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[CANCELLED: July 13, 2020] Parquet Courts /  Public Practice [rescheduled from April 4]

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Parquet Courts was one of the first shows that was postponed because of the coronavirus. They postponed their show by two months.  Needless to say that was very optimistic and they have now cancelled everything.

I’ve seen Parquet Courts twice and enjoyed both shows more than I thought I would.  I wasn’t sure if I’d need to see them again, but when I saw that they were playing White Eagle Hall in Jersey City–a great venue that is pretty close to me, I immediately grabbed tickets.  It then sold out.  And then I found out that our Scout Troop had an even planned that night so I couldn’t go anyway.

This rescheduled date of July 8 wasn’t going to work for me because of summer camp, so I was thinking of going to the show at the Stone Pony on the 8th instead (even though White Eagle is 10X better than The Stone Pony).

Our camp was cancelled before this show, but it was inevitable that this would be cancelled as well.  I’m sure they will be back.

Public Practice has been described as post-punk with an overtly danceable element.  Sounds like a perfect pairing for Parquet Courts.

 

 

[CANCELLED: July 13, 2020] …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead /  Greenbeard [rescheduled from May 1]

indexI was really looking forward to seeing …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.  I was bummed that the show was postponed, but pleased it was only pushed back a couple of months.

Of course it turned out to be the same night as the Parquet Courts rescheduled date that was right in the middle of Summer Camp.

Obviously that was all too optimistic because everything was cancelled.  This show was officially cancelled on June 27.  I do hope they try again next year.

It looks like Warish was dropped from the rescheduled dates.

I do hope they reschedule again, this time with a more realistic date.

I really enjoyed …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead’s first few albums back in the late 90s and early 2000s.  Then I lost touch with them.  I feel like they changed style, but I’m not sure that’s true.

The one thing that was always true was that a Trail of Dead show was a can’t miss, combustible experience.

It’s about fifteen years and six albums later and when I saw they were playing nearby, I thought it would be fun to finally see them.  I read a review of a recent show in which the reviewer said that they weren’t as intense live as in the old days (without major label support, they could no longer afford to smash up guitars), but that they (meaning Conrad Keely and Jason Reece, the only two original guys) still impress with their intensity.

I’d never heard of Warish, but how’s this for a bio blurb:

Imagine if Incesticide era Nirvana were crossed with Static Age era Misfits. You’d have sinister low budget horror rock with a visceral, twisted weirdness and bludgeoning riffs. Some might call it nightmarish, we call it Warish.

I listened to a track on bandcamp and their music is great, but their singer is a little too much like Marilyn Manson.  I’ll bet they’d be fun live though.

Greenbeard sounds like a little more fun

Desert rock from the sun stricken soil of Austin, TX. Greenbeard brings prolific vibrations to the universe via drums, bass, and guitar.

The fact that they have an album called Lödarödböl makes me like them immediately.  They have a good stoner vibe too.


SOUNDTRACK: RODDY RICCH-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #47 (July 8, 2020).

Here’s another rapper I hadn’t heard of, but who is apparently huge.  (Huge enough to have Ty Dolla $ign join him).  The blurb assures us

This was slated to be Roddy Ricch’s summer. He was having the breakout moment that I’ve seen from so many other Compton emcees before him… including the biggest song in the world in “The Box,” which spent 11 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 and will probably go down as the last pre-COVID club anthem.

Richh raps in front of a fantastic band.  They have a fantastic groove and really jam fantastically.

Backed by the juggernaut musical collective 1500 or Nothin’, this set exhibits the many dimensions of his [suddenly prophetic] debut album title — Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial.

Christopher “Brody” Brown brings a fantastic bass sound throughout the set.  You can hear it right from the first song “Perfect Time” which showcases the band and Richh’s rapping skills.  Richh even plays keys at the end of the song.

It segues perfectly into “Bacc Seat.”  The band tightly and seamlessly shifts gears from that rocker to this slower song.  The song features a cool guitar riff from Charles “Uncle Chucc” Hamilton and a guest appearance from Ty Dolla $ign who sings and plays guitar!

