My Favorites Of 2019

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As we wrap up another decade, I considered going back and doing a “Favorites of the last 10 years” post but….upon further review…that might be a little much. I can’t remember yesterday, let alone try to remember something I saw or did in 2010. So I figured I’d just break it down for this year and call it a day. Here are my favorites from the year of 2019. Enjoy!

Once Upon A Time

This year was excellent when it came to film. While there are still several critically hailed movies that I have yet to see (“1917” & “JoJo Rabbit” come to mind), I’ll go with what I HAVE seen and leave it at that for New Years Eve…

5. “Captain Marvel” – I know, I know. A lot of people would question this simply because, in a year with so many OTHER superhero films and with this one being critically lauded as too simple and boring, why is it one of my favorites? Well…I saw this movie 3 times in the theater and bought it and have watched it maybe 5 or more times and each time I can say this…I was entertained. I love superhero movies and I thought Brie Larson made a great superhero! I enjoyed the storyline and her introduction and I can’t wait to see the next step in the character’s evolution.

4. “Booksmart” – A John Hughes-esque comedy released in 2019, this little gem took me back to my youth and gave me hope for this generation of teenagers. A coming of age story of 2 nerdy senior girls, this will take you on a journey that will leave you laughing, crying and wishing it didn’t have to end. I loved it.

3. “Avengers: Endgame” – Do I even have to get into it? It’s Marvel’s masterpiece and crowning jewel of a storyline that was 10 years in the making. I love superhero movies. Nuff said.

2. “Doctor Sleep” – Probably the last full book I read…back in 2013…and this movie nailed the characters and the vibe of the book. I loved how it tied “The Shining” and a grown up Danny Torrence together and created a fresh new story with a character I already knew. It all makes complete sense and the wrap up was completely satisfying.

1. “Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood” – When I saw this in the theater, I walked away not really sure WHAT I thought of it. After repeatedly viewings, I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite Tarantino movies. It takes us inside the late 60’s, allowing us to observe the end of THAT decade through the eyes of several characters and somehow manages to mix in a true-life horror storyline and twist it in a way only Tarantino could. All involved are awesome, Brad Pitt steals the show and DiCaprio has possibly one of my favorite scenes ever in a movie when he throws a tantrum…on himself. This movie is for any person who loves movies, music and doesn’t need a movie wrapped up in a nice little bow.

A few extra notes on this year in movies…

Most Overrated Film: “Ad Astra” (As good as Pitt was in OUATIH, he’s a complete bore in this one.)

Film I Was Most Disappointed In (But Will Probably Watch Again): It Chapter 2 (Perfectly cast and yet not an entirely satisfying ending to this Stephen King 2-parter.)

Film Everyone Loved That I Will Probably Never Watch: The Irishman (It’s Scorcese & his cast of cronies. Hasn’t this been done already?)

Most Pleasant Surprise Considering The Reviews: Star Wars IX – The Rise Of Skywalker (Don’t know what else you could expect from this series. It wrapped up a lot of storylines and was darker and more entertaining than the previous two.)

Movie I Watched & Wished I Hadn’t: The Art Of Self-Defense (A dark “comedy” that I was excited to see but just couldn’t get into it. Maybe some day I’ll revisit it but I just didn’t like it that much and was disappointed.)

Weirdest Movie Of The Year With The Most Outstanding Cast: The Dead Don’t Die (I love zombie movies but this one is the most bizarre of them all.)

Surprisingly Fun Movies That I’d Recommend If You Just Want Something To Watch But Don’t Want To Think Too Much: The Peanut Butter Falcon, Good Boys, Yesterday (I enjoyed all 3 and would recommend all 3 if you’re in the mood to relax. “Good Boys” has a lot of cursing and sex talk by middle schoolers but that’s what makes it so funny!)

Movie I Didn’t Like That People Will Give Me The Most Heat About: Joker (I know, I know. It’s a super-VILLAIN movie, it’s got all the critical accolades, the lead is one of my favorite actors working today…how could I NOT like this movie? Maybe BECAUSE it was all of the above and I had such high expectations? I dunno. But I watched this movie and was just bored. “But it’s following him into madness as he morphs into one of the most revered villains of all-time!” Yeah…and we get to watch every step. And we get to watch Phoenix primp and preen in front of mirrors, dance alone in bathrooms and basically try to make the character darker than Heath Ledger did but…I didn’t get it. So sue me.)

