Archive for August, 2010

Rejected Soft And Energy Drink Brands

Posted: August 25, 2010 by kaostheory in Informative
Tags: ,

Good news, everybody! The court system of San Diego County recently reached a decision in the San Diego v. Dan Eats Cat Food case from way back in March. We won! As it turns out, so many grievous errors were made by the prosecution – most glaring being that the deposition referred to Daniel Consumes Feline Eatables – which we are not – that the court had no option but to find in favor of us and order the prosecution to pay back our court costs. So, long story short, we made it out of that whole predicament with our heads held high, our records clean and – since we represented ourselves – some extra cash to burn.

So how did we handle the very rare situation of our wallets being flush with greenbacks? Did we buy stock in companies that will surely grow as the economy im…improv…improv…ha! Even typing that, that can’t be said with a straight face. Anyways, no. Did we give it all to charity in a sign of good faith to the courts that we have reformed our wicked ways? Absolutely not. Did we pay our long-suffering employees for their tireless labor in finding ways to exploit legal loopholes? Well…no.

So what DID we do? Simple.

We invested in a soft drink company and came up with some new ideas!

Anyways, long story short, we’re due back in court on Monday, this time in New Jersey. And Minneapolis. And Phoenix. Yeah. Oh wait. Hold on.

Annnnnnnnnd Idaho…for some reason. Awesome.

In any case, it’s probably prudent to release the list of drinks that we produced. If you have at all consumed any of them, please contact your nearest health professional and may God have mercy on your soul.
——
First up, we attempted to latch on to that demographic that enjoys consuming things with sexually suggestive names. For instance, Bawls. Unfortunately, our “tag team” brands didn’t quite work out as well as we thought it would. It turns that that while Bawls allows for jokes that mentally enhance the flavor of the drink, people are not quite as enthusiastic about names such as Paeniz or Vuhjeyenah. And don’t get us started on the miserably failed “Put our Paeniz in your mouth!” campaign. That may have actually decreased sales, to be honest.

Our next effort was not a whole lot better. We’re starting to learn that basic honesty is not the best policy. But you know, that’s just us. We like to be straight with people. When we create a drink called Loaded With Fucking Sugar, we’re saying that, hey, you know what? This drink is loaded with fucking sugar so…you know…be a little judicious drinking it, yeah? But no. Apparently that’s out of line. Fascists.

Also, people aren’t really a big fan of stuff that references the bottling process. We found that out the hard way when Hey, Just A Heads-Up: This Was Bottled Right Next To A Vat Of Rat Poison So Watch Out crashed and burned. It was the same problem with the whole bugs thing for the cereal. We thought it was pertinent information. Apparently that is not so.

The next misfire was a complete and total miscommunication on our part. We take full responsibility for the…several dozen hospitalizations that occurred due to stupid kids mainlining our new energy drink titled Black Tar Heroin. We knew that the drink “Cocaine” existed…hell, we even tried it once. It burned the back of our throats. But since we bought it only because of the name, we expected that the same sort of thing would fuel sales. We were right but the ensuing charges didn’t help us.

Then there was Twitter. It was meant to be cute and to attach our name to the social networking program. It was not meant to cause grievous heart palpitations. That’s…about all there is with that.

Let’s see. What was next? Ah, right! Alcohol. It was less of an energy drink and more of not even in any way an energy drink and more of actual grain alcohol colored purple using dye that may or may not have been street legal. How can DYE not be street legal? Your guess is as good as ours.

Oh, this next one was fun. Didn’t even get out of marketing. Cummingbird Light. You can figure out what the opposition was. That’s right. They objected to “light” being attached without us creating first an actual brand. Pedants.

We’re still a little surprised that Grandpa Jim’s Homestyle Caffeinated Beverage didn’t work out. Although, in retrospect, perhaps a Morgan Freeman lookalike clad only in overalls chugging a bottle with Xs on it with a frenzied look in his eye may have sent the wrong impression. THIS wasn’t an alcoholic drink. The Xs may have appeared to promote that. Damn the luck.