The backing vocalists are great; however, they are not social distancing at all.  Shaunise R. Harris, Garren Edwards, and Tayler L. Green are all shoulder to shoulder back there, which makes Richh’s shirt “that’s an awful lot of cough syrup” seem more ominous than funny.  T

But the band is on fire and there’s some serious drums from Nick Smith at the end of the song.

Gentle keys from Lamar Edwards open “High Fashion.”  Edwards has a few banks of keys getting all kinds of interesting sounds.  Richh says this song is about the type of relationship he like to be in–high fashion: “I like to be fly, like shorties be fly.”

Once again, this song ends with some great drums from Smith and percussionist Larrance Dopson.

Richh is pretty young so it’s surprising to hear him say that he doesn’t spend a lot of time on the internet: I don’t like to be bothered” (which jibes with the Anitisocial title).

The final song “War Baby” opens with a quiet, lovely piano. But the song builds to a big jam by the end with some great guitar soloing from Uncle Chucc interspersed with some fantastic drum soloing from both Smith and Dopson.

I’m not all that impressed with what Richh is rapping about–lots of vulgarities so i started tuning out–but the band is fantastic.

[READ: July 8, 2020] “The Canal”

With a title like this I didn’t expect this story to be about World War II.  Although it is set at a party several years later.

Two couple are drinking and talking.  Lew and Betty Miller are bored out of their minds listening to Tom Brace tell yet another war story from his days in Germany.  Tom’s wife Nancy couldn’t have been prouder, listening to him go on and on.

At some point, something that Tom says reminds Betty of something that Lew told her about the way.  She asks if Lew was in the same place as Tom.  Lew says no, although he grudgingly admits that he was in the same area at the same time. Continue Reading »

[POSTPONED: July 10, 2020] The Dears

indexI don’t remember when I discovered The Dears, but I have liked them since their 2000 debut.

I enjoyed their 2011 album Degeneration Street and then sort of lost track of them.

They released a pair of albums in 2015 and 2017 and toured Boot & Saddle in 2017.  I was really interested in going then, but it was a very busy night so I couldn’t go.

But now they have a new album and a new tour and I was all ready to finally see Murray A. Lightburn sing in person.

I trust they will reschedule this show (especially since Lightburn was scheduled to play a solo show at Boot & Saddle in April which was also cancelled).

SOUNDTRACK: KT TUNSTALL-“Wash ya Hands” (2020).

KT Tunstall has been on my radar a lot lately (I think she’l l have about five posts about shows I’m not going to).  Turns out that she released a special COVID-19-related song called “Wash Ya Hands.”

It’s not a great–but it is danceable and funny–for a song that’s all about a message.

The music starts kind of menacing (which is appropriate I suppose) with some swelling strings.  But it’s all about dancing and washing your hands.

Lyrically it’s pretty straightforward and easy:

Here’s the rules you have to follow
Wash your hands while you can
Keep on following the plan
Keep your fingers off your face
Keep your distance, give a wave
Call your fiends that you love
Shout out who you’re thinking of
If you gotta cough don’t be dumb
And don’t forget your thumbs.

Those last two lines fall flat, for sure.

However, the video is pretty cute and it’s full of kids dancing around (and the song is clearly for them).

The middle breakdown section is interesting with strings and lots of percussion, including water droplet sounds.

The end adds a bit more fun when the song moves up a step and the lyrics continue:

Wash your hands while you dance
in your favorite underpants.

It’s a positive message in a negative time.  Remember: all you’re spreading is love.

[READ: July 4, 2020] Becoming RGB

Why is is that children’s (graphic novel) biographies are so good?  Is it because they can focus on all of the important things in a short amount of space?  Is it because it is written at a levy that is easy for anyone to understand?  Whatever the reason, this biography of the amazing Ruth Bader Ginsburg is fantastic.  The illustrations from Whitney Gardner are great too–clean and informative.

Most Americans know that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the tiny woman on the Supreme Court.  She’s been there for a long time and she is steadfast and true–very much unlike the two jokers who were recently appointed.

But aside from that, what do most of us know about her?  Well, for me, that was a big “not much.”

Her real name is Joan Ruth Bader.  But there were three Joans in her kindergarten class so she went by Ruth (everyone called her Kiki anyway). She grew up in Brooklyn.  She was left handed and the school forced her to switch (which she refused to do).  It was the first of many time she bristled at what a girl was supposed to do.

