Archives for category: Music

…from the basement to the street light.

RANT KLAXON: The following blog post is one of those I might regret when I am an older, wiser man, because its a blog post on the powers of magic in writing.

This is the sort of blog post I think will make Rob Jones rub his forehead and say “For Christ’s sake Nick”. I think he genuinely thinks I’m batshit on occasion.

I write many words on consciousness magic, summoning and reality, and if you are likely to think that’s bollocks, then don’t read and keep your opinion of my unmarred.

If not, read on.

I listened to about eight Grant Morrison talks back to back last week, which was an interesting experience, because not all of them were purely comic related.It was also an interesting experience because only today did I realise how one of Morrisons points linked to a question as part of this Sunday’s Comic Book Hour, a twitter based conversation that happens weekly and can be found here. Kind of because as its a hashtag its everywhere.

I was looking for talks on subjects that grabbed me, so I started with a Warren Ellis one on that boiled down to uselessness of speculation, which was interesting to me because the first ever piece of academic writing I did was a building appraisal that centered around preparations for dead futures. Speculative futures are interesting, because they’re based solely on the presents idea of what is futuristic. In Star Trek the original series they’d developed a technology to teleport people, but they communicators were less functional than a mobile phone circa 2015. In the Next Generation they had the fully functioning android Commander Data, but he had to type messages into the computer as he was unable to wirelessly connect with it and send his message direct.

I also get really het up about the phenomenology of aliens in science fiction that they’re always based on different human cultures, rather than the mind bending philosophies that would be generated on worlds vastly dissimilar to ours. Oddly enough something that is tackled head on in Rick and Morty via their inter-dimensional television.

Back to Grant Morrison. He is a practicing Magician, and he is not afraid to say it. He’s not afraid to tel the world. I am very much into Chaos magic and magical theory.

As a side note; I am both skeptical and open to spiritualism; a great bone of contention I have is with the afterlife and mediums. Another one is past life experiences. Past life experiences basically enter into a linearity of time that I don’t give credit to. It says that everything has happened in one order merrily avoiding the idea of past lives that haven’t happened yet. The two are obviously not mutually exclusive, but ultimately I would like to think of myself as someone who has magical influence and has actively used this in the past to change my life, and the lives of others.

In one of his talks, Grant talks about summoning. Summoning up Gods to talk to, to speak to, and how the deities you can conjure envisage elements of personalities, eternal personalities that are a part of us all. Similar to the Seven Basic Plot types there are basic personality outlines, and these appear in many cultures, and often take the form of the Gods of their Pantheon. Pantheons have a War God (Anhur in Egyptian, Ares in Greek, Mixcoatl in Aztec), a Music God (Apollo Greek,  Benzaiten in Buddhism, Saraswati in Hindi), a God of communication (Mercury, Freya, Thoth), and these all represent personality types.

So we come to the question I mentioned earlier:

The answer I gave was a wide spread thing. I said “Research, Knowledge and Empathy” which I think to be a rather sound explanation. If I want to write anything, I usually try to read something about that subject, get some view points, so I don’t feel like I’m talking guff. Theres a page in 50Signal 2 where there’s a hyperspace relay, and I read a few articles on possible power supplies for something like that, and eventually settled on Dyson spheres, not because I don’t have the imagination to cook up a power source for it, I just wanted it to feel real to me. Write what you know and all that.

But characters are slightly different. When it comes to writing what you know, and with a person you’ve made up, you’ve got to know them. A lot of answers to this question revolved around people saying “When they make a decision, I think about the decision they’d make, not the decision I’d make” and I can’t help but think “Yeah, but how do you know what decision they’d make?”. I think that’s where Morrison’s idea of summoning comes into play.

I take a pragmatic approach to magic, I don’t believe in Midichlorians or light shooting out of wands, to me Magic is the manipulation of consciousnesses, and as humans are a pack animal, a communal energy, our powers of conscious are interlinked. Sigil magic works, I believe, because you are bending your consciousness towards an outcome, and positively reinforcing it within your head. You’re using things like confirmation bias and mind set to will you to achieve a reality. Giving yourself a spiritual goal. So when I think of summoning, I don’t see it as the conjuring of something real, like a deity, I see it as conjuring up a part of the large consciousness of the human race, you’re pulling into your mind parts of the world around you to create an artificial intelligence, a personality model of that you want to speak to.

