Peter's Bear themed week begins with a first for us as we review a silent movie. American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Larry Semon collaborated three times with Stan Laurel, who went on to partner with some other guy that even I know the name of despite being pretty unknowledgeable about this era of cinema, and the second of their efforts was 1918's BEARS AND BAD MEN, a Hatfield-McCoy inspired farce about a feud between two neighbouring families which is complicated by the arrival of two bears. Featuring some convincing and imaginative special effects, creative editing and a memorable cast, the whole thing has been generously preserved for free on YouTube and is worth checking out even if it does manage to overstay its short run time a little by the end. Also featured: we mispronounce Larry Semon's name in an obvious way and Cris reveals this movie gave him narcolepsy.
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Until next time, we remain...
Bears and Bad Men
Reegs: We are doing something a bit different. I don't think we've done a silent movie.
Pete: I don't think we have either.
Cris: I, I have to say it's probably I've watched before silent movies, but not the whole thing. Yeah. And full confession. I've tried twice to watch this movie, and both times I fell asleep because there's no.
Reegs: There is no sound. It is a silent movie. Yeah.
Cris: I know. I, I knew that from the beginning, but I still kind of, I didn't, I dunno, I just kind of kept playing with the sound just to get something. But
Pete: this, this is literally a silent movie. In my, in the, my experiences of silent movies have always had like a piano.
Yeah. Kind of like some kind of like music. Running along the side of it, even though there's no dialogue. No, but this was completely silent. Yes.
Reegs: And this is Bears. Bears and Bad Men. Yep. A 1918 Silent Comedy directed by and starring Larry Seaman.
Pete: How'd you say it?
Reegs: Well, I say semen.
Pete: It's Simon. Is it
Reegs: se Yeah.
Larry Salmon. That's probably more right. He, I can't profess to know a lot about this, but he was a major comedic star back in the, the silent film era, after the war in, in the early twenties.
Reegs: And this is a picture that stars Stan Laurel.
Pete: Well, this is, so what, what drew me to this was initially one thing and that we are doing a themed week this week.
And the, the theme is bears. And this has bears in the title and bears actually in the, in the film as well. So it fitted the bill quite nicely there. And I was looking at loads of other stuff, but then I. I don't think we've done anything like this old. I think we did do the, the, one of the original Mickey Mouse cartoons for the, for the kids thing.
Reegs: Steamboat, yeah.
Pete: Steamboat Willie.
Willy. Steamboat Willie. Which for the life of me, I've forgotten when that was, but I don't even think it's as early as this. And this, as you say, is 19. But the fact that there was Stan Laurel in it as well, who is somebody who I have seen films of, albeit never without Oliver Hardy.
Mm-hmm. And this predates their, I think even their meeting, let alone their, their kind of like onscreen double act. Yeah. And I'd just sort be interesting to A, watch something like this and then b, talk about something like this. And then knowing res, how much you know about the world of cinema, you know,
Firing questions at you.
Yeah. And, and getting you to, to tell us all about like, how they did it and what Larry Seaman was like and stuff like that. I mean, it'd be better if Craven was here cuz he actually he actually would've watched the,
the, the premiere of this. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But he's not around. So yeah. Should we jump into the uniquely how I made notes for this?
Was by just taking screenshots of what was happening on the screen. And I, I could do that with other films because this is 20 minutes long and because there's no, there's no like, synopsis on Wikipedia or imdb or, yeah. So I thought when, when it comes to recollecting what's going on, maybe just some sort of stills.
Reegs: Oh, that's a good idea.
Pete: that's, that's what I went for.
Reegs: It's in a broad sense, this is like about a war between two neighboring hick families, basically. It's the cut shores and the.
Lawsons. The Lawsons, very much reminiscent of. There was a famous American rivalry, the Hatfield McCoys. They were a famous couple of Virginia families, I think that famously went to war.
I think they referenced it in Ozark a few times with that family that's there. So anyway, yeah, that's the sort of setup these hick. Families. And we get a title card up at the beginning and they, they talk about the cup shores have been on the short end of the feud since bullets were made to argue with.
Pete: That's exactly, that's what it says. Yeah. On, on that, I mean, before that you do have a couple of very quick scenes for the fir. In fact, the opening scene, which I know you're a fan of in film is, is a, is a bear a tree. So
you see a bear up a tree. Yeah. Then you see a. Just hanging out of a window.
