Hmmm....kind of backed myself into quite the corner tonight. I was actually thinking ahead a bit last night and started researching the original sticker I was planning on using before I went to bed. However the more I looked into it, the more I realized I needed to reach out to the people behind the sticker for more information. I ended up sending them a message on two of their social media platforms and really want to give them a couple of days to respond before I try to write about their sticker, messing with what little plan I had. There is also the fact that I'm heading back to my hometown tomorrow for the holiday weekend. We weren't going to be getting onto the road until fairly late into the evening, so I was originally planning on doing the last minute chores before we went out. But the brother that was causing the late departure found out that he would be getting out work earlier than he had thought, moving our schedule up significantly and again making me reconsider my task list. Of course being the horrible procrastinator that you know I am, I didn't start working on this post or any of the tasks I need to accomplish until much later than I should have. But sleep is for the weak, right?
So for tonight's post I decided to go with a restaurant door that's covered in beer stickers. I've actually been fascinated by this door for a while. I would often pass Caliente Pizza and Draft House on my walks home from working in the Strip District and their door would always catch my attention. It's not unusual for bars to decorate themselves with advertisements of the alcohol they serve but I have to admit I can't say I've seen that many places that will decorate their glass doors or handles with stickers. It certainly is one way to make sure your customers know what you have to offer though, especially since the gray box on the left side of the image is a case that holds the restaurant's menu. It also shows Caliente's dedication to supporting local and Pennsylvanian craft beers in general, since that's what most of the brands are. I ended up finally taking a photograph of their door a couple of months back and I thought it would be a wise idea to reach out to the restaurant about the stickers. Granted I usually reach out to the people and businesses who are actually behind the sticker but that would be lot of companies for one photograph. Also that wouldn't really answer my curiosity over Caliente's choices of sticker and placement. But shortly after I corrected the photo and added it to my collection of upcoming posts, I was walking down Liberty Avenue and noticed that they had removed all of their stickers from the door. Well I felt it would be a little silly sending them a message to ask about stickers that were no longer there and ended up scratching that idea. Granted I haven't been that direction for a while, so they might have just been switching out stickers to better reflect their current draft list, but that seems like a lot of effort. Ultimately it just goes to show that I need to get a little more on the ball and shorten my turn around time between capturing the image and writing about it. Who knows though, I might get a second chance to satisfy my curiosity eventually.
Tonight's sticker is such an odd find in so many ways. It caught my eye for a couple of reasons when I was wandering through the Southside last year, at least I'm assuming I took this last year. The main aspect that caught my eye were the shadows cast upon the fire hydrant due to the setting sun. Admittedly this exposure probably takes these shadows to a bit of an extreme since I really have no background in it, but I wanted to capture that sense of a golden sunset. The second reason I paused to capture this sticker was the style of it. While illustrations are a terribly common sight among the stickers I find, the use of a comic panel is fairly unique. I would never claim to be an avid comic reader, I tend get too easily distracted by the various images to fully appreciate the story on the page, but I am certainly on the fringe. So my attention is typically grabbed whenever I see something like a comic panel. Not that this particular panel is telling a clear story. In the foreground you have a faceless Mr. Clean kind of man holding a cactus in the one hand and staring down at his other which is now covered in needles. The far background has a skull and a fairly traditional devil depiction, for no clear reason. And in the middle is a woman standing among some lizards, yelling "Cactus Jelly-Jive?" Now I can't say I fully get what the reasoning behind this collection of images is, but then again I don't know if there really is one.
Above this image is the word Generiks, which I figured was the best thing to search by. Looking into this, it turns out The Generiks is a punk band from Arizona. When you dig through the Facebook page, you will eventually come across this image which is always my way to verify I'm right. But you can actually find this image on YouTube as well. Apparently this image was actually the cover art for their album with the name "Cactus Jelly-Jive." Now I usually would be all for sharing the videos I find on here, however this video is almost 40 minutes long since it's the full album which is a bit much. They're a pretty typical punk sound and not a bad listen if you're intrigued. What makes this fairly common type of sticker find rather unique is the fact that from what I can tell this isn't an active band, actually doesn't look like they've played a gig since 2000. Looking through the Facebook page it seems like The Generiks were active from 1986 to 2000 with the "Cactus Jelly-Jive" album being from 1995. I also came across the interesting fact that the person behind the Facebook page isn't actually tied to the band in any way. The very first post from 2012 is the admin stating that they are just a big fan looking to share their love for this band, although they haven't made a new post to the page since 2015. Looking through the photos and the videos on the page is a fairly fascinating trip as well. When I first found the page I thought it was odd that all of the images had that feeling of the old photos of my youth, not quite catching that the reason for this is the fact that they are from that time period. And the biggest thing that gives me pause is just the curiosity over how long this sticker has been there. Clearly this sticker isn't something that is currently making the rounds in the band circuits and this isn't even their most recent album. In the end I rather doubt this has been sitting in the Southside for over 20 years but I would be rather impressed if it was.
