Tag Archives: Big Thing

Three To Get Ready

the lasting first impression is what you’re looking for – “First Impression”

The excitement of unwrapping a new cassette, CD, or vinyl record, and settling into a new listening experience retains its sense of excitement no matter how old we get. There is something magical about hearing new music from a favorite band and, often, the first three songs of the album are a strong indication of where you are headed together. The trio of songs that open U2’s The Joshua Tree and Prince’s 1999 are astoundingly good and a huge reason both are considered classic albums. Does Duran Duran have a trio on the same level? Maybe not but it made for a fun Duran Dissection project.

Duran Duran (1981)

The camera shutter of “Girls On Film” is certainly prophetic given Duran’s success in front of it on MTV and countless teen magazines. Then you get “Planet Earth”, a song that encapsulates a moment in time when all the various styles of the 1970s were coalescing into a new sound that would change the world. While “Anyone Out There” might have made it back into recent set lists because of the NASA show, it would be hard to find someone unhappy about it. Not necessarily single-worthy, “Anyone Out There” remains one of the strongest album tracks the band would ever record. 

Verdict: A- (I decided to use letter grades since Amanda is a teacher and we need more heroes like her on the front lines of education)

Rio (1982)

From the dark clubs of the New Romantic movement to the world stage, the more colorful sound of “Rio” is pop perfection and succinctly captures the spirit of the 1980s. The trio gets a little shaky, however, with the album version of “My Own Way”. No matter how much I love this album, there is always a voice in the back of my head telling Roger to speed it up on this song. I much prefer the Carnival remix and the night version to the original album version but maybe that’s just me. I also prefer the longer version of “Lonely In Your Nightmare” on the remixed US version of the album. The mood and atmosphere are allowed more time to capture your imagination. 

Verdict: B+

Seven & the Ragged Tiger (1983)

Nile Rodgers gets the A for his remix of “The Reflex” because the original is pretty flat overall. Given the anticipation for this record, it is a disappointing start. “New Moon On Monday” feels more fully realized but then the album loses momentum again with “(I’m Looking For) Cracks In the Pavement”. While not a horrible song, it isn’t essential to the album. One of the weakest opening runs of any Duran Duran album, it might have frightened casual fans away from the magic that awaits on side two. 

Verdict: C-

Notorious (1986)

A statement of purpose, the title song ring in a new era of Duran Duran that feels a little chippy (at least towards a flaky bandit). Then, “American Science” sways like a palm tree in the dark. Full of sophistication, the new Duran Duran were growing up faster than some fans; including me. The sexy “Skin Trade” should have faired better as a single and rounds out a thrilling opening suite of songs. The overall mood of the album comes through on these songs and all hold their own individually. 

Verdict: A

Big Thing (1988)

I sense that the title track is a love it or hate it moment in the band’s history. In 1988, I was definitely a little hair metal kid so the punch of it instantly appealed to me. Then, the band delivers two of their finest singles. I’ll argue all day that “I Don’t Want Your Love” and “All She Wants Is” are stronger singles than “The Reflex” and “New Moon On Monday”. OK, maybe I’m stretching it, but this album was criminally ignored by the industry. 

Verdict: A-

Liberty (1990)

I just waxed nostalgic over Liberty here so I’ll keep this brief. The first two songs are solid introductions to a slightly uncertain time for Duran Duran. That uncertainty turns into a hot mess on “Hothead”. I’ll leave it at that.

Verdict: D+

Duran Duran (1993)

Please, please let me know. Are we officially calling this The Wedding Album now? Despite the slight hypocrisy of the lyrics in “Too Much Information”, the song practically explodes from the speakers after the timid Liberty. Where would Duran have ended up had “Ordinary World” not turned the tide on their commercial free fall? I’d rather not think too hard about that. Unfortunately, “Love Voodoo” hints at some of the uneven music that follows on The Wedding Album

Verdict: B

Medazzaland (1997)

Experimental, bold, fresh. There are so many words to describe the mysterious Medazzaland album. The opening three songs are all of the above-mentioned adjectives and more. The album loses its luster the deeper you go but the opening trio lays to rest any concerns about Duran Duran bouncing back strong from the critical mess that was Thank You. It is hard to resist “Electric Barbarella” as a single. The percolating synths and guitars work well together. Its classic Duran Duran even if the video’s stab at humor fails to overcome the sexist premise.

