Category Archives: Orca Blog

Orca Blog for June: Avoiding Appropriation in Art

In literature, there are fewer falls from grace more precipitous than the stunning rebuke Kathryn Stockett’s The Help has experienced in this decade. It went from its two-year stranglehold on the bestseller list to being decried as a gross cultural appropriation, a white author, “writing in blackface,” whose handling of a delicate subject was clumsy at best, racist at its worst. This is not a blog to pile onto the criticisms this author has faced, but to address the debate it has brought to the forefront. History will determine how we view Stockett’s novel, but the floodgates that it opened still have the literary world treading in deep, murky water as it struggles to distinguish the line between fiction and appropriation.

With such a potent and dramatic backlash for works like The Help, you would assume that most writers have sought to distance themselves as fully as possible from the controversy. But, as anyone who reads submissions piles can tell you, that this is far from the case. We still have a long way to go to combat this naiveté, while at the same time making sure we preserve that which makes fiction so special

So how do you avoid appropriation in your own work? Just by asking that question you’re already taking a big step in the right direction. Those who are most guilty of using another’s culture, experience, or truth for their own fiction often do so carelessly without ever having asked the question of if they should. But before we go into how to avoid it, it is important to be on the same page about art’s place in this important 21st century debate.

The broadest definition of cultural appropriation being bandied about today is, itself, problematic. Under the widest definition, all art is appropriation and in the world of writing, only non-fiction is, potentially, shielded from such criticism. This is the other side of the sword, and we need to be careful not to swing it too carelessly. Art has always thrived on inspiration from other artists and indeed, other cultures. Without art, many stories and experiences throughout the world may never have seen the light of day. So, through its own progressive function in our society, art (and in particular literature) has opened up a worldwide perspective and as a result has placed itself on the firing lines.

By this logic, avoiding appropriation should be easy. Simply stick to the old adage “write what you know.” But if we all did that, the literary world would become a rather boring, one-dimensional place; because regardless of background, nearly every author would be forced to write stories about their struggles as a writer and nothing else. Would anyone find that engaging? Is that even fiction?

Accepting that writing about someone whose life and experience may be different from yours is an inescapable and necessary function of fiction, it is best to break the appropriation debate down to three key areas. And since the title of this blog has gotten me in the mood for alliteration, let’s stick with that trend. When considering whether not your current or future work may be appropriation, consider: Empathy, Education, and Exploration.

Empathy: Are you writing about a one-dimensional archetype meant to stand in for a culture that plays a key role in your plot? Or are you writing about a fully fleshed out human whose personality is baked-in with strengths and flaws like any real human? A male author writing from the perspective of a female narrator, who spends 75% of the story writing about the narrator’s boyfriend, is not someone writing from a place of empathy. No attempt was made to get inside the female narrator’s head, and instead the author has rested on his own gender norms as a crutch by putting the focus of the story on the boyfriend, despite who the story assumes its protagonist to be. In a similar vein, it is natural and indeed noble for an author writing about another race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. to want to avoid stereotypes or anything that may be perceived in a negative light. As a result, you sometimes get characters who are without flaws, who sit atop a pedestal, gleaming as a magical unicorn—a person who could not possibly exist in real life. An author who does his/her/their job well, will bring their characters to life on the page, not smother them with stereotypes or shield them from the truth.

Education: Have you taken the time to fully research the characters and culture in your story? Research implies something much more than a cursory Wikipedia glance, it demands a rigorous academic approach to ensure that the details you are including are authentic, nuanced, and truthful.

When Rebecca Makkai was writing a story about the AIDS epidemic in Chicago in the 1980s for her Pulitzer Prize shortlisted 2018 novel The Great Believers, she employed an academic and grueling study regimen to ensure that the world she portrayed was not only accurate, but full of authentic life. Makkai, who herself identifies as a white, cis-gendered, straight female, was certainly writing out of her element in portraying gay male characters dealing with the new realities of HIV/AIDS in their community, and yet her book received universal praise because it was apparent on every page that she had taken the time to interview the people who had lived through that era. She had mapped out all of the long defunct gay clubs throughout Chicago so that her geography was accurate, and she read all of the existing works about the crisis in Chicago so that even the minutia she included rang true. She had no need to hire “sensitivity readers,” because she was already friends and confidants with the people who had lived the story and they had given their blessing to the work.