Now this last one…we cannot for the life of us see what was wrong with this one. It was called Overdose, it was bright orange and it contained just under the lethal limit for caffeine and sugar. UNDER the limit! We weren’t over. Granted, this drink made the walls sparkle and inanimate objects change shape and begin speaking to you. That was NOT because of the caffeine and sugar. We will maintain that until the day we die. It was not. It was simply due to the trace amounts of LSD that somehow found their way into every batch of Overdose. That’s ALL.
——
As we said last time, we are NOT trying to harm our consumers! That’s bad business. We simply wanted to create the best drinks we could for the cheapest price we could muster. Simple as that.

(And you don’t see any issue with that? – ed.)

No?

(Well, that pretty much explains why we’re going to have to go to court. Again. I never thought I would have to speak that phrase more than like…twenty times in my life MAX. But I guess I earned it for trusting you with money. – ed.)

Yes you did! Yes you most certainly did. DEUCES!


(Why don’t you just bring it on home now, KT? – ed.)

Don’t wanna.

(Do it. – ed.)

No.

(Do it! – ed.)

No.

(Fine. What will it take to make you finish this story? – ed.)

No. I mean, Snack Pack.

(Snack Pack? You want a Snack Pack? You want a Snack Pack in order to do your job? – ed.)

Yes. And not one of those crappy vanilla ones that look like coagulated semen. A REAL one. Chocolate.

(Fine. I’ll get you a chocolate Snack Pack if you do this. – ed.)

Yay!
——
Groggy, the young man shook his head, trying to come to his senses. His senses came back very quickly as he realized that his head and the rest of his body felt very heavy. Opening his eyes, all he could see was darkness, save a grate in front of him, the light split by the thin bars. Panicked, he began to thrash about and soon felt arms holding his limbs down, calming him. Through the darkness, he could hear a muffled voice.

“Calm yourself, Ken. Calm yourself. You are just fine.”

“Mistress Calliope?” he heard himself say, the sound echoing around him.

“Yes. It is alright. You are alive. Here. Let me help you.

Light flooded his face and he winced. Now he could see the world in full color. He wished he couldn’t as soon as he could because he now knew the situation. He was on the battlefield, the war raging around him already. He was clad in heavy armor and a large sword was strapped to his waist. He was on a horse and the horse clearly did not want him there. This…was not good.

“Oh shit.”

“Friend!”

He could hear the joyous shout of Nubbins as the funny little creature climbed up on to his horse and sat down in front of him.

“You are awake! Good. We were unsure how much longer we could protect you from Baphomet’s legions. Many good creatures died. But you are awake and with us now! Grab your sword. I shall direct the horse where it is needed. All you need do is swing your weapon.”

“Seriously, this isn’t something I – ”

“Thank you, Ken,” Calliope said softly, “Our child will grow up in a better world because of your actions.”

“Oh. Right. The kid thing. Look, it’s been real but I actually HAVE a girlfriend back home and it’s starting to get pretty serious so…”

That’s when she kissed him and his protestations went away.

“Ah what the hell. This is probably just a coma dream anyway. If I die in here, I’ll probably just die in the real world. Whatever. Let’s ride, Nubbins.”

With that, the horse took off, charging towards the armies ahead of them. Using as much of his strength as he could manage, Ken swung the very large sword he had been given. It was clumsy but effective. He could hear the screams of the wounded as he severed limbs and other assorted body parts. He could feel blood spray his face and he began to smile. He finally felt alive. He was free. He was…

Lying on his back on the ground, struggling to get up. His horse had been rammed and killed by some beast and he and Nubbins had been thrown to the earth. As he regained his balance, he saw what stood in front of him. It was a big, angry, snorting and spitting and raging…unicorn. Blood from his poor mount ran down the horn and stained the white hair of its face. For a moment, all the world seemed to stand still.

Then, the unicorn charged. Frantic, Ken looked around for an answer as to what to do. Nubbins, in a cracked voice, called out to him.

“Friend! Climb astride the ‘Corn! Get on the back!”

As quickly as he could, he dodged, grabbed ahold of the unicorn’s mane and swung himself up onto its back. It was, to say the least, displeased. It began to buck in a tireless effort to hurtle him to the ground where he could be stomped into oblivion.

“What! Do! I! Do! Now?!” he cried, every word punctuated by another buck from the creature.

“You must break the horn off!”

“WHAT?!”

“Break the horn off! It is the source of its power and rage!”

