Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday January 26 2010: Anecdotes

Tuesday January 26 2010

It seems that writing a daily blog while working is going to be a considerably bigger challenge than I anticipated. For the legions of my blog's fans ( I'll do my best but I think 4-5 times a week is more realistic while on tour. After going to the gym, rehearsals, the 2 hour show, picture session, then autograph session all I want to do when I get back to my room is eat, shower, relax for a bit, then sleep. Between dinner and the show we have some free time so I'm going to try very very hard not to procrastinate and to do my writing then, so I can relax when I get back to my room.

A couple of notes and anecdotes from the tour so far: First of all, there is a great chemistry and energy between the guys this tour. Every tour is slightly different because the cast is always slightly different and a departure or new member can have an impact of chemistry in a group of only 10 guys. Everybody in the cast notices it. It makes doing the show so much more fun. Because we're having fun, the audience gets a better show, they give us more energy; it's a positive feedback loop. This is a welcome change from the last tour (Sep-Dec.). For some reason it just wasn't fun; it really felt like work. This tour feels similar to the 6 week run we did in Hamburg last spring...great chemistry and energy on stage. We actually look forward to doing the show every night.

Here are a couple of funny anecdotes from the last few days: During the band set (Chippendales has a live band as part of the show, I play the drums) somehow the cross beam that holds my whole drum kit together fell apart in the middle of the second song in our set which basically caused my whole drum kit to implode. The drum kit is electric so all the drums and cymbals were still plugged in and live. Without missing more than 2 beats I identified amonst the rubble the ride cymbal and the snare and bass tom--the kick pedal and hi hat were buried--and continued to the end of the song hunched over the remains. The other guys, positioned in front of me, had no idea that anything was wrong until after the song because all the girls were pointing and laughing. In between songs the stage hands ran on and helped me resurrect the kit so we could finish the last 2 songs. I got some nice compliments about my drumming after the show....well deserved I should say!

Speaking of great drumming... if I may continue to pat myself on the back, tonight was the first night I executed the stick toss and catch--3 times! Woohoo! Ever since I was a kid and saw Tommy Lee of Motley Crue in concert I've always dreamt of doing this great piece of 80s hair metal drumming flair. A dying art by the by. The way the trick works is you hit the snair with the stick and bounce it off the drum. It goes flying high in the air straight up, end over end, and you catch it and keep playing, all the while never missing a beat. While the stick is in the air (I throw it about 2.5-3 metres) you still play on the bass and snare with your left. Soooooooo many things can go wrong! If you don't toss it just right it will land out of range or even better, it lands on your head or someone else's. In sum, you can go from hero to zero really fast; a high risk, high reward move. So, during the last few days I've been trying it a lot in rehearsal with inconsistent results. Last night I tried it in the show for the first time and just about hit the guitarist. As a matter of practicality, I always have some spare sticks at my feet so I recovered rhythmically but that's it. Anyway, needless to say I was very pleased with my performance tonight!

Last anecdote: In one of numbers there is a fight scene with 1.5m staffs (get your mind out of the gutters people). While twirling his staff (I said OUT!) one of the dancers lost control of his staff (oy!) and it when flying into the audience and took out a couple of girls. Then he went out to recover his staff and in so doing knocked over all their drinks! Good times!

Wait! I forgot one more from tonight. We do a routine called "Officer" and there are four of us dressed in full navy officer whites down to the gloves. It's a very slow routine done to "Hero". The first item of clothing we remove is our white gloves, one finger at a time to the beat of the music, then slowing show the removed glove and put it in our pocket. This is done for the right hand, followed by a half turn, then the left hand. The whole glove sequence takes up a considerable amount of time. Well, somehow both the dancer beside me and I forgot to put our gloves on before going on stage. Two of the four guys were "air" stripping... and this is supposed to be the most serious routine!

Ok...bed time!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday January 23 2010

The vacation is over! This afternoon I took a flight from Berlin to Munich. The first show of the last leg of the tour starts in Munich tomorrow. It's a good thing I'm going back to work, I was starting to get used to the illusion of a life without a job: wake up late, go to a museum, go to grappling, lie around, write, go to bed. Not a bad life but I also miss being on the road.

People frequently ask me how I can stand to live on the road: living out of a suitcase, a different hotel everyday, 3-6 hours a day on the bus with the same guys burpin' and fartin' all over Europe. The truth is, I love it. It's what I've always wanted (maybe not so much the burpin' and fartin' part). What I have trouble understanding is how most people can stay in the same city, seeing the same people, going to the same places except for the occasional vacation. Truth be told, life on the road can be physically and psychologically exhausting but for the most part, I look forward to every new day. I love the bus rides where I hibernate in my bunk and read or listen to my favourite podcasts (shout out to Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, Quackcast, Hardcore History, Ethics Bites, and Ideas), jam in the back lounge with Jeff, watch a movie with the guys, or listen to everyone talk shit. I love having a new room everyday. I walk in, the bed's clean and made. There are fresh towels etc... but the best part is rolling out of bed in the morning and stumbling, groggy-eyed to a breakfast buffet.

