Sunday, August 31, 2008

Woodstock Fair

My wife and I headed to the Woodstock Fair today. Neither of us had been in about ten years, though, at least for me, the Fair was always a staple of my childhood, that final hurrah before I headed back to dreaded school. And, its funny how many things changed over a decade.

As expected from a county fair, there were cows:
There were gigantic specimens of produce:
There were porcine pleasures:
(We didn't eat here. The idea of a full pork-chop in a bulky roll was too much for me.)

And, there were the rides, the play-us-if-you're-a-sucker midway games, the fun houses, the blue ribbons, the go-kart races, the crowds, the dusty parking lots, and everything you'd want from the Fair.

Yet, something was awry. Something didn't feel right. It took a moment for me to place my finger on the problem. I shuffled through my memory banks, trying to remember the Fair circa 1996 and earlier.

Then it came to me.

Where were the lumberjacks? They'd always be there when I was a kid, competing against each other to see who could cut through the log the fastest or who could carve a small chair out of a stump the quickest.

Where was the wax museum? That tiny trailer that contained somewhat-decent likenesses of Michael Jackson, Freddy Krueger, and other stars of the 1980s and 1990s was always a stopping point at every visit to the Fair, even if the characters never changed.

And what happened to the cheap ride tickets? Now, you're paying up to $5 a ride. How can a family afford to get their kids on more than two or three of these per visit? (To be honest, I've seen enough episodes of Carnivale to keep me away from a carnival ferris wheel for the rest of my life)

The Woodstock Fair has evolved, plain and simple, even if it doesn't seem so from the eyes of a first-timer.

The food choices have expanded since my last visit. Gone are the days of only eating hot dogs, hamburgers, corn dogs, or sausages. Now you have options from around the world. There were two Thai restaurants! Two! Not to mention the Greek places, Chinese food, and the like.
And, when did a vast swath of men between the ages of 50 and 65 decide that they had to look like the dad from American Chopper? I don't think I've ever seen so many handle-bar mustaches, tank tops, and crew cuts as I did on the grounds today.

Yes, this was the modern Woodstock Fair. As we strolled the paths, listening to the noise of Smash Mouth coming from the main stage (when did Smash Mouth become a Van Halen cover band? I heard them play about 4 VH songs in a row and we made our way through the vendors), we embraced the Fair of old and accepted the Fair of new. For all I know, the things I remember could have vanished from these grounds five or six years ago. And, yet, everything still felt familiar enough. 

The sun was out, the air was dry, and we had fun.

But this vendor sign creeped us out:
Those dead eyes just kept following you as you passed. They also reminded us of the Hardly Boys from South Park:
So, if you have the opportunity, visit your local county fair this Fall. Eat a fried dough. Look at the cows. Marvel at the massive squash. Have fun. But, don't bother to pay $1 to look at the giant rat. Only suckers do that. And, avoid the basketball game on the midway. The balls are over-inflated and the hoops are usually oval or narrowed. Just a word of warning . . .

I've had too much sun. Time to lie down.

"Mary Worth": Maybe I'm onto something here . . .

The other day, I railed against the comic strip Mary Worth, in which I brought up the idea that certain characters from the strip were so bored by the dull nature of the story unfolding before their eyes that they took leave to more exciting strips. One of the characters I mentioned was Ian, college professor and Gorton's fisherman look-alike. I brought up the scenario of Ian heading over to Prince Valiant, where he may actually have something to do.

Well, I may have hit on something here. I opened my comic section of the Sunday paper today and, while glancing past Valiant, came across this panel:
And, if you recall, this is our friend Ian:
I'm thinking we may have a match. 

Now, if I can only figure out where Mary has stumbled onto . . .

Friday, August 29, 2008

Getting someone else's stuff for cheap!

When I'm not busy reading Mary Worth, I tend to check out the rest of the Hartford Courant. In today's edition, there was an article about, a website devoted to selling off items seized by the police during arrests. Now, what I wonder is, what happens if I get robbed and, a year later, I find my stuff for sale on this website? Can I get it for free, or do I have to buy it back?

The site actually has some odd stuff for sale, like 2 street cones, currently at $6.74. Or, how about a bunch of crowbars (I wonder what those were used for . . .) for $6? Maybe a parking meter for one American dollar? My personal favorite is the gas pump with nozzle, a steal (get it, STEAL, as in, rob) at $6.