Even if you are not someone who believes in sensitivity (if so, why are you a writer?) there is another benefit to educating yourself before you write, above and beyond making it politically correct: it will make your story better! I have seen this from personal experience. I’m fifth generation Appalachian on my father’s side and Irish on my mother’s. I can spot from a mile away an author who has not done his/her/their research on either of those cultures because I have lived them, and no amount of academic study can fully approximate an experience lived. Yet I’d be forgiving if minor details were missed, as long as the broad strokes felt true to my cultural experience, but the trend, particularly in writing about rural West Virginia, is to oversimplify its characters, to take the region’s lack of proper educational opportunities as a sign of lower intelligence, to glamorize and even fetishize poverty to the point where it becomes parody. When I read these stories, I know I am reading an author who doesn’t care enough to respect their characters or their audience. When I read someone like Breece D’J Pancake, a native Appalachian writer, I see my family in his words. I see he and my Dad sitting down with a few bottles of long neck Stroh’s and whiling away an afternoon speaking to one another in their quintessentially, lyrical, mountain manner. If you aren’t willing to put a majority of your work into research, then you aren’t ready to write about anything other than your own personal experience.

Exploration: In short, ask yourself if what you’re writing about has already been explored by others who may be closer to the situation than you. Makkai tackled the AIDS crisis in Chicago precisely because it hadn’t been written about much in mainstream media. If you are going to write about the Holocaust, specifically about the European Jewish experience, and you are not Jewish, and are not a direct descendant of a survivor of that dark era, then you are likely treading on ground that others with far more experience, education, and empathy than you have already explored. If, in your research of the Holocaust, you learn about the plight of the Romani people and discover that there have been precious few works of fiction written about their struggle, then perhaps, just perhaps, you’ve found a reason to write about another culture other than your own. To give voice to the previously voiceless had always been one of literature’s most important roles.

A final litmus test: if writing about another culture, identity, or experience that is not your own does not terrify you, you clearly don’t care enough to do the story or the characters justice. Art thrives when it is left uncensored and unfettered, but it is our responsibility as artists to ensure that we pay proper respect to that responsibility and that we always explore our fictional worlds with empathy and education.

– Zac Kellian

Orca Blog for May: Your Critical First Impression

Most writers know that readers for literary journals have to review hundreds of submissions. In practical terms this means readers may only give each submission a paragraph or two to make a good impression before deciding to reject or consider the piece further. That doesn’t give a writer much of a chance. So what should a writer try to do to engage an Orca reader?

Your opening can establish character, setting, point of view, conflict, and other aspects. But more importantly it must establish the voice of the story, and create some connection to the character’s situation, also known as the stakes.

Let’s look at a couple of examples, one that doesn’t quite work, and one that does:

Here’s a first paragraph, written by me to approximate many of the stories we receive in our submission queue:

Jim Stone walked past the gates of O’Hare’s spacious Terminal B, checking his cell, searching for a restaurant he and his wife could go to after work; he had something important to tell her, and the right place would make it go more smoothly. It was his first week on the job. At this hour there were only two people in the waiting area—a young man sitting in a gray chair reading a book, and an old woman in a green coat with a leather bag on her lap.

I see dozens of stories that start off this way. Technically there’s nothing wrong with them. Above, we have character, setting, and even a hint to the story’s inherent conflict. But what’s missing is subtext. The details in this opening are mostly exterior.

Now here’s the first paragraph of Rachel Cusk’s Outline:

Before the flight I was invited for lunch at a London club with a billionaire I’d been promised had liberal credentials. He talked in his open-necked shirt about the new software he was developing that could help organizations identify the employees most likely to rob and betray them in the future. We were meant to be discussing a literary magazine he was thinking of starting up: unfortunately I had to leave before we arrived at that subject. He insisted on paying for a taxi to the airport, which was useful since I was late and had a heavy suitcase.

There are subtle clues in this paragraph that tell me the writer is immersed in the characters and the story. Exterior details are tied to interior reactions and emotions. This is much more like the way people experience their world, and therefore tends to draw the reader into the character’s reality.

By examining closer, we can see how this works.

Both paragraphs present a scene that has something to do with air flight. What’s the difference?