Green-Day

Moving on to music, let me just say…there was a LOT of good music this year and it may be one of the strongest as far as the music that I’ve been listening to. I admittedly am an iTunes “searcher” when it comes to my music (which limits me to whatever iTunes decides to put out there) but I do try to go deeper into genre catalogues and find that there are a lot of great musicians out there in ALL genres. I’m not as into today’s modern rap but I still managed to find some that I like and could even find some EDM that I enjoyed. That being said…here are my Top 10 favorite tracks of 2019…

10. “No Plan” – Hozier

9. “Do It Like That” – NOISY

8. “Suck On Light” – Boy & Bear

7. “Them Cold Eyes” – Spiral Stairs

6. “Mr. Radioactive” – Bear Hands

5. “Remember To Breathe” – Sturgill Simpson

4. “Hypersonic Missiles” – Sam Fender

3. “Kiss Like The Sun” – Jake Bugg

2. “Now Or Never” – The Hawkeyes

1. “Father Of All…” – Green Day

Pretty much all alternative rock songs but if I posted my complete Top 25 there would be tracks by Max B (reminds me of 2Pac), Moon Hooch (delicious saxophone) and Midland (with one of the catchiest country line dance tracks since Billy Ray Cyrus). It was a great year for music and that makes it difficult to pick my favorite album of the year but…not really. I’ve burned this one out and I’m going to see this artist in concert in February. I’ve loved all of his albums even though he’s skewed genres each and every time he’s released an album. This one is all rock and not only are all the tracks awesome…but the album art is possibly the greatest ever! As an added bonus…the guy released a short anime film that featured his music that was one of the hippest things on Netflix this year. My favorite album of 2019 was…Sturgill Simpson’s “SOUND & FURY”.

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When it came to television, I pretty much strayed away from over-the-air tv. I don’t really get into watching sitcoms or dramas anymore and have become a straight binge watcher. For that reason, my interests and likes are pretty few. But if I were to recommend something to watch? I’d go with the following…

5. “The Umbrella Academy”

4. “The Mandalorian”

3. “Living With Yourself” (The only non-superhero type series on this list, Paul Rudd is great in this and the premise is kind of silly but works!)

2. “Watchmen”

1. “The Boys”

As for life Top Moments, there wasn’t a whole lot to report. I turned 51, went to some concerts, suffered through some late year back pain, went on vacation to the west coast, worked a lot. Pretty much the same kind of story as every year. But I’d say the Christopher college experience had been my family’s biggest story as we search for his college choice for next year. He was accepted at Kentucky, Ohio and Northern Kentucky but we are still in limbo as we wait to hear from Cincinnati (the front-runner at this point). Obviously, being an Ohio grad, I would love for him to go to Athens but I get the feeling he’d like to go to the premier business school in our area AND be close to home. We will see soon enough what his options are and I imagine next year will be an entirely different post about life after his departure but for now? Having a happy, healthy and stable life is the best story I can tell and I’m ok with that. Finding humor is the most important way that I handle so much and I feel good for my age. I hope the coming year continues along the same path and I look forward to another decade of life!

(Knock on wood)

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This “Last” Will Be Special

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With this being Chris’ senior year, there are going to be a lot of “lasts” that he will be experiencing. There was the last “first day of high school”, his last Homecoming dance, his last “first practice of the season.” And there will be many more as this year goes flying by. Tonight though…this one is gonna be tough. Tonight will be his last regular season football game, it’ll be Senior Night for the Beechwood Tigers and this will be the last time that I will know that when he takes the field, it won’t be my last time watching him play. Playoffs start next week and, as a parent, you know going in that it could be their last game. There is no safety net. If they lose….they’re done. Which is why tonight is so special. And that will be the last time I get to see him run onto the field, put on his helmet and play ball with the 12 other guys that we’ve had the pleasure to watch grow into fantastic young men while having a sense that I WILL get to see him play at least one more time.

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10+ years ago, on August 27th, 2009, his mother and I watched as he took the field with his Spartan teammates at Robert A. Warner Field. Little did we know the culture we would become a part of, the friends we would make and the elation of winning or the deflation of losing that having a son who played football would bring. It sure has been an exciting ride! From winning a couple local youth football championships to winning 3 state championships, every year has brought something new to store away in the memory bank. It has been a pleasure to watch and it is going to be incredibly hard to not have this anymore.

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So many memories. I don’t even know where to begin really so I won’t. Writing this has me tearing up and I don’t want to spend one more moment of this day being sad. This is a celebration. My parents are coming into town to be here for Senior Night. It’s going to be a cold evening. I plan on having some hot chocolate, I want to sit with our friends and I want to enjoy this for what it is…an exciting moment in my son’s young history. It will be the first time I get to experience seeing what this game has meant to him. Our family will walk across midfield with him before the game and the fans and parents and friends will clap and wish us well. It will be something I haven’t experienced since MY senior night with my basketball team so many years ago. And then they will face off against a tough opponent whose quarterback is the son of a friend of mine. That one will be tough to watch because I’ve watched Chris and his friends take on Paul and his teammates for years now and his Dad and I always have great discussions about their performances. It’s a great rivalry and knowing that this is the last regular season game will make it all the more sweeter if we can pull out a victory.

