Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cheater Cheater

Hello Rayna!
Long time no see. But down to business.

The internet is a pretty cool thing. Young and bright as we are, we've never really known a world where we can't look something up on Google or Wikipedia. These websites can be really useful tools, but they're often used to take shortcuts. For example, need to finish your english book by tomorrow? No problem! Just hop on over to and you've got yourself an english paper pre written!
Want to know what happened on last week's Glee, but your cable is out? Worry not! Just google it and you can be all drama'd up for the next episode.

This ease of communication has had a large impact on the world of video games. Back when my dad was gaming, you couldn't just look up cheat codes or find how to get past a particularly difficult boss. You had to scramble your way through video games, playing levels again and again until you could get them right.  Nowadays, we're treated very nicely by our games. Older arcade games and NES games can be extremely hard and unforgiving, and you just had to grit your teeth and fight through them. But when you finally did beat these games, I've been told that the sense of pride and satisfaction you felt was pretty awesome.

Naturally, this brings me to Monkey Island.

Guybrush Threepwood in the original 1990 version.

For those of you who don't know, "The Secret of Monkey Island" is a 1990 point and click adventure game published by Lucasarts, back when they did stuff that didn't always involve Star Wars. It was conceived by Ron Gilbert, who set out to create an adventure game where you could not die, thus making the focus more about exploration. You play Guybrush Threepwood, a pirate wannabe who you guide around Monkey Island on a quest to defeat the ghost pirate LeChuck. It's intelligent, funny, and just a really good game. It was re released with new graphics for the iPod touch/iPhone a few years ago, along with its sequel, and it's probably one of my video games.

Guybrush Threepwood in the new release.

But here's the catch. It's hard.

And not hard like you have to fight the same boss over and over. Hard like, "Okay, I have a rubber chicken, some breath mints, and a stapler in my inventory. How do I cross this bridge?" Also, there's a strong chance that the object that will really help you cross the bridge was sitting in a room you've been into a hundred times, but you never saw it because you were too busy trying to combine your chicken with your breath mints. This goes back to Ron Gilbert's idea of adventure. You're on your own, searching for just the right wacky combination of objects to let you succeed in your quest. There was a new Monkey Island game released by Telltale Games in which one character wants to fight her way to an answer, but Guybrush insists they do things "his way", by talking to people and solving puzzles.

But anyway, when my dad played Monkey Island for the first time on the computer, he didn't have any hints. There wasn't anyone telling him what to do, he just had to figure it out for himself. This is where I feel shame. For on my iPod version of Monkey Island, there is the option to get hints. And like a fool, I asked for those hints. Now that I've realized I don't like doing that, it's easier to stay away from them. But every so often this voice in the back of my head tells me, "You're never going to beat this game unless you have help." I try to rationalize it, "I had the right idea, I just needed a little push", but that's a stupid excuse. The feeling I get when I beat a puzzle sans hints is amazing. It feels like I've really accomplished something difficult. I mean, if you read the spark notes and then read the book, it just feels redundant. You didn't really do anything, the computer just told you how you're supposed to interpret the words. That's what yer brain is supposed to be for.

This urge to use the internet to take a shortcut is also why I have trouble watching shows like Buffy and Xena: Warrior Princess. I know they're fantastic shows, but they each have about eight seasons. How on earth would I ever have time to watch all that? Wouldn't it just be so much easier to find Buffy's wikipedia page and figure out what happens to her? There was one instance when two minor characters  in Buffy were going out, and instead of waiting a few episodes to see what happened, I found out online that the girl dies. I had suspected that she probably would, but it just made watching more episodes seem pointless. I know what happens, there's nothing driving me to watch more.

Also once right after Mockingjay came out, I went on wikipedia to read up on a character I'd forgotten about before I read Mockingjay. Only the page had been updated to include details from the new book, so I found out this character was dead meat before I even opened the book.

So I guess here's what I'm trying to say. Sometimes we have to choose between what is right, and what is easy.

Choose wisely,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I Have Learned from Doing (A Lot of) Theater

First off, I apologize for the delay. To make up for it, my post will be very, very long today.