Shaking his head in disbelief, Ken punched as hard as he could at the horn, his gauntlet chipping at it. With every punch, another crack formed. The unicorn, sensing danger, began to buck harder but still the young man held on, swinging away. Finally, with a mighty blow, the horn cracked at the base and fell to the ground. The animal screamed and knelt down in pain. Ken quickly jumped off and looked at the pitiful sight. He heard Nubbins call to him.

“Now it’s just a horse! A horse you can beat to death!”

“What? But I just beat it!”

“Nooooooo!” the little creature cried, “You have not defeated it yet! You must kill it and drink the blood from the horn!”

“You’re kidding!”

“Drink its BLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!” Nubbins cried, his voice rising to a high, keening shriek, mania filling his eyes.

With disgust evident on his face, he picked up the horn and looked at it.

“Noooooooowwwwwww!”

He shook his head, tipped the horn back and began to drink. He coughed loudly, the blood clearly not agreeing with him.

“OH my God. I thought it would be pink and sparkly! It’s not! It’s black! It stinks and it’s black!”

“You have gained the power of the unicorn! Now take your mighty, magically imbued horn and stab it in the eye!”

“I don’t HAVE a…oh God no. WHY AM I ERECT?!”

“The magic has filled your horn with energy! Stab the unicorn and gain his life essence!”

“No. I am not going to skullfuck a unicorn. I draw the line there.”

“Then you must DIE!”

Ken turned to see Nubbins charged at him with a spear. Before he could react, the spear pierced his chest and…

Ken gasped as he sat up, his bed all a shambles. His sheets were twisted around him and he looked around. There, surrounding him, were his concerned – now joyous -family.

“He’s alive!” his mother shouted. A beautiful woman – his girlfriend – ran over and embraced him, smothering him with kisses.

“What happened?”

“You suffered a pulmonary embolism. You nearly died, ” his girl, still latched on to him, said.

“Uh huh. Well, I was just in a magical land where there were weird creatures and Baphomet and this girl. I think I made her pregnant.”

“Was I the girl?”

“I…no.”

“…you asshole.”

The room erupted in laughter as Ken sat there, looking perturbed. In the night sky outside, stars twinkled.
——
(…that’s IT? He WAS in a coma? – ed.)

Yuh huh.

(WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? THAT IS THE BIGGEST COPOUT ENDING OF ALL TIME! – ed.)

Yuh huh.

(I…I am so mad I can’t speak. – ed.)

Yay! Goodnight everyone! I hope you don’t hate us too much!


(Alright, KT! Aren’t you excited about writing today? – ed.)

Nnnnnnrg.

(Okay, let’s try again. Are you ready to do this? – ed.)

Mrrrrgn.

(Okay, let me clarify yet again. You’ve been drunk for a week and a half. It’s a miracle you are actually still breathing. That being the case, are you at least ‘not hungover’ enough to try writing? – ed.)

…yeah.

(Good. Then hop to it. – ed.)

I said I can probably try to write. Movement of any kind – especially hopping – is right out. Jostling my stomach is a poor choice.

(It’s…an expression. – ed.)

YOU’RE an expression.

(…just write the fucking story. – ed.)
——
As the quartet traveled through the winding paths of the Jodhpur Forest, Nubbins briefed Ken on the most salient details of the history of Beautopia. The facts were somewhat different than he expected.

“Okay, let me see if I have this straight,” Ken said, “Leprechauns are real but reside entirely in the Wastelands. Elves are not real. Nymphs are real and work as prostitutes in Portland – prostitution BEING legal…”

“You can thank me for that one later,” mused Cal Jack.

“Griffins are real and serve the same purpose as school buses do in my world. Fairies are not real. Gnomes used to be real until you exterminated them in…what did you call it again?”

“The Great Gnome Pogram,” said Nubbins.

“Right. The Great Gnome Pogram. Okay. Not that I approve of that in any way, shape or form, but…why?”

“It’s quite simple, my human friend,” Efrem rumbled below them as he walked, “The gnomes were unbelievers. They let their souls become clouded with the promise of mountain berry juice, nymph sexuality and unrestrained illegal back-alley parcheesi tournaments. We could have stood by and let them be damned to the Netherland far below the surface of our world or we could cleanse them and give them back life in the Aetherland. We chose to be mercy-bearers. Do not judge us too harshly, K. Oz Terry. We do not have such developed consciences as you humans.”