In his talk, Morrison talks about an occasion where he summoned up the form of John Lennon, but how he thinks it wasn’t John Lennon, but the form of a God of music who filled in the role of John Lennon. I have never summoned up a demon, or anything like that. Partly because I find it hard to believe in, and partly because I am frightened that its possible and I’m fucking with things beyond my power. We’ve all read what happened to John Constantine in Newcastle. Chilling.

What I have done, is conjured a story, I have summoned narratives using chaos magic. Its a practice I evolved out of a process that I read about in a Philip K Dick biography. During the creation of his book, and now popular Amazon TV show I am yet to watch, The Man In The High Castle, Dick was heavily into the I Ching. The I Ching is an ancient divination text, and Dick used it to make crucial decisions in the plot development of his book. He used it to develop characters, simply by asking the I Ching questions, and then flipping a series of coins, and by reading into these coin flips, it allowed him to receive the answers he needed. The book was written by an outside force (whether that be spiritual or random in nature) that Dick was interpreting. I wrote a few things early on in my story writing career by using the I Ching, just as Dick did, but found that it was too linear for what I wanted to do. So I started to use a process of story summoning, and I used the central focus of this as music.

Phonogram by Keiron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie posits music as being a fulcrum around which magic is tied, and its an idea that I can get behind. I spoke to Kieron about this at a signing early this year and asked him if he believed any of it was true, and he said that the whole of it is a very good analogy. A metaphor for the power of music, rather than straight up belief that music is magic. Though I think that Music is power, I think it is something that we can use to influence our consciousness and the way we process power through ourselves, which in itself could be perceived as magic. Songs can change us, they can alter the way we feel, make us happy or sad, and live music can change our outlooks. Its a common story to talk about that moment we heard something that changed the way we think, that altered our lives. I remember the first time I heard Joy Division and it completely altered the way I approached my emotions. There’s an issue of Phonogram where one of the non-magical characters, the wonderfully named Kid With Knife, performs some basic Phonomancy, and listens to Wolf Like Me by TV On The Radio and becomes magically imbued, having the night of his life.

The instructions he is given as thus:

Choose a track, doesn’t matter what it is – just that is matters to you. Stick it on, and turn it up. Close your eyes, and listen hard. Focus. Just feel the song. Let it sweep over you. Breathe it in. Let it possess you. And when you can feel it filling every single cell in your body, just ride it as long as you can.

Of course Kid responds to that be saying “That’s magic? Everyone does that” and they do, we all do. We listen to music to enhance how we feel. My girlfriend Camila plays sad songs when she is sad because she wants to cry. I put on angry songs when I’m feeling angry, we put on the sort of music that reflects how we are feeling. With writing, I can put on music that embodies the way I want to think, the way I want to feel, and I meditate on the emotions contained within and I call out to the character I want to write, and the character will come to be because I have summoned them. The Space giant at the end of 50Signal 2 came to me in a gig. That story has been completely changed from how it was originally going to go by me summoning force the story, or the story summoning itself to me.

But you can use an object, an item of clothing, an artifact, or even a word written on a piece of paper as a focus item, to summon forth a fictional character. Get a grip of what that person is on the outside, and sit for a bit, focus on them for two or three minutes, and let them be there with you, call out to them to talk to you, and talk to a character and see what they say to you. From Grant Morrison’s perspective you’re channeling a deity that represents your character, you’re summoning them forth, in the same way you can summon forth a reality you want through Sigil magic.

To me you’re building an artificial construct, a Golem of ideas, that you will be able to interact with, and with time you can focus your meditation to summon more elements of a story, sew in more pieces of your own reality to make it real. Today in a story writing exercise I started with three blank characters and a location, and I wrote down one work for each character, and put on a song that I wanted to represent the feel of the story, and I sat with a note pad and just wrote what came to me, and without thinking I summoned forth elements I hadn’t imagined before, ideas that were beyond what I anticipated for the story. New characters that were outside of my plans for the narrative came into effect. The story wrote itself and it was nothing like what I had set out to create.