Since I've alluded to things in this photo a couple of times, I thought it was about time I shared it. The first time I mentioned it was actually back at the end of April, which was about a month after I took this photo. That post focused on the idea of the abandoned and nature reclaiming the city landscape in tiny ways. At the time I knew the photo I was using wasn't a great example of this idea, since it was more a stray vine on a metal fence, but knew this was idea that I could easily come back to with this particular shot. It was kind of by accident that I found this sticker. I was supposed to meet a friend at her place and decided to take the back alley so that we could just meet up at her car. I really only had my camera that afternoon because I got bored about an hour before we had agreed to meet and figured wandering Shadyside looking for stickers was a better use of my time than waiting around. I happened to look back after turning down the alley and saw the sticker hidden among the dead vines. Of course I had to back track so that I could capture this great combination of sights, I mean who doesn't love a skull surrounded by a bit of death. But I do love the small way that this plant is reclaiming the telephone pole, I really don't think I would have noticed this sticker if it was later on in Spring.
Speaking of the skull, this is the sticker I was mentioning a couple of weeks ago when I was looking at a local tattoo parlor. During that particular post I had said that if there was one sticker you would have noticed before being corrupted by this blog, it would be the more common Jester's Court stickers. This skull can be found in every single neighborhood and I'm pretty sure it might be the most prolific sticker around the city. I actually found a couple more examples of it along my usual routes within the last week that I don't recall seeing before. Again I have to give this parlor credit, it is certainly a successful method of making sure that your name is getting out there. This sticker also really does bring tattoos to mind when you look at it, I could easily picture this image as a tattoo on a variety of people (although more likely on a biker than your typical college student).
What I think I like the most about this photo is the way that it's kind of representative of tattoos in general. In one way you have how some people can't see past the negative to find the intrigue and beauty beneath. They get so distracted by the old connotations of tattoos that they miss the person and personality under the ink, like only focusing on the decrepit plant in the photo. Or it could be the person is hiding their insecurities and fears with their chosen tattoos, hoping to cover it like the plant would be overtaking the pole and sticker when it's alive. Making it so that you can only see the individual when you're really looking closely. On the flip side of this idea, tattoos could be the plant and nature in the image. Your chosen ink could be an attempt to reclaim your body, to truly express who you are. Like nature clinging onto the sides of a common and drab building, tattoos bring a bit of color and self-expression to the people who get them. It could also be a way to reclaim yourself after major damage or life-changing events. While I love cities, there are a pretty drastic change to the environment and area as they develop. So when nature comes back to claim it's original territory, to bring a bit of itself and beauty to the area, you can't help but appreciate it. For some people when they get tattooed they are looking to take the scars in their lives, whether they're physical or emotional, and cover them up with some ink looking to bring a bit themselves back. But no matter what your opinion about tattoos is, I think this photo really works as a way of analyzing your feelings towards them.
I'll admit that I picked tonight's photo to be a bit of a filler post. While I have a decent collection of items to pick from at this point, I feel like a couple of them deserve more research than I was up for tonight. I also have a much greater horde of uncorrected photos that I really need to start digging myself out of. This is of course top of the collection of personal practice photos and a project for a friend that I really need to look at, but that's on a different level of issues. Despite the fact that the plan is to use it as a placeholder for the evening, I do think it's one of the more intriguing things that I've photographed. I love the convex mirror in the foreground and how it distorts the walkway over Forbes on Pitt's campus. It gives you just a little peek of what's actually behind me while I'm taking the photo. I also like that the curved edge of the mirror breaks up the straight symmetry of the building in the background, Bruce Hall if I remember right (which I really should since I did live in it for a year). And on top of all of these interesting elements you have the multiple stickers along the bottom of the mirror. Granted the various elements do make for a interesting photo but a bit of a busy one, bringing me back to my decision to make this a filler. Rather than deter from any one piece of the photo by focusing on a particular sticker, I give you the full image and you can pick your favorite thing about it.
