Monday, October 31, 2011

Britney's Videography: "Everytime"

Britney Spears "Everytime" # # # # #

How appropriate that we get to "Everytime," the scariest and most haunting video in Britney's entire videography, on Halloween. Instead of the typical horror fodder with murders, monsters and mayhem, however, "Everytime" is about the horror of celebrity. The video starts by following Britney on what I'm sure was a typical day for her in 2003: driving in her limo with her manager/lover (played by Stephen Dorff), being ignored while he's on an important "call", and accosted by overzealous fans, paparazzi and the vicious lies of the tabloids. What sets "Everytime" apart from "Lucky," another video about the insanity of Britney's life behind-the-scenes, is the violence and anger that accompanies Britney's encounters. Her fans swarm her and her limo when she gets to her hotel, making it nearly impossible to even open her door, let alone get up to her room. And, this time, the fans very nearly attack her, grabbing and pulling at her so they can have their own piece of her. Her lover is angered by the constant attention, lashing back at the paparazzi and sending a display of tabloid magazines flying. He even lashes out at Britney, as if it's all somehow her fault. The tension and anger sends Britney to the bathtub for a relaxing soak; she begins to bleed from her head and slides under the water. She begins a journey into the great white light, seeing herself carted off to the hospital and failing to be resuscitated by doctors. This is where we see what is perhaps the scariest image in the entire video: as Britney is on the stretcher, unresponsive, being pushed into the ambulance, we see a fan holding up a magazine and a pen, hoping for an autograph. It begs the question, have people become so obsessed with the idea of celebrity that we have lost all traces of humanity? 

I believe director Dave LaChapelle would agree. He shoots the video in slow motion, while the ethereal "Everytime", with its own hauntingly beautiful piano melody, plays in the background. Its stark, jarring contrast to the horrific imagery we see only makes you more appalled at the state of celebrity today. And I think the film's final frames does more to drive home this point than anything. We see Britney emerge from the water and we quickly realize it was all a dream. She is laughing and happy, but why? Typically, I think people would assume it is because she's happy to be alive. But I think there is a darker answer: she's happy because she has seen her life without all the pressures and horrors of being a celebrity. She wants that life. People have often cited this as the video that predicted her pre-Blackout downward spiral. "Everytime" makes that part of her life scarier by showing us just how close we were to losing her.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wanted: A Wand Erection

No need to check your calendar. It's not 1999. Boybands are a "thing" again in the UK and they are beginning to make their way across the Atlantic. While we've had various domestic boybands come and go in the years since NSYNC and BSB ruled the planet, barely making a dent on the music industry, there are two British boybands, One Direction and The Wanted, whom I believe you'll be hearing more about in the coming months.

Left to right: Harry, Liam, Louis, Zayn, Niall
Do you ever wonder how Nicole Scherzinger landed her current job as a judge on X-Factor US despite her solo career tanking stateside? The main reason we are forced to endure her is because during a stint as a guest judge on last year's X-Factor UK, she had a rare moment of genius: take five failed solo contestants, form a group and enter them in that category. Her hunch payed off as the group, now known as One Direction (or if you prefer their rather affectionate nickname Wand Erection), went on to finish third in the competition, winning the hearts of many a teenage girl in the process. As with any singing competition contestant, it wasn't clear just how well their success on the show would translate into record sales, but so far I'd say it was going well. Their first single, "What Makes You Beautiful," smashed pre-order records and easily debuted at #1 on the UK chart.

Where One Direction deviates from the typical Boyband Formula is the fact that they are all young. And when I say young, I mean barely legal: the oldest, Louis, turns 20 in December. Could you have conceived such a thing back in 2001? I mean, the formula has always been one young guy to be The Heartthrob and appeal to the 13 year old girls with the rest being slightly older. But One Direction is truly a sign of the times in this Bieberization of the music industry. Not that this is a slight against them, mind you. For a young band aimed at young girls, One Direction is surprisingly beloved by people of all ages (including myself, obviously). I think they are successful mainly because they are one the few boybands around these days who fully embraces being a boyband. One Direction isn't pretending to be anything than what they are: a good old-fashioned pop group. You have no idea how refreshing that is in today's climate when most pop artists are almost embarrassed to be labeled as such. This is part of the reason why "What Makes You Beautiful" is easily one of the best songs of the year. If you heard someone describe the song--a boy declaring his love for an insecure girl--it doesn't sound like much. But the song is so cleverly written (by one of the co-writers of "...Baby One More Time," in fact!) and sung with such joyful exuberance, it's hard not to fall head over heels for it, or One Direction, for that matter. Look at them. They're adorable! How can you not fall in love with this?