Verdict: A-

Pop Trash (2000)

A new century of Duran Duran began with “Someone Else Not Me”, a fine song but a difficult album opener. Bordering on 60s psychedelic folk-pop, the song challenged us to open our minds to what Duran Duran could sound like. The opening guitar and drums of “Lava Lamp” could pass for a Matchbox 20 song before Nick and Simon arrive while the swirling “Playing With Uranium” manages a decent chorus. I find that I enjoy Pop Trash in a single listen so any three song run from this album leaves me indifferent.

Verdict: C-

Astronaut (2004)

And then they were back. “(Reach Up For the) Sunrise” has a chorus worthy of a stadium. It is contemporary but without sacrificing the values of early Duran Duran. “Want You More!” is the sort of synth-pop gold that the band used to dispense with ease. LeBon’s voice sounds particularly strong on “What Happens Tomorrow”, a mid-tempo rocker the band seems determined to put on every album since the success of “Ordinary World”. This time, it works out beautifully.

Verdict: A-

Red Carpet Massacre (2007)

Opener “The Valley” suffers from confusing production. This song should be a distant cousin to The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” but it ends up trying to be something urban and hip. The title song and “Nite-Runner” are better examples of what the band was aiming for. It might have driven Andy to Ibiza and left me dreaming of what Reportage will someday sound like but this project has grown on me.

Verdict: B-

All You Need Is Now (2010)

Such an incredible album, the band hasn’t kept any of the songs in the set list since the tour ended supporting it. I’m not bitter. Yet. The title song is the best Duran Duran single since “All She Wants Is” and introduces an album that holds its own with the band’s best work during their imperial phase. “Blame the Machines” and “Being Followed” get the adrenaline racing with the perfect balance of synths and guitars. This is Duran playing to their strengths in every respect.

Verdict: A+

Paper Gods (2015)

One of the most instantly intriguing opening tracks the band has ever done. When the instruments come in, you can hear a little of M’s “Pop Muzik” buried in the DNA of the track. It’s an instantly likable blend of the band’s pop aspirations and art-school fixations. Of all the band’s albums, this one suffers the most from the sequencing. “Last Night In the City” is the sound of a screeching car crashing into a wall with some EDM blasting through the stereo. It feels out of place after the moody opener. “You Kill Me With Silence” feels like the appropriate follow-up to “Paper Gods” and doesn’t create such a disjointed listen. I could write an entire Daily Duranie piece on restructuring Paper Gods. Maybe, I will.

Verdict: C-

It Was Thirty Years Ago (not Today)…

Brothers and sisters let me hear it

Last Friday, I had my own Duraniversary. Thirty years prior, I attended my very first Duran Duran concert at the Universal Amphitheater (which has since been torn down to make way for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood). I don’t normally think about that particular date, but I was flipping my personalized calendar that Amanda makes for me each year from one month to the next and saw the date listed. Wow. Thirty years has flown by.

I can still remember our seats…in the second to last row of the amphitheater. No front row or VIP back then! My outfit that night was new, complete with shoes that ended up giving me blisters. (I don’t know why I remember that so well!) My boyfriend had kindly bought the tickets and I was so excited to see Duran Duran that night. I’d been a fan since junior high, and it wasn’t until about eight years later that I finally was able to go to see them in concert. I felt very lucky to be in that audience!

So glad you came along

When the band took the stage, I felt a mixed bag of emotions. I was thrilled to see them – I could feel the butterflies churning away in my belly, but I also felt just the tiniest bit sad. Roger and Andy weren’t there, and while I still liked the Big Thing album, it didn’t have the same feeling for me as Rio or Seven and the Ragged Tiger. I mean, those albums were the collective epitome of Duran Duran back in the early 80s. That is also the period of time that occupies most of my memories of Duran Duran fandom when I was an awkward preteen.

I wavered back and forth between elation and that feeling of “oh, I just wish I’d been able to see them at the Forum on the Sing Blue Silver tour!” I distinctly remember forcing those thoughts aside that night because I didn’t want to miss out on the show happening right in front of me. There was no point in looking back. I was in college by then, living at the dorm on campus. My childhood bedroom with the yellow bedspread and “Summertime Green” painted walls peeking between Duran Duran posters were just memories by then. My parents had moved just after I graduated, and my new room at home didn’t have so much as a single pinup on the wall. So much had changed, yet my love for the band was still there…it was just…different.

