Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Worst Toys of 2015

I feel as though compiling this list is actually a public service and probably counts as a good deed as Christmas approaches. If it really a time of spreading joy and peace, then these toys are the anti-Christmas and will bring nothing but misery and suffering to all whose home they enter. You're welcome.

If you want to maintain relationships with those you hold dear or your sanity, stay far, far away from these this season.

**I have not personally tried or reviewed these items because 1) blogging does not pay me anything and I wouldn't actually spend money on these even if I had it 2) I'm confident enough they are all terrible ideas that I can warn you about without any personal inspection of them. 

Star Wars Bladebuilders Jedi Master Lightsaber 

A couple years ago, I bought my kids matching plastic snow shovels which they promptly used to try to beat each other to death. This year I could actually buy them each a weapon that looks like a weapon, but that's really a mistake you only have to make once.


By now, you may have caught wind of the horror stories regarding several children who have become ensnared by these tiny balls of terror (which would have made a nice alternate and entirely more accurate name had Bunchems been taken). Once they catch hold of human hair, they latch on tighter than Kanye West to a grudge against anyone who is not Beyoncé..

The only thing better than shrieks of joy on Christmas morning are the screams of panic from young children whose greatest fears in life are a brush and a haircut.

Before these are driven out of the market, somebody please send a complimentary box to Donald Trump.


Toy companies are no longer even trying to disguise the fact that they are trying to sell us shit. And now they want me to spend actual money so my child can play with a replica of the very thing I spent six traumatic months cleaning off walls and doors for free while potty-training. I didn't think you could put a price tag on that kind of horrific experience, but apparently you can, and all it costs is $7.99.

Granted, this probably doesn't smell nearly as bad, but the idea itself reeks of absurdity.

Disney Frozen Sing-Along Elsa 

Just when it seemed the Frozen furor was dying down a bit and the strains of Do You Want To Build A Snowman began to fade into the icy abyss, Disney decided it could keep beating the dead reindeer for awhile longer.

Behold, the singing doll that duets with your child, just in case the 437th time of "Let It Go" belted out at maximum volume hadn't yet completely destroyed your spirit.

Pie Face! 

I imagine the pitch at the Hasbro meeting where this project was green-lighted went something like this:  "Hey, I know! We should create a game where the winner gets a handful of whipped cream or a wet sponge to the face! Parents are totally going to jump at the chance to relive the humiliation and trauma they endured for years of trying in vain to feed their babies and toddlers. Trust me, they are going to love this. Love. This."

Because adding a new element to the never-ending task of cleaning up after little people really is the gift that keeps on giving.

B. Meowsic Keyboard 

This instrument of torture has actually been around for years, but still easily remains the worst thing that ever showed up under our tree.

Nothing says "Please, dig out your own ears with a rusty melon baller" more than a keyboard that features the option to play every note as a cat's meow alternating with a pre-recorded child singing an off-key version of La Cucaracha.

The real magic comes by way of the attached microphone to amplify the sound and spread the joy throughout the house, no matter what room you try to escape too. Mere walls are no obstacle to this degree of evil.

I have spent many episodes of Jake and the Neverland Pirates day-dreaming of how I can adequately repay my little brother for bestowing this abomination upon us once he finally has children of his own. Ooh, I wonder if Yeezus could customize one that declares he's the biggest rock star on the planet with every note played and also interrupts them any time they start a lecture. Imma look into that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

About those personal avalanches (and my ability to milk a metaphor)

I really try to avoid Vaguebook-ing (the art of posting something ambiguous to invite questions and concern), but I should know by now that as a chronic over-sharer, posting a brief, unexplained snippet from my life might cause that reaction.

The post in question went up this morning:

What I was mostly trying to convey was that often times, I can outrun my demons for awhile (they're surprisingly slow bastards). Yet within a couple hours, I had a number of texts and messages checking in on me, wanting to make sure I was alright. I generally try to be open and authentic with my struggles, instead of just alluding to them. There's just less isolation when you're willing to share that. So I cringed at the thought that people might think I was seeking attention without offering details.

And then, when I'd had a minute to be reasonable, I had to tell those negative voices in my head to shut it and do something productive, like clean my floors (seriously, if they're going to hang around, they could at least make themselves useful. And my floors are disgusting).