For the past five months, I have had the privilege to be a part of the amazing, talented, and dedicated cast of "West Side Story" at Northfield High School. This was my eighteenth time performing in a live theater production. It was also my favorite. The connections made or made stronger throughout the course of this play were all incredible. After doing so many plays that I can no longer actually list them all (I just have a number in my head), I have learned a thing or two. Of course, many of the things I have learned have been things like "Face the audience!" or "Never question your blocking!" or "Aqua Net does not taste good!" but theater has also taught me about people, my potential, and about life. So, without further ado, here are the top five things that theater has taught me.

5) "You got it, or you don't." or "It ain't easy, but it is fun!"
"You got it, or you don't" is something you will hear a lot about everything from mathematics skills to fashion sense. In acting, you can either be talented (or have the potential to be talented), or else theater just isn't your thing. Regardless of whether or not you think you would be good at theater, I recommend giving it a try. If someone had told me at age nine that, because I did that production of "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" I would be looking at colleges and filtering them out on the Princeton Review by best college theater program, I would not have believed you. Many people see actors on stage and think "I can do that!" but, when it comes right down to it, few people can. Nothing about theater ever has been or ever will be easy. Until they replace us all with robots, actors will be working their butts off to put on that play you enjoyed for two hours. This is, of course, not to say that it isn't fun. Theater will always draw in people of all ages because of its ability to make you laugh or cry (more on this later). If theater isn't your thing, it isn't a big deal. I know kids who can do complex equations in their heads and I still get mixed up with negative numbers! What one person is talented at, another person may find incredibly difficult.

4) "I don't want to question the director's judgement, but..."
Never say this. Ever. I don't care if the director gave you a smaller part than you wanted of if he or she is asking you to dye you hair purple for a production of "Inherit the Wind". These words set off an alarm in my head. This alarm tells me to evacuate the conversation. Saying "I don't want to question the director's judgement" does exactly the opposite: it screams that you are, in fact, questioning the director's judgement. Sometimes, you won't get the lead. Sometimes, you will have to paint yourself green. Do you think that Indina Menzel said "I don't want to question the director's judgement, but do I really have to be green to play Elphaba"? Nope. Well, probably not. I doubt it. Newsflash: That's theater. Without an ensemble, plays, specifically musicals, would lose a lot of their pizazz. There would be no huge musical numbers. The most common line you will hear while doing theater is that "there are not small parts, only small actors". This is so true. If you only have three lines, but you deliver those lines with all of your energy and emotion, you will rock the house. If you give up saying "My part doesn't matter" you will suck. You will blatantly suck.

3) "This dress isn't really my style."
Ladies, this one is for you. You won't always be the pretty, delicate love interest. I know, I know. You wanted to play Sandy, but you got cast as her chubby friend Jan. You wanted to wear the sexy, tight, black jumpsuit or the adorable pink poodle skirt. Instead, you get glasses and fat jokes. Here's the thing. You may not be playing a beauty queen, but that's not the point of theater! You want to wear skimpy outfits, get stared at by boys, sing a pretty song, and stand around in stilettos all day? Go run for Miss America. Go ahead. I'll wait.

2) "Don't call us. We'll call you."
Harsh. But why didn't you get in? You sang your heart out in a song you and your voice coach have been working on for a year and you read for the part you have always seen yourself playing on Broadway! What went wrong? Honestly, it might be the way you are. As someone who has directed before, I can say that I have assigned parts to people who looked more like the character and who I knew could work to crush it on performance night. Theater is very, very visual. It could be what you wore, it could be your attitude, or it could be your hairstyle. There are so many different reasons why you might not get in. It really is best not to take these things personally. It may feel like they hate you or that people who are "less talented" (another phrase to avoid) got in, but, in reality, you just weren't what they were looking for. You may be perfect for Glinda the Good, but you might make a terrible Juliet Capulet. That's just how it is going to be. You won't get rejected every time, but you won't get accepted every time either. This is just something you need to let go. It happens.

1) "Thank you."
After plays here in Northfield

Theater gets into the gritty, raw emotion and essence of humanity in a way that is truly unique. The gift of working with a wonderful group of young people to convey a message of prejudice, love, and loss to an audience of hundreds every night for seven nights is something that I will always remember. I will be thankful this Thanksgiving for the opportunity to do what I love with people I love. Isn't that what life is all about?