This time you won’t be wrong

In a lot of ways, it is hard for me to believe that happened thirty years ago. It feels like a long time ago, but thirty years? Then again, the reunion (I’m going to age everyone here…) was announced nearly 18 years ago now. Better not blink.

Here I am now, getting ready for another couple of shows, thirty years later. I have to admit, I never thought much about whether or not Duran Duran would still be around in 2019. That’s kind of the beauty of youth. It was so easy to live precisely in that moment. I didn’t think about what was going to happen next, or if I’d see the band again. I can say that I appreciate seeing the band more now than I probably did at 18, I just wish I had that same endless energy!!

-R

Movement is Unstoppable. Welcome to the Edge

The Edge of America

This is a song that has always sent shivers (the good kind) down my spine, as I consider each word.  The words and music are as robust now as they were when written. Up until today, there’s been no video for the song.  I’ve always wondered if it was a missed opportunity.

I don’t need to consider that possibility any longer. Today, Duran Duran released the video for The Edge of America. A song that was included on their 1988 album, Big Thing. Some things need very few words, and little fanfare to make them powerful. They simply stand on their own, creating their own energy.

In today’s world of music videos, very few have the kind of power to change or challenge someone’s thinking. I just don’t feel there’s that same positive push of boundaries as there might have been in the past. This video for The Edge of America is remarkably different. It is not one that folks might cheer over in the same way they would for The Reflex, or even All You Need is Now—after all, the band does not even make an appearance in it—but it absolutely should make one think.  David Medina, the genius behind the work, should be incredibly proud.

There is so much I could make commentary on, but there was one thing – well, two things really – that blew me away when I watched the video. The first was that this song is hundreds of times more powerful and timely now than it was when the album was released – even without a video, and now – we even have that. The second is how incredibly proud I am of them.

I am well-aware that the video does have its implications, and that there are likely some who have plenty to say in response. In this moment, talking is OK. Listening is even better. Some might say it is time to do more listening.

Purity is impossible. Movement is unstoppable.”

-R

 

30 years of Big Thing!

It is amazing how quickly life can take a turn. In 24-hours, I went from feeling happy and content to worried and insecure. The charter school where my youngest attends suddenly closed down. There is much more to the story – as there always is – but the bottom line is that we had to say goodbye this morning. It was emotional, and I still feel pretty raw.

I worked there for the past two years, and quit at the end of May in order to move….which hasn’t happened quite yet. It was very hard watching my colleagues and friends be treated as though they were criminals by the executive administration. Even more difficult was watching the kids faces as they looked anxiously to their parents this morning while being told by someone they had never met that they couldn’t go into the center. I was on a short list of people not allowed in the learning center at all, for any reason – which makes me laugh. I don’t even think I’m on Duran Duran’s short list for that kind of thing yet!

Those of us who worked there gave it our all. Blood, sweat and even tears went into each school year, and I am very proud of the work I did there. To this day, I can’t sneak into the learning center without small (and smallish) children running to give me hugs and tell me they miss me, which I cherish.  I miss being a part of their world each week. Sometimes though, regardless of how much heart, joy, love and affection someone puts into something, it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes things fall apart, no matter how much we work at them to succeed.

This is just one reason why I am thrilled to think about the 30th Anniversary of Big Thing today. Many fans talk consider the front side as the real genius of the album, but I believe the real gems are on the back!

The trifecta of “Palomino”, “Land”, and “The Edge of America” continue to rock my world to this day. Any one of the three could be entered into direct evidence for why Duran Duran should be in the Hall of Fame. Combined, they become the cornerstone of why I, along with so many others, are fans of this band.  Heartfelt, personal, poignant,  ground breaking are all words I would use to describe the project. Big Thing may be one of Duran Duran’s most underrated albums, but it is also among their best. Coincidence?

Sometimes, no matter how much heart and soul you put into something – the work goes unsung by the masses. Those losses are often the hardest to overcome, but they’re also teachable moments.

I’m hoping the same for my family in the coming weeks.

-R

How do we really feel about Autumn Albums?