Although you'd think 2 grown men would not enjoy the experience of having to share a small room (often the beds are just a foot apart) for months on end, having a room mate is great. Your room mate is basically like a girl friend that you don't have sex with. For some strange reason most room mates do almost every thing together. For example, if one guy's hungry, the other goes to eat too, or comes along to get out of the room. When one guy goes to the gym, the other guy feels compelled to go too. Also maybe once or twice a tour, because of a booking error or a visiting girlfriend, guys get temporarily separated, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who's felt separation anxiety! You get so used to having another person in the room to exchange anecdotes about what happened during the day for the 5 minutes you were apart! Actually, it's mostly laughing about mishaps from the show or the behaviour of the cast fool (there's gotta be one in every group!) It's the strangest thing--as a group we already eat together, travel together, rehearse together, perform together and party together, so you'd think the two guys that also sleep in the same room and share a bathroom would take any opportunity to socialize with other people. But nope, for the most part room mates stick together.

Last but not least there is catering. Every night at 6 after cleaning (choreo) and light check our cook has a smorgasbord ready for us. ( I'm just noticing a food! ) There are always 2 meat dishes, 2 or 3 vegetable dishes, salad, 2 carb dishes, bread and cheese plate, fruit plater and dessert. Our cooks are the same ones that tour with a lot of big names like Metallica, Alice Cooper, Chilli Pepper, Eric Clapton etc.. The point is, they know what they are doing. The joy doesn't end there! We get to make a to-go plate for after the show! Woohoo!

Anyway, the part of this job I'm going to miss the most when I leave is all that comes with life on the road. If only there were a career as a travelling rock star philosopher. Wait a minute! Socrates and Plato figured this out over 2000 years ago! They knew what was up!

By the way, I have to pay by the minute for internet access at the hotel so I'll upload the museum pix when there's free internet.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday January 22 2010

Today was a loooooooooooooong day so I'm going to be brief. First of all I woke up in the MORNING! Before noon Ezra and I were on the bus for the Berlin city bus tour. After the tour we went to the Pergamon museum which is one of the world's best collections of ancient Greek and Roman art. We wandered around and took some good pictures for close to 4 hours (the place was massive). Then we went to the East Side Gallery (woop!woop! East Side!) which is a portion of the Berlin wall which has various murals painted on it by different artists from around the world. It was freezing cold at -14 C (obviously it's outside) but worth it. I'll be posting pix soon.
The museums were nice blah blah blah but the best moment of the day was in the evening when Katharina called us from the hospital to get us to read a hospital report which was in English. The report identifies certain problem areas for the infant but as a matter of routine also lists areas that were tested where there were no problems. Where the infant was normanl the results were noted like this: Kidneys: unremarkable; Neurology: unremarkable. Then there was a word that stood out--Genitals: male. What? Ezra and I were cracking up. We thought maybe she had meant to write "gender: male", an innocent mistake when writing in a second language.
It turns out that for babies, in infancy there can be ambiguous genitalia or with some male babies the genitalia can be inside. For this reason it is common practice to make note of the infant's genitalia. While she is explaining this to us both us desperately trying not to laugh, Ezra says "then why don't they say 'genitals: penis and balls hanging out'?" Whatever they say, just don't say "genitalia: unremarkable"--kid'll have a complex for life!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Zee German History Museum

