It’s been a long, crazy journey…

Uh, no it hasn’t really, but look, I’m getting tired of only writing about TV and movies, so I started a new blog. I will be writing about TV and movies SOMETIMES (my latest post is about the Golden Globes!) but there will also be other stuff about my life or whatever. Check it out if you would like! You can find it right here.

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Best Christmas episodes

Oh right, I have a blog! Maybe I should stop sucking at it. No lame excuses, I’m just going to list my favourite Christmas episodes from some of my fave TV shows instead.

I’m not really, like, a Christmas Person, so sappy, sentimental, emotional episodes about the importance of family or the spirit of giving or whatever don’t really do it for me. I mean, I get that most Christmas episodes have some heart to them, but the show has to somehow subvert the typical schmaltz for me to really appreciate it. Here’s my list.

festivus

5. Seinfeld – The Strike. In this episode, George’s friends find out about his father’s made up holiday, Festivus, which the Costanzas celebrated during George’s childhood thanks to Frank Costanza’s hatred of the commercialism of the holiday. I can kind of relate to this, because my dad has always had a Scrooge-like attitude toward Christmas, and he demonstrated it by acting out in weird ways – like the year he gave me and my sister a wrapped box of Hamburger Helper for no reason. ALSO, while he got all grouchy about putting up Christmas lights, he insisted on celebrated Groundhog Day every year, by putting up pictures of groundhogs and eating KFC, the traditional food of Groundhog Day (duh).

Essentially Frank is a crazier version of my father. So as we learn during the episode, Festivus eschews the traditional tree in favour of a Festivus Pole, and you can tell your family members how they disappointed you during the Airing of Grievances. Kramer immediately gets into the spirit of the non-existent holiday, and it ends with George being attacked by his father during the traditional Feats of Strength. I probably don’t have to tell you this is a great episode; there aren’t many fake holidays that have become an incredibly famous pop culture reference, after all.

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4. American Dad – For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls. It’s weird how, as Family Guy has gotten lazier and less funny over the years, American Dad has stayed consistently hilarious. It always goes into really bizarre, over-the-top territory, and its Christmas episodes are especially ridiculous. They’ve all been great, but this one, where the Smith family inadvertently ends up killing Santa Claus, is my personal favourite. Santa doesn’t stay dead (you know, because he’s Santa) and he ends up leading a battle against the Smiths with weapon-wielding elves, reindeer and some kind of horrifying snowman monster on his side.

There’s also a whole weird subplot where Roger befriends a bootlegger, learns the art of bootlegging himself, and then the bootlegger helps fight Santa’s army. Oh, and by the end, Stan accepts Haley’s husband Jeff into the family…but only after he proves himself by viciously attacking Santa. So you know, there is some nice family junk, but mostly it’s just typically weird American Dad, and it’s awesome.

misfits

3. Misfits – Christmas Special. What’s more perverse than killing Santa? Killing Jesus, of course. Yep, Misfits, which is kind of the British anti-Heroes, totally goes there in their Christmas special at the end of the second season. OK, it’s not ACTUALLY Jesus. The gang finishes their community service, and they quickly realize they don’t have a lot of real world skills (mystical stom-induced super powers don’t count) and they’re totally broke. They end up selling their powers for cash, but at the same time, a disenchanted priest buys a whole bunch of powers to convince people he’s the second coming of Christ. Mostly he uses his new abilities to steal money and force girls to sleep with him, so killing him kind of makes sense.

The gang also realizes that selling their powers was a bad idea, and they end up getting new ones, just in time for a bit of a season three retooling. The episode ALSO features the grossest television birth I’ve ever seen, courtesy of Nathan’s new, incredibly crude girlfriend. Normally I would hate this, but Misfits managed to make me laugh about placenta. It’s a Christmas miracle!

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2. Community – Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas. This is just a great episode of a great show. Obviously Community isn’t afraid to get weird with its structure and format, and in this episode it goes full-on claymation when Abed has a break with reality. In an attempt to figure out what happened and help revert Abed’s world back to normal, everyone goes on a magical Christmas adventure…through Abed’s subconscious.