So, even if you think that everything I’ve just said about summoning and magic is bollocks, then treat it as a thought experiment, and write something in a similar setting to how I wrote today, and see where it takes you.

 

Its impossible to understate the effect that David Bowie had on the world. Its impossible to understate the legacy that he leaves and the pathway he cut for the modern world.

Being one of the most important cultural influences of the modern world, the Picasso of pop, a constant engine of reinvention and not so much a reflection of the zeitgeist but the active ingredient in it, there will be hundreds of articles and eulogies written by people closer to and more educated on the man himself. So I will talk mostly about the relationship I have with him, a man born 43 years before me who I never met or even saw in the flesh.

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For my Seventh birthday I wanted a CD player, which was interesting as I had very little interest in music. I think I wanted to be my father, who had an insane amount of albums and a large black stereo system that stood monolithic in the corner of the living room, out of bounds, untouchable unless it was one of the odd occasions that under strict supervision its magic could be shared. My Father’s musical obsession was overwhelming, and living in a household where both your parents have an astounding passion for music, (my Mother laying somewhere between flower child of the sixties and eighties eye liner stained New Romantic has always had a firmer grip on modern music, whilst my father liked the more obscure sounds) meant that it was common place, and therefore I was spoiled and didn’t appreciate it. I had no passion for music.

That was until I bought the 1997 Children in Need charity single “Perfect Day”, a suitably embarrassing first single, but featuring contributions from Lou Reed, Courtney Pine, and Suzanne Vega it was a great tasting platter for future interests. But the man who stood out the most, was David Bowie. With only two lines, the way he sounded was enough to get me hooked, an instant grab that I would never experience again until I fell in love with Ian Curtis in my teens. His voice was powerful, alien, charming and alluring. My mother fed my addiction and bought me two Best of collections (David Bowie best of 1969 to 1974, and Best of 1980 to 1987) albums from the musical mail order company Britannia music. These, and a CD of Cajun music given to me by my Grandfather, were the only three CD’s on my CD tower left over from the redecoration of the living room.

It was from the age if Seven years old that David Bowie started telling me things. Through music, and later style and culture, Bowie has had messages and statements that I’ve taken to heart. Experimentation and reinvention are two concepts that Bowie has always played with, and things I aim to copy. In his music he was constantly juggling with pop and outsider art. Space Oddity is a perfect pop song and a bleak song about the futility of Space exploration, Starman is a catchy tune and a song about extraterrestrial space gods, and Ashes To Ashes was a new wave song embracing the full force of the technology of the time. One of my favorite albums has arguably the best intro in the form of Station to Station from… well Station to Station that with its radio signal static and steam train drone feeds directly into the post rock music of Godspeed you Black Emperor. Stylus magazine once stated that ‘Had the album [Low] been released twenty years later, this would have been called “post-rock.”‘

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David Bowie was the outsider king; bringing the weird into the forefront of the public eye. In the early seventies, a world still steeped in stoicism and post war male posturing Bowie was unafraid to step on stage at 25 years old, dressed as an alien deposited on Earth to play music. He sang of Armageddon and Hallucination, anti-capitalism and anti-establishment, and he was on television, and in magazines. A contradiction of terms, and to me, looking back on this man an inspiration.

He experimented with the roles of Gender and sexuality, appearing on album covers in a dress, gender swapping clothing with his wife out and about in London, putting his arm around his guitarist dressed androgynously on Top Of The Pops. His close relationships with Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger were the cause of much rumor and in my teenage years he was a real support for me and my blossoming Bisexuality. His style in clothing and album art is next to none, even down to the 2000 Glastonbury appearance  where he proved that even as a man standing looking back on a career of characters and roles he was still master of them all.

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The most important message David Bowie ever gave me was “You are not alone”. The last song from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Rock and Roll, builds from quiet introspective introduction to bold crescendo ends with Bowie’s voice singing bass to his high pitched vocals, and he sings:

Let’s turn on and be not alone (wonderful)
Gimme your hands cause you’re wonderful (wonderful)

And in that moment he is giving the most important advice, the single most striking message, that you can be weird. You can be emotional and expressive, you can be gay and flamboyant, you can be who you want to be, and you’re not alone, because we can all be who we want to be, who ever that is, and that person is wonderful.