They coordinated their outfits, for God's sake!

I'm not sure what the future holds for One Direction--there are talks that Simon Cowell will have them perform on X-Factor US to begin their American invasion--but for now, I'm just enjoying the ride.

Left to right: Siva, Tom, Max, Jay, Nathan
In contrast to One Direction's youthful exuberance, The Wanted are their slightly darker older brother. Don't get me wrong, they are probably an even more conventional boyband than One Direction in terms of structure (The Heartthrob, The Leader, The Bad Boy, etc.) and their target audience is still primarily teenage girls, but for such a commercial band, their first singles were all about the pain of heartbreak and being alone. Quite a contrast from the peppy optimism of One Direction, don't you think?

Led by Max George, the Brian Littrell of the group and himself a former member of failed boyband Avenue, The Wanted hit it big last fall with their hit "All Time Low". I must admit, I wasn't a fan of them when they first arrived on the scene (I believe my exact words were "I would blow two of them but I wouldn't tell anyone about it."). But I slowly came around, primarily because of the third single from their self-titled album "Lose My Mind". Now, after the mega success of their Ed Drewett-penned singles "Glad You Came" and "Lightning" in the past six months, I am crazy in love with them. In fact, I've even upgraded their hotness: I would now have full-on sex with three of them (Max, Jay and Nathan) and tell everyone about it.

Let the prison rape fantasies begin.
Now that One Direction has entered the boyband game trying to corner the Youth market, I thought it was in The Wanted's interest to become a more mature, adult boyband and focus on older teens and young adults. Judging by their latest work, it sounds like they have listened to me. The masters of the Serious Face lightened up on "Glad You Came," one of the cheekiest, naughtiest, but not explicit, pop songs since Britney's early years. And "Lightning" is a pure sonic pleasure, miming the breathy sexiness of the beginning of Girls Aloud's "Biology" and the hard/soft sound of Britney's "Hold It Against Me"/"Til the World Ends". Not exactly bad for a group I had initially written off not long after their debut.

The Wanted's "All Time Low" has been available on American iTunes for a few months now and "Glad You Came" appears to be the single they are pushing over here in the States next. No word yet on whether or not they will be doing promotion over here, but I imagine as soon as their next album, Battleground, drops in the UK they will be ready to tackle America.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

100 Hot Men and a Dame: #92 Tony Leung Chiu-wai

92. Tony Leung Chiu-wai
Occupation: Actor
Nationality: Hong Kongese (?)
Age: 49
Best Known For: A wide variety of films in various genres with many of Asia's most prominent filmmakers, most famously (at least in the West) Wong Kar-wai.

Here today to lend a hand in this (long delayed) installment is JD from Valley Dreamin' (and from his Twitter). Enjoy!

Dame James: When did you first encounter Tony and, if it wasn't love at first sight, when did you first fall in love with him?

JD: My first taste was definitely Hero, which I somehow saw in theatres (it was my first non-English language film!). It laid the framework for my adoration but I was too young at the time. By the time I saw In the Mood for Love and 2046, though, I was old enough and it was like being hit with a dreamily melancholy, romantic shovel. Then Lust, Caution happened. Oh boy, Lust, Caution.

DJ: I had seen Hero (which I ALWAYS mix up with House of Flying Daggers) and In the Mood for Love in high school, Lust, Caution early in college. But it wasn't until watching Chungking Express a couple years ago that I fell in love with him. Suddenly, I was hit by a dreamily melancholy, romantic shovel, as you so eloquently put it. In what has become a recurring theme already in this series, I have a thing for melancholic characters who are trapped in a "funk" and need to be brought out of it. The fact that I want to be the Faye Wong character who does cutesy/stalkerish things to help him get over his romantic heartbreak, all to the tunes of "California Dreamin'" and "Dreams", is shocking in and of itself because we all know I'm extremely lazy when it comes to romantic stuff. But Tony is just so adorable, having a conversation with his bar of soap.