Ruth’s family was Jewish and they listened to the horrors of the Nazi progression on the radio.  Her grandparents immigrated from Russia and Australia years earlier assuming they could escape prejudice in America.  But Antisemitism was alive in New York.  As was racism and sexism.

And yes, it’s still here–somehow more vocal than ever.

But RBG saw it and wanted to do something about it.  She was inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt who said that “cruelty is a double-edged sword, destroying not only the victim but the person who indulges in it.” Continue Reading »

[POSTPONED: JULY 9, 2020] The Go-Go’s

indexI’m not exactly sure when this show was postponed, but sometime in May this announcement went up:

Due to COVID-19The GO-GO’s upcoming summer dates have been postponed to Summer 2021. More information on the rescheduled dates coming soon, and in the meantime, we’re happy to announce that The GO-GO’s documentary will premiere on Showtime, Saturday, August 1 at 9pm ET/PT.

I thought that The Go-Go’s would be a fun band to see live.  I mean I know every single one of their big hits and I’m quite certain the whole room would be singing along to them.

I wouldn’t have thought about getting tickets for this tour, but it was going to be a brief tour and they were going to be playing at Parx Casino, which is an intimate venue with seats.

I also thought it would be fun to take S. who didn’t especially want to go, but who I’m sure would have had a good time.

I’m looking forward to them coming back next year.

SOUNDTRACK: TOKYO JIHEN [東京事変]-“The Scarlet Alibi” (永遠の不在証明 Eien no Fuzai Shoumei) (2020).

220px-Tokyo-Jihen-News-EP-cover-artRingo Sheena formed Tokyo Jihen (which means Tokyo Incidents) in 2003.  They put out five albums and disbanded them in 2012.

Then she surprised everyone by reforming the band in 2020 (with the same people who played with her in 2012).  They have released a new EP, News.

永遠の不在証明 which translates more or less as “Eternal Alibi” is the final song on the EP and the only one that Ringo Sheena wrote the music for.

It starts like a kind of James Bond theme (and it is indeed a theme for Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet).  It’s got a noir piano, but the bass is really fat and fuzzy.

The chorus gets big while the piano stays prominent and the bass does some really fancy fretwork.  Then in th emiddle of the song there’s an instrumental break.

Seiji Kameda (亀田 誠治Kameda Seiji) gets a wicked bass solo followed by a ripping guitar solo from Ukigumo (浮雲The Drifting Cloud) and a soaring keyboard solo from Ichiyō Izawa (伊澤 一葉Izawa Ichiyō).  Everyone gets a moment to shine except drummer Toshiki Hata (刄田 綴色Hata Toshiki)–but his playing throughout is stellar.

The song halts at 3 and half minutes, but there’s a jazzy jamming coda (lots of piano and guitar solos) that runs for about a minute as the song concludes.

Although I just discovered the band this week, it’s nice to have them back.

[READ: July 1, 2020] Fuku Fuku 2

This is Konami Kanata’s second and final collection of FukuFuku stories.  After all of the Chi stories, it was probably for the best to limit FukuFuku to just two volumes.

It allows the story to go out on a high note.

The framing device of the series is an older woman looking at pictures of her cat FukuFuku when she was a kitten.   I was pleased that this book ends the framing device with FukuFuku as an older cat–the flashback is complete.

This volume is less about FukuFuku exploring new things and more about her owner’s expectations of her. Continue Reading »

[CANCELLED: July 8, 2020] Parquet Courts / P.E.

indexParquet Courts were scheduled to play Jersey City on April 4.  With the rescheduled dates, they added a show at The Stone Pony, which has now been cancelled.

Parquet Courts was one of the first shows that was postponed because of the coronavirus. They postponed their show by two months.  Needless to say that was very optimistic and they have now cancelled everything.

I had tickets to see them at White Eagle Hall, but the rescheduled date of July 13 wasn’t going to work for me, so I was thinking of going to this show instead (even though White Eagle is 10X better than The Stone Pony).

I’ve seen Parquet Courts twice and enjoyed both shows more than I thought I would.  I wasn’t sure if I’d need to see them again, but when I saw that they were playing White Eagle Hall in Jersey City–a great venue that is pretty close to me, I immediately grabbed tickets.  It then sold out.  And then I found out that our Scout Troop had an even planned that night so I couldn’t go anyway.

