Friday, June 30, 2006

Pretty Fly for a Super Guy

If you're looking for good old fashioned summer movie entertainment on a grand scale, look no further than Superman Returns. The film is basically an homage to the spectacles of days past, and specifically to the Superman movie of 1978. From the opening chords of John Williams' theme music, to the replica of the credit style, to the clips of Marlon Brando's performance, and even including the final shot of the movie, Superman Returns is a film that treats its source material as if it was a holy text. In fact, director Bryan Singer has crafted a movie where Superman isn't just a hero — he's practically a god. As such, the movie looks spectacular. Everything about it is bright and slick and well-executed. Brandon Routh makes a great Superman. And I loved the plane crash sequence; it's one of the most exciting scenes I've seen in a long time. So yeah, Superman Returns is a really enjoyable movie ...

... But Superman Returns is not a perfect movie. I just didn't feel the gravitas or weight in Kevin Spacey's performance (he's no Gene Hackman). Spacey's casting and performance feel too gimmicky. Also, Kate Bosworth is too young to play such a role; though her makeup and hair do make her look older than 23, I just didn't buy that she was such a respected journalist already and that she had a 4 or 5 year old son (probably the most mature 4 or 5 year old kid ever). And most importantly, the movie is too long. I went with it for a while, but after two hours, it kind of feels like a drag. There's a small thing here and there as well, but nothing I want to get nit-picky about.

Still, while I didn't love the movie, I did enjoy Superman Returns. So I'm going to give it a solid B.


Who's Laughing Now?

Since the Red Sox are now four games ahead of the Yankees, not to mention on a 12-game winning streak, I thought I'd post this movie my friend Kerri sent me (and she's a Met fan). It's a Red Sox fan walking through the bleachers in Yankee Stadium. Just beware: if you're going to play this at work, make sure it's loud enough for you to hear, but not too loud. As you might expect, it's a bit profane. Still, in the current context, all I can do is watch this and laugh.


Thursday, June 29, 2006


Oh, bugger. That's my reaction when it comes to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I was really disappointed and frustrated by this movie. The first Pirates was so much fun, so exciting, so fresh. This one drags, is too long, and doesn't have the same spark. Largely, that's a result of editing. Specifically, there was none. The movie takes about 20 minutes to actually begin, and though Johnny Depp has a funny entrance, it's sort of worthless because he has another one — the way he should have been introduced, the way the movie should have started — some time later. Basically, this Pirates just needed to be a whole lot tighter. Instead it's as loose and swishy as Jack Sparrow himself. And despite the three-way mill wheel sword fight toward the end and the effect of Davy Jones' face (he's changed quite a bit from when he was in the Monkees), it's just not as memorable as the first film.

Anyway, I don't want to write a long wet blanket review, so I'll keep this short. But the comparison I kept making after the movie was to Back to the Future 2 (though I guess The Matrix Reloaded also would have sufficed). Like that sequel, this one is simply the middle chapter, with one of the main characters' fate in jeopardy at the end. (Yes, that's right: there's a cliffhanger ending.) I would much rather this had been a self-contained Jack Sparrow adventure. Considering the movie is already about a half hour too long and I didn't enjoy it all that much, the last thing I want is to continue the same story a year from now. Arrrrrgh. Pirates gets a C-.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Catching Up

Sorry for the radio silence. It’s been one of those weeks where I was busy at work and nothing outside the office was particularly blog-worthy. To wit, and to catch you up (and to get the promotion posting off the top of the site), some quick and random things:

* Got a haircut on Sunday. That was the highlight of my weekend.

* Alright, maybe not. I also went to Russo's for the first time. And maybe it wasn’t the life-changing experience it was billed as, but I fully expect to go back often to take advantage of the lower-priced and better quality produce.

* My neighbors on the other side of my bedroom wall are rather insensitive. While I hit snooze for about an hour every morning, my reflexes are good enough that the music’s only playing for a second or two — tops — before I hit the button. They, however, let the music play at a decent volume while they hang out and get ready for the day. Thankfully, it was good music on Tuesday (92.9, which played Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and The Fray’s “Over My Head”), so I didn’t mind much, but still …

* In a related matter, I think there’s something to be said for radio karma, or whatever it’s called when your radio tries to teach you a lesson for snoozing too long. It never fails: I hit snooze one extra time and the song that comes on is something awful like Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” or Sean Paul’s “Temperature.” And yet, I never do learn, because all it means is I get 9 more minutes to sleep. I mean, really — who can get up with a bad song stuck in his head?