Of course I don't want to give you a bunch of stickers without looking at them at all, I just don't bog things down with an attempt at finding information on everything. In the end though my short dip into research turned up more than I had bargained for. The WPTS sticker is Pitt's on campus radio station, which I did end up writing a post about a couple of months ago. This version is just slightly fancier than what I presented, so easy enough. Over on the left side of the mirror there is a rather difficult one to completely make out at this size but when you zoom in it's a very stylized "Fuck Cancer." A little surprisingly when you look this up, you actually get at least two different organizations with this name. One that originated in California and one in Canada. I feel pretty safe assuming that this is the Canadian organization's sticker, looks pretty close to it's logo, but this would certainly be an interesting thing to write an entire post on. And then there is the "disrupt. vote. disrupt" sticker. As I'm sure you can imagine, these words are a little too vague to successfully come up with a source for the design. But this is definitely an interesting phrase and idea, one that seems highly relevant in today's charged political climate. So it could have been an interesting thought to develop for a night.
Moving back up the mirror, you come across a very "Voodoo" inspired sticker that says Billy Pilgrim beneath the head. This one certainly threw me for a loop since I tried looking the name up first, not realizing that this is character from Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse Five as it's on my list of things I need to read at some point. Gradually I managed to make my way to the correct mind behind this sticker, a local rapper with the name Billy Pilgrim. Again certainly a subject that deserves it's own post. And the final sticker worth looking at is the Evil Greed sticker as it certainly stands out the most, at least to my eye. It was when I was researching this sticker, it was probably the second one I looked up, that I came to the realization that tonight was going to be contradictory to my desire for a quick and simple post. As soon as I hit their site, the first thing that really caught my attention was the fact that the prices on the page were all in euros. I can't say that the site itself gives a clear indication as to what it's about, since it's a large group of items, bands, and lots of drop down menus, but heading over to their Bandcamp page tells you that this is a Label for artists in the Punk, Hardcore, and Metal arenas of the music industry. It's also where I discovered that this label is based in Berlin, Germany. I mean seriously, when it rains it pours. All of these stickers deserve a post to themselves, delving far more into what each group is about and what can be deduced from the fact that I found their sticker here. Unfortunately I really only know for certain that I have another shot of one of them. All I can hope for is that hidden in the mass that I call my photo collection is another usable image of all of these stickers, or in the very least that I manage to come across them again.
Over the years I have been defined by an odd collection of items. I'm the friend who loves penguins, the quiet girl in the red chucks, the gazelle, and the girl with unexpected tastes (my geekiness, taste in alcohol, and eclectic music will often catch people off guard for some reason). Probably the most persistent thing has been my addiction to caffeine though. In high school I was the girl that never drank coffee but had a bottle of Mountain Dew always on her desk. Because of this my friends at the time got their homerooms to vote me as the "Biggest Caffeine Addict" in our high school poll, luckily not the year book. I always felt that this was a bit unfair but I got a coffee mug out of it, so I didn't complain too much. When I started my Freshman year of college, this soda habit of mine kind reached its extreme, so I tried to cut back a bit my Sophomore year. But at this point my addiction was pretty set in stone and I actually would go through withdrawal symptoms. Eventually my friends began to tell me that it really wasn't worth the headaches to completely remove the caffeine from my life. So I gradually started switching over to coffee, which is now my preferred form of stimulant. And while I hate to prove people right, I'm pretty sure I only function throughout the day at this point due to the multiple cups of coffee and tea I consume.