I think we can all agree it’s been pretty quiet recently. I can appreciate friends who post topics to get a conversation started, particularly when it comes to Duran Duran.  Personally, I love surveys and polls. They’re fun little “litmus” tests for the fan community, and they’re fun to look back on from year to year to see if there’s been any changes.

One of my Twitter friends, @BoysMakeNoise (you should follow him!) likes putting together surveys. This week, there was a survey on Autumn albums. Each of the albums that Duran Duran has released in Autumn months was given a star rating of 1 to 5, and then that information was compiled to find out what album was most liked.  He ran the same survey last year at about the same time, and now we’d have a comparison.

2017 Results  (average rating)

  1. Red Carpet Massacre  (2.95)

  2. Medazzaland (3.06)

  3. Astronaut (3.73)

  4. Big Thing (3.78)

  5. Paper Gods (3.96)

  6. Notorious (4.00)

  1. Seven and the Ragged Tiger (4.07)

2018 Results (average rating)

  1. Red Carpet Massacre (2.99)

  2. Medazzaland (3.06)

  3. Astronaut (3.63)

  4. Big Thing (3.74)

  5. Seven and the Ragged Tiger (3.86)

  6. Notorious (4.06)

  1. Paper Gods (4.28)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I like to extrapolate information from results like these.  There were 100 participants in the survey. The number isn’t enormous, but I think it is fairly representative. Chances are, the people who participated are not simply “fair-weather fans”. These are people who know the band’s catalog, and know it well-enough to debate the components.

Astonishingly, the real movement here was between Paper Gods and Seven and the Ragged Tiger – one of the “Holy Trinity” albums. (First album, Rio and SATRT). Rarely do I ever see any of the initial three knocked out of the top three of any survey ever taken. They tend to be considered Holy Grail, virtually untouchable. The rest of the results stayed within a reasonable range of last year’s survey results, but most did vary.  Medazzaland, pinpointed at an average rating of 3.06 stars each year, was the only album with stagnate results.

Nostalgia at Work

It is rare to see any of the first three albums removed from the top of any “favorites” list. There are a number of reasons for this. The album was released in 1983, there was a reasonably huge tour to support it, and it came out at the height of their popularity. This album marked the end of the initial “Fab Five” era, and for that reason alone, even post-1980’s fans hold it close to their hearts. The nostalgia for this album is enormous, and that alone keeps it afloat.

Over the years I’ve been participating in social media, I’ve been involved in more than one discussion about Seven and the Ragged Tiger. It is a difficult album for me, because I remember how much I adored it when it was released. The funny thing is that even in 1983, I don’t think I really “got” it. I can remember thinking how strange it sounded compared to anything else out at the time—and I liked it that way. Even today, I’m astounded by just how much is going on in every single song. There are no “empty spaces”.  There are layers upon layers of music and background effect. The question, is whether or not it was overdone, and that’s always up for debate.

I can see the first three albums in a definite progression. The first album was pretty raw and natural. In my opinion, that album remains the most uniquely untouched “Duran”. No egos, no fame, no fortune to muddy the picture. Rio, has far more finesse. A little more ego, but not too much. After all, they didn’t “hit” in the USA until much of Rio was remixed (Kershenbaum) and re-released here in the states. They were UK stars, but America was another challenge. Next was SATRT, and they pulled out all of the stops for this one. There’s a lot going on, and I don’t just mean musically. The band clearly had an ego by this time, and they felt like they had something to prove, with all the resources in the world to do it. I can hear the inner tug-of-war going on within the band, and if you listen closely – you can hear Simon tell you all about the struggles of fame, too.

The trouble is, at least in my opinion, as much as I loved this period of time – the album has its challenges. In hindsight, Seven and the Ragged Tiger is representative of the band’s excesses on nearly every level. Even so, I can’t quit it, and likely – neither can you.

What about Paper Gods?

In the other hand lies Paper Gods. Upon first glance, you might not even recognize that it’s the same band, particularly if you’re not a diehard fan. As I bow to my fellow nostalgia-nerds out there, I can’t help but say that Paper Gods is the better album. The quality of construction is there. It has all of the finesse of Rio, with the same quality of ingenuity that created Seven and the Ragged Tiger. On the same token, Paper Gods is not a one-listen album. In order to fully appreciate the music, it takes time. Once again, if you listen closely, you’ll even hear Simon tell you everything you need to know about their career. Paper Gods is truly a survey of their career, and a hallmark album. I believe these to be the reasons for the growth in the survey results for Autumn albums over last year.