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It’s been a awesome 10-year ride and I’ve got photos and video to prove it. Maybe some day I’ll go back through and re-watch and re-live all of this but for now? I just want to enjoy tonight and be there for Christopher. I don’t know if he realizes what is happening or even thought about it on this level but I know I have been. For weeks now. And I’m so proud of him and his team for what they’ve accomplished. It was a rough start for sure, going 1-4 after winning a state championship is a lot of pressure. But they have come roaring back, winning 4 in a row and now sit with a 5-4 record and the chance to win against a tough team tonight. It’s exciting and it’s made for a great season!

Anyway…I’m waxing nostalgic and just wanted to get this down before I move on with my day. Tonight is going to be special and I don’t want to miss a second of it. So….

GO TIGERS!!!!

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West Coast Vacation 2019

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This year for our summer family vacation, we headed out west to San Francisco and La La Land. While I kinda wanted to go to Seattle (my favorite town), we thought maybe we could do that at another point because neither of the kids had ever been past Denver and there is a LOT to do in the 2 largest cities on the west coast. So…I managed to find direct flights for Steph and the kids so that they could fly directly into San Francisco. They arrived early and went to visit the Golden Gate Bridge. They then spent the next couple days visiting Stephanie’s cousin, Chris, and his wife Maggie and their kids. They visited downtown San Fran during the Gay Pride Parade and also drove down Lombard Street. They also drove north to go to a state park and see some redwood trees!

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On Monday night, I joined them in San Fran (I had to work over that weekend) and on Tuesday we all piled into our rental and made our way down the Pacific Coastline, driving through Pebble Beach, Big Sur and San Luis Obispo and seeing some amazing sites! We took a ton of pictures, ate at Nepenthe and saw some giant ass elephant seals sleeping the day away.

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On Wednesday, we took a studio tour of Warner Brothers. We got a behind the scenes look at a Hollywood studio with a fake town, lots of movie props and a couple of famous sets! We had a blast on the tour despite not seeing anyone famous or being allowed to take any photos of the Ellen studio (for whatever reason).

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That evening, we met up with Stephanie’s former roommate, Robin, and her family. We ate at Yamashiro, a Hollywood restaurant that overlooks the Los Angeles skyline and told a lot of stories of our younger, television news days. We had a blast and the dinner, while costing a fortune, was worth every penny. It was a highlight of our trip, for sure! That night, we went down to the Santa Monica Pier and took Ava on her first Ferris wheel experience. How this child got through almost 15 years of living without getting on a giant wheel is beyond me…

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On Thursday, as we prepared for our July 4th Los Angeles bus tour, we experienced our very first earthquake! We were all just getting dressed and relaxing when we could feel the hotel sway. The light above my head starting drifting from left to right. It was an odd feeling but I can’t say I was really scared. It was just a just a unique feeling. After that and after grabbing some coffee and grub from Philz Coffee Shop, we hopped on our tour bus. As our guide (also named Alan) drove us around Hollywood, we got to see some cool locations including The Viper Room, Rodeo Drive, Justin Bieber’s former party house and a slew of other Hollywood greats’ homes. We stopped off at the market for lunch and got a chance to hang at the Walk Of Fame to take some photos. The most disappointing part of the tour was not really getting a close up of the Hollywood sign. Apparently the locals don’t like people hanging out in the Hollywood Hills and so our bus wasn’t really able to stop at too many locations. Oh well…it was still a fun ride!

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On Friday, our last full day in Los Angeles, Christopher and I crossed one off MY bucket list as we got up early and went down to Venice Beach and played basketball at the courts made famous by the movie “White Men Can’t Jump”. We met some guys and played 2-on-2 for about 2 hours. We didn’t shoot particularly well but we had a great time and now I can say I did it! Later that afternoon, we met up with another of Stephanie’s friends from high school and had lunch. That evening we went to see “Spider-Man: Far From Home” at the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater (cross of ANOTHER bucket list item!) in Hollywood. Needless to say…it’s one of the premier theaters in America and it was amazing seeing a movie there AND experience earthquake #2 in 2 days! This time though, it was a little unnerving to see people rush for the exits as the floor was vibrating and the theater rocked a little bit. Stephanie and I looked at each other, not sure what to do and as we contemplated our escape (where’s The Rock when you need him?), the tremor stopped and we continued on with the movie! So weird that in all my travels I’ve never experienced an earthquake and now I can say I’ve sat through 2 of them…

On Saturday, we packed up and headed to the airport but not before stopping at In N Out for some burgers before we left the left coast. Thanks for the memories California! Maybe someday we will make it to Seattle but until then…THIS trip was definitely one to remember!!!