Louisa, you did a wonderful job in "Little Women" this month and I hope you continue to shine.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Friday, September 2, 2011

Keeping the Magic of Animation

            Ever since I saw “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The Princess and the Frog” on the same day, I knew I wanted to go into animation. Something about taking paper and pencil and making a movie out of it was mind blowing to me, and there are so many things you can do in animation that doesn’t work in live action.
            But that’s not to say that people haven’t tried. Everyone remembers “Lady and the Tramp” or “Dumbo”, and who doesn’t love Dug from “Up”? These are all good movies with animals. You know what nobody remembers? “Cats and Dogs”, the 2001 movie put out by Warner Brothers. This movie was star studded! Alec Baldwin, Jeff Goldblum, Tobey Maguire, but hardly anyone remembers this one. Probably because it was really bad. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t stand any live action movie where there are talking animals. For me, the animation just doesn’t work. That goes for live action movies with entirely computer generated characters, like “Smurfs” or “Alvin and the Chipmunks”. I mean good gracious, why do people see these movies? Much as I love Neil Patrick Harris, you couldn’t drag me into the Smurfs movie with a tow truck. Whatever happened to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” That movie is wonderful, combining animation with live action while not really being for kids. There are some really disturbing images in it, which is more than I can say for “The Garfield Movie”. Unless of course you find Garfield frightening.  It doesn’t help that every other line in these movies concerns one of the following: A) Pee. B) Poop. C) Butts.
            Which brings me to my next topic. Now, from spending time around some of my cousins, I know that most little kids will laugh at a potty joke. I mean, even I will laugh at a well-constructed potty joke. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing they will laugh at. So for god’s sake filmmakers, please stop it. If Pixar has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t need a surplus of toilet jokes to keep kids interested in your movie. You don’t have to throw a bunch of colors and flashy lights at children to keep them watching either.
            Sometimes, movies surprise you. For example, when I saw the trailer for “Alpha and Omega”, I thought it looked pretty good. It starred Justin Long, who I like, and the story seemed interesting. When I actually saw it, I was quite underwhelmed. The animation was chunky, the story was predictable, and the writing was boring. When I approached “The Goofy Movie”, I honestly wasn’t expecting much. However, I was pleasantly surprised. While it was by no means a masterpiece, the animation looked really nice and the songs were pretty catchy. The story, about a father trying to connect with his son as he grows up, is actually a really relevant topic. And though it’s not a perfect movie, it seemed like something parents could watch with their kids and enjoy too. It was a direct to video movie, but probably one of the best of its kind. It was nice to see that Disney had actually put effort into Goofy’s only full length movie.
            This brings me to my final point. Animation is a movie making tool. Used correctly, it can entice you with beautiful visuals, captivate you with interesting characters, and be something that you enjoy watching with your children. Used wrongly, it can be a gimmick. Something you use to draw children into your poorly constructed cliché fest of bad animation, which they will unfortunately probably enjoy anyway.
            Animation is magical. Let’s treat it that way.

Rayna, here’s hoping you show your kids “Toy Story” and not “Open Season”.

Louisa would like to apoligize if she offended you or your favorite movie. If you in fact did like The Smurfs movie, she apologizes for offending you and for your poor choice in movies. But really, feel free to defend yourself in the comments. Though it will most likely be in vain.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Message for Young and Old

Welcome back, Louisa! :) 

This week I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with forth and fifth grade students at Prairie Creek Community School and to help them with their year endeavor called "Village". It took my class about two days to define "Village", so I will try to sum up the process to the best of my ability. 

Village, in short, is a game where, for give or take a month, forth and fifth grade students organize their own society that revolves around their alter egos called "Peeps" (represented by tiny clay and pipe-cleaner dolls). Through this, the students learn things about government, economics, customs, and society that I just learned a few years back. It is an awe-inspiring experience and it makes me wish I could have gone to school there so I could have been a part of this. 

There are, however, a few students there that make me think in a way that is not questioning my own education. Instead, they make me ponder our need to grow up or, at least, to grow up as quickly as we do.