Yes, last night was a bit rough. It wasn't the worst I've ever experienced, and yet it wasn't just one thing either. As anyone with anxiety can tell you, often one thing is usually dog-piled on by many other things. And then a couple more for good measure, just to make sure you know that you're getting all the things wrong, all the time. The briefest whisper of unsettledness can trigger an emotional avalanche that gains momentum at an alarming speed, so that one thing looks like one, big uncontrollable disaster.

But for once, this actually isn't about me. These piles are not a new or foreign thing.

No, this is a shout out to the rescue crew, the ones who know where to look for you, and who grab their shovels and start digging to help you find air. A good friend pointed out that most people probably just assumed my post was referring to a rough night with my kids or something else rather inconsequential. That's probably a good thing. If everyone suddenly rushed to my doorstep with pickaxes in-hand, it might alarm the children (yet probably wouldn't actually surprise the neighbours that much We are most definitely that house on the block).

But others called my name, reached out, grabbed my hand and pulled, just in case I was stuck and couldn't get out on my own (and do so time and time again).

I am really fortunate to have these people and this friends, is exactly why you need yours too. That doesn't mean you have to find them by broadcasting every emotion, feeling and observation on the internet (unless you also really want unrelated email pitches, like the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to blog about quality 925 silver products. And who wouldn't?). It does, however, mean allowing vulnerability and openness with a trusted few who know to check in if they have the slightest sense you might be buried.

Find these people and be there for each other when the snow starts to fly down the hill. Jump into the debris with them and dig with your hands if the situation requires it. No special tools necessary, just the ability to show up when they hear the distinct sound of the mountain rumbling.

Also, try to make at least one friend who won't cringe at your floors if they do break down your door.

Friday, July 10, 2015

McDonald's won't just make your kids fat, it'll make them curse like sailors too

Because McDonald's hasn't offended enough people by introducing our children to the pleasurable and intoxicating world of trans fats and super-sized portions, now it seems they're using minions - a fitting and brilliant choice, if you think about it - to teach them the f-word as well.

At least that's what my Facebook feed tells me has the internet's underwear in a collective knot this week. Kim Kardashian must be on vacation.

And everyone knows, when an angry mob hiding behind millions of computer screens gets pissed off, giant chains are brought to their knees. Or at least temporarily inconvenienced for a few days with a drive-thru line-up of three cars, instead of 10. The same mob forgives and forgets easily as soon as the backseat of the min-van crew is hungry and whining.

The best part of the Despicable Me franchise, starring in their own movie released today, have supposedly been programmed to corrupt the nation's youth (sorry Bieber, looks like you're out) to curse, courtesy of a $4 Happy Meal.

The small plastic toys that currently come with a cheeseburger and fries are said to be uttering an unholy "WTF" as part of their limited vocabulary, whenever delighted children whack them down on a table. As someone who has gotten used to being roughed up by her kids, I'd say the toys are just mirroring real life and painting a realistic picture of parenthood, but whatever.

Look McDonald's, if anyone gets to be judged for my kids going on a profanity-laced tirade in Sunday School, it's going to be me and the guy who cut me off on the highway last week. STEP OFF MY TURF.

My kids each got one of the toys earlier this week before they were recalled and since the story broke, I've been entertained by them far more than anyone else in our house.This is what happens when network television is mostly on reruns for the summer. That said, it's easily the best $8 we've spent this year.

Because my kids haven't yet rocked the playground with a newly-acquired string of expletives, I decided to ask them what they hear.


Atrocious, isn't it? I was actually mildly disappointed that they didn't provide me with a new bandwagon to jump on. It's like I can only count on the Play-Doh emporium to turn my offspring into profligate heathens. Thanks for nothing McDonald's.

Photo courtesy of a friend who didn't want her name associated with it


* Google "play-doh penis" at your own risk. You've been warned.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Angels have landed and they want you to feel great about yourself this season

I'm just messing with you. The success of Victoria's Secret lies in their ability to make the average woman part with an obscene amount of money for the sole purpose of looking nothing like Miranda Kerr in a bra.

This is my favourite time of year, as the predictable signs of the season begin to appear: the Advent candles set up at church, the parking lot of my local Walmart suddenly looking like an episode of Game of Thrones, and naturally, a bombardment of photos of the VS Angels prepping for the annual fashion show on the celebrity sites I frequent.