In other words, it is not so much that Seven and the Ragged Tiger has lost a huge amount of favor with fans as it is that Paper Gods is becoming more beloved. I don’t think there will ever be a time when a significant number of fans won’t include SATRT in their top three or four list of favorite DD albums, much less Autumn album. The nostalgia for the time, paired with the album’s historic status (it was the last album with the original five until 2004) continue to keep it balanced on a narrow pedestal. Perhaps though, Paper Gods will occupy its own nearby pinnacle. Time will tell.

-R

Brothers and Sisters We Can Take It

Lyric Saturday has brought an interesting lyric to respond to.  Actually, I picked the song last night when I was sitting in my local Barnes and Noble, offering free gift wrapping along with my school’s Gender Equity, a student club that I advise.  I asked one of the students to take a look at the lyrics and pick something that grabbed her.  Her choice:  “Brothers and sisters we can take it.”  Hmmm…

The first thought that popped in my mind when I read the lyrics was work.  Perhaps, that was the first thought because I felt like I was still at work since I was surrounded by teenagers.  Still, the lyrics could definitely represent teaching.  At work, I’m surrounded by staff members who work hard everyday and take whatever is thrown at us, whether that is criticism by the public or parents or new state mandates or kids demonstrating less than respectful behavior.  We take it all.  Plus, the “brothers and sisters” part reminds me of our teaching union as union members refer to each other as brothers and sisters.  That said, the lyric could also relate to politics.

Politics is not for the weak.  Political candidates must know that they will face extreme criticism, negative attacks and more.  Likewise, political campaigns, as representing and working for a candidate, have to deal with the same negativity.  Heck, at this point in time in the U.S., I don’t think that people have to be part of a political campaign to feel attacked on the political front.  As much as it sucks, I think that a lot of us have to have that attitude that we can take it and will keep standing and fighting.  What helps many to project that strength is due to the unity they feel with others and knowing that they are not alone in the fight.

Yet, beyond all that, the lyric could definitely also relate to Duran Duran and their fans.  How so?  Well, from what I have heard the song has to do with trying to get an album/single to make the charts. If that is, indeed, the case Duran Duran and everyone on their team has to be prepared to take whatever is thrown at them, including those bad reviews and criticism from so-called music journalists and critics.  Certainly, Duran Duran has had a ton of criticism throughout their career.  How many reviews have I personally read calling the band names or dismissing their music or making fun of this, that or the other?  I’m afraid the answer to that is more than I can count.

Beyond the band, the fans have certainly faced our own judgment for being Duran Duran fans.  As a kid, I remember spending hours defending the band.  I have vivid memories of explaining to kids at school how cool they were because of their videos, the fact that they wrote and recorded their own music and more.  Strangely enough, as an adult, I have had similar conversations with friends and family members who want to dismiss the band due to the use of keyboards or the fact that they wore make-up or whatever.  Then, of course, some of this disapproval carries over to how I express my fandom now.

For many people, it is bad enough to be a fan of Duran Duran, but to blog about being a fan?  Wow.  That often equals true insanity, especially when people find that out that Rhonda and I blog each and every day.  It is almost funny to watch people’s minds get blown when they realize that I also travel to go see shows.  Too many people cannot wrap their heads around the level of dedication that I have to this little fandom of ours.  Again, though, like with teaching or being politically active, I believe that having other fans on the same side as me fortifies me to be able to take whatever negativity is thrown my way.  Perhaps, Duran Duran experiences the same thing with having an army of fans behind them.

-A

Brothers and Sisters Let Me Hear It: Big Thing at 29

I was busy waxing nostalgic over past fan conventions yesterday, so I didn’t get to write about Big Thing. The album was released 29 years ago yesterday, which is impossible.