Today at recess as I played "Store" with a gaggle of kindergartners, first graders, and one fifth grader, I overheard a few girls sitting on a rock playing a clapping game. "How cute," I thought to myself. "I remember the days when a new game like that would have kept me busy for hours." It was not, however, until an adult came over and spoke to them that I realized that they had been chanting the following rhyme: 

Apples on a stick 
Just make me sick. 
Make my stomach go two forty-six. 

Not because I'm dirty.
Not because I'm clean.
Not because I kissed a boy behind a magazine. 

Hey girls! Wanna have some fun?
There goes (insert name of undesirable male classmate here) with his pants undone!

He can wiggle
He can wobble
He can even do the splits
But I bet you fifty dollars he can't do this!

Close your eyes.
Count to ten.
Make a mistake
You gotta marry him!

(Here the girls close their eyes and try to maintain the beat with their hands without messing up.)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10!

Not only did I suddenly realize how inappropriate this was for their age group, but I also felt a bit funny as I recalled singing that same song with my friends at their age. The difference was that, where I went to school, the adults present would have paid it as much attention as I did at first: none. 

It was with this memory in my head that I went to help set up for painting (the kids get to paint a house they build themselves for their Peeps). This was my third day and, being within earshot as I am, I have noticed a lot of things.

There are a few girls who seem to be in an awfully big hurry to grow up. I remember there being girls like this at my school, too. In fact, I am certain that every school has things like this happen all the time where a girl undergoes some right of passage (be it a training bra, permission from her parents to bike to school alone, or the memorization of her times tables). I have heard a lot of girls talking about these "special" girls while I help out and it fascinates me to observe what these girls (the so called "popular" girls) seem to think of themselves as compared to what others think of them. While a girl may show up to paint with the air about her that everything should stop immediately because she has just shown up to school, as soon as she leaves a girl might say to a friend that they think that the girl who just left is mean and the friend will agree. 

The point of this story? The fact that I have never once seen a young lady retaliate or do anything intentionally harmful to another in my time at Prairie Creek and that I don't see girls scrambling to become the friend of a girl like that. Instead of the petty things I observe in high school every day I see people moving on with their lives. I see students, male and female, creating beautiful fantasies from thin air, then bringing that which only they can imagine into physical being with the precision and care that makes it possible for everyone to enjoy. 

In conclusion I would like to send the following messages:

Youngsters: Don't hurry to grow up. Someday, you will regret throwing that Barbie you loved so dearly away or tossing those Hot Wheels into the trash. Someday, you will look back on your time as a child. Do you want your memories to be ones of begging Mom to buy you lip-gloss or do you want them to be of frolicking in a field of dandelions?

Louisa, may your days be filled with moments of reflection, awe, and appreciation concerning everything that surrounds you. 

I am so happy we are blogging again and I can't wait to read your next entry. 


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Late? Who's Late?

            Dum de dum de dum. (Insert painting noise here). Oh my goodness! It’s finished! It’s finally finished! They said it couldn’t be done, but it has! I have successfully proven that a tree WILL make a sound when there’s nobody to hear it! I’ve done research, I’ve done sketches, I’ve even painted this life sized tree, and now I finally have the proof I need! MWAHHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!! 
(Insert phone noise here)
-Louisa? It’s Rayna.
Oh, hi Rayna! You’ll never guess what I just—
-Your last post was in MARCH. Stop watching Fringe and get your act together!
(Dial tone)

            Christopher Columbus! With all the research I’ve been doing I totally forgot about my blog! Sorry Rayna, I guess it just slipped my mind. Well, I’ve got to talk about something, but what? It should be, um, thought provoking but funny, smart but sarcastic, and really really awesome. But how? What can I talk about that I haven’t already?

I’ll tell you what I can talk about: tutu-wearing monks playing air guitars.

Okay, I lied. I’m not going to talk about that (though I hope to have a reason to someday) But I am going to talk about books!
(Scattered applause)
Oh come on, you know you love books!
(Mingled noises of half hearted agreement)
… I’ll talk about you guys too.
(Wild applause)

            You know when you’re trying to tell a friend a story, but you forget something so you have to mention that that happened and then go on telling the story. But then you realize it doesn’t make sense and you have to re-explain it, and by the time you’re done your friend looks really confused? Kind of like that sentence I just typed? That’s what it’s like to write a novel. You know you have a great story. In fact, you have an amazing story. But if you can’t say it the right way people are just going to end up annoyed and confused. This is the burden of a writer, trying to make everything fit together in a way that is interesting, fun, and easy to understand. It’s striking that balance between wordiness and action, between Pride and Prejudice and Sin City. On another note, has anyone checked for crossover fan fictions between those two?