I apologise in advance for any spelling mistakes. Usually that’s because I go into a typing frenzy and the Surface Pro keyboard is unforgiving to the furious and the haphazard. Today this is written straight into the WordPress app on a Samsung Galaxy 5, so however like a Praetorian shield the phone is, the keyboard just isn’t satisfactory.

So anyway, I’ve been thinking about music and reading. Often two very different things: I know a lot of people who cannot read and listen to music at the same time. I have a similar issue, in that if anything is too lyric heavy I focus more on the words than the literature and it all gets lost. But often a book can have a soundtrack for me, because if I’m into a piece of music and a book at the same time, then I’ll merge them together. This happened recently when I was reading Ready Player One and listening to the Utopia soundtrack and for the rest of the book the story took on the aesthetics suggested by the music. In fact I was humming one of the songs in the shower and was busting my head over where it was from then I thought “Oh right, that’s the Ready Player One theme” only it isn’t. It’s a book. Books don’t have music.

I have bought books that came side by side with music, either inside the book or alongside the book. I mean Robert Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country is a musician fact file with a CD of music. I’m sure the main focus for the purchase for the book is the art, but for me the CD gave me the most joy with its collection of rare and unusual songs, equipped with the misty textures and sounds of aged vinyl. My Name is Buddy by Ry Cooder had an accompanying book complete with illustrations to support the album, and every Douglas Coupland book is woven with musical references. The dude wrote Girlfriend in a Coma.

As an aside I remember when I was given my first copy of Generation X, one of the founding bricks of my personal development from wet child beast into socially misunderstood man lump. I was given it by an English teacher when I was about 16 and told I needed to read it. I remember he stressed Needed. I read it and it didn’t effect me (I even tried to give the book back and he wouldn’t have it. Told me to keep it until I found someone else who needed it) iy wasn’t until I few years later when I read it again I totally got what everyone was saying and the imagery the feelings and characters all became mine.

Warren Ellis had a play list at the back of Crooked Little Vein. He also put a few in the back matter pages of Doktor Sleepless. Whilst I diligently constructed these play lists through Limewire and later, Spotify (the friendly legal face to ripping off musicians) it wasn’t the songs in list format that had the biggest effect on me, it was those mentioned in the pages of the comic that changed my life. Based on a speech the titular Doktor gives about being ‘for real’ in an issue of Doktor Sleepless I listened to a lot of early blues and checked out Godspeed You! Black Emperor and bought a few albums of theirs, before getting really into Post-rock. Post rock changed my aesthetic: as a person and in my interests. I started looking into post rock culture, the art and artistry that surrounded it and the experimentation and the thought processes amalgamated with my own. This is entirely due to Doktor Sleepless and it’s philosophy.

Another big influence was Casanova written by Matt Fraction which incorporated a play list into the story, the last few issues to its second story arc had song titles as headings. I made a play list of it, and because of it introducing me to new ideas I got into McLusky and Mountain Goats. That little touch wasn’t forcing the songs down your throat, in many ways it didn’t even hint that they were songs, just presented them without comment, and looking into it further you got this new element added to the whole affair. An extra layer that you have to peel away. A further investigation that needs you to solve it. You ever noticed something in a book or comic that doesn’t feel of this world and you have to look into it further, it’s like finding a sliding panel on the drawing room of a castle and you just have to go inside. Matt Fraction made a Thomas Pynchon joke in Sex Criminals. I’m imagining people buying Gravity’s Rainbow after reading Sex Criminals.

That’s how it felt to read Invisibles really. Every comic should have a further reading section.

Back to music. With 50Signal,  I really want to make an album of music to accompany it. A couple of tracks to play in the background whilst you read it. As it’s going to be a physical object it’d be great to do something you can only so in a physical object and have it come with a free CD tooked into the back cover. I know my friend Danny, sole member of the Dark Ambient group Pheme was working on a song for it,  maybe for a trailer, but it’d be great if he could do a whole album. That was the original plan, anyway, so I’m going to ask him to do that.