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A Very Good Year

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Wow. I mean…when I look back at this past year, 2018 might go down as one of the best in my life. As I sit here, trying to remember all that happened, I found I had to write them down because of the volume. Despite the fact that we really didn’t get a “family” vacation last year like the previous year, my family joined me in San Antonio where they got to go to the NCAA Championship. While I’m sure that was a cool moment for them, I had to work but it WAS my first time actually working the actual broadcast of the Final Four for CBS. But the memory I will take away from that event will be playing basketball with Fer and my work friends the night prior to the big game! I had a dream many years ago of actually PLAYING in a Final Four but this honestly was the next best thing!

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I actually would say this past year was a very big year for Christopher more than anyone. Going to the National Championship was a highlight of MANY highlights for him which would also include turning 16, getting his drivers permit and license, getting a new car and winning a 3rd state football championship! As you can imagine, I’m always proud of him but this year was, by all accounts, pretty spectacular for him.

Ava also had a great year! She was involved in multiple theater performances including a big role in “Bah Humbug”, she joined the golf team and got a lot of experience this season and seems to have taken a liking to the sport, and she spent a week at summer camp and made several friends who I think she will remain friends with for many years!

Stephanie also had a lot going on in 2018. With her job keeping her busy and all of the things that she does at the kids’ school, she was constantly on the run but she DID find time to go to a few concerts, entertained her friends here in Cincinnati and got a new car this year!

As for me…well…I cleared a few artists off my concert bucket list. Saw Sammy Hagar and Phil Collins in back-to-back nights with my BFF, JT. I also saw Radiohead, Drivin’ N Cryin’, Charlie Puth & Hailee Steinfeld (HEY! It was for Ava’s birthday!). I got to work some big events which included the Final Four, the Super Bowl, The Masters, U.S. Open, & the PGA Championship. I also managed to get out to Pebble Beach for the first (and second) time.

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This was a great year for entertainment as well. Loved “Avengers: Infinity War” and “It”. Enjoyed listening to new albums by Jason Aldean, The Wombats, White Denim and a band named “Fucked Up,” which was probably my favorite album of the year despite their awful name.

Oh…and I turned 50 this year and got to celebrate with my family at Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday of the year) and with many friends I don’t get to see much anymore. I got a new set of golf clubs, a new golf bag and an invitation to play in a 50 & over basketball league starting in January. All in all…a pretty good deal!

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This year wasn’t without some sadness though. My Uncle Jimmy (y Dad’s younger brother) passed away a couple months ago. We lost our neighbor, Tonya, early in the summer. I also lost a few close work friends (RIP Janice, Zark and Robert). Celebrities who passed include Burt Reynolds, Aretha Franklin, Stan Lee, Stephen Hawking and Neil Simon. Politically we lost 3 HUGE names in former President George Bush, First Lady Barbara Bush and Senator John McCain.

 

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A Half A Century

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Sooooo…I’m 50.

Seriously…I had to pause and look at that before I moved on because…it just seems so…crazy? Odd? What is the word I’m looking for? Unbelievable?

When you’re a kid…50 sounds OLD. Hell…when you’re in your 20’s, 50 sounds old. Actually…make that your 30’s also. Then you hit 40 and realize that 50 is right around the corner. And now…here it is.

Today…I am 50. A HALF of 100.

So yeah. THAT happened today.

What can I tell you about life? Hell…I don’t know. I swear I looked in the mirror a couple weeks ago and I was in my 20’s. Now? I’m 50?!?!?

What the hell happened???

There’s a scene in a movie called “Liberal Arts” that I can relate to. In this film from 2012, a guy goes back to visit one of his college professors. As they sit at a table and talk, the professor, played by Richard Jenkins, and his student, played by Josh Radnor, have this discussion…

Prof. Peter Hoberg: You know how old I am?

Jesse Fisher: No, how old are you?

Prof. Peter Hoberg: It’s none of your goddamn business. Do you know how old I feel like I am?

Jesse Fisher: [shrugs]

Prof. Peter Hoberg: 19. Since I was 19, I have never felt not 19. But I shave my face, and I look in the mirror, and I’m forced to say, “This is not a 19-year-old staring back at me.”