There are plenty of legit, and actually cool, things also for sale, like cameras and appliances. Certainly a strange place, but I'm sure it helps clear out those cages of junk at the police station.

UPDATE: I just saw that, if you can prove an item belongs to you, you CAN get it back for free. Also, my new favorite lot for sale is the 5-piece Scary Movie 4 bundle. One for you, four for your nearest-and-dearest loved ones! 

"Mary Worth": The worst comic strip ever

The Hartford Courant carries quite a few "serial" comic strips: Gil Thorp, Rex Morgan, M.D., Judge Parker, pretty much everything except Gasoline Alley. All are hokey in their own way, often over-dramatic, but none are as horrible and gut-wrenchingly dull as Mary Worth. The butt of many jokes over time (including the Simpsons episode where Comic Book Guy brags about having "a very rare Mary Worth in which she has advised a friend to commit suicide" to Bart), I had never really seen the strip until I moved to Connecticut. Now I understand why it is made fun of so often. Nothing, I mean NOTHING, happens in this strip. Since I've been in CT (now about 6 weeks), this is what has transpired:
This woman, named Toby, secretly bought a DVD (ooh, the technology!) for her husband . . .
Ian, a college professor (and possible candidate for the Gorton's Fisherman mascot position).
Seriously, I'm surrounded by college professors around here and none seem to resemble this guy.

Anyway, back on track . . .

Toby bought a DVD for her husband, Ian, as a birthday gift. This took a week's worth of strips to accomplish. Seriously. First, she looked at the store, which didn't have it, then she decided to shop online, where you can find anything, and it is "SO EASY!" 

Then, for three days, she actually bought the DVD. This was like a illustrated manual of how to deal with Amazon.

Then, she gave Ian the DVD. And they watched it . . . for three days.

Then, Toby got her credit card bill, and it took her four days to look at it and pay for the DVD.

During this time, Ian left for a trip, thankful to be away from the boredom that is Mary Worth. Possibly he was off to a guest appearance in Prince Valiant, where he could carry a sword and actually do something.

But, we didn't follow Ian. We stuck with ever-so-interesting Toby. Lucky us. 

Now, after all this excitement, we finally got to the action. Here's the kick in the pants. 

Wait for it . . .

Toby suspected someone has stolen her credit card number! AHHHH! The horrors of modern internet technology! If she only hadn't bought the DVD online! Now we can scare all the elders that read this even more from ever touching a computer, thus keeping newsprint alive for one more day!

And that's it. That was over a month of this comic strip. Woman buys DVD, gives it to husband, they watch said DVD, he leaves, she pays for her credit card bill, then finally suspects something is awry. A whole month.

At least a strip like Rex Morgan has some interesting illustrations. Mary Worth is just flat and plain, both in artwork and in story. And, to top it off, the character of Mary hasn't been seen in nearly a month. Even she can't stand the monotony of her friends. She's off trying to find a new strip. Come to think of it, Sarge in Beetle Bailey doesn't normally wear a red ascot, does he?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Poor Effrey

We get the free West Hartford News delivered to our mailbox every week. Inside, there's always a little classifieds section, mostly filled with home improvement ads. But, in this weeks addition, the front page was covered with a spread for a local realtor. At the bottom of the ad was a series of head-shots of the company's realtors, all smiling, ready to assist you in all of your home-purchasing needs. There's Bob and Frank and Liz and then there's . . .

Didn't notice anything? Here it is again:

Now, you're thinking, "Well, they left the 'J' off his name, no big deal." So, he can't show his Mom that he got in the newspaper, right? And, he'll get picked on by his co-workers. Will most likely be called "Effrey" for the rest of his career, right?

I went to this company's website to check it out. They had a page devoted to their staff. I looked up "Effrey," just for my own sake. 

They didn't just miss the "J." 

The guy isn't even named Jeffrey. 