No one is forcing me to watch it, but it's like a train wreck, if train wrecks wore a 36DD and had a 25-inch waist and Gigi Hadid's face. I can't help but look on with mixed feelings of awe and dread. For good measure, the company always ensures  the show includes the participation a model who's given birth in the past four months to make those of us who are a few years postpartum feel especially shamefaced.

**Note to the models who claim the weight just fell off by breastfeeding: The millions of  women who have also given birth are not that stupid. I breastfed two babies. Nursing means babies are nourished by milk your body produces. They are not tiny little liposuction machines that suck fat exclusively from your midsection to reveal defined abs underneath, unless a liposuction machine also pukes in your hair.
Without a doubt, my absolute favorite part of the annual broadcast is the cautionary message at the end of each commercial break, claiming that watching Candice Swanepoel parade around in a g-string may be harmful to my child. I propose this year they finally add the following:

Warning: The following broadcast may be detrimental to the emotional and mental well-being of any woman who has had children or likes ice cream. Self-loathing may occur. Husband/partner discretion is strongly advised.

The one truth I've gained from years of watching the show is that everyone would look and feel better if they had a wind machine trained on them while waiting in line at Starbucks or picking up their kids from school. Every time I visit Costco, I take a minute and stand at the entrance of the big dairy refrigerator, which produces roughly the same effect except I get some weird looks, and other shoppers rarely cheer me on or ask me about my workout regimen. It's kind of insulting.

I have never been able to determine if the target audience of this show is actually women who are filled with regret for the dregs of the Halloween bag and bottle of wine they inhale while watching, or men who want to pretend their girlfriends or wives could really look like Alessandra Ambrosio in a push-up.

From the preview photos, it seems the show will include a slutty astronaut and a half-dressed fire-fighter. I might finally relate to a Victoria's Secret angel when one walks the runway in an inside-out t-shirt, fighting a smaller angel for the last sip of flat Coke Zero. If it's my girlfriends and I  you want to attract Victoria's Secret, the alternative would be cage matches featuring the ladies battling for a brownie and a sugary cocktail. We would come out in spades to see that.

But until they decide to listen to the viewers, here's a drinking game to get you through the broadcast (please sip slowly - I don't want hate tweets if you pass out before the first commercial break).

One swig per:
* Scant Santa outfit
* Each behind-the-scenes shot, trying to convince you the Angels eat real food like the rest of us
* Fur-trimmed bra or thong. Bonus sip if think to yourself, "I would totally wear that under my leggings."
* Kiss blown to the audience/camera.

One shot for:
* Any pair of wings that would fit through a standard door frame
* Any costumes interpreting the American Flag. An extra one if you can actually hear George Washington turn in his grave.

One full drink if you make it through the entire show without googling or pinning any type of new core workout.

Friday, November 7, 2014

I kind of hope Arachnophobia happens so I'm right

We moved into a new house a few weeks ago which you would already know if I wasn't fulfilling my promise to randomly abandon the blog for weeks or months at a time. But if I didn't do this, you wouldn't be able to trust my word, so really, you're welcome.

Two days after we moved in, I located my dressers containing my bras so I could finally go meet the neighbours with no shame (or at least slightly less shame than if I'd gone over commando). I still haven't located one of my daughter's school projects that was lost in the transition, which I'm sure will be the day she pinpoints in future therapy sessions, as the day she just stopped trying.

As part of what I'm sure is some comeuppance for the missing project. last night as I unpacked pantry items, I found what I'm fairly confident was a maybe-dead spider with eggs in my container of spices. There's a very small chance it was a bizarre looking flake of thyme, if thyme has lots of little legs and is surrounded by white fluff. I'm not one to take chances.

Mr. T refused to react with the urgency the situation required, despite an oral contract that he handles all non-human creatures, alive or dead, found in our home (in exchange, I handle most matters that require a phone call such as booking appointments, quotes, etc). He's usually pretty good at dealing with them, including the time we discovered a massive cane spider the size of his hand lurking on the wall above our bed in Hawaii.

I probably haven't told that story here yet. It's like a horrifying little bonus for you.