It works amazingly well as a stand-alone episode, incorporating traditional claymation moments, from periodic songs to especially delicious looking food. But it also incorporates the individual personalities of each member of the study group, while delving deeper into some of Abed’s family life, and the things that make him the lovable pop culture obsessed weirdo he is. It’s a great showcase of all the things Community does best.

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1. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – A Very Sunny Christmas.  It’s always Sunny is completely deranged at the best of times, but their Christmas episode really escalated things to the next level. It turns out Dennis and Dee hate Christmas, because Frank ruined their childhood by buying them amazing gifts and then keeping them for himself. When he buys the car Dennis has always wanted and the designer purse of Dee’s dreams, the Reynolds twins decide to plot revenge in the form of A Christmas Carol, using Frank’s old business partner to revisit Frank’s past, present and future. This leads to my absolute favourite moment on the show – Dennis and Dee want Frank to hear people at his old company saying bad things about him, so he hides in a couch…and jumps out of it, dripping sweat and completely naked in the middle of the company Christmas party. Maybe it’s just me, but I literally can’t think of anything funnier than a naked, sweaty Danny Devito.

In the meantime, Mac and Charlie try to get into the Christmas spirit my reminiscing about their family traditions. Except once they start talking about them, Mac realizes his family stole presents from their neighbours, and Charlie comes to the horrifying realization that his mother was a prostitute who slept with dudes dressed like Santa. He seems to be OK with this revelation, until he goes to the mall, sees Santa and snaps. Charlie attacks, and it’s pretty brutal. As in, it ends with Santa’s blood dripping from Charlie’s mouth. Awkward!

On the bright side, Frank does decide to change his ways after a concussion-induced claymation hallucination in which he’s eviscerated by his friends. Unfortunately, his business partner steals the gifts he gets everyone. The gang sort of gets a happy ending by bringing back Mac and Charlie’s favourite Christmas tradition: throwing rocks at cars. It’s completely perverse, but kind of sweet for It’s Always Sunny, really. I mean, they learn a valuable lesson and spend bonding time together. The gang doesn’t get much nicer than that.

So, are there any other ridiculous, wacky, funny or possibly disgusting Christmas episodes I’m missing? Suggestions are welcome. I’m not really into Christmas movies that aren’t It’s a Wonderful Life, Bad Santa or Love Actually, so clearly I need to watch TV to get into the spirit.

Breaking Dawn: Part 2

I watched the final Twilight movie this weekend and, while it was certainly not GOOD or anything, I think it was probably the best of the series. Well, I haven’t seen one of them (the third one I think?) but I still feel confident saying this one was better because it was thankfully not as focused on Edward and Bella’s gross relationship. She’s a vampire now, so Edward can be less controlling/emotionally abusive/terrible. But don’t get me wrong, there were still lots of incredibly stupid moments in this film. I’m just going to recap the whole hot mess. If you’d like to catch up on Breaking Dawn: Part 1, you can read my insightful recap here. Obviously there are going to be spoilers, so you know, don’t read on if that’s a thing you care about.

OK, so, Part 2 basically starts where the last movie ended. Bella wakes up from her near-death experience as a vampire. It turns out being a vampire is a lot like being on drugs. Everything is extra bright and clear and you can watch flowers bloom and move super fast and jump super high (with the help of terrible CGI) and basically there are no down sides. Bella almost crushes Edward with her new super strength, and he reminds her that she needs to drink blood now (oh right, that’s kind of a down side) so they run off to the woods. Some dumb mountain climber is mountain climbing by himself near a vampire clan like a dummy, and Bella scales the mountain like some kind of gremlin when she smells his blood, but then she doesn’t eat him because Eating Humans is Wrong so she eats a bobcat thing instead.

Bella’s up in your woods, stalking your bobcats.

Now that she’s full of bobcat blood, Bella remembers she has a child, the horribly named RENESMEE. I still just cannot even with that name, it’s so terrible. Bella goes to say hi, and Jacob is there, being all weird and protective. Bella’s like, “huh?” and he’s all “oh, sorry, I imprinted on your infant daughter, I COULDN’T HELP IT” and Bella is rightfully mad because seriously, ew, and she beats Jacob up a bit with her new super strength. Then she sees the baby, and doesn’t even comment on the baby’s totally creepy CGI face. She really should have mentioned it, because seriously, this is weird:

Don’t look directly into its eyes!