“…just out of sheer morbid curiosity, how many gnomes did you ‘cleanse’?”

“Just shy of seven hundred fifty thousand, plus or minus a few hundred or so!” Nubbins cheerfully chimed in. Ken, however, looked incredibly uncomfortable and the next several minutes of travel were met with awkward, tension-filled silence, not unlike that of a morning after fornicating with a spherical lady. Without warning, however, Efrem ground to a halt. Ken – facing backwards – was nearly thrown from the creature’s back.

“Why the hell are we stopping?” he yelled, turning to face his ridemates.

“Look up, friend,” said Cal Jack.

In front of the young man were the tallest city walls he had ever seen. They stretched far into the sky and appeared to be seven layers thick of what seemed to be a cross between granite and limestone. The city gates – gilded steel – portrayed fantastic scenes of violence and love and violent love and loving violence. Finally, beside the gates was a small black button.

“We have arrived at Lozenthol. The crown jewel city of Beautopia. The capital. The Big L. Ell City,” Nubbins pontificated. Cal Jack smirked.

“I think I get it, thank you,” said Ken.

“You almost forgot, dear Nubbins,” Cal Jack said, “that this is the city that houses our most beautiful and kind patron Mistress Calliope.”

“Mistress? Is that…”

“Yes, my human friend. The title means exactly what you think it does. We are not unversed in the linguistics of human sexuality here.”

“You’re shitting me.”

“No, K. I have not yet consumed you and so cannot be engaging in that particular act.”

“So you ARE unversed in human cursing linguistics.”

“Pardon?”

“I said a swear.”

“I see. Please forgive our backwards ways. We do not understand. We have different ways of expressing vulgarity.”

“Wait, so if I said ‘cargo hold’ or something like that?”

“You would have grievously insulted the Birth Mother of the World by calling her a common harlot with loose genitals.”

“I see. Well…apologies then. Shall we go see the Mistress?”

“Yes, of course,” Nubbins chipped in, “Let me go ring us in.”

Nubbins hopped off the back of their living vehicle and trotted over to the black button. After jumping a few times, he gained enough height to slam his fist on the button, caused a loud electrical hum to erupt from the gates, which slowly began to open. Nubbins quickly ran back and climbed up onto the toad again.

“Onwards Efrem! To Mistress Calliope’s villa!”

Croaking a bit from exertion, Efrem hauled his load through the town. The architecture was a curious combination of avant garde and mud hut. The citizens, all curious as to the new arrival, came out to the street to watch. A more varied lot one could never find. Seven eyes, two eyes, no eyes, one eye. Repeat the same for arms and legs. Wings. Horns. Tails. Stripes. Spots. If one were to compare the citizens of Lozenthol to anything in our world, it would most likely be a schizophrenic’s nightmare while drunk and high on LSD. Ken’s mind nearly spun attempting to comprehend the sights. Soon enough, they had reached the edge of town, where the mighty villa stood.

Once they reached the front sidewalk, Cal Jack, Nubbins and Ken disembarked, standing in front of the villa. None of them were sure what to do.

“Do…do we knock?” asked Ken, the most unsure.

“I have never been so I do not know, friend,” said Cal Jack.

Suddenly, the front door swung open and a beautiful human woman, hair like spun gold, eyes as blue as the waters in Capri, stepped out, her body covered in leather and lace, sewn together elegantly and yet with an air of sexuality to it. She smiled, teeth bright white in the sun.

“Hello! I am Mistress Calliope. I know you, Cal Jack, Efrem and Mr. Nubbins. That must mean that you, handsome stranger, must be Ken, the other human. Welcome. Please come in!”

Stupefied at her beauty, Ken let himself be led by his arm into the sitting room where the two others – Efrem could not enter – sat down. Calliope, however, did not let go of his arm, squeezing it gently.

“You boys make yourselves at home. Mr. ‘Terry’ and I need to speak privately. Come, Ken.”

Dutifully, he followed her up the grand staircase and out of sight. Time passed.

About an hour later, the pair walked back downstairs, smiles on their faces, although Ken’s was larger. Ken also appeared to be doing a small dance of some sort. Cal Jack and Nubbins stood and made small bows.

“Welcome back, Mistress,” said Nubbins. “You two were gone quite a while. Were you speaking to one another?”