  1. In the first, notice the attention to factual background information: O’Hare’s Terminal B, first week on the job; the young man and the old woman are specifically described. In the second, notice that the information is more vague: a London club, a billionaire. We do not know exactly what these things are or what they look like. But then, people don’t view the world around them in terms of specific facts; instead they tend to incorporate what they are experiencing into a larger whole, as though each detail presented was part of a connected reality, and therefore doesn’t need the breakdown into explanation. In the weaker example, the things that should be specific are left vague, and the things that don’t truly matter are made specific. In the Cusk paragraph every sentence offers a window into a deeper meaning—that’s subtext.
  2. Interior versus exterior detail. The exterior detail must be connected to the protagonist’s interior experience, otherwise it becomes peripheral. It is not a “telling” detail. Look at the description at the end of the first paragraph: The terminal was empty except for an elderly woman and a young man. Although these things are visible to the protagonist, and register to his senses, none of them seems connected in any significant way to the protagonist’s problem or psychological state. They are essentially window dressing, placed by the author to establish the “scene,” as though mere detail could do this. In the second example, every external detail is connected to the protagonist’s inner reality. These are aspects that are important to the protagonist. For example, the billionaire promised “liberal credentials.” His open-necked shirt implies liberality, but the software he is developing serves corporations and seems designed to punish workers. He wants to start a literary magazine, which is important enough for her to stop before a trip to have lunch with him. The beauty of Cusk’s writing is that it works on a subconscious level, luring the reader in subtly. The information is just enough to get the reader to start thinking about more than what’s in the scene—this is the difference between telling a story and engaging the reader in a story.
  3. A glimpse into your character’s interior state reveals her interests, desires, and goals. In other words, it introduces the possibility of conflict, and conflict is the primary driver of good fiction. What does your character want, and what stands in her way of getting it? Yes, you can have external conflict such as a physical confrontation, but even the external conflict implies an internal state. We are not simply physical objects reacting to external stimuli.
  4. This depth of writing is not something that comes easily for most writers. It requires a deep understanding of character, to the point at which exterior observations and interior reactions become one. It also requires that the writer have confidence in presenting those connections as they are to the reader, without the boring, factual explanation that bogs down so many submissions. Part of the problem is that from our first conscious stirrings as children, and all through our educational experience, we are expected to explain ourselves to others. We are expected to provide simple answers. The world, we are taught, is not interested in our deeper emotions. The world is essentially a court of law that judges us based on what we did, not why we did it. As writers we have to overcome that. We have to learn to present not the facts of a protagonist’s existence, but the experience of what it is like to be that person. And that can only be done by connecting that exterior experience to interior desires and motivations. In simpler terms, it means that when we write the details of a scene or story, we need to ask why including those details matter.

– JP

Orca Blog for April, 2019 – Hardheaded: The Autodidacts Who Shaped Literary History

It was Ernest Hemingway’s second plane crash in as many days. As the fuselage burned, the survivors ran to the rear cargo door to make their escape. Never a follower, always a trailblazer, “Papa” was a man who labored under the notion that the courageous always exited the way they came in. He tried to head butt open the fire-fused main cabin door and managed to crack two vertebrae in the process. One of the great masters of the English language was many things, among them, an Autodidact—a self-taught man—and while that kind of thinking didn’t serve Hemingway well during his second plane crash in Africa, his rebel attitude helped redefine the language you and I speak today.

The internet is rife with articles extolling the virtues of traditional education. This is not one of those pieces. Certainly there are many benefits to MFA programs: they can be a welcoming place to hone your craft around like minds, to strengthen the mechanics of your trade, or to open doors to the literary world through the personal connections you make. But this blog is dedicated to those who went a more non-traditional route. This is a tribute to autodidacticism and the men and women who have embraced it. From Hemingway to Faulkner, Mark Twain to José Saramago, the self-taught writer is as much a part of the literary landscape as any of the multi-degreed polymaths through the ages.

Sometimes this self-taught nature is a result of circumstances beyond the literary greats’ control. Poor health, isolationism, and the general social mores precluding women from more advanced opportunities relegated Jane Austen to her family’s library. It was there she taught herself to write in the style of some of her favorite authors, and later became skilled enough to turn that style on its head—giving us the influential novels she’s known for today, while the vast majority of her traditionally educated contemporaries have been forgotten.