Anyway, the baby is fine, and she has a super convenient gift where she can show people her first memory (being in Bella’s womb…gross) by touching them. This will be convenient later, you’ll see. Oh yeah, and somehow in the last two days the Cullens have made a house for Edward and Bella. Or maybe it was there all along? Who cares. They go there and have sex, which they can do without Edward freaking out now because Bella can handle it and she won’t even get several bruises on her! They’re like, “we’re gonna have sex forever, why would we ever even stop?” Uh, I don’t know, don’t you have a baby to take care of? Vampire teenagers are SO irresponsible.

They manage to stop having sex so Bella can be informed that her dad, Charlie, is calling all the time. She’s like, “ugh, oh yeah, that guy, I guess we should move far away so I never have to deal with this whole situation, and also he is THE WORST COP EVER so he’ll never remotely figure out anything that happened.” But Jacob doesn’t like that idea because of how HE’S IN LOVE WITH A BABY so he goes to Bella’s dad shows him he’s a wolf, and says Bella is different now, but doesn’t say how, because if Charlie knows about vampires his life will be in danger I guess, even though Bella knew about vampires before she was one and she was OK, sooo….whatever. In any case, he visits Bella, and the Cullens teach her how to pretend to be a human (which she wasn’t great at when she was a human) and remind her not to eat her dad, but it’s fine because Charlie is dumb as shit so he’s like, “well, you seem different somehow, like maybe you’re the living dead? But I’ll just accept it and not question it I guess.” Also they tell him RENESMEE is Edward’s niece who they adopted and he just accepts that, too. Obviously.

OK! Yes! I acknowledge that you are a wolf.

Then everyone lives happily ever after, except RENESMEE keeps growing at an accelerated rate, so Bella thinks she won’t live long or something, but what can you do when you have a half-human, half-vampire daughter, you know? But it’s all mostly fine until one of the Cullens’ cousin or something sees RENESMEE and assumes she’s an immortal child. An immortal child is a kid who’s turned into a vampire and goes on killing sprees because kids are the WORST and this is bad. So this vampire cousin lady goes to the Volturi who are like, the head vampire people or something? I don’t know, they were in another one of the movies, I forget what their deal is. They’re kind of bad, and their leader is a hilariously campy Michael Sheen.

Wow. Just…wow.

So yeah, they’re pissed about this whole immortal child thing, so they decide to fight the Cullens, but also I guess they were just looking for an excuse to fight the Cullens because of something to do with wanting Alice (that one who can see the future) to join them? I kind of tuned out I guess because I have no idea what their master plan was. Speaking of Alice, though, she was so squirrelly in this movie! She has a vision that the Volturi are coming and then she just up and disappears for like, ever. I don’t really understand why.

The next part goes on FOREVER and basically the Cullens just gather up all their vampire friends to meet RENESMEE so she can touch them and show them her first memory so they can realize she was born and wasn’t turned into a vampire, and I guess they’re all going to tell the Volturi about it so they’ll back off. All the vampires have powers and they’re all stupid powers and I don’t care about any of these people so I don’t even want to get into it. This whole thing is so inconsequential it’s crazy how much time is spent on it.

A bunch of other stuff happens (Charlie is really dumb! Jacob hangs out with RENESMEE a lot and no one ever really comments on how wildly inappropriate that whole thing is! It turns out Bella’s super special magical vampire gift is a shield, which is lame! Etc!) but mostly it leads up to a standoff between the Volturi and the Cullens and friends. You can tell the Volturi are bad because they have hoods. RENESMEE touches Michael Sheen, so he knows she was born and isn’t an immortal child. But then it still seems like the Volturi are going to attack for some reason, so Alice shows up (good timing, Alice!) and shows Michael Sheen a vision, but he attacks anyway, and there is an actually kind of awesome, epic battle where a lot of the main characters die, including Michael Sheen!

Oh no, vampire attack!