When we were on vacation in Kona a couple years ago, we woke up one morning and were quietly talking in bed before the kids woke up, when suddenly Mr. T jumped out of bed like he'd been shot. He pointed at the wall above me head, where there was a spider the size of his hand.

I was obviously not going to google an image of a cane spider, so here's my daughter, doing her best impression of one lurking on a wall

Watching us. Waiting.

We panicked as quietly as possible. He grabbed a broom from the hall closet and told me to get ready with the patio door as he was going to sweep it off the wall and out the door. It was a well-thought out plan. We just hadn't accounted for the spider falling onto the handle of the broom and immediately running up the handle toward Mr. T's hand. He freaked out and threw the broom out the door as hard as he could, except the spider fell off the handle onto the floor. So now we had a spider and no broom. Mr. T grabbed the dustpan and used it to scoop up the spider, throw it and the dustpan onto the patio and slam the door. Neither of us was going out to retrive the broom or the dustpan so we left it out there for the cleaning staff to find.

When we recounted the story to one of the front desk staff later, as I inquired about whether we could hire a permanent staff member to guard and sweep our condo for the rest of our stay (which he seemed to think was a joke), he informed us it was a harmless cane spider and they "just like to chase people a bit." So it's harmless, but a vindictive little son of a bitch. That made me sleep much better.

The point is, I book yearly check-ups, Mr. T eradicates spiders. That's the deal and it's been working just fine for us for almost 10 years now.

Except last night, he did not jump to my rescue and treat it with the urgency the situation required. He simply told me to "just flush it."

Look, I saw Arachnophobia** against my better judgement when I was a teenager. I don't remember the exact plot, but I'm pretty sure it all started with a husband's vague dismissal. I'm also pretty sure that the spiders were like one of those t-shirts that comes in a little cube and grows to a full-size shirt when you put it in water, so flushing it seemed like a really bad idea.

You know what else is probably all gooey inside? Spiders.

I did it anyway, because I had nowhere else to put a maybe-dead maybe-spider. It didn't go down with the first flush and then I'm pretty sure I saw it flailing and moving, which indicates an alarming level of tenacity for a drowning spider I wasn't even initially sure was alive. Then I washed out the container and any lingering eggs containing maybe-babies with dish soap. I also rinsed a container of Kraft Calorie-Wise Ranch right afterward for added reassurance because the internet is always telling me that kind of chemical crap will kill me, so I was hoping the same applies to insects. Or maybe soybean oil is what will cause those eggs to multiply in our drain and come for us in our sleep.

At any rate, this post is insurance if that happens, because if I'm dead or carried off into the night (I also saw Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), I don't know if the spider colony will have Wi-Fi and I won't be able to say "I told you so." So please, make that's printed on my headstone when Mr. T and I are buried next to each other.

The eternal reminder that sometimes you should really just LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE.

**Don't even google arachnophobia to make sure it's spelled correctly. There's a mistake you'll only make once.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How my daughter taught me the F-word

Please don’t send me hate mail. I’m not talking about the first f-word that popped into your head, though in all fairness, a lot of people find this one just as offensive.

This all started with a sleeper. “Just one little sleeper,” is, I believe, what it was referred to by many on social media.

One little sleeper, proudly declaring “I Only Date Heroes.” One little sleeper, to be worn by thousands of baby girls across North America. One little sleeper I spotted in my weekly Target flyer yesterday afternoon. I had already seen the photos of it online, but there it was, right in front of me, in my home, in my local Target, just five minutes away. The boy version, for the record, declared ”Future Man of Steel.”

In all fairness, it’s probably a piece I would have bought for my baby girl five years ago, without giving it much thought and barely registering the message.

But now my girl is preparing to celebrate her fifth birthday next week. She is wickedly funny, inherently kind, full of far more energy than my morning triple Americano can compensate for and a fast runner who will one day easily coast past me on a race course (dare I dream).

She also loves superheroes. Not the glammed up girl version either, but rather their original bright, primary colours. It started before she turned three. My husband would occasionally watch the classic 1967 version of Spiderman, and she would sit with him, mesmerized. Her love for Spiderman has known no bounds since. He was always her favourite, until she caught sight of a photo of the Avengers a few months ago and asked who “the green guy” was.

When I interviewed her on her first day of kindergarten for the scrapbook that I’ll never actually put together, one of the questions I asked was what she wanted to be when she grows up.