Yeah. Beckoning somebody back to, to the
Reegs: Her son, I think, isn't it?
Pete: it? I, well, this, this was gonna be a question, I dunno if, if either of you guys picked up on it, but I couldn't work out.
Reegs: Yeah. It was the son.
Pete: yeah. Cuz it, it's difficult to tell who's old and who's young in, in these
Reegs: things. And who's a woman and who isn't.
Cris: Yeah. They look very similar. Everybody.
Pete: a bit, it's like 20, 23.
Reegs: She calls him, she gives him a Right. Good slapping and tells him to get on with his chores, which includes cleaning his shoes, though he is not doing it fast enough for her.
Pete: Yeah. Yeah. He get so yeah. This, this Paul lad's been given a couple of like absolute belters.
Right. My nanny used, call them senders. I'll give it, I'll give you a sender. Let's send you across the other side of the room.
Reegs: I bet you had a few senders
Pete: No, I was good as gold. And then you've got the, you've got, I think this is like Larry Seaman himself. Larry Seaman, yeah. Who's who's in bed and he's got a really a novelty alarm clock.
Yeah. Which I
Reegs: with like a feather attached to
Pete: A feather attached to the bells on the old school alarm clock that tickles his feet to wake him up. Yeah. Which I thought was quite cute.
Reegs: And he LOBs like a boot at it, I think. And it sort of like comically kind of bounces off the off the clock and into the, where the mum's cooking.
Pete: I think it lands in the soup or whatever it is that she's preparing.
Reegs: and she thinks it was the sun
Pete: because the sun's cleaning the shoes
Reegs: she gives him a sender again,
Pete: him another like fairly lively send. And in fact, she sends him right out the, the house
Reegs: that. Yeah. He's like sort of like weeble style rocking, isn't he?
Yeah. And he sort of rocks backwards and forwards onto it to get his hat.
Pete: Yep. So yeah, he ends up G he ends up going out the the house and then when as he goes out the door, that's when you get another sort of card up on the screen that, so that introduces the Lawsons? Yeah. A bunch of hard boiled eggs. Whose forefathers left words that feuding was the king of outdoor sports.
Yeah. Which is quite,
Reegs: They're out poetic. They're out on their border in the fields and they see the kho kid outside and they just decide to shoot him in the. And the kids run and the kid runs inside to the overbearing mum and all the slausons celebrate together.
What a great shot it was. Yeah. And then dad is getting off, he takes his pajamas off to reveal a complete formal outfit, including a cravat underneath it. Yeah. Just in one, sort of a bit like super Ted when he pulls his
Pete: no spoilers, but yeah. Yeah, you're right. Did you see what was on the wall behind him when he was taking his PJs off? No. A massive bare skin
Reegs: Oh. Into the board. Oh,
Pete: So read into that, what you will,
Reegs: And then he LOBs his pipe in the air and it goes like comically high, and he catches it in his mouth and gives a little nod at the
Pete: does. Which is bearing in mind, this isn't like 1918. I thought a lot of, we can talk about the film after, obviously, but I thought some of the, the, the ca the camera tricks and stuff like that were pretty, pretty clever, impressive.
For, you know, certainly for that time, I don't think they'd win any awards nowadays, but it was yeah, it was impressive that he's got a really weird look, Larry.
Pete: got a, almost like, he's got like the sort of from his cheekbones up almost like it's difficult. See, cause it's black and white, but almost like whitewash, like he's just wearing really heavy makeup and his eyes are kind of like,
Reegs: well, they're almost like mimes,
Pete: aren't they? Yeah.
Reegs: lot of the characters have got almost
Pete: Yeah. And I, I didn't know if it, because obviously I, I was watching this so that none of these people are recognizable to me apart from Stan Laurel, who, and then I was thinking, is this Stan Laurel in some kind of like prosthetics or whatever, because I,
Cris: I think it's just a makeup of the time.
Pete: But it was crazy weird. Yeah. Yeah.
Cris: look like the, the people from Mad Max, the white ones, you know,
Reegs: Yeah. Yeah. The bleach skinned kids. Yeah. So he kind of, the husband kind of goes outside to see what all the hullabaloo is and mum explains what's happened that the sun has been shot. So he opens a door to have a word with them, and his pipe gets shot out of his mouth.