So this postponement worked out pretty well.  Except that the rescheduled show is right during out Troop’s Summer Camp.  The Scouts don’t want me to see this band!

Public Practice was supposed to open.  Now the openers were P.E.

P.E. were supposed to open for Pottery back in May  Pottery cancelled their tour and now P.E. is getting cancelled again.

P.E. is a band formed out of the band Pill (who I’ve not heard of but who were a skronky and intense DIY art-punk band).  Three members of Pill have gone on to form P.E.  The song I heard “Top Ticket” was a propulsive thump, strung along by drill whirs and Torres’ snotty deliver: “I want the top ticket/ Nothing average, nothing contrived/ None of that consumer-grade shit.”

 

SOUNDTRACK: RINGO SHEENA [椎名 林檎]-Shōso Strip [勝訴ストリップ] (or Shouso Strip or Winning Strip) (2000) 

Yumiko Shiina (椎名 裕美子Shiina Yumiko, is known by her stage name Ringo Sheena (椎名 林檎Shiina Ringo). She later fronted the band Tokyo Jihan.

I’m not exactly sure how I discovered this album.  I think I had been reading about psychedelic Japanese bands and this album came up as a must-listen.

I found a copy on eBay (it’s also streaming) and, wow–it’s my favorite album in a long time.  Ringo Sheena flirts with just about every genre of music throughout her career.  Often times, including several genres in one song.  But throughout this album, it’s her singing and songwriting that really stand out.

Plus, I absolutely love the sound that she gets from her bassist.  I have included all of the credits from the album below because my copy of the album is entirely in Japanese. The “official” Wikipedia entry is first, but the Google Translated version is second.  I’m not sure what is going on with the Google Translated version, but for most of the songs the bass is described as “Bombshell base” which is totally accurate.  Interestingly, sometimes the guitar is described as “Oxygen deficient guitar” which I think just means electric, but I love that description.

So the overall feel of this album is grungy.  There’s a lot of distortion among the guitars and the drums.  None of the songs would be described as metal, but there are definitely some heavier rocking elements.  But there is an underpining of J-Pop throughout.  Both in her catchy choruses and the way her voice soars as she sings.

The disc opens with “I Am a Liar” (虚言症 Kyogen-shō) 5:26 [“False” from Google Translate].  A funky slap bass and some flutes introduce this song that has a great mix of alt rock and J-Pop.  Sheena Ringo has a great voice that can sing low but also soars nicely when needed. The chorus of this is instantly catchy with a great melody disco flourishes and her fantastic vocals.

“Bathroom” (浴室 Yokushitsu) 4:15 [bathroom] is a wild song (and one that she has apparently performed in very different styles over the years).  A ripping funky bass and synth lead to a great pulsing ear worm of a melody.  The chorus is warm and inviting and fantastic.  “Excuse Debussy” (弁解ドビュッシー Benkai Dobyusshii) 3:16 [Excuse Debussy] is another propulsive rocker with a great fat bass sound.

Things slow down for “Gips” (ギブス Gibusu)  (which apparently means “orthopedic cast”) 5:38 [Gibbs] but it has a huge soaring chorus that is partially in in English “don’t you think I wanna be with you….”  It’s about the catchiest peppiest thing and it is awesome.  The songs is quite long–over five minutes–and the last few minutes feature a great guitar line that repeats and repeats until it breaks apart with chaotic confusion.

Things slow down even further for the gorgeous strig opening of “A Driving Rain in Darkness” (闇に降る雨 Yami ni Furu Ame) 5:03 [Rain in the Darkness].  Interesting electronic sounds and some electronic percussion mask the beauty of the stirrings and then after 45 second the strings turn pizzicato and pop song structure stars with a loping bass that plays some funky high parts.  It’s a pretty song that segues nicely to the scorcher that is “Identity” (アイデンティティ Aidentiti) 3:05 [Identity].  It opens with a ripping guitar and Sheena screaming like the best of them.  This song hits pretty standard metal sounds and is a total rocking freak out with her singing syllables as the guitars and drums just go bananas.  Her band is really fantastic.