* And in another related matter, my favorite CD of the moment is Train’s For Me, It’s You. I can listen to it over and over, and my favorite track is the title song, which I think is a perfect wedding song.

* It’s never a good sign when, at the dentist, the hygienist gives your teeth the once-over then raises the volume on her radio, essentially saying, “This is going to hurt. I need to distract you.” Thankfully, it was just that she couldn’t hear the music. No drills were necessary, and I was largely pain-free.

* I know Superman Returns is gonna do big business this weekend. I just want to know if it’ll beat Aquaman. I plan to see Supes tomorrow night. Tonight is Pirates of the Caribbean. Woo hoo!

* I like not watching so much TV in the summer. Aside from Red Sox games and Ebert & Roeper, I haven't really watched anything — not even my cousin David's show. I'm trying to get into Windfall but I'm still behind by a week or two, and I'm watching season one of Grey's Anatomy on DVD (slowly), but mostly what I've been doing is setting my DVR and not watching what I record. Never did see the Britney Spears or Angelina Jolie interviews, for example. I love summer, and having a life.

* Speaking of the Red Sox, it’s great to have Gabe Kapler back playing baseball. He’s my favorite Red Sox player, and not just because he gives Jewish athletes a good name. The guy’s fun to watch and his positive, can-do attitude is something I really respect.

* Speaking of which, it sure is good to be a Sox fan lately, ain't it? It's fun playing the Mets this week, having Pedro back in town, enjoying a 10-game winning streak, and most importantly being 3.5 games ahead of the Yankees. I'm looking forward to seeing the olde town team play in Florida this weekend. No tickets available here in Boston, but plenty still up for grabs in Miami.

* I hate when the drivers on the C line tell people to move all the way back into the train, even when there's no room to go back any farther. But what's worse is when we get to Kenmore, and the doors open on the opposite side of the train, meaning that all those who had gone to the very back of the train now have to move forward to let the new people on. That's just stupid and annoying.

I guess that’s enough. As I say, nothing toooooo exciting. But at least you know I’m still here and unlike some other bloggers, I haven't taken time off from blogging.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Personnel Announcement

Generally, I try to keep this blog a work-free zone, but for those readers who I actually know, who I haven't been in touch with recently — or those I don't know who would be interested — I thought I'd post an announcement that I've been promoted, and I'm now a Senior Managing Editor. I'm still working on the same magazines, but now I also manage three employees (in addition to our team of interns) and I'll be taking on other responsibilities as well. It's all good, and I'm quite happy about the news, as you may assume. We do our annual performance reviews in June here, right around the same time as my birthday, so this was a great way to bring in the new year. Woo hoo! Good for me.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

One Man Party

I thought this was too funny not to mention here. In the new Broadway show, Fame Becomes Me, Martin Short and cast sing a song called “Party with Marty.” Ha ha …

That’s all. I don’t have much more to say about that. Just that I think this show has now become a must-see for me, if only for that one song.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's Not TiVo. It's MeVo.

Adam Sandler is all grownzed up in real life, and Click is a reflection of that. No more high-tempered man-child doing doofus things. Now it's good-natured (though still high-tempered) man-child who is actually an adult with a wife and kids and a high-powered job, who regrets not having enough time to spend with his family and actually cries. And that's about as critical or analytical as I'm going to be on this movie. Click is a cute, sweet, family-friendly movie that has some funny scenes and cameos from Sandler movie mainstays like Rob Schneider and Sean Astin, plus a typically weird and funny performance by Christopher Walken, but feels a bit neutered, compared to, say, Big Daddy or even Mr. Deeds. Still, Click is not necessarily a bad movie, so it gets a B from me.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Hot Fun in the Summertime

It was a very warm weekend here in Boston; I guess summer is finally here. (Woo hoo!) It was also a busy one for me. Among the highlights, I spent part of Saturday on the Common with Amy, Amy, and John. It was another one of our 'stravaganzas — this one was dubbed the MarcottMartinStravaganza, in honor of our birthdays. Usually we have brunch and go bowling, but because of the weather, we opted for an outdoor activity. Thankfully, we found a shady spot for our picnic that kept us cool.