Except, wait, ACTUALLY NONE OF THAT EVER HAPPENED IT WAS ALL JUST ALICE’S VISION AND WHEN MICHAEL SHEEN SAW IT HE DECIDED NOT TO ATTACK. Lame. Lame, lame, lame, this was such a dumb annoying cop-out thing, which only emphasized how useless the previous scenes establishing the random supporting characters and their dumb powers were. Oh yeah, so after the non-existent battle some Brazilian dude who’s a half-vampire is there, and he’s like, “yeah, I was born and I grew for seven years and then I was full grown and now I’m immortal and I can eat blood or regular food and basically I’m the shit.” So don’t worry, everyone, RENESMEE is gonna be fine and in seven years she can be with her mom’s friend who helped raise her and who has been in love with her the whole time and it will not be weird for anyone. Also Jacob jokingly called Edward “Dad” at the end and I vomited in my mouth. I REALLY HATE HOW NO ONE SEEMS TO PLAN TO ASK RENESMEE WTF SHE WANTS. That is a half-vampire girl with no agency right there. And also, besides the obvious reasons why this relationship is messed up, Jacob isn’t immortal, right? So how does that work? This whole thing is a total bummer for everyone.

Yep, just a regular thing, nothing to see here.

The whole thing ends with Bella and Edward hanging out in a field, sharing a montage of their beautiful and inspiring love story and everything will always be perfect and we should all aspire to be vampires because no one is happier than vampires. That is the moral of Twilight, I think. We’ve all learned a valuable lesson. Thank god it’s finally over.

2gether 4eva, sparkly vampires, teen love, yay!

 

 

The Peanut Butter Solution

So last year I rewatched a sort of horrifying movie from my childhood and live blogged it. The movie, called The Peanut Butter solution, continues to haunt me, so I’m reposting it. This will be interesting to a nearly microscopic portion of the population. Enjoy!

When we were kids, my sister and I made our parents rent this particular movie from the library over and over again. Also I think maybe they played it on TV sometimes? Anyway, we watched it a bunch. It was called The Peanut Butter Solution. It’s this low-budget Canadian movie from the ’80s, which I guess is a children’s movie, but as it turns out, it’s kind of deeply disturbing. Actually, based on having googled it as an adult, it appears many children from my generation were haunted by this movie. A lot of them actually thought it was a weird dream they had, because it’s just that strange. But no, it exists. In case you have any doubts, here is the preview:

I told this friend of mine about it in university, and she actually ended up finding a copy on DVD (why the hell anyone put this on DVD, I have no idea) and gave it to me for my birthday. I think I’ve only watched it once since I got it. It’s just…did I mention that it’s really strange? In any case, I’m going to watch it again, and provide an extremely detailed synopsis. This could be fun! But it’ll probably just be weird.

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Homeland! Oh my god…HOMELAND!

The first season of Homeland was an excellent season of television. So far, I think it’s fair to say that the second season is shaping up to be even better.

Homeland is interesting because if you try to explain the premise to someone who hasn’t seen it, it sounds pretty terrible. It’s all like, TERRORISM and CONSPIRACIES and ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY. There are all kinds of coincidences and close calls and scenarios that are pretty much impossible in a world that seems to closely resemble our actual world. But none of that matters, mostly thanks to Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.

When they first encountered each other in the first season, Carrie was playing the role of a voyeur, a CIA agent spying on Brody, a U.S. soldier who made it home after spending eight years as a prisoner in Iraq. Carrie was convinced he had been turned, that he was working with the terrorists who kept him captive to plan some kind of attack against his own country. In the process of investigating all of this (mostly without the help of the CIA, since they were way not into her theories) Carrie and Brody fell in love. Well, Carrie did, anyway. We have much better access to her mental state, to her thoughts and feelings. Brody, despite being kind of a mess, is more inscrutable. Where his loyalties lie and whether he’s capable of betraying his country and family are themes the show is still investigating.

At this point, they’ve both sort of ruined each other’s lives. Brody got Carrie kicked out of the CIA by convincing everyone (including Carrie) that she was crazy. The fact that she’s bipolar didn’t help, but of course Carrie was right, which was definitively revealed last season, when Brody nearly killed a bunch of people including the vice president. The only reason he didn’t go through with it was because of a desperate phone call from his teenage daughter, Dana. But Carrie has messed with Brody’s life, too. Their affair nearly destroyed the already shaky relationship between Brody and his wife, Jessica. And while Brody held all the cards in the first season, now his lies are unravelling and suddenly Carrie’s the one in control.