            Anyway, this sort of hit home for me as this week I twisted the entire plot of a story that I’ve been working on for years. I’ve had the plot very well outlined in my head and some on the computer, but I realized recently that the first book (It’s a trilogy) is really boring. You know the first part of Percy Jackson when he arrives at camp and learns how everything works there? That was basically the first book. So I changed the plot of the first book to bring evil scientists that were previously unseen into the foreground. Also they make these kids with super powers battle each other, an idea that probably sprung from my recent reading of Ender’s game.

            This brings me to a crucial thing about writing; it’s always changing. Something I always tell myself when I’m stuck on an idea is that I am the god of this world. If I wanted to make a group of vegetarian T-Rexes burst into a retirement home and eat their way through all the buffet tables and fake plants, those retired folks better watch out. If something needs to happen, I can make something happen. I can change the entire setting and mood of my trilogy in one day, even though I’ve been thinking about it one way forever. There’s only one thing I have trouble changing, and that’s names.
            See, as an author I grow attached to my characters. These characters especially since I’ve been working on them for so long, so when I realized that many of my character’s names ended in –en, I wasn’t going to do a thing about it. That’s why names are very important for me to get right, because I probably won’t be changing them.

            Anyway, I’m sorry for being so late with this and I hope it was at least somewhat interesting.
Rayna, I hope to see you soon!
P.S. Did you know that Word doesn’t recognize the word “Blog”?

UPDATE: Checked No Sin City/Pride and Prejudice crossovers yet, but I did find ones with Doctor Who, Bones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, X-Men, and Starcraft!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Movies Unscripted

We have all seen the part of a romantic comedy where the two main characters discover that they were meant to be together. Typically, one of them (usually the male) does something extravagant or meaningful to prove their love for the other person.

Be it holding a boom box up outside a girl's window or sweeping her off her feet and off into the sunset on a stallion faster than the wind itself, men in movies have been known to proclaim their love for women in ways that would almost never happen in real life. While I love a good chick flick now and then I think it is time we all take a step back and examine how these things could go. To do this, I have broken it down into three components of romantic action: the serenade, the "What are you doing here?", and, my personal favorite, the inside joke.

Part One: The Serenade

Whenever this happens on TV or in a movie I swoon. I mean, come on! A guy showing up at your house late at night, tossing small pebbles at your window, and then playing or singing a song for you is pretty romantic! However, while I am swooning, I can't help but wonder how perfect it all is. Now, when I say "perfect", I don't mean the "Why isn't my life like that?" kind of perfect, but instead I'm talking about the "That's a little TOO perfect" kind of perfect. What if she had been asleep? In the bathroom? With another man? There are so many ways that this proclamation of emotion can go wrong. Just once, I would love to see the girl open her window only for the boy to realize that he has the wrong house. Don't get me wrong. When Darren Criss's character on Glee sang to the guy in Gap, my inner girly-girl fainted from an overdose of attractive and when he was shot down I wanted ot grab that guy by the long, blond hair and yell "YOU JUST GOT SARENADED BY DARREN FREAKING CRISS! DO YOU REALIZE THAT I WOULD GIVE ALMOST ANYTHING TO BE IN YOUR SHOES RIGHT NOW?". It is just that I think if someone tried this in real life, they might be not-so-pleasantly surprised at how it might go.

Part Two: The "What Are You Doing Here?"

This is where one of the two people in the relationship shows up somewhere to see the other person. Be it their place of work, their apartment, or the corner they walk their dog by every day, I find this move adorable, especially if the place is outdoors and it is raining. No matter where this moment takes place, the person being surprised almost always asks "What are you doing here?" when they spot the other person. While this is also a common expression in horror films, romantic comedies take it to a whole new level by using it to emphasize that the person who is doing the surprising is going out of their way to a place where they would never be in order to see the one they love. When I watch these scenes, I often think about what would happen if the person being surprised called in sick, went to run errands, or didn't walk their dog that day. You have to wonder how many people have tried to immatate this move and instead found themselves in an empty office or on a vacant street corner.