Thursday January 21 2010

Really guys, how hard would it be to standardize USB cables for cameras? Every manufacturer uses a different cable...why? I wanted to put up some photos for this entry because Ezra and I went to Zee German National History Museum. I actually had the foresight to bring Katarina's camera (neither Ezra nor I had the foresight to charge the batteries of our respective cameras!) AND use it. Usually I never make it to the second step. Anyway, Katarina's working the night shift and we can't find the cable for her camera. Wait a minute! This just in! I can put her memory card into my camera...ok. You can all relax now.
As I was saying, today Ezra and I went to Zee German National History Museum. Ezra had yet to see it so nobody was going to be bored. Not like that would be really possible, that place was huge. It would require at least 2 full days to see everything.
We walked in and paid the extremely cheap price of only 5 euros (about 7 dollars). I needed a little kick before entering the gallery so we went to the museum cafe and waited about 10 minutes for a waiter (it wasn't particularly busy). I wasn't anticipating such an ordeal so I went to the counter and tried to order there. I was politely informed that it is the waiter that takes the order, so please wait for the waiter to come to the table (zis is zee rule!). Finally a waiter came, I ordered the coffee and tra la la! It was off to the gallery.
The first part of the museum comprises the eras of Germanic tribes; attack, overthrow and integration and rule of the Roman Empire; Protestant reformation and subsequent wars; French Revolution and Neapolitan Wars (I like the strawberry flavour the best); German confederation; German Empire and Industrial revolution; and finally the WW1. I'm pretty sure there were more stages in between the major ones but my memory fails me and I'm sure you don't mind.
One interesting piece of history that I was previously unaware of is that after the fall of the Roman Empire (ruled from Italy) it was ruled by the Germans, the Franks specifically. Here's where it gets fun (woohoo!), a couple of years ago when I was an elementary school student at Ecole Jules Quesnel French Immersion I was taught that King Charlemagne was French. Well, it seems zee Germans have different historical interpretation. So who's right? It turns out that in each one is right in their own. special. way. (say it like your mother would!)
Charlemangne was king of the Franks who would eventually occupy most of Western and Central Europe. The Franks were a Germanic tribe (point: Germans). The Franks inhabited modern day France (point: French). The Franks (under Charlemagne) invaded and conquered Italy and was he was crowned Emperor Augustus I (minus 1 point: Italians) And, no, just because he got an Italian name doesn't make him Italian!). He unified Western Europe and is the founding faa-ja of both the French and German thrones, as Charles I--his stripper name--(one point each French and Germans).
Anyway, this new Roman Empire, under German (and French?) rule would last another almost 900 years! In fact it was a little bit less because a guy name Martin Luther (who was partially named after a famous human rights activist--kidding) decided that sweet baby Jesus doesn't just speak to the ecclesiastic order; but to everyone...well actually he had a list of 95 grievances against the Catholic Church. Stop. Think about it. Some things bother me, but I really don't think there's anything or anyone out there that bothers me sooo much, in sooo many ways that I could come up with a list of 95 different grievances. Maybe I could get 10 good ones, max; but once I got into the 50s, I'd have to get reeeeeally creative.
Lets say I was making a list of grievances against my nemesis: computers. Lets see how far I get before it gets silly:
1. I hate that you freeze up sometimes
2. I hate that on long flights your battery runs out.
3. I hate that part of the casing cracked and I never even dropped or hit you!
4. I hate that I can't drop or hit you
5. I hate that even if I raise my voice, you still won't do what I want.
6. I hate that sometimes you're slow.
7. I hate that you don't write my essays for me.
8. I hate that you've addicted me to facebook.
9. I hate that you think sweet baby Jesus can't hear me unless I go through you.
10. I hate that you sell indulgences to pay to build a church somewhere in Italy.
11. I hate your doctrinal policies on purgatory.
....ok, I'm done. Can you imagine 95? And it wasn't just a list, he had full on explanations for each one! I've been at the wrong end of an unhappy girlfriend's tirade, with full explanations of why I'm wrong (then repeated just to make sure I understand). But I don't think I've ever been accused of 95 faults (in one sitting!)
Apparently, Martin Luther (not the King) wasn't the only one who harboured feelings of malevolence toward the Catholic Church. The actions of Martin Luther and his followers sparked one hundred and thirty one years of war.
....getting's the quick version!
War, then peace, then more war, then peace, then Industrial Revolution, then BIG war.

That's as far as we made it! Enjoy the pix!

by the way, click on "comments" if you'd like to post comments. i'd love to hear what y'all think.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday January 20 2010

Despite being fatigued from a good rasslin' practice I'm going to do my best to post something...what about? why not rasslin'? Of all the things I love to do, there is nothing I love more than to grapple. This includes any form, from Olympic freestyle, to BJJ, to Judo, to Sambo, to submission wrestling. Whatever. I love them all. Any time you see me on the mats even if I'm getting the life choked out of me, I'm always smiling. On the mats is where I am most at peace. The dojo is my sanctuary.
In addition to the many aspects of the sport that make it so great, I love the bonds of brotherhood that exist between fellow grapplers. Everywhere I've been, if I know I'm going to stay for more than a few days, I always seek out a grappling gym (I always travel with my gear). And everywhere I go I am welcomed as a brother and I am still good friends with everybody I've ever trained with.
This is a big part of grappling culture. I have been welcomed into gyms all over the world and have never been asked to pay a dime to train (if I'm just visiting). Try that at a health club! Guys who open gyms are not doing it for the money, there is very little money in it, it is a labour of love.
I have not grappled in 18 months because of back problems and touring but finally I could take it no more and I needed to rassle, like a musician needs to play and a poet needs to write. When I go too long with out grappling I don't feel centred. So Markus asked his coach if I could train at his gym while I'm here. As soon as I walked in he greeted me as though I were a long time member. He let me know that so long as I'm in Berlin I can train at his gym whenever I want and use whatever equipment I wanted. This was music to my ears. I wanted to run over and wrap my arms around him, and go for the german suplex (because we're in Germany), then transition to a shoulder lock (that's how we show affection!)
The gym is called MMA-Berlin and is set up similar to a Japanese dojo. It is very clean and a good size (unlike a Japanese dojo, which is usually slightly bigger than a living room!) When you walk in, there is a space to take off your shoes, and put on slippers. Any time you are walking off the mats you need to put your slippers on. It felt nostalgic for me because I trained for 5 years in Japan. Then you walk across the mats (slippers in hand) past the small warm up and weights area to the change room. Once you're changed, put your slippers back on and walk to the mats. Take off the slippers, step on the mats....and the fun begins!
Everyone was very friendly and welcoming and I had some good sparing sessions. I've managed to grapple 2 days now with only muscle soreness: the good pain! Ok, well maybe that pinched nerve in my neck doesn't feel that good, but I'm happy! Can't wait to go back tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tues January 18 2010