“Crime and Punishment” (罪と罰 Tsumi to Batsu) 5:32 [Crime and Punishment] plays like a torch song ballad, but it’s accompanied by a heavy guitar and a big fat bass that keeps it in the alt-rock arena.  The juxtaposition is great.  There’s a lengthy jamming coda as well.

“Stoicism” (ストイシズム Sutoishizumu) 1:46 [Stoicism] is a short interlude.  Her voice is manipulated while she’s singing a simple melody as bouncy synths underscore the whole thing.  It flows into “A Broken Man and Moonlight” (月に負け犬 Tsuki ni Makeinu[3]) 4:14 [Lose dog on the moon] which sounds like a grunge version of “Closing Time” until the loud distorted bass crashes in and upends everything. The end totally rocks out.

“Tidbits” (サカナ Sakana[4]) 3:43 [Fish] opens with a harpsichord and the makings of a bubblegum pop song.  But as the verses come in it feels kind of noirish with horns and a great catchy chorus.  The end of the song features that noir bass and a piano.

“Sickbed Public” (病床パブリック Byōshō Public) 3:16 [Patient Public] has super distorted drums and a heavy bass rumbling underneath her whispered vocals until it switches to a bright J-Pop chorus.  “Instinct” (本能 Honnō) 4:14 [Instinct] has a menacing opening of sound effects and turntables that meld into a super catchy poppy melody with wild bass.  The verses slow to a slinky sound, but that chorus is undeniable–especially when the whole song shifts up a note midway through.

The disc ends with fun watery sounds that bloop and blip for the opening of  “I Am an Addict” (依存症 Izon-shō) 6:23 [Dependence].   The song begins with a delicate synth but there’s a fun fun soaring chorus (of course) that you can’t stop humming.  The song and disc end with ends with three minutes of everyone jamming at the end of a show when the star has left the stage and the band is just going to keep playing until they can’t anymore.

I haven’t really looked into much more by her–although I did enjoy the one Tokyo Jihen song I heard.  This album is so good I’m afraid to explore anything else for the time being.  So I’ll just enjoy this one.

[READ: July 1, 2020] Fuku Fuku 1

Konami Kanata wrote the wonderful manga Chi’s Sweet Home about a family who adopts a cat.  It’s wonderful and is apparently one of many manga about cats.  Even though it’s sweet and adorable there are occasionally weird thing that make it seem more adult than it seems to be (the word pissing is in one of them, which seems a little odd for a cute book).

The framing device of the book is an older woman looking at pictures of her cat FukuFuku when she was a kitten.   FukuFuku wants to see them too, which means lying on them, of course.

And so there are 24 short pieces about kitten FukuFuku’s introduction to living with this woman.  I understand that the book is translated, so I don’t know if the cat sounds are translated as well, but I love that when she tries to pick up the kitten for the first time, it says “Mii?”  And when she grabs for it it says “Mya”

The translator also has a lot of fun with the kittens’ action words: Skoot, Bound, Dash, etc. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: THE SLITS-Cut (1978).

This album is mentioned in this story.  It’s interesting to me how this band is so associated with the punk scene when musically they are very far from what most people consider punk (and from what the band in this story sounds like).

The Slits went from being unable to play their instruments, to playing an interesting bass heavy, guitar-slashing style.  It’s reggae and dub inspired but sounds nothing like reggae. Ari Up’s vocals are defiant and brash but in addition to screaming and shrieking, she can also sing quite nicely.

The rest of the band are fully invested–chanting along and fleshing out this, at times, bizarre album.

The bass sound (from Tessa Pollitt) on the album is fat and round–it’s a great sonic feeling and is a perfect low end for the detached guitar style (from Viv Albertine) in the songs.  Founding member and drummer Palmolive left the band apparently because she didn’t want to do the cover shoot.  She was replaced by eventual Siouxsie and the Banshees drummer Budgie.

“Instant Hit” is anything but.  With clanging guitars playing opposite a slow grooving bass as all three sing. The drums are complex with a lot of percussion.  When the verse starts the guitar chords are unconventional for sure.  You can sense a melody in all of the sounds, but it is buried.  The album takes off a bit with “So Tough” a much faster song with bass lines that run up the neck, fast drumming and Ari Up’s vocals hitting a higher register for “You can’t take anymore now you’re getting weak / So tough /
Don’t start playing hide and seek.”