Sunday I hung out with one of my favorite kids, Judah B., while Karen and David packed (or prepared to pack) for their move on Wednesday. Then, master chef that I am, I made a lasagne for Sarah and Amy (a different Amy) that actually came out really well and made our third dinner together (we rotate apartments with the host cooking the main dish) the best yet. I don't ever cook — in my four-plus years in this apartment, this was the first time I'd had people over for dinner — and I was quite pleased with how well I did. You might even say I now have another culinary specialty. (Or you might not.) And then Entourage was really good. And of course, the Sox swept Atlanta. So, a great weekend. Why do they always feel so short?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Just an Urban Legend?

Apparently, a lot of you out there like cupcakes ... in all their varied forms. My recent post about the new Johnny Cupcakes store has had the most hits of any posting I've written (at least it seems that way), thanks largely to, and one guy has even posted about my posting, albeit with a false reasoning (i.e.: he overlooks the fact that Newbury Comics actually sells comic books, but Johnny Cupcakes does not sell cupcakes). And people are still commenting on my site about Johnny Cupcakes even though the posting is three weeks old. In fact, in more than one place I've read that on weekends, Johnny's mother gives out homemade cupcakes with any purchase.

So, because I'm not entirely a bad person, I've been back to Johnny Cupcakes twice now on weekends. And wouldn't you know it, both times there were no cupcakes. And no one I know has had a cupcake from Johnny Cupcakes. It's kind of like the stories I've heard from people who live in Los Angeles: it's illegal to jaywalk there, and no one I know has ever gotten a ticket for it, but they have all heard of someone getting one. So I ask: Do these free cupcakes actually exist? And if so, why don't they exist when I'm in the store? Does this mean Johnny is tracking me, and does he know when I come by? It he hiding them when I am in the neighborhood? And also, is he reading my blog, and enjoying the publicity? I have nothing against the guy. I just want a cupcake. Is that so wrong?


Friday, June 16, 2006

Get Your Kicks ... Elsewhere

Cars is cute. And that's both a good and bad thing. It's good because it's colorful and fun to look at, but it's bad because it borders on childish and doesn't have the wide appeal of Pixar's other recent films. I'd even say it's the worst of Pixar's films since A Bug's Life. Now of course, let's put things into perspective: a bad Pixar film is still better than many other releases. And Cars isn't necessarily a bad movie. It just doesn't have the same spark or endearing qualities of The Incredibles or Monsters Inc. I mean, let's face it: how much can you really enjoy watching cars, especially one voiced by Owen Wilson? He's much funnier and loveable when you're watching him. But Cars sure is damned good to look at, especially the shots of the desert and Route 66. And the racing scenes look almost real (all things considered). I just wish I loved it more. So I'm giving Cars a B.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

I'm Really Losing It

So the weirdest thing has happened to me. Last Thursday night, after foraging through my kitchen for something to eat (I still hadn’t gone shopping after my vacation), I settled on some Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. And because sometimes I do stupid things, I sat on the couch and ate about half a strip of ’em. Maybe 10 cookies total.

Well, the very next morning, my pants didn’t fit. I mean, they were too big. It was really odd. Not that they were obscenely big or anything, but for the first time in I don’t know how long I really needed to wear a belt.

I thought this was just a fluke thing, but it’s now been a week, and my pants (and not just that one pair of jeans) still don’t fit me. Which can only mean one thing, or two: I’m actually losing weight, and it has everything to do with the Thin Mint cookies. (Not surprisingly, I ate the other half last night.)

So allow me to be the first advocate for this new kind of cookie diet. I’m not saying Thin Mints will work for everyone (I’m not even completely saying they worked for me — probably an increased number of salads, glasses of water, and more walking have helped, too), but hey ... you never know what will work sometimes. (After all, chocolate seems to cure my colds pretty consistently.) And you never know, maybe if I’m feeling positively encouraged, I might even join the gym (finally). Woo hoo!