“Hell yes,” said Ken. “First I spoke to her, then she spoke to me, then we spoke to each other, then our bodies spoke.”

“I see,” Nubbins said. “Well, it must have been a very rewarding conversation, as we could hear the word ‘yes’ repeated over and over and at quite high volume.”

“That’s because I fu-”

Calliope nudged him and shook her head. Ken coughed.

“I mean. That’s because I…sequoiaed her…spare tire with…demarcation?”

“We do not quite understand but…”

Just then, a guard burst through the door, scared and sweating.

“Mistress! It has come! The time has come! The Dark Lord is approaching with his army!”

“The Dark Lord?” Ken laughed. “What is he? A disgrunted teddy bear?”

“Baphomet.” said Calliope.

“What?!”

“Baphomet. The goat’s head demon. The swallower of souls. In your culture, he is associated with Satanism and the Devil. He is in flesh in our world and seeks to destroy us,” said Cal Jack, reverentially.

“Oh God. I didn’t sign up for this.”

“Not to fear, Childbringer,” said Calliope. “We have nothing to fear as long as I survive.”

“As long as…WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?!”

“Childbringer. I am filled with your seed which has already begun to form our child, the savior of the world.”

“I’M GOING TO BE A FATHER?!”

“Indeed! The father of our salvation!”

Ken fainted. Calliope shook her head.

“Why is it that men always faint when they hear of this? No matter! To arms!”
——
(Uh, KT? Something you want to confess? – ed.)

Not really, no.

(Uh…huh. Okay. – ed.)

Can I pass out now? Oop. Too late. Night all!


A short time ago, in a place not too far from here, there was a boy. A boy looking to go on a magic…

(Wait. Wait wait wait. Hold on a damn minute here. What are you doing? – ed.)

Uh, it’s called setting the scene, Ed. It’s an integral part of effective storytelling.

(Fine. WHY are you doing? – ed.)

Because I have a story to tell. I figure that we can go exploring another world again as we…

(NO! Holy crap, absolutely not. Are you like…clinically retarded or something? Do you remember what happened last time? – ed.)

I…

(DO YOU REMEMBER THE INFERNO, YOU BASTARD? – ed.)

…yes.

(Do you remember how it took way longer and way more effort than you were expecting to pull it off? – ed.)

…yes.

(Good, so you understand why we are not – NOT – going to explore another world. Not now. Not ever. – ed.)

Fine. Just let me…

INAMAGICALKINGDOMFARAWAYAYOUNGMANWOKEUPINALUSHGREEN
FORESTANDLOOKEDAROUNDTOSEEAWORLDHEDIDNOTRECOGNIZE!

(YOU SON OF A – – ed.)
——
The young man sat up and stretched as he attempted to take in his surroundings. He could scarcely see the sky through the towering treetops, though what he could see was dark and expansive. Moonlight shone through the cracks in the treetops, illuminating the clearing he sat in. The forest around him seemed to stretch for miles and miles and he could sense no way of leaving his clearing. Confused and a bit frightened, he called out.

“Hello? Is anyone out there? Where am I?”

The only response he got was a resounding silence. After a few minutes of fruitless yelling, he flopped onto his back and placed his left arm over his eyes. Quietly, he began to verbally collect his thoughts.

“Alright. Hold it together, Ken. You just woke up in a strange place where there is no living creature around and no clear way to escape. Did you do something really wrong? Are you dead? Is this what Hell is like?”

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by quiet giggling and a voice that sounded something akin to Prince on helium.

“My goodness! What an odd fellow! Speaking to himself as if he were the only one alive! Very odd indeed.”

The young man jumped at that, scrambling backwards away from the voice, looking frantically around for the source of the mysterious voice. Right in front of him, he quickly saw, a few bizarre creatures stared at him, confusion in their faces. One appeared to be an extremely large toad – nearly the size of a full-grown heifer, yet purply-blue and with wings. Another, a curious little fellow – almost a cat but with much longer legs – wearing a yellow tunic and smoking a hookah. The middle creature, however, was the one that spoke, a clear ringleader. It was what one could imagine a teddy bear being crossed with a hedgehog. It wore a tan-colored suit and top hat and a small, gold pince-nez balanced on its nose. It made eye contact with the young man and its face split in what was ostensibly a smile.