Part Three: The Inside Joke

When someone remembers something you say, it is pretty thoughtful. This move typically is used in the funnier movies. What happens is this: one of them makes a joke about something (in this case, let's say that the girl said she loved both cats and dogs and wished there could be an animal that was a magical combo of both) and the other one applies it to their show of love (the guy goes to the store, buys a stuffed cat and a stuffed dog, takes them apart, and makes them into two different cat/dog combos and gives them to her). To anyone walking by on the street, a grown man standing outside a house holding a bizarre, hand-crafted stuffed animal with the head of a cat and the body of a dog would seem very strange. However, to the person receiving the gift as well as to the viewer of the movie, it seems like the most romantic thing in the world.

I am just going to say that, for the record, I absolutely love a good chick flick. I love seeing the romantic gestures, the awkward situations, and the moment when the two leads begin to develop feelings for one another.

This makes me think about what movies would be like when applied to real life. If we took the actions and behavior of people in a movie, but did not determine what would happen next, we would have very different results than those that are projected onto the silver screen. We might see a guy with a boom box in the middle of the night pulled over by cops for disturbing the peace. Rather than having people go about their daily lives as the two leads act very strangely in public, they might get yelled at by an old lady on a bench or given strange looks by passers-by.

Evaluating romantic scenarios like this does not diminish the feeling I get when I see Jack holding Rose at the bow of The Titanic or when I hear Humphrey Bogart tell Ingrid Bergman that they will always have Paris. Instead, it makes me appreciate them more. It makes me value every moment of romantic bliss that takes place on the screen. So many things have to go right to have the two leads share the perfect romantic scene that you can't help but think that they were meant to be together; that they were meant to share that brief moment in time.

Louisa, I hope, nay, I know that someday you will find the male lead to your very own love story and I cannot wait to read your next post.

Happy Endings to All,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Character's the Thing

They say that once you begin a book, the characters write themselves. Authors have talked about having characters just walk into their head, and start telling them what to say.
"No no, you need to have me go through that tunnel, and then I'd say something snappy, like 'Guess the only way out is through.' There you go, yeah."

As an aspiring novelist, and a winner of National Novel Writing month, I've gone along with this little idea.
That is, until yesterday, when I decided I disagreed.

See, I am of the opinion that if characters wrote themselves, it would be a whole lot easier to write books. In my overarching book project, I have reworked and re-identified more characters than I can remember. And let me tell you, if the characters had just given me all this info about how to write them, I'd have whipped out a stunning trilogy and be working on the screenplay.

Here's how I think about it: when you start working on a character, you have a basic idea in mind. See, it's sort of like a lite brite. Remember those? Well, they were basically these things that you would poke bits of colored plastic through to make a picture. Look them up, then come back so we can keep going.

You back? Great.

Anyway, it's like when you have that first idea about the character, you stick that one colored piece of plastic into the picture. It doesn't look like much just then, just a little baby idea. But as you write you begin to stick more pieces in, and not because the character told you so. You use backstory to figure out current emotions, and use emotions to figure out backstory. It's very circular logic, which is why you can't just get the answers from some person who invaded your brain. You have to really think.

For example, say you had a character named Betty. Betty lives in a house with her mom, her dad, and her little brother. Alright, you say, where can I go with Betty? So you figure out her appearance, and maybe what she likes to do at school. These are just things you can make up, and you don't really need to know the character to get them. But then, what's the conflict of your book? Ah, zombie vampires. Classic. And this is when your brain gets working. "Perhaps she doesn't like the ZVs, ooh, or maybe she does! Maybe she's an activist for ZV rights! Hmm, but why would she be? Oh! Maybe she saw one get hit by a car, and she felt bad. Because maybe her cat got hit by a car!

And so on, and so forth.
So Rayna, from one novelist to another, I advise you to kick the shins of the next person who says writing characters is that easy.
Because let me tell you, it's far from it.
Rayna, I hope we can be NaNoWriMo buddies again next year,