Renowned Russian author Maxim Gorky’s family was so impoverished, he ran away from home to be one less mouth to feed. Starting from the age of twelve he earned his education by “borrowing” books from the various towns he passed through as he traveled on foot across the country. He would pick up various jobs as he walked and entertained himself with impressions of the people he encountered, many of whom would later populate his works.

Richard Wright was denied an education due to the color of his skin as the grandson of freed slaves in the Jim Crow South, but he persisted in seeking out any opportunity he could to hone his craft and challenge the status quo at every turn. When his junior high school asked him to give a traditional, faculty-written speech at graduation, he refused and instead gave the racially charged, honest speech he had written for the occasion.

But just as often the greats we remember today became autodidacts by choice. Playwright August Wilson dropped out of high school in grade nine after he found the curriculum unchallenging and had grown weary of teachers accusing him of plagiarism for delivering reports written in a style well beyond his grade level. Instead he spent all of his newly acquired free time at the Pittsburgh Carnegie Library. His presence became so ubiquitous among the stacks that the library would later offer him an honorary high school diploma in recognition of his years of self-motivated learning.

Irish playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw abhorred traditional education to such a degree that he quit school altogether at age fifteen, declaring years later that “Schools and schoolmasters, as we have them today, are not popular as places of education and teachers, but rather prisons and turnkeys in which children are kept to prevent them disturbing and chaperoning their parent.”

Jack London sought a life of adventure outside the classroom and used his unique travel and work experiences as a young man to formulate a new, commercial approach to fiction. Ardent autodidact Mark Twain loved to brazenly boast that “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

While there have been many self-taught writers who would go on to win Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes for their craft, the measure of their contribution to the world has, and will always be, the unique way they managed to steer the world of fiction in new and interesting directions. If there is one prevalent critique of MFA programs and writers’ workshops, it is that they have the potential to teach everyone to write in a similar voice, based on a preconceived notion of what fiction is and isn’t. For the self-taught greats, this kind of conformity, real or imagined, is what drove them to march to the beat of their own drummer and, along the way, create new and wholly unexpected literary expressions.

Autodidacts like H.P. Lovecraft and Jack London managed to create new literary genres, while other independent learners like Louis L’Amour and Harlan Ellison helped to innovate and breathe new life into existing genres. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore managed to reshape literature for an entire subcontinent while Ernest Hemingway, his aversion to traditional emergency exits aside, achieved nothing less that reshaping the way an English-language novel is written and a story is told.

Clearly, an informal education is not an impediment to literary success or acclaim, which may lead one to wonder which path is better. The short answer: whatever learning style best suits you! While it is true that many autodidacts have catalyzed paradigm shifts in their respective media, precisely because they naturally think outside the box there are still many examples of artists who embraced higher learning and managed to change their art form for the better. After all, you still need to know the rules before you can effectively break them. So choose the path that is right for you, weigh the pros and cons of each, and regardless of how rebellious you choose to be, it never hurts to learn where your exits are in case of an emergency.

-Zachary Kellian

Orca Blog for March, 2019 – The Mathematics of Writing

Is there a formula for creative success?

Writers and critics disdain formulaic writing, but what if there were a mathematical formula for writing? Maybe there is.

In an article in The Writer’s Chronicle a couple of years ago, poet/teacher Leslie Ullman wrote of her fascination with the mathematical relationships between numbers and writing, particularly the Golden Spiral. To really understand the relationship that inspired her, check out the article (you have to be an AWP member). Essentially, it began with a couple of ancient mathematical concepts that have persevered through the centuries.

The Golden Mean was a relationship advanced by Pythagoras and Plato that established a “golden” point on a straight line segment. (Bear with me, this really does pertain to writing.) At that point, the smaller segment of line is .618 the length of the larger segment, and the larger segment is .618 the length of the original line. This magic .618 factor also comes into play in a variety of mathematical concepts, including the Fibonacci sequence, architectural applications like the pyramids and modern works, and many others. As importantly, it can be applied to many natural occurrences, such as branching in trees, the arrangement of a variety of flowering plants, the spirals of shells, generations of bees, and the curve of waves. It can even be applied to the measurements of DNA molecules. The Golden Mean’s ratio yields the Golden Spiral, “an orderly spiral that gets farther from its point of origin by a factor of .618 with each quarter turn it makes.”