Not even close.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Red Sox fan in shaky territory

Coming from Boston, and having lived my entire life in Massachusetts before relocating to Connecticut, I am, as you'd expect, a fan of the Boston Red Sox. However I find myself in a territory that seems to be a battleground between the Sox and their rivals, the New York Yankees. You'd think, West Hartford being a bit closer to Massachusetts than New York (about a third closer to MA), that being a Sox fan would be relatively safe. But I see quite a bit of pinstripes as I make my way about town. A bit too many for me to think this is safe territory.

Of course, I'm kidding on the whole "safe territory" thing. I'm not one of those moronic brute fans that hates anyone that has a different opinion. In fact, I will admit that I certainly respect the Yankees and even like a few of their players (this is easy to say this season, as they seem to be fading in the home stretch). That doesn't mean I don't want the Sox to win every single game against them. I'm reasonable, but not crazy.

The first Red Sox-Yankees series since I moved to Connecticut began last night. Though I was tempted to offer to my wife that we go out to watch the game, I figured it was safer to sit on our couch to take in the contest. With my luck, we'd end up surrounded by Bronx fans and the Sox would get crushed. I don't know many people yet in this town, and having that be my introduction to a large crowd wasn't high on my agenda. So, we sat and cheered from our living room, not too loud in case a strolling Bomber fan passed by the window, wallowing in the ineffectiveness of A. Rod (0-5, 2K, 2GIDP, 1 error) or the lack of pitching from Andy Pettitte (he's had an ugly record this season against the Sox in NY, so it wasn't much of a surprise). No, we kept the shades down and watched the NESN Red Sox feed, as opposed to the Yankee broadcast, two refugees in an uncertain realm. And the Sox won, 7-3.

And all was good . . . for half of West Hartford.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Don Knotts street sign

Having now learned where the sidewalk ended, I was reminded of the best street sign I have ever seen in my life. This picture was taken about nine years ago on route 148 in North Brookfield, MA. Don't know if the sign is still there.

Needless to say, Mr. Knotts posterior was never found in that area, though, to be fair, I doubt many took the time to look.

Where the sidewalk ends . . .

I came upon this while running a week or two ago and finally got around to taking a picture. The location is a few miles from my apartment, on King Philip Drive. Somehow I don't think this is what Shel Silverstein had in mind:

I don't think I've ever come across a sidewalk that just . . . stops. No warning, no signs, no crosswalk to get you across the busy street to the other sidewalk, just . . . nothing. Very odd. 

Monday, August 25, 2008

A classic

I haven't seen this in a long time. Always good for a laugh.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday night ruminations

Why are those that play their music the loudest also the ones that have the worst taste in music? And, if said music is so loud that it becomes a wall of static and distortion, can it still be enjoyed?

Where are all of the music stores around here? Do people even listen to music, I mean real music? Not just the static and distortion rattling the pavement beneath the tires of the cars that pass by with their windows down and the volume up? You know, tactile, physical music, CDs or records? I mean, I like Newbury Comics as much as the next guy, but the one at the Buckland Hills Mall doesn't count. I can stand on my porch and throw a rock that would land in Hartford and Manchester is the closest place to buy an album? Please, someone inform me of what I'm missing.

And radio. If this area of Connecticut isn't the perfect reason to switch to satellite, I don't know what is. No offense to some of the stations here, but there's really very little to listen to if you're into rock that's a little more obscure than, say, Pearl Jam circa Ten. How often can you hear Jeremy in one day? Oh, about the same amount of times you can hear Back In Black, as that seems to be the alternative, the B-side, if you will. "Sick of Pearl Jam? Then here's some more AC/DC. Sick of AC/DC, how about some Pearl Jam?"

But, I digress.

Okay, one more . . .
Does West Hartford have the cleanest teeth in America? Judging by the amount of dentist offices I pass on a daily basis, they should. If there's ever a Dentist famine someplace, somewhere, sometime, they can just call in the troops in West Hartford. We seem to have one dentist per five residents.

That's enough. Got to sleep now.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A meditation on "Johnny Be Good" (the "movie," not the song) and, of all things, Batman

Yes, I have too much time on my hands. I am fully aware of this. But, I'm feeling a little under the weather today and this is what's spiraling out of my fingers at the moment.