[sighs]

Prof. Peter Hoberg: Teaching here all these years, I’ve had to be very clear with myself, that even when I’m surrounded by 19-year-olds, and I may have felt 19, I’m not 19 anymore. You follow me?

Jesse Fisher: Yeah.

Prof. Peter Hoberg: Nobody feels like an adult. It’s the world’s dirty secret.

This pretty much sums it up. I’ve never actually FELT like an adult. Sure…I have adult problems and have to deal with adult issues BUT…despite some nagging back injuries and a couple kidney stones…I have always felt 19. Obviously, this ideology comes back to haunt me every time I decide to drive to the basket a little too hard or I try to pick up a air conditioner without bending my knees. And that’s the thing about growing older, I think. You can stay young mentally on so many levels. But your body has its own agenda and it WILL have a say in how you live your life. You can work hard at keeping fit, eat healthy and do all the right things, but in the end…it’s the body that makes the difference. I don’t FEEL 50…until I get into the 4th game of the morning and my knees start to ache and my back starts to get tight. I don’t feel any differently other than that. I’m still me. I have a few grey grey hairs that tell me otherwise but…I feel pretty good for being a half of a century old.

Lately I’ve had a lot of people look at me funny when I tell them I’m turning 50 and that makes me feel good. Apparently I don’t LOOK 50. I’m sure my lifestyle has a lot to do with that. I’m living a pretty good life. I’ve worked hard but the job I have isn’t necessarily the most physically demanding job. I move around a lot, get ample enough exercise, don’t sit around too much. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink (often). Have never touched drugs of any kind that haven’t been prescribed. I don’t ride a motorcycle, don’t walk with my back to traffic and always look both ways…twice. So I have my ways of dealing.

I wish I had some sage advice…but I don’t. Everyone lives their life in different ways and 50 years in, I can honestly say that I’ve done more than I ever dreamed I would. Been to a lot of places, seen a lot of things and made a lot of friends. I’ve made mistakes, done some dumb things and lived. I remember not wearing a seatbelt when I was young. THAT could have been deadly but…still here. Rode a bike without a helmet. Drank out of a water hose. Didn’t die from a deadly virus. So far, (knock on wood) things have been pretty damn good. 50 years of pretty damn good is, without a doubt, an excellent life for me.

So today I turn 50. So what? I survived my 40’s. That’s about all I can really celebrate here. I made it another 10 years! Woohoo! And with each passing year I write a little less and talk a little lower because if there is one thing I’ve learned in my years it’s that…no one really gives a crap.

It’s life…we all live it and we live it to the best of our abilities. So get on back out there and keep at it, young man!

And so…I will.

Peace!

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Aaaaaaand Another State Championship (Three-peat)

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For the 3rd season in a row, the Beechwood Tigers have won a Kentucky state football championship in Division 1A play. This year, Chris moved to wide receiver and cornerback and was able to get some time in with varsity while also playing a majority of snaps with the JV squad. This year’s crop of seniors dominated playing time on the varsity level and for good reason. The graduating senior class has been to the state title every single year! So…4 years in a row they made it to the final and this year they got a little revenge. Facing a tough opponent and the team that beat them 4 years ago, the Pikeville Panthers. It wasn’t an easy win, with both teams trading the lead a few times during the game. It all came down to a missed extra point as the Tigers intercepted a Pikeville pass into the end zone with a little over a minute left in the game to win 21-20! It was one of the best football games I’ve seen at any level and one that will forever be a great memory for Chris and all of his buddies!

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A New Driver In The House

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16 years I’ve been driving this kid around. When he was an infant, I strapped him into his car seat and listened to him screaming when we bought a new Ford Explorer (I wanted to pull the car over and leave him by the side of the road! Obviously that didn’t happen…) and as the years have gone by, I’ve driven him and his friends to wherever they’ve needed to be for whichever sport they happened to be playing. But THIS week? I lost that privilege. Fer is officially a driver out on the roads of Kentucky now…and my gut feeling is that he’s gonna be a good one! He is careful (at least when I’m in the car), drives responsibly and has a good sense of what is around him and what to watch for. Apparently he gets ALL of those attributes from me…because his mother is a terrible driver. (just kidding. But not really. But I am!)

Anyway…if ya see him out on the road give him a honk (because then he will think he’s done something wrong and that will totally drive him nuts!) and a wave! I’m proud of him and can’t decide if I’m happy that we now have another driver in the house (AND a new car insurance policy) or if I’m sad because now I’m needed even LESS than I already am. Either way…it’s a huge change in our household. Feels weird. And let the “Can I borrow some money for gas?” questions begin!

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