This seems to be a bit proposing at the super Bowl, cos he’s sort of obligated to say yes to avoid embarrassment. I always think people who publicly propose are a bit desperate. They’re saying LOOK AT ME I’M PROPOSING and the respondent from the proposal is being press-ganged into not saying no. Imagine booing someone for saying yes to a proposal.

Yeah, you should take relationship advice from the terminally single man.

Anyway, current focus for my attention is the new episode of Casanova,  which hit news stands today in all comic book shops, and you should read it, it’s accessible to everyone, even if you haven’t read the transdimensional parable in full just yet.

Hello,

I always feel weird writing the first words of a blog post. I always want to say something like “Hey Gang” or “Hello Chaps”, but its the most contrived thing to do. I don’t like it when I read it, why should I start my blog posts with it?

Anyway Images:

hamster

That’s my sisters Hamster, possibly the most tame thing on Earth.

So what have I been doing recently? Well, I’ve been doing writings with Robin Jones of Average Joe fame on Project Truncheon, which I think has had its full name released with a logo, but for me, for now, its still code name: PROJECT TRUNCHEON until I stick it up here. I like working with code names. I am also working on writing a graphic novel with the forementioned Mr Jones about the North of England and myths, legends and monsters. My input so far seems to be writing crazy essays on history and ancient religion and then doing nothing with them. I’d better send them over to him soon. When I’m done I’ll have so many pages of mad waffle, might put them together into an ebook or something. Mad Nick’s History of things.

My English teacher in college ended an essay he wrote to demonstrate HOW to write an academic essay with a Bob Dylan quote. In my first essay in University I included a picture of Robbie the Robot.

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I like to do a warm up of something other than what I’m working on before committing to the real work because it gets my hands and eyes moving properly. The most literal sense of a warm up. I also like to do Life Drawing classes every so often in order to loosen up my figure work. Stop people from just being a series of boxes when I draw them. Oh yeah, back to Rob for a second, Average Joe is being promoted at Nottingham Comic Con, and they’ve got free stuff and a competition, so if you are there keep your eyes open for them.

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And the endlessly Talented nicest guy in comics that is Nich Angell is starting a new kickstarter campaign to get 7String into peoples hands. Its the second volume and the first blew everyones minds, so you know, when that happens give him all of your money.

Heres a picture of him after leaving the rest of the boy band and on the verge of releasing his solo hip-hop album.

Look at him, couldn’t you just eat him up with a spoon?

Yeah, well done me for cementing my weirdo reputation just a little bit more. I do not want to be known as the creepiest bloke in UK comics. FORBIDDEN PLANET INTERNATIONAL have written a thing anyway about the next Volume of this amazing series.

One day I will do a blog post where I don’t mention how much I love Nich Angell’s comics.

One day I will do a blog post without mentioning how every blog post mentions Nich Angell.

Nick Gonzo’s Blog: The premiere location for Nich Angell News.

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Robin Jones is watching Utopia. Every couple of hours I get a text saying “Thank you for making me watch Utopia, I didn’t need all this time to do things and live my life. Thank you for delivering me from a social life into the hands of this TV show”

Luckily there are only 12 episodes.

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Aside from a few last minute washes to do Harvey Spig will star in WHEN THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN very soon. It was meant to have an october release date for its print version but that didn’t happen. I don’t always work reliably fast. So it’ll be in digital soon. Funk Soul Samurai awaits me to finish a cover, as does 50Signal, so the last part of the year will be awash with me doing comics for you.

Stu Perrins will be at Leamington Comic Convention with print copies of Prime, his Super hero comic, so go to that and buy them.

I will not be at any comic book fesitvals or cons, except Thought Bubble, where I will be a guest and we should all go for a pint and be friends. I’m going to quit the booze again for October, not to raise any money, just to lose some weight and that, but I will probably blog lots about it, because blog posts and Hot Chocolate are my alcohol replacement.