1988 brought to the world a little, horrible "film" (in quotes, as I'm not sure if it really qualifies as either a film or a movie) titled Johnny Be Good. The story of a star high school quarterback being lured by college recruiters, the "movie" came and went, grossing about $17 million at the box office. Being ten-years-old at the time of the Johnny's release, my original knowledge of it was not of the comedy stylings of stars Anthony Michael Hall or Robert Downey Jr., but rather of the Judas Priest cover of the title song. I was into Chuck Berry at the time, just beginning to learn the guitar, and thought the JP version of his classic was a bastardization of the song. But one of my older cousins was a huge Judas Priest fan (I won't name names), and I remember hearing the song every once in a while. 

Here's the Judas Priest cover:

Regardless, I never saw the movie, and it vanished from the cinemas, eventually ending up on VHS shelves across the country.

Fast forward twenty years. I'm sitting on the couch. I turn on the television, flip through the movie channels, and discover that Johnny Be Good is about to begin. I remember it vaguely. I notice it has received only one star.

So, I watch. 

And, like a car crash, I cannot stop staring. Johnny Be Good is one of those scripts that seem to have been fabricated as it was being filmed. Scenes run into scenes, mostly without creating any logical thread, and I begin to think that half of the movie seems ad-libbed by Anthony Michael Hall (and that isn't a compliment). I wonder to myself if Robert Downey Jr., Hall's psychotic (assumedly, as he is never developed) sidekick in the "movie,"  bothers to mention Johnny on his resume anymore, or if it is just "one of those" bad mistakes that young (and drug-fueled) actors make? And poor Uma Thurman. Her big screen debut and her character is a total non-sequitur, one minute in love with Johnny, then hating the guy, then loving him, saying lines that occasionally reflect on the plot, then flying off the handle and throwing raw chicken. For a first gig, it couldn't have been a great experience.

But, as I'm torturing myself with Johnny Be Good, I begin to notice a relationship this "movie" has with quite possible the biggest film franchise character in the world. Yup, Batman. It started when I read a recent quote by Robert Downey Jr. After starring in Iron Man, Downey Jr. went on a rant about the most recent film in the Batman franchise, The Dark Knight, saying:

"My whole thing is that I saw The Dark Knight. I feel like I'm dumb because I feel like I don't get how many things that are so smart . . . and I'm like, 'That's not my idea of what I want to see in a movie.'"

Now, of course, this is just a reference to Batman, coming (in not the clearest of ways) from a guy starring in a competing comic book film. He talked trash. So be it.

But this brings us to the other two leads of Johnny Be Good. Anthony Michael Hall, Mr. Johnny Walker himself, has a role in The Dark Knight as television reporter Mike Engel. And Uma Thurman. She was Poison Ivy in the Batsuit-with-nipples catastrophe that was Batman & Robin.

The connections don't stop there. The great character actor Seymour Cassel, who played sinister college recruiter Wallace Gibson in Johnny Be Good, had a small role as a henchman named Cancelled on the Batman television series from the 1960s. And Michael Greene, Tex in JBG, was a henchman named Matches on the show. Here's Cassel in action:


According to IMDB, Johnny set decorator Dorree Cooper also crossed paths with the Bats, working on Batman & Robin. Stuntman Doug Coleman did both Johnny and Batman Forever.

So, what does this mean? Is there some sort of secret we can glean by watching Johnny Be Good? Could this mean that the next installment of the Batman series will involve corrupt football recruitment? 

No, probably not. If anything, I guess you'd chalk this up to coincidence.

The Caped Crusader has a little more in common with an annoying high school quarterback than he realizes. 

And, of course, I have too much time on my hands. As our hero Johnny says in the film, "I vomited Margaritas all the way home."

Well said, sir. Well said.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Always remember your feet!

Took a break from the endless job hunt today and went with my wife and mother-in-law to the beach. It was nice and sunny, not too crowded. Got quite a bit of reading in. But I ended up with a long sunburn along my left foot. That'll feel good on my run tomorrow. Always remember your feet with sunscreen! Just burying them in the sand is not enough! That's today's lesson.

Speaking of feet, NBC is broadcasting the Olympic Women's 20K Race Walk right now. It is the craziest thing to see. These women walk a faster mile than I run. But their posture is absolutely bizarre. If you could put footage of these women next to Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura, you'd see a strong resemblance (in the walking, of course). 