I’m pretty sure Big Thing was the first Duran Duran album I bought on cassette. I slightly cringe as I remember buying and storing it in the creaky, fabric-covered, plastic case I kept on the floor of the front seat in my Suzuki Samurai. I can still remember the sandy feeling the fabric of the suitcase had because I would drive with the top to the Samurai removed for most of the year. The nearly threadbare carpet on the floor of the car caught sand and whatever other grit was blowing through the air as I’d speed along the freeways of southern California. The case and tape, which I still have somewhere in this house, is pretty scratched up. I haven’t tried to play the tape in years, probably not since I traded in the Samurai.  For quite a while, I didn’t have Big Thing on any other playable media in the house, and it wasn’t until I bought the MP3 that I had the chance to listen to the album in its entirety. Not that long ago, I added the vinyl of the album to my collection, along with the remastered CD, so I can fully appreciate its place in history.

When I first listened to Big Thing back in 1988, the album sounded like it had multiple personality disorder. I loved the song “Big Thing” even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what it was about. I liked the difference of the heavy beat to begin the album, but also appreciated the stacked harmonies that made it sound like a Duran Duran song.  “I Don’t Want Your Love” was the song I would sing at the top of my lungs while driving back and forth from Cal State Fullerton during my freshman year. Let’s just say it healed many a wound during that time. It was a tumultuous time for me as I adjusted to college and dorm living.  I wanted and needed recognizable Duran Duran – something that I never felt like I got from Notorious – and at least the first two songs off of Big Thing felt like they were in the right direction.  But from there, the album changed direction, with the club-beat heavy “All She Wants Is”. At the time, the song felt out-of-place, even though it was (and remains) a hit in the ears of many Duranies. But then again, the album completely changes pace completely, with beautifully simple ballads like “Too Late Marlene”, “Do You Believe in Shame”, “Land” and “Palomino”. These are what a friend once characterized as Duran’s watershed moments. Never to be dull, a song like “Drug” was thrown in the mix to throw listeners completely off-kilter, the sudden change always unnerved me. Ending with “Edge of America”, flowing into “Lakeshore Driving”, Duran’s answer to jam-session recording carries out the uncomfortable pacing of the album as the tape abruptly ran out as I would begin to settle into a daydream.

I never could find fault with any one song on the album, although I certainly have my preferences, but as a whole, I never cared for the constant change in direction or personality. Did the band want to go for a club sound? Why was the back half mainly ballad? I can remember not loving the ballads back in the late 80s, as I was more of a guitar-driven hard-rock kind of gal, but they’ve grown on me in years since, as has the entire album.

Big Thing is one of those Duran albums that, for the longest time, I didn’t really count among my favorites. It has grown to be one that I consistently play. I know why Duran Duran looks to “Ordinary World” as the ballad to play live, but I believe that gems like “Palomino” and “Land” have been completely overlooked in the process. There is really no other song I would rather crank up to “10” in my car than “Edge of America”, and I can zone out to “Lakeshore Driving” pretty much anywhere. “Big Thing” is a great song to wake me up, and when I’m feeling melancholy, I tune in to “Do You Believe in Shame”.  What once felt like a personality disorder now feels a lot more like the emotional roller coaster of any week in my life.

Big Thing has not only aged well, the rough transitions have mellowed out, and it plays fantastic at the ripe age of 29. Once again, Duran Duran proves they write to withstand the course of time.  Happy Birthday, Big Thing!

-R

The Big Egg in 1989 – do you remember?

Oddly enough, I barely remember 1989.  I can tell you that on this date in 1989, I was living in the dorms at Cal State Fullerton, and I’m pretty sure that I knew my (then) boyfriend and I were going to go see Duran Duran at the Universal Amphitheater in March. Aside from those two things, I can’t tell you much about what was going on in the world back then.

HOWEVER…I do remember this show for a couple of reasons. First of all, they played at a venue named The Big Egg.  Come on now.  Who forgets a name like that?? Secondly, I have seen video from this show. The wardrobe choices alone are burned into my memory for all eternity. Yes, I’m poking fun…because I can, and because none of them are standing in front of me. <insert big wide grin here> Listen, the 80’s happened to ALL of us. I just thank my lucky stars that me and my frizzy, peroxide-bleached hair from back then is nowhere to be found online.

So, while I wasn’t at the show (how many of us really traveled to Japan back then anyway?)…I still enjoy when this date comes up each year so that I can search for just the right YouTube video to share.

Enjoy Maximum Big Surprise (mash-up medley of Election Day and Some Like it Hot)  The video quality isn’t great but it was the best I could find this year…

 

Happy Wednesday!

-R