“The Hulk,” was her swift, immediate reply.

My daughter always wants to crush the bad guys. As she grows, I hope she finds more productive ways to do it than going on anger-fuelled rampages and destroying millions of dollars in property. But the point is, at just five years old, she thinks she can be a hero. I’ve never told her any differently, and why would I?

Just one little sleeper sends the opposite message. You aren’t the hero, but maybe you can grow up to be his arm candy.**

”It’s harmless and cute,” were some of the other comments I received when I posted a photo from the flyer on my personal Facebook page yesterday.

A few years ago, I would have agreed and defended my right to buy something like that. However, in the past few years, I’ve watched how my daughter transforms herself into her favourite superheroes (The Hulk is my favourite – a weapon of mass destruction with anger management issues. There’s a stretch for a preschooler).

I would never, ever have considered calling myself a feminist until recently. Emma Watson nailed it when she asserted in her now-famous U.N. speech that “feminism has become an unpopular word.” I always assumed that to be one, I had to be extreme in my views. And I’ll be perfectly honest, and tell you that I’m a newbie to this. I haven’t done a lot of reading or research and I can’t speak eloquently on the topic. I have a lot to learn and consider.

Here's what I do know. Right now, my daughter wants to save the world, and with her drive, determination and fire, I absolutely believe she can. But this message that she will
always be on the sidelines of heroism is one that obviously starts as soon as she’s born – retailers like Target have made sure of that. And it's just not not okay.

The obstacles to her becoming the hero she dreams of will follow her through her teen years into adulthood, where others will attempt to thwart her efforts by paying her less money for the work she does, possibly passing her over for promotions, because, gasp, what if she decides she wants a baby one day? Not because she lacks tenacity or dedication, but because she happened to be born with two X-chromosomes.

I’m aware that some will dismiss this as an overblown reaction to something so insignificant. Let me tell you what this is not: a rant about girly things existing like princesses and fairies and sparkly nail polish, nor is it offense at the hero logo on a pink background on these onesies. I love pink and will probably be buried in the colour. Had the wording been any different - ”Born to save the world” or even blank- this would be a non-issue.

But let me make this clear: It is not just one little sleeper. It is tons of these harmless little declarations – countless occurrences appearing on t-shirts, cups, purses and other random propaganda- coming together to form one big, persistent message. This message will help shape my daughters view of being a woman as she gets older and it tells all girls exactly what society expects of them before they can even walk, or you know, hold up their own head.

It’s not simply a matter of just buying the boy version of the clothes for a girl either. I don’t want to always have to cross over to the boys’ section of a store to find something that tells my daughter she can be a hero too. But that's not really the point. I'm not simply upset because I want a hero logo on a pretty pink shirt (if that's all I was after, there are many places I could go to find it). It's that this message shouldn't be accepted and defended - let alone, printed on an infant's clothing.

I want my daughter to grow up with the message that she can be anything or do anything that makes her happy, no matter what body parts she happened to be born with. We can, and should, expect more of our girls and we can let them know from a young age that if they want to don big green gloves and go on a rampage for justice - even in a pink tutu - they absolutely can have that dream, instead of automatically assuming they should watch the action unfold from a safe distance rather than being in the thick of it themselves.

**Note: If it happens organically and my daughter falls in love with Batman and he treats her well and as his equal, I’m okay with that. In fact, I think he’d make a great son in law and maybe occasionally, he'd let me use the Batcave to finally get the peace and quiet I’ve been seeking for years. I just hope being his significant other won’t be her most notable identifier.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Put on your happy (yet sometimes also really depressed) face

In the coming days, there will be a web-wide discussion about mental health, about how to help or get help, about the need for more resources for those who struggle. 

So let’s talk about it. Let’s discuss depression, anxiety and the never-ending list of mental disorders. Let’s keep talking about it long after Robin Williams’ lovely tribute at the Academy Awards next year and let’s keep the discussion going in hopes that it doesn’t just get reignited the next time a life tragically ends too soon. 

I doubt Robin planned to become the poster child for severe depression overnight. I can only assume that his final days and moments were more painful and inwardly-focused than anyone could imagine. 