Yeah. By one of the
Pete: sources. Well, the actual, very end of the pipe. He's still got the stalk. But
Reegs: I don't know for sure that it was done in this movie, but in other movies that was done with a real bullet firing from a real.
Pete: in a movie.
yeah, yeah. That's what I got in I, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Cris: Wow. Amazing.
Pete: Oh, and I thought it was camera trickery, but
Reegs: Yeah. It could have been in this movie. I don't know. But se Semen, Larry Sermon did it for real with a real
Pete: see, yeah. That, that seems unnecessary to do that. But yeah, he immediately closes the door to, to the Lawsons and. Happily fixes the problem by putting like a beam across the door so they, they can't get in.
But they do still have guns. Although these guns I don't think are too
Reegs: They're more like a two too,
Pete: aren't they? Yeah, they're like bebe pellet type stuff, aren't they? Cuz people are getting shot.
Reegs: He got shot in the ass. It didn't seem to do a lot.
Cris: yeah. But it's, there's two different types. No, it's like buck shot and, I dunno. The other one, so there's one that shoots pellets and there's one that shoots, like they can put a hole in a house or something.
Reegs: Well, it's not
Pete: not the latter. Yeah. Yeah. And then next we're, we get the best, the best card
Pete: I've ever seen in a silent movie. We get Pete a local nut.
Reegs: Yeah. amazing. amazing.
Pete: And to my, to my everlasting joy.
The nut is Stan Laurel. Yeah. So this is Pete and he's a A budding fisherman.
Pete: Sat on a sort of a, a tree, a trunk that's going across a stream. And he sat there with his sort of fairly rudimentary fishing rod and, and and wire and everything.
Reegs: He's not very successful
Pete: He's not successful.
He catches something. First of all, he catches a boot, which I didn't know if that was the boot that got flung into the soup earlier, but he catches a boot. I think he catches a dress. Yeah. Look like a dress.
Reegs: I don't know. Then, Tweet, I
Pete: I think it was a stick. I was looking quite closely. I dunno if it was part of a bicycle or a, or a stick.
Reegs: Anyway, dad goes outside back at the, the Shaw's house. Dad goes outside to fondle a lamb.
Pete: He puts on this is, is this where he puts on the cravatta? He is already got that
Reegs: on? He's already got it on,
Pete: Yeah. Right. Yeah. And he does, he goes out and it's quite, yeah, he's, he's quite heavy handed with the lamb
Reegs: And they try to, the s Lawson's tried to shoot him and he's surrounded by buckets and there's like bullet holes appearing in them and all stuff, but he's just there sexually abusing the lamb. And anyway, they all try, tried to take a shot and then the big bearded guy shoots a. Next to him and a load of water starts coming out and he thinks it's the goat pissing on
But then he realizes it's the bucket and just turns the bucket away. He seems pretty unperturbed For somebody who's under like heavy fire,
Reegs: Even as his cravat shot
Pete: Well that was, I think the straw that broke the, the, the baby lamb. The, the lamb's back was the cravat being shot off and landing on the lamb. And that's when the, the, what are we calling him? He's not Aon as, he's a,
Reegs: a Shaw.
Far. Pa Father Shaw.
Reegs: Shaw. Yeah.
Pete: That's when he gets his gun.
And starts firing back.
And, and, and the, all of the
Reegs: I think he shoots all the hats off, doesn't he?
Pete: they all go flying off into the air. And so Yeah. The thes Lawsons do a runner. Yeah.
Then we have a bit more of, of, of Pete fishing various things out of the stream.
Reegs: Oh. And then dad comes out and he puts.
And a bit of block of wood in the water and some dust.
It was strongly reminiscent of the lost city of Zed. Yes. Because he stunts the fish by pouring this powder in and like explains
Pete: We don't, we dunno what the powder is, but yeah, he, he, he sees Pete sat there having no joy with the fish. So he, like you say, he sprinkles some cocaine
Cris: He's Ketamine. Cocaine.