Monday, June 12, 2006

House Is Not a Home

To put it in the most simple way, here's what's wrong with The Lake House:
1. It makes no sense; how can things that happen in 2004 not affect what happens in 2006?
2. Keanu Reeves can't act, but even worse, he can't read a letter
3. Although it's not overly long (108 minutes), it feels long
4. It makes no sense
5. Keanu and Sandra Bullock have no connection, other than they have to get together by movie's end
6. When they do get together, it's absolutely nauseating
7. It's stupid
... oh, and did I mention the movie makes no sense?

And also, alright, so they're "sending" each other letters through this one mailbox. Well, what happens when they get actual mail? Does it get delivered in 2004 or 2006? And when the mailman shows up, if he sees a letter meant for one or the other, does he mail it?

There. I've just saved you $10. If you want to see a decent movie where the two romantic leads don't share much screen time, rent Sleepless in Seattle. And of course, if you want to see these two together in a good movie, rent Speed. I'm giving The Lake House a C–.

ps: It's a shame the movie's so bad. When I interviewed Shohreh Aghdashloo for Continental, she had such nice things to say about it (not that any of that made it into my article).


A Real Show Man

The Tony Awards were handed out last night, and for the fourth year in a row, Continental has proven to be a positive jinx. What I mean is, whatever we've had on the cover of our May issue has won. In 2003, it was Marissa Jaret Winokur, who won best actress for Hairspray. In 2004, it was Idina Menzel, who won best actress for Wicked. Last year, it was Spamalot, which won best musical. And this year, it was LaChanze, who won best actress for The Color Purple. The cooler part, at least for me, is that I interviewed Idina Menzel and LaChanze thinking both would be a front-runner for the award. I also interviewed Sutton Foster, who was nominated last year and this year (though she didn't win either year), and suggested profiling Winokur back in 2003. So, because my Tony prognostication skills are apparently quite good, I just thought I'd gloat for a minute on here. Congrats, LaChanze!

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pass This Bar

I'll keep this one short. Keeping Up with the Steins begins with a hysterically over-the-top Titanic-themed Bar Mitzvah that takes place aboard a cruise ship and actually features the guest-of-honor yelling out, "I'm king of the Torah!" But that's the high point. Soon after, the movie becomes a better-than-average movie-with-a-message, perfect for Hebrew school viewing. For mainstream audiences, much less non-Jewish ones, I don't think the movie's all that great or worth seeing. Jeremy Piven does his Jeremy Piven thing, but he's more enjoyable on Entourage. So, Steins gets a C+ from me.


At Least I Got an Umbrella

I'm happy to report that my 10-year reunion has come and passed. And while I only went to the barbecue on Saturday afternoon (which was moved indoors because of the weather), that was clearly enough.

What a scene it was. So much fake sentiment. So much hyperbole about having married "the most wonderful man" or having "the happiest kids ever." So little excitement about the planned events. So many generalizations ("Everyone lives in New York" or "Everyone has a kid," for example). And so much denial and excuse-making about why people hadn't stayed in touch (the best one I was told: "Sometimes we just get so involved in our own lives"). I suppose I should leave it at that, though I'm definitely tempted to write a more mocking and detail-filled recap of what went down.

Of course, not all was worth mocking. The brownies were good. And among the old friends I've lost touch with who were in attendance, there were some people I was genuinely happy to see and enjoyed speaking with. But most importantly, the real reason I went to the reunion was to get a new umbrella, and on the way out, that's exactly what I got. It made the whole two-hour experience totally worth it. Hopefully this umbrella will last longer than my other one so I can skip the 15-year reunion altogether.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

California Dreamin'

As promised, here's a link to all my photos from my trip to Los Angeles last week (minus a handful that were deemed "unworthy of public viewing"). There are two separate photo albums, and each one covers two days (it's easy to switch from one to the other, just click on "Browse all albums (2)" and then scroll down.) Be sure to read my captions for explanations of what everything (and who everybody) is.

If you want some context, here's my recap of Friday, my recap of Saturday, my recap of Sunday, and my recap of Monday.