Got that? Okay, here’s the writing part:

If .618 occurs naturally as a ratio between numbers and arrangements, does it have any significance in literature?

The eight ball says, “Signs point to yes.” (Or is that the .618 ball?)

Sonnets have fourteen lines. Ullman notes that in the Petrarchan sonnet the placement of the volta, or turning point, comes after the eighth line, which is quite close to the Golden Mean (grant some leeway here because fourteen lines is a pretty small sample size). English sonnets morphed from the Petrarchan, but maintain echoes of this same trait.

Ullman’s article focuses on poetry. But I couldn’t help wondering if this worked in prose as well? The turning point in a narrative is a major key to its success. So are we naturally predisposed to react to change at a certain point in a story, to feel the narrative morph in an orderly way from its origin to its climax and resolution? In the Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell laid out twelve steps by which the hero character in ancient literature went from average person to hero. Step 7 is the “Supreme Ordeal,” described as “…the person’s lowest point or darkest moment. The separation has been made between the old world and old self and the potential for a new world/self. By entering this stage, the person shows her/his willingness to make a change, to die and become a new person.” Step 7 is the closest to .618 in a sequence of twelve.

In that vein, Dan Harmon, the writer who created “Community,” and whose YouTube videos are quite popular with writers these days, demands that his team stick to the hero’s journey cycle and will not even entertain drafts that drift too far from the .618 rule.

Let’s see if it actually works in practice. From my collection of digitized classics I randomly chose Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Pet Dog,” translated by Constance Garnett. Word count is 6724. That means somewhere around 4155 words we should see a shift in the character. I scrolled to that point, and just a few words before the textual Golden Mean, I found this paragraph:

Gurov did not sleep all night, and was filled with indignation. And he had a headache all next day. And the next night he slept badly; he sat up in bed, thinking, or paced up and down his room. He was sick of his children, sick of the bank; he had no desire to go anywhere or to talk of anything.

Sounds like change, my friends.

I tried another, “In the Dry,” a classic in my opinion, by Breece D’J Pancake. 5126 words. The change point would be around 3168. Only a sentence later is this:

On the path to the shed, a strangeness creeps through him: he remembers walking this way—nights, years ago—and Bus yelling, “I’m going to show you something, Ottie.”

This is getting scary.

Keep in mind that to be more certain of the significance of these findings I would have to reread the stories from the start. But these passages definitely indicate turning points in the characters’ narrative arcs, at which events have caused them to begin to rethink their present lives.

But now the real test—one of mine. I chose a published story titled “A Teaching Moment.” It contains 3923 words, so a turn should occur around 2424. Here, at exactly word 2424, is text from the story:

There was no sense bringing up commitment. I couldn’t move to take her in my arms, or invoke some other movie cliché to save the scene. I just lay there, helpless, useless. She’d managed the end of our relationship perfectly. Who knew the real reason she wanted out? But I couldn’t argue at that point. All I know is that even if she came back now, all would be forgiven.

God, I do miss her.

Yikes. Since I wrote it, I can honestly report this passage ends the second of three sections, and positions the character for his psychological change.

This is just my opinion and could well be disproved. But I think it won’t be. A traditionally well-crafted story (or poem or novel) creates its effect on the reader by building an emotional case, and then advancing to climax and resolution. Think of it as a controlled spiral of increasing tension. Is the 61.8 percent point in the narrative the trigger where the reader’s mind is properly prepared to begin the rise to climax? This deserves more investigation.

Try it for yourself. Take something you’ve read and enjoyed, or something you’ve written and look for the point at which the narrative begins to turn. I’m more than curious to know what you discover.