Three questions:
1. Tony Leung is nearly 50 (FIFTY!) and looks almost exactly the same as he did 20 years ago. God bless those Asian genes! Is this racist?

2. Happy Together. Just how much did you want to kill Tony's awful gay lover in that movie? Like, how did someone as amazing as him ever get stuck with such a lowlife?

3. I cannot, for the life of me, remember much about Lust, Caution. Did Tony go full frontal?

JD: I was waiting for you to bring up Chungking. <3 You're absolutely right, and it's my greatest moment with him, as well. He's so perfect in it; his demeanor, his charm, his talking-to-inanimate-objects-in-his-underwear thing. And Faye Wong is ALSo perfect, and they just make each other more and more perfect, and GOD I LOVE THAT MOVIE. I just watched it a couple weeks ago on a whim, actually. Such a sweet, dreamy pick-me-up.


1. LOL, I don't know. But that is the fucking truth. I think he's just Dorian Gray-like. He's still in such great shape, too. It's gratuitous.

2. I KNOW. It's such a depressing film, but it rings so true - people suck, and sometimes the best are weighed down by the worst. (Also, Tony is clearly at his best with Wong Kar-Wai, isn't he?)

3. Not fully, but you COULD plainly see his dick going in and out of Tang Wei! It's probably still the most outlandishly frequent, rough sex I've ever seen in a film. (15 year old me appreciated it though).

DJ: I'm actually surprised you didn't bring up Chungking yourself but maybe you were feeling generous that I'm not great with Asian cinema and you've seen so much more than I have. Either way, I'm glad we are both fully on board the Appreciation Train for him in that movie. I loved him the first time I saw it, but I don't think it was until the second go-around that I truly fell in love with him. Then again, everything about the second half of that film is perfect. <3 indeed.

I haven't seen a lot of the Leung/Kar-wai films in ages so they are a bit fuzzy in my memory (and I'm still missing out on Ashes of Time, 2046 and probably something else I'm not thinking of right now), but I do think they work well together. And they are in such different styles and moods--although it could be argued that Wong Kar-wai IS his own style and mood--that you have to respect Tony's adaptability. He's probably one of the most respected Asian actors in the world, but it still doesn't feel like he gets enough respect, especially compared to European stars who have gone international. Either way, Tony's still one of the best, and most desirable, actors in the world.

Confession: Tony Leung is the only Asian person to appear on my list. I tried to be inclusive of all nationalities and races but 90% of my list is still white Americans/Europeans. I do find some Asian men in addition to Tony attractive--Rain, for example, and the guy who starred with Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet--but generally they do nothing for me. I know I can't be attracted to EVERYONE, but damn, I feel terrible about it. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crazy 80's Project: Clue and WarGames

When the news a few years ago broke that Hasbro was planning on turning some of its board games into movies, many people moaned and groaned about Hollywood's lack of originality. But just like with any adaptation of any material, it comes down to the screenplay and the direction the writers and the director take the material (I, for one, have always maintained that CandyLand would make a fantastic film--provided Tim Burton doesn't get his hands on it, that is). Clue is an obvious example of this. Utilizing the structure of the board game while simultaneously making fun of it and the mystery genre as a whole, Clue has a point of view all its own, which is why it has become such a cult film all these years later. The main selling point of Clue, however, is its stellar comedic cast. The legendary Madeline Kahn and Lesley Ann Warren are obvious highlights, but Best in Show honors go to Eileen Brennan as Mrs. Peacock. From her feathery hat, her cat eye glasses, her befuddled delivery and her generalized confusion, she understands and nails the character beyond what the script asks of her. But the entire cast is superb and together they form one of the funniest, most "in sync" ensembles ever assembled. B+