Funny people aren’t supposed to take their own lives. But then again, neither are fathers or mothers or first responders or any of the other host of people we outwardly see as having too much to live for. However the way things appear to others is never the whole picture. Those who struggle with depression are not so easily defined by only the characteristics everyone else sees. These aspects co-exist with the illness. These individuals are equally as much mom, dad, teacher, doctor, comedian, friend as they are someone fighting a battle every single day of their life. 

My name is Tamara. I have two kids and a husband, a wonderful extended family and amazing friends. I love good coffee and wine and I sometimes have embarrassingly bad taste in television. I laugh a lot because it’s my favourite thing in the world to do. 

I’m also a depressed, anxious person more often than I want to be. It got really bad after the birth of my first child and since then, it’s been a wild, unpredictable ride. Not every day is bad, but there are always extended periods of self-doubt and worry. It’s actually pretty easy to let those feelings consume me. I’ve also only recently begun to accept that I may be walking this up-and-down path for the rest of my life. 

My journey with depression and anxiety is not a secret one. I try to be upfront and honest about it. However, as someone who takes great pleasure out of making people laugh, I know it’s easy to go for the joke than always be honest about how I’m feeling. All of this is actually difficult for me to write because it’s well outside of my comfort zone. Humour isn’t a mask per se, but it provides some damn convenient smoke and mirrors and in general, makes people more comfortable. 

These distractions look a little different for everyone. They show up in the forms of being really good at your job, or a fantastic parent or a talented artist. It’s just natural that we gravitate toward the identity that’s easier for people to accept, because really, who wants to be the one who brings the room down when you can be the life of the party?

Unfortunately this also cultivates a world of isolation due to the worry that people will grow tired of the consistent angst and pain and doubt. However as someone who’s also walked the journey with other friends, I can safely say I’d take talking about it as often as necessary over grieving one of my people and wondering what more I could have done. 

The more we talk about it, the less I hope the stigma associated with mental illness will exist. The stigma that there’s any shame in a disease you can’t control, that tells people a depressed person is easily identifiable by certain markers such the inability to get out of bed in the morning or an unshowered, disheveled appearance. 

Let’s toss out every preconceived idea we might have about what depression looks like. Instead, let’s focus on the next ten people we meet: the co-workers you pass in the hall, the other moms out at the playground, the Starbucks barista who makes our morning latte. Once we get to 10, let’s stop and realize that according to the statistics at, one of those 10 people is likely depressed. 

The struggling person looks just like anyone else. 

Now to you: the one who is hurting deeply and may want to stay in bed all day but puts on a brave face again and carries on as though life is okay and things really aren’t that bad. Please realize you are seen. Maybe not obviously by everyone you encounter, but your brothers and sisters who fight the same war every day and understand how hard it is sometimes just to function and sometimes, even just keep breathing. 

These feelings that you are alone, that you are a burden and that no one understands or cares are a lie. Your people may not see it because you’re just really good at distracting them. But they want to see it. They want you around and that desire will outlast any horrible time you go through (and every other horrible time thereafter). 

So please, find that community of love and grace and support. Find your community of other people who also struggle and who have made it to the other side of their latest tough time, who can reassure you without a shadow of a doubt that it can get better. Recruit them to fight with you and intercede on your behalf if necessary. 

And please, just hang on. Dear God, please don’t stop hanging on

This will never be an easy war to win. But I wish with every wine-soaked fiber of my being, that talking about it becomes the norm. So normal that we can pass an acquaintance in the office or grocery store and be all, “Hey, life is a bit better right now than it was a little while ago. Hi-five!” 

For my part, I’ll be more upfront about it. I mean, I’m still going to make inappropriate jokes about selling my kids for wine money, but I won’t let those jokes be my only known identity because a) I don’t want a visit from Child Protective Services and b) (this is the important one): I want people to know it’s okay to be both sides of the coin publicly. 

Even now, I realize other people have written about this topic far more eloquently than I have. But right now it's not about that. The only way we're going to make a difference is by adding to the voices that come forward and say "Yes, me too." You know, the whole "strength in numbers" cliche.

It’s going to take a lot of work to get to this point, but I know we can do it. We can play Candy Crush in the most remote parts of the planet. Obviously we are capable of achieving great things as a society. Maybe these great things can save lives. 

Keep talking friends. Please don’t stop talking.