Since coffee is such a defining element in my life, I have visited a good portion of the local coffee shops that are around. I probably stop at Crazy Mocha the most, just because it is the most frequent one to see after Starbucks, but I've gotten cups at The Coffee Tree, Beehive, Commonplace, and Allegheny Coffee and Tea Exchange, to name a few. Tonight's sticker is another local coffee shop that I've managed to get to, but it was a bit of an aggravating journey. Even before I started wandering the city looking for stickers on a regular basis, I would often just wander the city to feel like I was doing something. It was on one of these early trips that I came across Zeke's Coffee. I didn't end up stopping at the time, but it was a name that managed to stick my head. So when I started collecting stickers again and kept coming across the Zeke's bumper sticker, I knew it was a coffee shop but for the life of me could never remember where. Now I could have done the sensible thing and actually go to the website to find it's location, but instead I let the question linger and bug me. Finally I was wandering around East Liberty looking for some new stickers and I rediscovered the coffee shop's location, ending my minor agony. They are a nice little find though whether you need just a cup of coffee or a bag for home since they are a coffee roaster with ties to a company in Baltimore as well. Chad from Zeke's was kind enough to answer me when I reached out about their sticker.
Our "FUELED BY ZEKE'S" bumper stickers were originally conceived by our HQ company in Baltimore. It's been our "motto" since the beginning. The stickers are phrased in my favorite form of advertising which causes the reader to explore. I've always loved advertising that is interactive and encourages participants to become involved in some way. If you're unfamiliar with what Zeke's is.. you have to look into it, and the Fueled By Zeke's moniker doesn't tell you right away what we're selling.. you have to dig a little. Bumper stickers also veil the message a bit in and of their placement.... "is Zeke's a gas station? is it an electric company? is it some type of automotive additive? It leaves the reader a fun surprise at the end of their research.. and gives them the "OH HA! it's none of those things! Coffee! yea! I'm fueled by coffee too!" We're a playful company at heart, but also very much hard working. We like to have fun with the public when we can, and the stickers help with that in a way. We give the stickers out for free and our fans seem to love them... so we keep making them. We've had people send us photos from all over the world where they've placed our Fueled by stickers. It's just good fun.
I do kind of love that aura of mystery that these stickers are designed to create. It shows a dedication to getting the public involved with their shop and not just looking to get their name out there. And even though my search for Zeke's was a little different from most, the fact that they are looking to give people a journey of discovery is a bit of validation on my end. If you're a coffee fan I highly suggest giving them a try, they are a great mix of things and have a nice variety of roasts to choose from without being truly overwhelming. You can also probably grab a sticker while you're there to continue getting people to question what in the world a Zeke's is.
Accents and regional dialects are funny things. They are among those characteristics that you really don't pick up on until you've left home. And even then, only certain accents can truly be picked out of a crowd. I know that I personally, having grown up in Northern Pennsyl-tucky, would be hard-pressed to come up with a word or phrase that is specific to my area. Obviously some must exist, since everyone has their special ticks when it comes to language, but I can't say that I can really think of any big ones. Most of the things I get ridiculed for come from my personal issue with logically connecting sounds and not because of a dialect. (I often just accept a string of letters as a word that I will recognize throughout a book but never actually attempt to pronounce it in my head, causing a good laugh for my friends when I actually have to say it out loud.) About the only things I can really come up with is the fact that a large portion of my home area really likes to emphasize the I in Italian and the fact that the town my parents live in is spelled Milan but pronounced My-lan. Although the mispronunciation of well known names is really a statewide issue.
Probably two of most well known dialects that Pennsylvania has are the Philly and Pittsburgh accents. And even though these two cities are only roughly five hours away, they really are completely separate species: different sounds, different inflections, and even different meanings for the same word (if I remember the rants right, a Pittsburgh hoagie is not the same thing as a Philly hoagie). The fact that Pennsylvania has such diverse accents within it's borders is actually still fascinating people, with a relatively recent article about it on Slate's website. Although I'm sure I could attempt a comparison between the two dialects, since I managed to really only befriend people from Philly when I came out to Pittsburgh for college, I thought I would quickly look at my real lack of experience with Pittsburghese. Despite the fact that my dad is originally from West Mifflin and my grandfather was a true blue collar man, I can't say I really recall hearing much of the fabled Pittsburghese growing up. My dad would occasionally have "worsh," "slippy," and "having to red up the house" slide into conversations, but otherwise Pittsburghese was just something I would see on souvenirs. A fascinating collection of words that I would look for but rarely ever hear. I don't think I came across my first "yinz" in a conversation until I was working full time, and even that was a truly limited thing. And while I'm certainly not alone wondering how often people use these accepted local phrases, it certainly has become a defining feature for the city.