“Do not be afraid, young man. I am Mr. Nubbins and these are my friends Cal Jack and Efrem,” he said, gesturing to the cat and the toad, respectively.

“H…hi. I’m…”

“Oh hush hush, new friend! Do not say your real name. Choose your own! Let your own imagination be your only limitation!”

“Uh…o…kay. I’m…uh…Noturmos.”

“What are you, a fag?”

“Excuse me?!”

“I said ‘Please keep choosing’ since that name is so…stigmatized in our society.”

“Stigmatized how? And what society?”

“JUST CHOOSE A NAME!” the creature thundered. The young man looked at him, a bit more frightened than he was before. Mr. Nubbins – as the young man now knew the creature – coughed and smiled again, nodding for the young man to continue.

“Alright…uh. Call me…oh I got it! Call me K. Oz Terry. KT for short.”

“Pleased to meet you, KT!” Nubbins exclaimed, extending its paw. The young man – KT – noticed with a moment of apprehension that Nubbins’ hand was just that – a nubbin. In fact, all his limbs terminated in the very same rounded edge. Nubbins laughed.

“Do not worry. Though I possess only nubs – per my name – they are as fully functional and dextrous as human hands.”

“So…if you have nubs because your name is Mr. Nubbins, what does, say, a guy named Long Richie have?” KT laughed, trying to lighten the mood.

“Godhood,” Cal Jack grumbled behind Nubbins, taking another long draw on his hookah. KT smiled uneasily. After a moment, Nubbins broke the tension with a loud laugh.

“Ah, Cal Jack. You never cease to amuse! Come, friend KT. Let us depart.”

“Depart WHERE? Okay, I need a few things answered before we go…wherever it is you’re taking me. Where am I? Why I am here? Where are we going? Those are kind of big ones to start with.”

“Of course. Let us see. You are currently in the geographic center of our country – the Jodhpur Forest. Our country, then, is the fanciful Kingdom of Beautopia!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me…” KT groaned to himself but let Nubbins continue. As he did so, he took a step back, nearly stepping on the head of a tiny chipmunk. Startled, KT turned and looked at the thing. It glared at him, unhappy.

“I’m sorry, little guy. I didn’t mean to…”

“Stuff it, cocksucker,” the chipmunk snarled in a surprisingly gruff voice as it ran back into the bushes. KT’s eyes flew open wide in surprise. Nubbins coughed loudly to get his attention again.

“Pay him no mind. His harvest was poor this year. As I was saying, we are heading, whenever we are finished here, to one of the two main cities that we may enter in Beautopia, those being the city of Lozenthol to the east and Portland to the north.”

“Wait. Wait, Portland? You have PORTLAND in this…place?”

“Of course, friend. Portland is the home base of our shipping trade routes all over the world! Our ports are the finest in the Northern Half.”

“I see. And to the west and south?”

Nubbins’ smile disappeared as he heard that question, replaced by a stony frown.

“To the west, there is nothing but the Western Wastelands, the only place where those in exile from our fair cities may dwell.”

“And the south?”

“To the south,” Efrem burbled, “lies only death and the reign of the Dark Lord himself. The south is the forbidden land, where no good creature can survive.”

“The Dark Lord?”

“We have spent too much time here as is, friend KT,” Nubbins interrupted. “Hop on Efrem’s back. He will take us to the east. I assume Mistress Calliope will want to meet you.”

“I’m not even going to ask.”

“Good boy. Hop on up. I shall be along in a moment.”

KT shrugged and followed Cal Jack to the toad where he climbed up and settled in. He did not notice Nubbins glaring into the bushes and drawing one paw across his throat. He also did not notice as shadows descended into that bush where the chipmunk had left. He still further failed to notice as a brief struggle ensued, ending up with a large spray of blood peppering the nearby tree. Satisfied, Nubbins nodded and climbed onto Efrem with the other two.

“To adventure!” he cried and they were off.
——-
Well, what do you think so far?

(I’m…surprised. It’s actually quite enjoyable. Plus it’s demented enough that it works well. Alright, KT. You won me. I’ll let you do your damn story. – ed.)

A winner is me!

(Uh…huh. Okay. Well, goodbye everyone. See you all back soon. We hope. – ed.)