–Joe Ponepinto

Orca Blog for February, 2019 – 10 Great Short Stories You Can Read for Free Online

We could easily link to dozens more short stories that have moved us, inspired us, or racked us with jealousy of their brilliance, but the internet likes lists and it likes them pithy. So what follows should prove a nice primer to the great resources available for those who hunger for literary language in their lives, or for anyone who just needs a quick vacation from reality. In no particular order:

1) In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried, by Amy Hempel, 1983
A classic story that deals with aspects of friendship, regret, and our ability to face death, by one of the true masters of the short form. Amazingly, this is the first short story Hempel ever wrote, when she was a student in Gordon Lish’s New York City fiction class. The story has become one of the most widely anthologized, and has long been one of my favorites. —Joe

2) A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, by Ernest Hemingway, 1933
It is easy, perhaps even fashionable now, to dismiss Hemingway. His contribution to the English language is inestimable, but perhaps his time has come and gone? This story, however, is impossible to dismiss. It cuts right to the core of our humanity. The foil of the two waiters (old and young / apathetic and impassioned) is inspired and its message is timeless. —Zac

3) Division by Zero, by Ted Chiang, 1991
Chiang is perhaps unique in his ability to combine complex scientific and mathematical concepts with deep, emotionally satisfying fiction. His story, “Story of Your Life,” was the basis for the movie “Arrival.” A computer scientist by education, his work has won four Nebula awards, four Hugo awards, and many other honors. Plus he was born just a couple of miles from where I lived when I was a kid. —Joe

4) Museum of the Dearly Departed, by Rebecca Makkai, 2015
A lesser writer would have stumbled upon this story’s excellent surface premise (people cleaning out loved ones’ apartments following a fatal gas leak) and have been satisfied with it. Makkai, one of the modern masters of the short story, deftly combines several interconnected ideas that generate whole new levels of meaning and new layers of emotional depth. —Zac

5) In the Dry, by Breece D’J Pancake, 1978
When Breece Pancake was a student at the University of Virginia, he was already being considered as one of the potentially great writers of his time. He hailed from Appalachian West Virginia (although he was not a “hillbilly”), and wrote almost exclusively about the rural people of that area. The depth of his short fiction is still incredible. But Pancake could never fit in with the people and pace of mainstream and university life. At the age of 26 he committed suicide. He wrote only 12 stories in his brief career. —Joe

6) Girls, At Play, by Celeste Ng, 2012
I’m a firm believer that any talented writer can and should write from any perspective, regardless of his/her/their race, gender, or background. However, there are certainly stories that can only be written by a woman, and this is one of them. The first time I read it felt like having my brain rewired. I’m sure this disturbing story doesn’t speak for every 8th grade girl, but it must speak for some, and I’m grateful for the opportunity this narrative gave me to exist in that challenging world for a spell. Plus, I’m a sucker for the first person, plural narrator. —Zac

7) Sonny’s Blues, by James Baldwin, 1957
Baldwin’s novel, If Beale Street Could Talk, has recently been released as a motion picture, but it’s “Sonny’s Blues” that placed Baldwin among the greatest writers of his generation and beyond. It’s a complex story of self-discovery in black America, during a time when “separate but equal,” although outlawed by the Supreme Court three years before, was still the de facto law of the land. —Joe

8) The Last Rung on the Ladder, by Stephen King, 1978
Throw aside everything you might think you know about “The Master of Horror.” The literary establishment loves to dismiss genre authors, especially if they sell well, but there’s a reason behind King’s success: strong writing. There is not a drop of horror to be found in this story. There is only heart, tears, and a resounding need to reach out to your loved ones after you read it. —Zac

9) Bullet in The Brain, by Tobias Wolff, 1995
Wolff does something in this story they tell beginning writers not to do: his main character is a complete ass, with apparently no redeeming social qualities at all. He’s such a jerk that readers can develop more sympathy for the armed bank robbers who threaten him. But by the end of this tale you may, like me, be reduced to a puddle of emotion, because at its heart this is a story about hope and dreams, and how we never completely let go of them. —Joe

10) Where are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates, 1966
We all have that first story we read that lights up our imagination like a roman candle. This is mine; the story that made me want to be a writer. It was the first piece I remember reading that worked both as a straight-forward narrative (a harrowing one at that) and as a rich allegory. Enjoy it for its story, its language, or for its biblical and social allusions, but enjoy it you will. —Zac

BONUS STORY: The Dead, by James Joyce
We both had this one on our list, so it gets special status.
• A great candidate for the best English language short story ever written. —Zac
• I could read the ending of this story a thousand times and it would still exhilarate me. (PS: If you’ve never seen the John Huston movie based on this story, rent it.) —Joe