Searching for tonight's sticker and phrase ultimately just shows the variety of ways people use "yinz" to show their support for the city. Bumper stickers, shirts, shop names, and even an organization started by a teen in 2014 are among the many ways you see "yinz" represented. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find this particular sticker, well other than different people's photographs of it. But I think what really makes this sticker interesting is the fact that just by reading this phrase, I can come up with three possible interpretations for it. Read one way, "Keep Pittsburgh Yinz!" could be a call to action to keep the city clean. The creator trying to get you to pick up after yourself, get involved in promoting the environment, and show your pride in the area. Or it could be looking to prevent the loss of "yinz" from the local lexicon. While there is certainly a lot of kitschy things out there using "yinz," it certainly isn't a widely used term. So this might be trying to promote it as a sense of Pittsburgh heritage. But there is also the possibility that the sticker is looking to stymie the influx of outsiders. Since the loss of the steel industry, Pittsburgh has certainly switched it's focus to promoting technology and the various universities, bringing in a younger crowd. This could very well be a call to keep the city's blue collar roots and keep it a "yinzer" population. Any way you look at it though, it is certainly trying to get you to do something... I'm just not sure what.
I find language absolutely fascinating. I love how just the inflection of a phrase can drastically change it from being something that could be hopeful to bitter sarcasm. Or how the meaning of words will morph into the complete opposite through misuse or societal acceptance, poor inflammable and literally really don't mean what you think they do. It's also interesting to see how words come into and fall out of favor over the years. I generally get my language fix by listening to two separate podcasts that really delve into the oddities of the English language (The Allusionist and Lexicon Valley if this is your type of thing). And while there are certainly plenty of things in English that will keep you interested and confused, I am also rather intrigued by foreign languages as well. During high school I took two years of Spanish but ended up deciding that I wasn't up to sitting through a third year. Then in college since I didn't have the minimum language requirement from high school, I took a full year of French and quickly forgot all of it. Over the past couple of years I've been slowly making my way through the Duolingo app, successfully finishing the French course and recently starting to attempt Spanish. And while I really don't have an end goal for studying these, seeing what similarities exist across the various languages and how they influence each other is certainly an interesting aspect to the learning process.
Now I have no real experience with Eastern cultures, so I can't really tell what language tonight's sticker is in or is emulating. My siblings are all enthralled with anime and manga, so I've had a little exposure to Japanese although more spoken Japanese than the written language. I also took a course in Japanese folklore during college, to satisfy Pitt's general requirements and for fun. But in the end neither are enough for me to really tell the difference between the different culture's characters. I know that Japanese was based and heavily influenced by Classic Chinese but they have evolved over the centuries to be their own unique styles. And Chinese is so large that even different regional dialects can almost be considered different languages at times. But I'm sure for people who are familiar with both languages they can easily tell which one this sticker is written in, or if it's really another Eastern language. Although there is the possibility that this doesn't actually say anything. There's quite a few stories around the internet about people getting Chinese characters tattooed on themselves without really looking into their meanings and getting some ridiculous things in the end. But who knows how true these stories really are. I will admit that deciding to post tonight's sticker is a bit of a gamble, since I don't know what it says or have the time to really try to figure out what it could be. But if any of you happen to know a bit of Japanese or Chinese, I would love to know what it says.
If there is one sticker I can guarantee you would have noticed before you started reading this blog, it's one by the people behind tonight's sticker. Of course I can't do things the simple way and I decided not to feature one that I think you'll have actually seen. It's a little hard to see but the shop behind this public service announcement is Jester's Court, a tattoo parlor with locations in Oakland, Southside, and Etna. The two more common stickers are of a jester with his hands held out, which is actually the logo in the left corner when you go to their page, and a skull. Both very clearly state Jester's Court in some way and are pretty hard to miss. It doesn't matter what neighborhood I happen to be exploring, I know that at some point I will come across one. I'm fairly certain that you could probably devote an entire blog or collection just showcasing their frequent appearances around the city. Not that this is a negative thing, if you want to make sure your name gets out there this is probably one of the more successful tactics.