Man, what a stupid movie. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Artist: Matt Kindt

Matt Kindt is a comic artist I discovered in the past year when I read about his book "Super Spy." A complex and beautifully rendered tale of WWII's secret world of underground spy networks, the book is a treat to read. It's one of those graphic novels that you're constantly shuttling back and forth when reading, making sure what you read was actually what happened, piecing together all of the snippets, and learning the true nature of characters as they themselves realize their purpose.

On Kindt's website, you can check out elements of "Super Spy" in addition to other work he has done, like the terrific "Pistolwhip." In the shop area, you can purchase limited run prints Kindt made of classic spy characters. I picked up the James Bond image. Absolutely worth the $20. Plus, the guy is really nice. When I had a question about the prints, he responded within an hour of my email.

He also has a blog you can check out of some of his commissions. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No ad cinema! Almost.

The Bow-Tie Criterion Cinema in the middle of West Hartford is a throwback to movie theaters of old. No stadium seating, at least not in the theater I was in, real butter on the popcorn, that sort of thing. And they don't bore you with countless advertisements before a movie. In fact, they guarantee no advertisements, ever, on their website.

The only problem, however, is that once the lights have dimmed and after the previews have flickered through, the good folks at Bow-Tie Criterion Cinemas run an ad for none other than Bow-Tie Criterion Cinemas. Okay, one could see this as more of an announcement, telling you of the theater's assets. No smoking, turn off your phones, visit the concession stand, that sort of thing. But then, when it comes time for the announcement to assure you that there are no commercials shown before the film, the example used is . . . a series of old commercials. Actual commercials, with actual products, on screen and a strikethrough line through each. Now, I understand what the folks are trying to tell me, but did they have to use real commercials with real products? Isn't that a bit contradictory, to be showing an advertisement for a real product while damning the idea of showing advertisements? Couldn't the graphics department that made this filler altered the footage or even created their own example using a fake product?

Anyway, I just found this funny. The theater itself is pretty nice and the staff was friendly and helpful. The facilities themselves were also great (but, why no staggered seating?). Right in the middle of Blue Back Square, its a decent place to do a dinner and a movie.  

Monday, August 18, 2008

Something to lighten the mood . . .

A farewell to Amos

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. At 2PM today, EST, just about a half hour from when I type this, my buddy Amos will no longer roam the land. Time caught up with old Amos and my parents have made the decision to put him to sleep this afternoon. He was a good pet, a great cat, and had a huge heart (as those who saw him would immediately notice, as he was also the largest cat I have ever seen in my life). Though he hasn't been "mine" since I left for college nearly 12 years ago, it is still very sad to hear this news.

We got Amos about 16 years ago. We had adopted his brother, Tigger, and learned shortly after the adoption that he had a brother that didn't take to his adopted home. We weren't in the market for two pets, but we decided to take him in anyway. It turned out to be really wonderful, as the two brothers immediately recognized each other and spent all day playing. Tigger was orange and Amos was a blond long-hair.

We lost Tigger after a couple years. His body just shut itself down one day and he faded faster than any vet could control. He was fine on a Sunday and dead by Tuesday. It was horrible. We all took it rough, but Amos seemed to be hurt most of all by the loss. He ate more and more and went from a sleek bullet of a cat to a large, rolly-polly feline. But he was still Amos, still always wanted to be cuddled, still wanted to be scratched on the belly.

We ended up getting Soma, a female tiger cat, as a new companion to Amos. They tolerated each other, but the spark that was between brothers never blossomed between the new roommates. Now, I imagine Soma will be at a loss, as will my parents. She's alone now.  

So, hug your pets tonight. Tell them you love them. Sometimes they mean more to you than you realize. 

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kayak is the new black . . .

Maybe this is coming from living in Boston since 1996 and not getting to rural areas as much as I would have liked, but there seem to be an awful lot of kayaks attached to cars around here. Everywhere I turn I see a yellow kayak strapped to the roof of a car. Where are they all going? I just imagine a state park pond full of a swarm of yellow, a family of ducks sitting nearby on land, cursing them out. 

Kayaks! They're the cool car accessory for 2008!

"Hey, that car got an integrated iPod in it?"

"Of course it does. Yours?"

"Dude, you think I'm an idiot or something? That was so 2006. You got a kayak rack?"