And fyi, unlike those used with the daily recaps, the photo above is actually one of mine.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Some Birthdays Are Happier Than Others

Today is my 32nd birthday (as if I hadn't mentioned it before) and I hope the day goes better for me than it did for Michael James Emanuel Jr. You see, for his sixth birthday, Michael's family left him behind at Chuck E. Cheese and didn't even realize it until the next day. I'm not sure how a six-year-old boy gets left behind on the day of his birthday party, but, well, happy birthday to you, Michael. I hope you got to play a few extra games of Skee Ball and earned some cool prizes. Just remember, it could have been worse: you could have been left in a hot car with the windows up, or in a locked freezer.

But on a much happier note ... did I mention that today is my birthday? And did I mention it's one of my favorite days of the year? Oh, and if I forgot to say something earlier, it's my birthday today. Thirty-two. That's right, all day long I'll be celebrating my 32nd birthday. So yeah, happy birthday to me. Woo-hoo!


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Back to Life, Back to Reality

It's chilly (high 50s) and rainy, the Yankees have now beaten the Red Sox two nights in a row, the post office didn't actually hold my mail while I was away, there's almost no food in my kitchen, and I have to go to work in the morning — without an umbrella. This can mean only one thing: vacation is now officially over.

Just wanted to close the loop on my travel journal and let you know my flight home was more enjoyable and more comfortable than the flight out to L.A. was. I actually slept for a chunk of it and managed to read an entire (double) issue of Entertainment Weekly. Stopped at Noah's for a bagel on the way to LAX ... and that was basically all the excitement I have to report for the day — if you don't count the fact that one of my coworkers was also on the flight coming back from L.A., which was fun.

So, yeah ... to quote the Soul II Soul song, "Back to life, back to reality." Please excuse me if I don't seem happy about it.


Hollywood Swingin'

You might say I spent my last day in L.A. seeking stars. Started off by driving down East Altadena Drive to number 1675, to make sure the Walshes' house was still there. It was, just like I remembered it. (Phew!) Snapped a couple pictures and drove away, so as not to arouse suspicion (there were "neighborhood watch" signs all over). Then I went to the downtown area to see the Walt Disney Concert Hall (which was still under construction the last time I was here), and find Union Station (which was not what I expected, based on the music videos and films that had been shot there) and City Hall.

After that, I headed on over to Hollywood, to Paramount, to have lunch with Todd (who works there) and our old friend Ross, who was meeting us there. Then Rebecca (who also works there) gave me a tour, and let me pick through her free DVD collection. Suffice it to say, I walked away with six or seven titles, everything from The Naked Gun and Ferris Bueller's Day Off to, ahem, Laguna Beach: Season One. (Hey, it was free!) And of course, I saw lots of cool stuff on the lot and took lots of pictures. Oh, and I did have a star sighting: Brandy. (Alright, so maybe it wasn't Tom or Julia, but it was somebody. And no, I didn't ask to take her picture; she was there to work.)

Then I drove down Melrose Avenue and decided to head up to Hollywood Boulevard, where I walked around for a bit, checking out (again) the Chinese Theater, Kodak Theater, and that general area. Got into a "thing" with two guys dressed up as Darth Vader and a Storm Trooper in front of the Chinese Theater who didn't like me taking their picture without giving them a tip; the Storm Trooper actually waved his finger at me from across the street to tell me not to take the picture!

At night, I headed back to Dodger Stadium to watch the Dodgers play the Mets with Todd, Tiffany and Kerri. (The Mets won, 4-1.) And then, after filling up my car with gas (which cost me $40!!!) I stopped at 21 Choices for some dessert (think Cold Stone Creamery, except with soft-serve yogurt. There are 21 choices of toppings. I had "Kit Kat Cookie" with M&M's mixed in. Yum). It was a sweet way to end what has been a really relaxing, really fun, and just really great vacation. It has been four years since I went away anywhere (my 3-day weekend in Chicago doesn't count), and I guess I just forgot how nice it was to get away and do fun things. Getting on the plane to come back home is going to be really tough, as is getting up on Wednesday to go to work. (Of course, I do have one thing to look forward to: Wednesday is my birthday! So, although my vacation is over, I am returning to a celebration and am looking forward to being another year older.)