Pete: It's ketamine. Okay. You we've got an expert here and yeah. And then wax the fish with the, with the plank. And Pete is so impressed by this that he takes a huge wadge of cash. Yeah. And goes, oh, like he throws away his, he's already snaps his fishing rod by this stage. And he's like, yeah, can I have your stick and your, your powder?
Yeah. Which he then, he then buys as it as you say.
Reegs: Yeah. Well, and then he starts to do some, he tries to use the technique, but it goes Right. He ends up getting sprayed in the face of fish. That's like sprays a jet of water in his eyes.
does. Yeah. So he's just he, he's not born for fishing really.
Reegs: Slawson, one of the Slawson daughters shows up, and I think her and the Kho kid have got like a little budding romance going on.
Pete: it. I thought this was the cut short
Reegs: was it? The Oh was, oh,
Pete: short dad. Anyway. Yeah, you're right. So the sl, the slawson daughter, she comes out of the, the woods all kind of like with a, with a naughty look on her face.
Yeah. Indicating that she's, Up to no good. But yeah, there, there seems to be a a, a little bit of a romantic interest between her and, and Father Thaw, I thought.
Reegs: Yeah. And then the big bearded guy, sort of, he, he shepherds the girl away.
Pete: We're assuming this is the dad or Yeah. Or a, or an older brother or whatever.
Yeah. Yeah. So he
Reegs: he's like, SIDS up next to her and she, he starts canoodling, thinks he's stroking her hair.
Pete: Cuz he, cuz he, I thought it was weird. So with the the Slawson daughter, he is like cuddled up next to her, but he takes her hair and he's almost like sniffing it, but then almost like sucking it, like putting it in his mouth and twiddling it around his nose.
And then you get like,
The exchange and then the dad or whatever he is, comes and, and Sids up next to him and he is doing it with the beard, like you say. But he, he's, he, he notices it's good like visual comedy cuz he notices the smell of the, of the gentleman first.
Reegs: Then there's like a Benny Hill style running around a tree and through a log thing
Pete: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Where he is crawling through this log and then soon the, the.
Shirt. Yeah. The, the, the cut. Cut. Sure. Am I getting these right? S Lawson and Koho, the, the Shaw dad chirps off and the the bear gets involved. He, he crawls through the log and, and scares those people. I've forgotten what they're called now.
Reegs: Lawsons them? Yeah.
Pete: Yeah. Scares one of them.
Reegs: And then a sort of an acting troop arrived, don't they? This couple.
Pete: It says a couple. There's no punctuation in these, in these cards, which made it more difficult to to interpret. But yeah, it says a couple part of a theatrical troop just arrived in town.
Pete: And they're, they're talking with somebody about how to get to where they're staying or the, or somewhere to stay.
And again, another card comes up saying The only place you might find lodging is at the Lawsons, but you'll have to walk 10 miles.
Reegs: So this is a, a key bit of dialogue cuz it's the only really bit of like anything that anybody's actually said.
Yeah. That's come up on the screen. So yeah, he needs to go to this Lawsons. It's 10 miles away. He can't believe it is what it is. The lady eyes up Pete at the side and gets him to carry their huge lugg. these crates? I do wanna
Pete: that was the, so the lady playing, the lady who looks, looks at like, beckoning Lee at Pete was, Stan Laurel's messes at the time.
Reegs: Oh, well there you go. Yeah. So almost at the Lawson's, PT has kind of tuckered out from the effort of, of carrying everything, and he has the idea to throw the contents out of the cases to make it easier to, for him to
Pete: To make it
Reegs: he opens a case, takes a load of clothes out just as he's throwing them down, unbeknownst to him, but beknown to us as the viewer.
Shaw gets inside one of the cases and hides
Pete: he's being chased by the bear. Yeah.
Reegs: he was getting chased from in the previous sea. Yeah. And he shut the lid and then when he opens the other case to do the same one, wouldn't you fucking know it? The bear gets in the case. The bear's suddenly looking quite a lot like a man in a bear costume.
Pete: Did, had you got this far Chris?
Cris: Yeah, I think this is where I woke up both times.
Pete: What a point to wake up.
Cris: not, Yeah.
honestly, because I remember the fact that before you could kind of see that it's an actual bear and it was like a circus bear or they filmed a bear and then you just see
a bear looking person, so
Pete: I wouldn't even say it's that much of a bear looking person.