"Oh, I'm kayaking, baby. I'm kayaking 'til my toes are prunes!"

"Right on!"

Look! A wagon wheel!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Artist: Anish Kapoor

The week before moving to Connecticut, my wife and I took a trip to the Boston ICA (Institute for Contemporary Art). The ICA used to be housed square in the middle of Boston, in a small space near the Prodential Center, but it moved to the waterfront of South Boston in late 2006, occupying a beautiful new building, welcoming boats as they came ashore. We hadn't been since they relocated, so we made the time to drop by.

Anyway, the main exhibit was by an artist named Anish Kapoor. Originally from Bombay but now based in London, his work was a treat for the eyes. Large format sculptures/installations took up the gallery and challenged the viewers in the idea of depth and shape. I don't think I've been to a museum and heard the guards say, "Please no touching" as much as at this show. It certainly was hard to resist.  

The exhibit closes in just a few weeks. Anyone in the Boston area should really take some time to check it out. Go to the ICA's website for info.  Or, check out Kapoor's profile on Wikipedia.

The photo in this post is from the ICA's website.

Sidewalk holes

While out running, I've noticed a lot of sidewalk slabs in West Hartford have holes drilled in them. Most have vegetation seeping out, though some are filled with cement. What is the purpose of this? Drainage? Is it to help level the slabs? I've never seen these holes in other sidewalks. Is this common in other places? 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Maximum Overdrive trailer

My wife and I noticed that the movie "Maximum Overdrive" was available on our Comcast On-Demand service. If you haven't seen it, you aren't missing much (unless you're an Emilio Estevez completist/AC/DC obsessor), but as we shuttled past it I remembered seeing the trailer for it when I was 7 or 8-years-old, sitting in a movie theater with my father, waiting to view something that I'm sure was far tamer than "MO." Man, I remembered Stephen King (who, as the trailer will inform you, wrote and directed the movie) staring at the camera, talking to the audience and how it really disturbed me in the way he said his lines. I vividly recalled his monologue, even though I vaguely remembered the movie itself.  Thanks to the internets, I was able to find this two minute gem on Youtube and relived my childhood trauma. Thankfully, it was far more humorous now than it was as a child. 

By the by, I haven't read much of Mr. King's recent books, but his zombie-influenced novel "Cell" is pretty decent. Also, being a Red Sox fan, the non-fiction book he co-wrote with Stuart O'Nan, "Faithful," is certainly worth a read.

Anyway, here's the trailer: 

I am a trailing spouse . . .

It has been over one month since I last sat at a desk in an office and worked. Almost three weeks since I was on a company payroll, thanks to paid vacation time. This is something that has been a long time coming.  

I am a trailing spouse.

Bucking statistics, I am also a man.

By definition, a trailing spouse is an individual who leaves their job in order to relocate with their partner, typically because of that partner's career. Oftentimes the trailing spouse ends up making less money because of this, either due to less-than-ideal employment options or lack of employment altogether. But they do it because they're committed to their partner and because their partner has received a position that they really want. And, traditionally, most trailing spouses are women.

I'm helping lower that percentage a bit.

This Spring, my wife accepted a position teaching at a college in Connecticut. She had been in grad school since we moved in together in 2000, with the goal of attaining a Ph.D. in American History. We always knew that, one day, she'd finish and we would end up wherever she found a job. This could have been anywhere, so Connecticut seemed to be a bit of a blessing when all was said and done. It wasn't more than an hour and a half from our old stomping grounds in Boston. Plus, I wasn't married to my job, working in the film industry, and figured I'd find something wherever we ended up. Just in case, we saved a bit to help tide us over in case I didn't find work right away.  

That, it turns out, was a smart move. A small army of resumes litter the inboxes and mailboxes of employers across the state, but I have yet to hear back anything positive.  

So, I try to keep busy. I run. I try to learn the lay of the land in my new neighborhood in West Hartford. I stare at employment websites. I finish unpacking and find resting places for all of the little things that have accumulated over the years. And now I write on this blog, even though I hate the word "blog." It helps keep me sane and away from for a little while, and that's definitely a good thing.

And that's the way it is right now. If there are other trailing spouses out there reading, feel free to drop me a line. Until then, hopefully I stumble across a few things that help your days pass.