For a film about a couple of teens who inadvertently start and stop a nuclear war between the US and the USSR, WarGames is surprisingly more serious than its adolescent premise sounds. In fact, the film received Oscar nominations in major categories for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography (alongside the legendary Sven Nykvist!), which shows that even Oscar considered WarGames to be a good more adult than I originally considered when I put it on my list. The film is a little naive (Really, that's all it takes to hack into the government's computer that controls their nukes?) and there is no real sense of End of the World Terror that many of the best nuclear holocaust movies elicit. But WarGames is a genuinely good thriller, fast-paced, exciting and free from the extraneous fluff that often slows down blockbuster thrillers. Matthew Broderick is the film's star, but I believe that co-star Ally Sheedy, as his friend/love interest, stole the entire show. Whereas Broderick relies on the smarminess and sarcasm that worked so well a few years later in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sheedy has a glowing presence about her, an attractiveness of the spirit that instantly endears her to the camera. And it's a complete 180 from The Breakfast Club a couple of years later, where she defined the odd, antisocial outcast. Granted, WarGames doesn't give her character much to do besides chase Broderick around. She's still, however, a lovely, engaging presence that only makes WarGames stronger. B-

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rants on Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family

Beneath the colorfulness and loudness of the comedy in the films of Tyler Perry's oeuvre lies a dark, almost twisted and perverse core, often times in the form of a secret or a past trauma which has stunted characters' personal and spiritual growth for years. Sometimes, such as in Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea's Family Reunion, this darkness is merely a distraction between the scenes featuring Perry's most infamous and indelible creation, Mabel "Madea" Simmons; in I Can Do Bad All By Myself and Madea Goes to Jail, on the other hand, the contrast between Madea's comedy and the big, emotional storyline makes each film feel fuller than if it was reliant on one more than the other. Madea's Big Happy Family, unfortunately, falls within the first category, mainly because the story's Oh Shit moment is barely explored after its surprise revelation. The problem with this film is that its spoken dark core is merely a hollow shell for an even darker, more horrific core straight from the deepest wells of Perry's subconscious. In its own twisted way, Madea's Big Happy Family is Tyler Perry's version of Lars von Trier's ugly, disturbingly misogynistic Antichrist. Don't get me wrong, you won't see any clits being hacked off with a pair of rusty scissors. What you do see, however, is three grown men with their balls figuratively cut off by scheming, shrewish, all-around nasty wives, girlfriends and baby mamas.

Tyler Perry is known for writing complex female characters--and if you don't believe me, check out For Colored Girls--so it was quite a shock when we are introduced to the women in this big, happy family. Loretta Devine plays Shirley, the matriarch of this family who has just discovered that she her cancer has returned and will ultimately prove fatal this time. She wants to gather her family to break the news to them at the same time, which proves to be easier said than done. We are first introduced to her youngest son Byron, a former drug dealer trying to put his life back together. While barely making enough to cover his child support, he's juggling two women who are, almost literally, sucking the life out of him. The first is his baby mama Sabrina, a classless, obnoxious harpy who speaks like every ghetto chick you've ever seen on Maury. She is trying to get more child support out of Byron, even though he knows she only spends it on herself. No one in the family can stomach her, but it's not as if Renee, Byron's current girlfriend who demands to be kept financially and is unwilling to help out with his child, is any more popular with them. We then meet Tammy, Shirley's youngest daughter. She and her husband, Harold, are raising two of the most obnoxious brats imaginable. Harold wants to discipline them, but Tammy won't let him. In fact, there are quite a lot of things Tammy won't let Harold do and he simply accepts this instead of putting up a fight. Finally, there is Kimberly. In the tradition of many of Perry's film, Kimberly is a young woman who is extremely well off financially but has forgotten her roots in the process of making money and moving up in the (unspoken but obvious) white world. She disrespects her mother and every other member of her family, acting extremely bitchy whenever she has to be around them, which is rare as it is. Even with her husband, she acts as it's a big inconvenience to be in the same room with him. As Perry introduces these horrible women, one by one, I couldn't help but hope that the next problem character would be the male in the relationship. Not only does that seem fair, but normally Tyler Perry evens things out like that. His characters are mostly either Good or Evil but there's always a good balance between the sexes. Madea's Big Happy Family often times feels like the work of a man in a deep, Von Trierian depression who has no way of working through it than to take it out on his female characters. Unlike the actresses Von Trier normally casts, however, none of the ones in this film are good enough to become anything more than the awful one-note caricature Perry has written them as.