Reegs: It's like it's just a person in a onesie.
Yeah, it's, it's, it's a man, it's a man or a child that basically is trying to run on all fours and, and jump into a case.
Pete: you know who it remind? It reminded me of the, the guy in the gorilla outfit at the end of trading places.
Reegs: Yeah. It's that
Pete: quite reminiscent of that. Yeah. I'm sure at one point the, like, it, the, the bear, well, a man dressed as bear takes a tumble and you can just clearly see some like plimp souls or whatever.
Reegs: Yeah. Anyway, so then Pete has to carry the stuff now and he doesn't really have ti He notices the cases are heavier, but he doesn't really have time to sort it out cuz
Pete: He carries one on his back, even though it's got a person or a bear in it. Yeah.
Reegs: At the Lawsons, they're greeted like any good b b owner does with a shotgun. Yeah. And forced to stick their hands up until, you know, this Lawson's daughter reminds the dad that they are in fact, small business
Pete: owners a lodging house.
Reegs: And so this misunderstanding is cleared up and they're shown to their room, which they seem to be very happy about.
Reegs: And then we, now we get a kind of a load of shenanigans.
Pete: I think that's the best way of describing it. There's, there's too much really to sort of go through. This is where my, my, my photography my screenshots of everything that was happening.
I just started realizing I, I'm,
Reegs: there's a few things that were worth talking about.
He gets out the case and the bear gets out. When he sees him, there's like a dotted line special effect that comes out of his eyes. I dunno how they, I think somebody literally put it over the film. Probably. Yeah.
Pete: Dashed it on
And there's a lot of hiding in things and going in and out of
Pete: it becomes far, literally, far, like as in it becomes farcical. Yeah. In like a lot of,
Reegs: but so many things that vaguely tied into the film that we watched, the Bear going up and down the chimney, which was hinted at and being on the roof of things and on the bottom of things and
Cris: and the cave. And then
Reegs: Well, yeah. This is really, the climax of the movie involves now two bears and people kind of running up one side of the mountain and going through a cave and then being scared by a bear
Pete: well, they're, they're tethered to each other.
Reegs: Yeah, they are,
Pete: one's at the one, so it is Pete and, and, and Father Shaw and Two Bears.
Now that, that's all that's left in the film and I think Pete's at the top, Shaw's at the bottom. He gets a rope sent down so that he can kind of. What's the river, what's the opposite of abs? Sailing. Climbing, I guess. So he can like climb up the, the like the rock face. But then as they're being chased, pursued by these by these bears, they're kind of end, they, they ended up getting like pulled through this like old mine shaft that looks like through the rock and down into another side.
There's like quarries, I guess, either side. And so yeah, you have this kind of like, yo-yo effect of, of them. Pulled from one end to the other. And, and pretty much that is, is the rest of the, of the film there. I, I dunno if there's anything else they, they,
Cris: well, they get to the, one of them gets to the top and then while he's trying to get to that cave, The bear shows up Yeah.
Past the rope. Yeah. And then,
Pete: oh, there, there is a bit where, one where somehow I think it's Pete is wrestling with, with the bear or a, a man in a monkey outfit and somehow manages to tie the rope around the bear. And so That's right. Khaw becomes tethered to the bear instead.
Reegs: Yeah. And it ends with them, they slide down the scree and then they're legging it and it's like sort of Captain America style running.
Yeah. Along the side of the road at about 50 miles an hour. Yeah.
Pete: And they're, they're taking it in turns to, to sort of like push ahead of one another, maybe to create some wind resistance so they can go faster. But that's, that's basically the end. They, they run off and it, it fades to black with, with the end.
Cris: Yeah, it was amazing. I mean, I've only seen the first three minutes in the last six out of a 20 minutes movie, but I,
Reegs: how long was it?
Cris: it, 2220 minutes. 20
Pete: Pretty much. Bang on 20 minutes.
So I, I, I'm, I can't say I'm really proud of myself for watching that little of a whole 20 minutes movie,
Pete: you watch the same first three minutes in the same last
Cris: much, yeah. But I kind of woke up in the same, in the same, yeah. I dunno why
Reegs: whenever anything's really quiet, you just go to sleep.
Like if we were to
Cris: I love a app.
Reegs: let's just try now for just 10 seconds and see if we can get Chris to sleep.