Which probably why I decided to feature tonight's sticker. While it's still a Jester's Court sticker, this was the first time I've see this particular one. I also find the sentiment behind it an interesting one. Granted there's no way to really figure out how old this actually is but I do have to wonder when it was placed up there. The whole sticker reads "Tattooing is not a crime" and has a brief message between the larger lines stating that Jester's Court is behind it. Now tattoos have far too interesting and rich of a history for me to really properly delve into it here, but I have shared a fun little TED-Ed video below for your perusal. However one thing that is pretty clear is that tattoos have had a social stigma associated with them for a while, which this sticker is clearly addressing. Only certain types of people were supposed to get them and having one showed that you weren't as respectable as people thought. Having visible tattoos were always supposed to be a deterrent to employers and I even had a couple of jobs that required people that had visible ones to cover them up while they were working. When I was in college, I had more than a couple of friends who went and got their first tattoos in secret, forcing them to creatively hide it while they were home during breaks to avoid being chastised. My parents certainly weren't too pleased with me when I showed up with the one I got shortly before I graduated, giving me the roughly the spiel I glossed over above.
Granted these stigmas have died down a bit over the years, you certainly see more people openly walking around with their tattoos. Part of me is still always a bit surprised by the number I see every day in the office that I work in. One guy I see almost every day even has most of his bald head covered in a tattoo. Some of the numbing in public perception could just be the fact that recent generations have gravitated towards a greater need for self-expression over the need to fit in with the accepted societal norms, although in a way they are still seeking to fit in. I think tattoos have also taken on a far more artistic acceptance over the years, often creating some truly beautiful and unique pieces for people. While I'm sure I could continue to wax on about what the draw of tattoos are, especially looking at what draws me to it, I feel like this is a conversation better left for another night. In the end there will probably always be a bit of a social stigma surrounding tattoos and the people who get them, but I don't think there are too many out there who would consider it a crime anymore.
While I will never fault someone for wanting to discover where they come from, I will admit that I don't understand the draw of family lineage. Granted my immediate family never put too much stock into our personal heritage for it to really be a big thing in my life. My dad is the second generation born in America for Polish and Slovakian immigrants and my mom is roughly third generation Irish with a tinge of German, I think. My siblings and I will occasionally like to blame a Nationality for a fault in our genetics or piece of faulty logic, but that's about the closest any of us really come to embracing any piece of our muttness. I know there's quite a few family historians on my mom's side who have dedicated many hours trying to find out what part of Ireland the Ross or the Ryans came from originally but I've never cared enough to find out. In the end I just find the idea that you get some validation of who you are by finding the roots of your ancestors to be kind of silly. Why would finding out that you happened to be "related" to George Washington because a second nephew had a bastard with your great-great grandmother (or whatever that would have to be) expand how you see yourself? What happens to those novice genealogists that spend years digging through records looking for family ties, when they hit those eventual dead ends of ancestors being found on a church step in the middle of the night? Again if these searches bring meaning to your existence, I can't really fault you for it since it's a lot of dedication and passion that drives them. I just can't say I get why you do it.
Now that my rant against those god-awful ancestry.com commercials is out of the way, I can now get onto what drove it. Looking at tonight's sticker I was really reminded of family crests or coats of arms that you will typically find on those genealogy maps people create. What I find interesting about the family crest and especially the coat of arms is the fact that most people don't actually have one. Sure your surname may have been tied to one years ago, but the coat of arms was always given to an individual and not necessarily to a family. And even in those family cases, it would only apply to the eldest male and his eventual lineage. Also depending on the country, there is a question of whether or not you can legally lay claim or use one of these crests. So all of those sites claiming to research and find your family crest are generally a crock, not that I'm terribly surprised.
But just because you aren't tied to an old one, doesn't mean you don't have the right to create a new one for your family. Each symbol, color, and design hold a significant meaning to the crest and the individual who carries it. If you interpret the symbolism in the sticker using the some of the sites out there, you come up with a very powerful story. The yellow or "gold" in the background is typically associated with generosity and elevation of the mind while the red generally is a symbol of military strength. The cross pattée and the sword are used to signify military service or honour while the crown I would say is closer to the duke symbol than the royal authority one. So an impressive military man who has risen up the ranks to earn himself a dukedom, who apparently really likes tennis shoes since that is really the main focus of the emblem. I'll admit that I'm reading far too much into the symbolism of the sticker, it's more likely someone wanted to make a cool design and felt these pieces fit together. But looking at the significance and the symbolism of these old pieces of imagery is rather a fascinating rabbit hole to fall down into.