Ripper Offer.

Supergirl spoke to me of truth and justice; I hoped she would also teach me something about the... um ... American Way, but odds are she didn't know much about that yet herself. 

As a sign of their friendship, Superman gave Jimmy Olson a special signal watch that called him whenever Jimmy was in danger. Not to be outdone, Supergirl gave me a set of maracas. They were a bit less subtle but very effective; for a dazzling year or two in the early 1960's, not a single fifth grade girl dared beat me up.

But times changed. Supergirl's existence came out to the world and she began hobnobbing with the major superheroes and even President Kennedy while I transitioned from the Girl of Steel to buns of steel --- with accompanying superboobs --- in Playboy Magazine. I doubt I was alone among early teen-aged boys in going straight from DC to sleaz-ee back in the day. 

But I never forgot Kara from Krypton. 

And so I tuned into the new Supergirl show the last two weeks, and it is slick. Supergirl is adorably played by Melissa Benoist and she is stronger, funnier, and cuter that her comic book forebear ever was. Everything about the show is first class including the acting, production values, and special effects, and I can't help but wonder how George Reeves, the screen's best ever Superman, would have felt if he could have seen the Grade A treatment given Supergirl compared to the schlock values affixed to his 50’s show. 

Who knows, he might have chosen to stick around.

But there’s no denying it:  Supergirl doesn't need me anymore. An A-Lister in every respect with a sister and two dedicated friends who know her identity, she even works for a Devil Wears Prada modeled-boss played by Calista Flockhart.  And Supergirl is also 24 years old. How did I age 55 years while she aged only 8?  I guess there's no limit to the powers of the people from Krypton.

I probably won't watch Supergirl any more, but I'm glad to know it's on TV and I'm glad to see how well Linda Lee is doing.

Up, up, and away, Kara from Krypton!  May you fly high and proud.

And maybe once in a while, could your old friend hitch a ride too?