See, I told you that when you try to explain this show it sounds pretty ridiculous. Somehow, the connection between Brody and Carrie is so compelling and destructive and filled with chemistry, that they manage to sell the whole thing. The other great thing about Homeland is that it’s always so action-packed. Incredibly, there have only been six episodes so far in the season, and each one has covered, like, the equivalent of half a season worth of material on most other shows. It’s all, BAM! Brody’s a congressman…BAM! Carrie has a reason to be involved with the CIA again…BAM! Her former boss, Saul (the always wonderful Mandy Patinkin) finds out Brody really was involved in a terrorist plot and Carrie was right all along…BAM! After briefly spying on Brody, Carrie leads a charge to take him in for questioning…BAM! Brody admits some of the shady stuff he did and joins forces with the CIA.

Phew, that is a lot of stuff. Homeland doesn’t slow down, but it still has all these meaningful moments. The best scene was when Carrie came in to interrogate Brody. She has feelings for him, and that’s real, but she uses those feelings as a means to an end, to make Brody admit what she already knows – that he’s been up to no good terrorist stuff ever since he returned to the States. Brody lies to everyone, but Carrie is his soft spot. He doesn’t say much, but you can see him questioning everything over the course of the interrogation. By the end of it, he unravels.

Homeland isn’t perfect. The subplots are kind of stupid. Dana is a great character who feels like a real, complex, emotional teenager, but her current plot, which has her involved in a hit-and-run along with the VP’s son, is pretty terrible. Then there’s Mike, Brody’s army buddy who had an affair with Jessica when Brody was captured and Jess thought she was a widow. Lately, Mike’s been investigating Brody on his own based on very little evidence. It could lead to an interesting story – he did recently have an encounter with Saul that only furthered his belief that he’s on to something – but for now it’s just kind of silly. Jessica’s story has been focused on her attempts to play the role of a politician’s wife, something she’s adapted to quite easily despite Brody’s increasingly erratic behaviour. She’s not an idiot, and she knows something is wrong, so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

As far as current dramas go, I think Homeland is one of the best. I would say it’s second to Breaking Bad, but probably on par with Mad Men, which I also adore. I’m really excited to see what happens by the end of the season; if things keep going the way they have been, everything could be completely different in just a few episodes.

The Log Lady

I’m going to do a for real post this week, because HOMELAND. Seriously…..Homeland. But in the meantime, a brief post about Halloween.

I wasn’t always into this holiday, until I realized I could use it as an excuse to make pop culture references. Preferably obscure pop culture references that no one really gets, but not necessarily. In the past few years, my costumes have included Regina George from Mean Girls, Enid Coleslaw from Ghost World and Anxiety Girl from the Natalie Dee web comic.

This year I decided to outdo myself. And by outdo myself, I mean I decided to dress up as a minor character from a television show that aired for two seasons in the early ’90s. Yes, I went as the Log Lady from Twin Peaks. No one knew who I was (except for my friends who I’ve been describing the Log Lady to for the last year). I still told them my log had something to tell them. Everyone was appropriately annoyed.

Twin Peaks may not be topical, but it’s still a great show. It was brave enough to go for a really long time without revealing the mystery at its core. And even after that, it was still totally weird, dealing with lots of supernatural themes and focusing on developing all the quirky characters in a weird little town. Of course, I’m a sucker for David Lynch, so of course I love that show, even though I have to admit the second season went a bit too far off the rails at times.

Anyway, clearly I had to pay homage to this long-ago cancelled show. I think I did a pretty good job, too! Check it out:

RIGHT?? Happy Halloween, y’all.

Fox Tuesdays

Fox has an impressively strong Tuesday lineup this fall, with two returning sitcoms and two new ones. So far, I’m very much enjoying all of them. Unlike CBS, Fox seems to recognize that it’s 2012, so they’ve moved away from the multi-camera, laugh track set-up, making way for shows that I would say are funnier and more relevant.