The new Alt-J album came out, and it was amazing. I was worried that it would be a steaming dog turd, seeing as their bassist left them between albums. The first album was so amazingly Bass lead, that I thought having him leave would be like removing Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones, because whilst all the elements are really strong there is always something just a bit exceptional. As it turns out they’ve experimented a little bit more and found a nice strong direction for their difficult second album. Its got some great singles and musically is probably the stronger of the two albums they’ve released. Its not as original and haunting as the first, and how could it be the first was so out of the blue, but its certainly a good continuation.

Speaking of coninutaions, I watched Kick-Ass 2 the other day, and aside from the fact its not a hugely great movie, I was interested by the way there was a huge divergance from the comic. When Kick-Ass 2 the comic came out there was a little stir because THE MOTHER FUCKER (well done Mark Millar) rapes Kick-Ass’s then girlfriend NIGHT BITCH (award winning writer Mark Millar everybody) and its just another case of a guy bandying rape about like it ain’t no thing. But in the movie, when that moment comes, THE MOTHER FUCKER can’t get it up, and just physically wounds her. To comedic effect he tries to get an errection to go through with it, but instead fails to achieve lift off. I thought it was much better done that way. You can’t jam a rape scene into the middle of a dark, yes, but ultimately fantastical comedy. Its too serious a subject matter.

Its almost Monday now, I am going to go to bed. I’m cutting this a bit short, I want to talk about how awesome Aphex Twin’s new album is too, but I’m just too tired and my neck hurts from staring down at the computer balanced on my knee.

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Nick

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***A brief edit***

I cannot get this out of my head.

Wolverine 1 Scud 1

Wolverine: Available for £10            Scud the Disposable Assassin: £10

Dr Doom Molly Hayes holding an Elephant

Dr Doom: £10                                             Mollie Hayes holding an
Elephant: Sold for £15

Just doing a bit of a £10 Sketch Saga update. I did a few new ones. I may make a page just of them, so if anyone wants to buy the ones that haven’t sold, you can, right here, RIGHT NOW! If you want one of these, or want me to do one just for you, email me at nickgonzodraws@gmail.com How come Wolverine wears a disguise? I mean he goes into battle wearing a Mask, and his identity is a mystery even unto himself, so, I doubt he’s hanging at the shopping center and he’s all, “hope no one bothers me”. Because he’s Wolverine. He doesn’t go to the Supermarket, and all his enemies know who he is, sort of.

Hey , look at this:

Mo Money Mo Spider-Man got published in The Low Road Magazine, which is really cool. Its nice to expand the market for a weird little comic like that. I also did the poster for their Record Label’s gig. Getting published is fun, but getting published when someone has picked your thing is ever better. Speaking of enjoyment, The Tree was reviewed by Big Comic Page:

YOU CAN READ ABOUT IT HERE

I’ve been looking into doing some more The Tree like short comics, especially considering that with heavy work loads you can sort of get bogged down with a lack of control over your art world… I had the idea of finishing a long form comic called Asazoic in between projects, but its hard to get into doing one or two pages of a project then disengaging, so I end up doing nothing. Short form comics allow me to do things rougher. The Tree was drawn smaller than usual, so I can do it on my knee, in fine liner, rather than at the drawing board. It creates a seperation.  Anyway, I’m going to be doing one in the next couple of months about a soothsayer in a Diner in a desert, but less about that the better. Another one I’ll be planning is called Fantasy Black Channel, which is named after an album by this band:

I love that video by the way, its like “Hey, this is going one way…. no wait… no it isn’t its going this way… no… wait… no it isn’t…” and I love that. Its just why I love Late of the Pier as a whole, because you have no idea what the hell is going to happen next. Its a serious shame they only ever did one album. But their songs give me all sorts of crazed ideas, and one of them related to your TV being a Psychic terraformer, preparing your mind for infestation from Parasitic Mind Worms. The mind as a frontier for invasion! So there you go.

Anyway, drop me an email

nickgonzodraws@gmail.com

This looks like the sort of thing I used to draw, only better. Much Better. I used to be mad for drawing weird sorts of machines, but not so much now. May have to rectify that.

This video is by Cyriak, the youtube guy who used to explode Sheep. YOU KNOW THE ONE.