Monday, June 05, 2006

A Good Day for Sunscreen

I've been staying in Altadena with Todd and Tiffany this weekend (for reference, their place is not too far from 1675 E. Altadena Drive), and I spent yesterday with them. After starting the day sitting around reading The L.A. Times we went to Dish for brunch (where we had one of the most upbeat waiters of all time), and then Todd and I went off to the Huntington to walk around, check out the gardens, and generally just enjoy the near-90 degree and sunny weather. (I've been told that the weather wasn't this nice until just a few days ago, so clearly I timed my trip just right. And yes, I've been wearing sunscreen.) The gardens were nice — not soooooo well-maintained, but still worth seeing — and we had a good time. Unfortunately, the thing we really wanted to see — an actual Gutenberg Bible — was off display. But I guess sweating under the hot sun was also fun, and by the time we left, it's fair to say we both felt sorta beaten down by the heat. Then we drove around Pasadena, got out and walked around Old Pasadena (which is a lot less "old" now than the last time I was here four years ago), and headed home to meet up with Tiffany. Dinner was at Green Street Restaurant, which is right near a Hamburger Hamlet — not to be confused with a Hot Dog Macbeth or Sushi Othello, or even a Deserts All's Well That Ends Well. (Actually, we almost went to Ruth's Chris but didn't, partly so we could stay in shorts.) Anyway, that was the day. Good, low-key, and very hot.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Just Another Perfect Day

It's hard to tell which song to quote: Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." or the Riviera's "California Sun," but since I used one for the headline of this post, I'll say now that I'm out here a-havin' fun in the warm California sun. Spent yesterday with Rebecca. Met up with Jake (formerly Howie) at Basix in West Hollywood for brunch, ate delicious pancakes, etc. Then we headed over to Venice for a couple hours, walked the canals, saw the houses (no two the same), took many pictures (again, the above is not one of mine), hung out on the beach, got wet in the Pacific Ocean, took more pictures. Then at night we went to Royce Hall at UCLA for a silent film gala screening Harold Lloyd's Safety Last! with live accompaniment by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. And then, somehow, Rebecca navigated me from her place in Hollywood back to the 134 through all kinds of side roads and whatnot, and on a Saturday night too. Very impressive. All told, having a very good time. I'm totally relaxed and very happy I decided to get away. Really needed the vacation.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Same Story, Different Coast

As I've learned time and again, it's a bad thing for me to be set loose in a nice place with my camera, and now that I'm on vacation here in Los Angeles, I've slipped all-too-easily into the role of "tourist." Yesterday I went to one of my favorite places, the Getty Center, and must have taken about 50 pictures, some of the same things from different angles. In fact, I was there for about three hours, and not counting the architecture, I didn't see a single piece of art. And it's not like this was my first trip there. (I should add right away that the picture above is not one of mine, but one I found on Wikipedia's site about the Getty that I really like.) You'll see all my pictures and hear all my stories when I return to the right coast, but as long as I have Web access at Todd and Tiffany's, I thought I'd give some quick trip updates every day before I set off, in case you're interested in what I'm up to out here. Had a good flight, it was half-full, and despite having more space than I needed and two whole rows to choose from, I couldn't sleep. Thankfully, the inflight movie was King Kong, so I watched that again. Yesterday I went to Westwood and had brunch at Jerry's, mmmmmmmm. While I was walking around, I saw an armed robbery in progress at the EB Games store (well, not from inside the store, but I saw the cops with guns and the backup and the helicopter and the newsvans, etc.). Good stuff (and no, I didn't take any pictures of it). Went to the Getty with Rachel, who I'll also see next week at Reunion. Went to the Dodger game vs Phillies with Todd, Tiffany and Kerri. The Dodgers lost, but it was good to see that Nomar is loved by the fans and playing well — the PA plays "Low Rider" when he comes up to bat. Also, it was Ron Cey bobble head night. (Bonus!) And the temperatures here are in the mid-80s, which is really nice. I'm just relaxing and taking it easy out here, on this last weekend of my 31st year. If yesterday was any indication, it should be a good rest of the trip.