Raising Hope

This show is crazy underrated. The premise is maybe a bit kooky – a lower class guy named Jimmy Chance who lives with his parents (played by the amazing Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt) knocks up a serial killer who gives birth in jail before being sent to the electric chair. Jimmy is left to raise the baby, Hope. The whole concept could have easily come across as offensive, since it’s basically about a struggling, undereducated family doing the best they can. Fortunately the whole thing is so funny, and the Chance family so obviously a loving, well-meaning unit, that it just makes for good television. OK, sometimes it goes a bit off the rails with Jimmy’s great-grandmother, Maw Maw, who suffers from dementia and is played by Cloris Leachman, but on the other more important hand, Cloris Leachman running around in a bra being racist is pretty hilarious.

The other thing that makes the show notable is that it’s done a great job of creating a whole world, filled with recurring characters like Jimmy’s coworkers at the grocery store where he works and random weirdos in the neighbourhood, like Dancing Dan. I feel like I don’t know many people who watch this show as it enters it’s third season, but you should be, because there isn’t a lot of television that’s so heartwarming and actually funny.

Ben and Kate

I like this show – I do! But I’m also kind of a little bored of it at the same time? I think the problem is that critics seem to be obsessed with it and they’re all calling it the best new comedy of the year and junk, and so far I just think it’s OK. Basically it’s about Kate, who has her life together mostly and has a kid, but then her irresponsible brother, Ben moves in with her. And hilarious shenanigans ensue! Oh and also Ben has a friend who has always had a crush on Kate, and Kate works with a girl played by Judy Punch who is hilarious and the best part of the show.

I want to reiterate that I do like this show! I just don’t love it, yet. But I feel like I could, given time. And more Judy Punch. Her character’s name is BJ, btw. Just putting that out there. Even without her, each episode has had a good amount of funny moments. Like when Ben ugly cried, that was good. So far it all just feels kind of generic and somewhat unmemorable, though. But I’m still looking forward to seeing what they’re going to do next.

New Girl

When this started last year, I mean, I watched every episode, obviously, but I kind of wrote it off as stupid and I was just watching it because it was on (when you watch as much TV as I do, this is a valid reason to watch a show). But something happened halfway through last season where it went beyond Zooey Deschanel’s whole adorkable persona and became a show about four totally different personalities coming together and making their quirky lives work together. AW. Also, it got pretty legitimately funny. Like, I laugh out loud when I watch it by myself. I think what makes it good is that it’s not afraid to be totally weird. I like that Schmidt is anal about things like cleanliness and cooking but also is forced to contribute to a douchebag jar, and Nick is literally just a cranky old man who hates young people things, but also becomes obsessed with random things and people on the regular.

And yes, obviously Nick and Jess are going to get together eventually, but the show is pretty good at building tension between them without hitting us over the head with it constantly. It’s addressed, but not in a totally annoying obnoxious way, just in a way where it’s clear they are just not at that place yet but they will be eventually! Yes. This show is a good show.

The Mindy Project

This isn’t super amazing great yet, but I think it’s going to be. I don’t know what it is, but I just really like Mindy Kaling and I like watching her do things, whatever those things might be. I do think the show is best when it focuses on the work comedy aspects of the gynecologist office where she works, but even when it’s all, blah blah, rom com, dating is hard, etc., I totally enjoy it. It’s weird to watch a show like this, or Girls, because there is a woman who is the lead, who is obviously not fat in real life, but is TV fat. That maybe sounds terrible, but you know what I mean. I could not fit my hand around Mindy Kaling’s upper arm, you know? I hate that I notice that, but I DO notice that, and then I’m glad that I’m seeing it on my television.

I think what’s really going to make this show great is the new nurse, played by Ike Barinholtz. He’s spent time in prison, and is kind of a wild card, but he also means well. AW! And then also there’s the antagonistic doctor Mindy works with, played by Chris Messina who Mindy has fun banter with and also, I freaking love Chris Messina. I almost even liked him in The Newsroom, and we all know how I feel about The Newsroom. The show is still kind of all over the place, but there have only been a few episodes, and I have faith that when it gets its bearings, it’s going to be delightful.

So, Fox Tuesdays – very entertaining and a lot of potential! They’re like the new NBC Thursdays. Which I’ll probably address next week.