Cris: You'd be surprised.
Pete: So how, how, how I felt about this. I would say for two thirds of the.
I fucking really liked it.
I really enjoyed it. I was lo, I was lolling and no, with no one else anywhere near me. So no reason to kind of, you know, and I know this was like my pick, but I was really enjoying it. I like the humor in it. I like the, you know, like the, obviously the, the physical acting cuz there, there isn't any other kind of acting in it.
But I really enjoying that I thought. You know, for, for its time. The, the bear costume was, was about as, as budget as you could possibly get. I'd say even by 1918 standards it was shit. Yeah. Right.
Pete: what I would say is loads of other stuff, cuz there were bits where, you know, they, they obviously like rewound stuff to make someone, like, there was a bit with a bear, like walked backwards out the window and then the donkey kicked it and the bear flew back in the window.
They'd sped things up and so, so the use of, of, you know, the, what tools they had back then was really, really good. Yeah. The, the last, like third of it, which was like the fast stuff was, was particularly tiresome.
Reegs: It was a bit, yeah. But even then there was still some pretty cool Yeah. Special effects and some inventive, you know, I mean, these guys were really at the vanguard of cinema, you know? Yeah, I, I enjoyed this. It is only 20 minutes. I don't, I haven't watched a lot of silent movies, so I haven't got a lot to compare it to.
I have seen a few of the Laura and Hardy
Reegs: that's kind of a bat, and Buster Keaton, I guess.
Pete: And, I think they kind of like, you know, they, they kicked on from, from here as well.
They, they, they became sort of,
Reegs: I think the editing, there's really creative editing, good special effects, some good casting like the Fat Bearded Slawson guy and Stan Laurel and all that.
And it's free on YouTube. You can go and watch that people put this up, you know, to preserve its place in sort of cinema
I'm kind of glad we, we
Cris: also the, the bit that says, thank you for watching the Silent movie at the beginning. So it's, it's almost an acknowledgement that you chose to click on this movie and actually watch it, rather than, Ooh, how did I Here now?
Alright. There you go. So it is,
Pete: yeah, I'm, I'm glad, I'm glad I,
Cris: I, I was surprised with the ending though. I, I thought it would be, Different than just, oh yeah, okay, let's
Pete: But I think, I think almost it's, it's almost sort of like cartoonish. And I think, so this guy in particular, I looked up and like his filmography. 10 year period was like ridiculous. Like something like 40 odd films. It was, he
Reegs: Well this one was released two weeks after his
Pete: previous, right.
There we go. So films. Yeah. So he, he would just churn out film after film and he'd starred in a lot of them. And, and I think Hal Stan Laurel met Oliver Hardy was in films. Like directed by this guy, the Larry sema. So yeah, he was, he was prolific. So I think it had more of a feel of what would now be like a, you know, like a cartoon series.
Like you got the Simpsons every week, or you got whatever it is every week. And it doesn't have to come to a, a conclusion. It can just be them running, getting chased by something and it's not like, oh, I wonder what happened to them. It's just like you. This guy or characters like that are gonna be, you know, they're gonna sort of like just start again.
Each time. He, it sounded like he, he died. He, he died at like 39. And he was poverty stricken. I think he backed a lot of the wrong horses. Oh. Backed a lot of the wrong bears. There was another guy that f that was in this film that it was, it was the most, one of the most ironic deaths other than John Denver, I think was probably a bit more.
Reegs: Why was he killed by it's
Pete: No. So he was he was, he was an actor and he died in a plane crash. And the plane was basically doing some like orig, it was doing some like aerial shots, like, I dunno what that's called. You'll know what it's called. Well, like, well you do like the, the, the bit you take like shots before you start filming and everything.
They were doing that and it was the first adaptation of the film, the Aviator, so that was quite an ironic.
I thought was worth mentioning cuz it, you know, funny deaths are funny. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
I, I'm not gonna go back and watch this again, I don't think, but I'm glad I did and it's a bit, and it was a bit of a removal from our usual fair, even though this segment tends to be absolutely anything ever, but we've done it.
Reegs: It was nice to see something from when Dan was a youth.
Pete: No, I think he was, I think he was in in his twenties when this came out. So not quite the youth, but hope you're well Dan.