Normally, I don't think I would have had as big of a problem with these characters, but there were two things that completely rubbed me the wrong way about them. First of all, after the introduction of the women, Perry includes a scene that shows the three broken, emasculated men off by themselves complaining about the women in their lives. Instead of offering any insight into their relationships or even shift the blame completely from the women, the men are painted as saints who are completely faultless and doing the best they can in their situations. Not only does this lazily water down what could have become some interesting relationship dynamics to work with later in the film, but it also makes no sense within the context of the film. If they are such good men who can divorce themselves enough from their situations to see that there are major problems with their relationships, why do they remain in them? It's one thing if they are at fault at least part way, their women have been acting like this for only a short while and they are somehow caught in a bad romance, for lack of a better word. But these guys are damn near sanctified, so what keeps them in the relationship?

Secondly, the problems with the relationships are either never truly revealed or are resolved in such a pat, uncomplicated way they become nearly laughable. With Tammy and Harold, the specifics of their relationship was clearly an afterthought for Perry: when Harold asks Tammy what exactly is wrong with their marriage, her snippy answer is, essentially, if you don't know what the problem is, you're in bigger trouble than you thought. While this may be a suitable for a "real life" marriage, this answer does nothing to expand our knowledge and interest in their relationship. And if we don't give a shit about them, why should we care whether they work things out or not? They eventually do, unsurprisingly, thanks to some "sound" advice from Madea, which boils down to Harold acting like a man and taking control of the relationship. To further the misogyny, Harold merely raises his voice once and Tammy is all "Yes, master!" to his demands. Strong black woman, my ass.

The big revelation that is the center of Madea's Big Happy Family is very nearly a direct cause of the problems in Kimberly and her husbands relationship. But the problem here is that the problem is introduced so late into the film, and there are so many loose ends to tie up between then and the ending, there is no chance for any true catharsis. They have a moment together at the very end of the film, but it's a very generic "I love you and I promise everything will get better" moment rather than anything that actually deals with the issues on hand.

Not everything in Madea's Big Happy Family is as truly awful as I suggest above. The comedy moments with Madea, complete with her interpretation of the Bible verse "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so" and her "comfort" to Mr. Brown when he thinks he's dying of cancer, literally had me gasping for breath in ways that some of the other Madea films never did. For as strong as the comedy in Madea's Big Happy Family is, though, nothing can erase the horror of the central family. Mr. Perry, we all know you can do better. C-

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In Which I Celebrate Zac Efron's 24th Birthday

Zac's 23rd birthday came and went last year with nary a mention on this blog, so I felt I had to make it up to him on his 24th this year. Nothing will ever top my tribute to him on his 22nd birthday, but I wasn't going to just throw in the towel. Here are a few of my favorite Zefron GIFs, celebrating his beautiful face, his dorkiness, his gyrating hips and, most importantly, his oh-so-kissable lips. Happy birthday, Mr. Efron, you SEXY BEAST!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Genericization of Cher Lloyd

With no less than two acts on the current series of the X-Factor UK mining the same "great singer who can also rap" style, it's obvious that last year's fourth place finisher Cher Lloyd has left her mark on the competition. Not surprising given the amount of attention, both good and bad, she received during her tenure on the show. Where some people (such as myself) saw an original, a breath of fresh air, not only to the competition but also to the music industry as a whole, other saw Cher as a self-entitled little twat who didn't feel she deserved all the ego-boosting she was receiving. I understand why this perturbed some people, but I thought it only added to the allure of Cher. Here was this raging diva cunt who made a member of One Direction cry (I'm pretty sure it was Niall because, well, look at him) with her vicious temper and self-delusion. But then she opens her mouth to sing and not only does she have one of the most unique voices you've ever heard but she can also rap and break your heart when she wants to, at the same time even. Who cares if she's self-entitled? With that talent, she deserves to be. Cher's attitude may have killed her chances of coming in first on the X-Factor but she ultimately won the whole damn thing anyways.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Cher's inevitable stardom. In an attempt to broaden her appeal, it appears that her record label has genericized everything that made Cher unique in the first place. I thought her divisive first single "Swagger Jagger" was an interesting, if not quite cohesive, pop jam with a catchy hook and a killer post-chorus breakdown at the very end. The major problem with the song, however, was that despite its "Fuck the haters" theme, nothing about it felt truly like a Cher Lloyd song. Her newest single, "With Ur Love," suffers from the same problem except exacerbated tenfold. Everything about the whole campaign feels like it should belong to just about any generic young pop starlet out there rather than Cher Lloyd. The single cover shows Cher standing in front of a large, red cutout of a heart. At first, I thought its use was ironic, a cheeky comment on Cher's acidic personality and reputation. But the more I see of this campaign, the more I'm coming to the conclusion that it is merely a ridiculously simplistic attempt to turn Cher into a wholesome teenage pop star. Don't believe me? Watch the video:

The entire thing is a cutesy affair which shows Cher hanging with her girlfriends, in her bedroom and then walking down the street, warbling about her new love in the most plastic, non-interesting way. And then the balloons come. Yes, fucking balloons, like Cher has been transported into Up. I mean, what in the fuck is this shit? Is this the same woman who sang "No Diggity" one week and then "Stay" the very next? These awful attempts at making Cher more commercial may work in the short-run but it will ultimately kill any long-term interest we once had. Granted, I haven't heard the whole album, the wonderfully (and appropriately) titled Sticks & Stones yet, and maybe there are tracks that show off the Cher Lloyd we know and love best. But until I hear that for myself, I remain pessimistic about the whole thing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Some Eye Candy for Your Saturday Evening

I hope you've been enjoying my 100 Hot Men and a Dame series. If you are, it would be wonderful if you could spread the word (and the hot men) to everyone you know. Right now, I'm waiting on a couple of things for the next couple entries and then have a few ready to go after that, so in no time there will be lots more hotness to ogle over. In the mean time, here are a few new men (at least to my eyes) to tide you over until the next 100 Hot Men and a Dame entries.

First off, we have young British actor Douglas Booth. His most notable roles thusfar have been in two BBC productions: as Boy George in Worried About the Boy and as Christopher Isherwood's young lover in Christopher and His Kind. Douglas isn't a big name yet, but he has two big movies coming up that could propel him to stardom. He plays the romantic lead in Miley Cyrus's upcoming film LOL (way to pick 'em, gurl!) and, in perhaps the most promising prospect, as Romeo opposite Hailee Steinfeld's Juliet in the umpteenth adaptation of the Shakespeare play. What I love (and, admittedly, am a little bitter) about him is that he always looks so put together. His clothes are always impeccable; I can't think of another 19 year old who can wear a suit as well as he does. I feel like he's one of those guys who can roll out of bed, put on a pair of sweat pants and look like a model walking down the street. I'm so incredibly jealous of this guy, but then I look at his face and sigh at just how beautiful he is.

Model Leebo Freeman, with his piercings, tattoos, and platinum blond hair, is not my usual cup of tea. But he has such a distinctive look, which will no doubt help him with his modeling career, I can't help but be drawn to him. It certainly doesn't hurt that he has a banging body.

If you've been following my tweets about X-Factor US, you will probably notice that a majority of them are not about Simon, Paula or any of the contestants. Rather, they are about host Steve Jones and his unfathomable sexiness. Unlike the slimy and skeezy Ryan Seacrest, Steve appears to be an every day, down to earth kind of guy. The only thing not "every day" about him is his body. Goddamn! In order to one day get up and close and personal with Steve and his body, I've devised this scheme where I force my friend to try out for X-Factor. While they are on stage performing, I'm backstage with Steve going, "Oh, Steve, I'm so nervous for my friend!" He throws an arm around me to calm my fears. If my friend makes it through, I jump up and down and scream, "Oh, Steve, I'm so excited!" and he'll join me in a celebratory hug. If they don't make it through, I'll act melancholy and say, "Oh, Steve, how incredibly sad" and he'll give me a hug to lift my spirits. Every situation is a win win for me (and Steve as well, let's be honest).

I've never seen a Logan Lerman film, and that certainly won't be changing with the release of that awful looking Three Musketeers remake, but he's a cutie nonetheless. Logan isn't an out-of-this-world sex god like certain other actors his age--Taylor Lautner, for one. Instead, he's the cute, approachable boy in high school you could easily see yourself going out on a date with and having fun doing silly stuff like bowling or roller skating. Logan's brand of charm is quite rare, especially in Hollywood, and should be cherished whenever possible.