“Spend Spend Spend” pairs nicely with “Shopifting.”  “Spend” is a slow loping song as the lyrics (sung in a sometime off-key mocking warble) mock consumerism:

Going home, into bed when I’ve treated myself
I’ve been quite hard, after a hard day’s work
I have found a hundred ways to get rid of all my worries

“Shoplifting” is the antidote.  “Spend” is 3 minutes while “Shoplifting is barely 90 seconds.  The bass line on this song is fast and feels like it’s running as much as the chorus: do a runner

A kind of reggae slash of guitar:

Put the cheddar in the pocket
Put the rest under the jacket
Talk to the cashier, he won’t suspect
And if he does…  And if he does…

Shouted by all of them:  Do a runner! Do a runner! Do a runner! Do a runner!

Ten quid for the lot
We pay fuck all
Babylonian won’t lose much
And we’ll have dinner tonight
Do a runner!

After the third verse She screams “Run!” like a banshee as the chords ascend in speed and notes.

“FM” is a twist on the radio band: I’m waiting to hear what program is next.  What program is next? (FM) Frequent Mutilation transmits over the air. This slow song has one of the catchier upfront melodies.  Up next is the longest song on the disc.  At over four minutes long, it is the antithesis of punk.  A slow echoing guitar-just scratches on the strings as the bass meanders around the clattering percussion.   After a minute and a half though it gets catchy with a funky bass and some reggae chords that play through to the end.

“Love und Romance” is a fast pulsing song with quick bass and guitar chord stabs.  And, I’m guessing an ironic look at love:

I’m so HAPPY!
You’re so NICE!
Kiss kiss kiss!
Fun fun LIFE!
Fun fun fun I’m having fun
Hee hee hee!
It’s such a love
Hee hee hee!
Now we’re one
Life’s a gas all the time
You’re so lovely, you’re so fine!
(She wants you, she wants you)
Are you ready for this?
Are you ready for this?
Gimmee a great big kiss

“Typical Girls” has a two note bass line and …piano!  The whole song is sort of chanted along while the chorus has a jazzy bassline and noisy guitars.

My favorite song is the final one, Adventures Close to Home,” which is surely one of the more unusual songs on an unusual album.  A funky bass opens with some quiet almost out of tune sounding guitars.  The vocals intertwine and sound almost mocking withe the different singers interrupting each other as she sings follow love follow (hate).  It’s as if all of the parts are doing different things but they all fall together in a fascinating way that I can’t stop listening to.

The album comes with a jagged and rather fun version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” which is a pretty good introduction to the band if you’re looking for a familiar song to explore their sound.

[READ: July 6, 2020] “A Transparent Woman”

This is a dark story about (former) East Germany.

Monika doesn’t want to be like the horrible sows living in the socialist “future” apartment blocks.  She moves out of her parents house and into a hostel.  She gets a terrible job (it is illegal not to have a job) but refuses to join the Free German Youth.  Life sucks until she sees a group of punks in Alexanderplatz.  Then her world opens up.

She shaves her head, puts food coloring in whats left and starts hanging out with the kids with spiked hair and dog collars.  She went to a punk show and it was exhilarating.  She met two girls there who wanted to start a band and they asked her to join them on drums.  She didn’t play drums.  They didn’t care.  Katja was the lead singer and lyricist.  Ellie played guitar.  They were terrible  It was wonderful.  They called themselves Die Gläsernen Frauen [The Transparent Women].

Punk was pretty much illegal in East Germany–a sign of the decadent West.  Wherever punks sat, they were moved along within ten minutes.  And bands like D.G.F. were definitely illegal in the G.D.R.  Only properly approved bands were allowed to play out, so every show was a real danger.

After one of the shows a man approached her at work the next day.  He was attractive but had an air of malice.  He offered her a cigarette and then gave her a copy of The Slits’ album Cut.  She knew they were good, but the semi-nude cover felt wrong coming from him.   She tried to blow him off but he insisted that she meet with him next week.

Instead of meeting with him, she went on a tour with the band.  They went to some big cities and played small shows.  They were tired and scared and every D.G.F. show had a threat of violence.

But the real trouble was when she got back home. Continue Reading »