I really wish I still believed in popular philosophically indefensible ideas like "everything happens for a reason". Actually, this statement is true, but not in the way most people believe. First of all, unless an event is random, it has a cause, and that is the reason for it's coming about. But this is not what is generally implied by the statement. What most people mean, is not that A caused B, but that in time (maybe in 5 minutes, maybe on your death bed) you will see that event B, which in your temporally and contextually myopic human perspective you perceive as "bad", actually caused you to change the path in your life and led you to what will eventually be one of goodness and bliss.
Let us examine the some of the assumptions proponents of this idea implicitly and some times, explicitly make:
1. The universe is conscious.
2. The universe cares about me and my needs.
3. There are no random events

Ok, assumption number 1, the universe is conscious. Hmm, really? How does the universe--i.e. a collection of planets, asteroids, comets, stars, black holes and the other assorted inanimate matter magically become conscious? You might reply, "it just is", to which I reply "no it isn't. Prove it!" and then I'll wiggle my head like black people stereotypically do (I can say that, some of my best friends are black!) To which you reply, "I just know, I've felt/experienced it". To which I reply, "well, I haven't" and then come in for a double leg, pick you up and slam you on the mat for 3 points. And then, because I'm feeling generous, I say that, for the sake of argument we will assume that the universe is indeed conscious.
So, assuming that the universe is conscious, the next assumption is that it is conscious of the needs and desires of not just every human, but every human that has ever lived and will live. Is this really plausible? First lets consider the size of the universe (thank you wikipedia):

The Universe is very large and possibly infinite in volume; the observable matter is spread over a space at least 93 billion light years across.[13] For comparison, the diameter of a typical galaxy is only 30,000 light-years, and the typical distance between two neighboring galaxies is only 3 million light-years.[14] As an example, our Milky Way Galaxy is roughly 100,000 light years in diameter,[15] and our nearest sister galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy, is located roughly 2.5 million light years away.[16] There are probably more than 100 billion (1011) galaxies in the observable universe.[17] Typical galaxies range from dwarfs with as few as ten million[18] (107) stars up to giants with one trillion[19] (1012) stars, all orbiting the galaxy's center of mass.

So....given the immense size of the universe, even if it is conscious, how is it even remotely plausible that it cares about the fickle desires of some teeny tiny organisms on a teeny tiny planet in a teeny tiny solar system in a teeny tiny get the point....

How can we even think of ourselves as important within the scope of the universe? Especially when you consider that early humans have only existed for 50 000 years and the age of the universe is 13.73±0.12 billion years old. Are we to believe that the universe was waiting around to cater to our whims for over 12 billion years? Not even windows takes that long to load...

OK, so maybe in a universe that's 93 billion light year across we are somehow important and in fact, we are so special that for over 12 billion years the universe worked on creating us (to cater to our individual whims). How did I not see this before! We are soooo humble! But there is still a minor problem. Are all events necessarily causally bound? That is to say, for every event, was there a prior event that caused it and an event that caused that one and so on? If we answer yes, then every thing that happens to us in our life is a result of a prior event, all the way back to our birth, conception, birth and conception of our parents etc..
This does not sound very appealing if you are a person who likes to think that sometimes, events are results of decisions they have made. Which is it? Did the universe cause event A to occur and unbeknownst to me, send me off on a causal trajectory that will eventually lead me to event E, that will be what I wanted all along? (but didn't know because I don't have the foresight of a conscious universe). I'm not so sure that's a very strong hypothesis. When we could apply the scientific method and test it...wait, we'd need an alternate (conscious?) universes for that. Doh!
Oh, well, I'm off to bed. Maybe elaborate more tomorrow...

And how come whenever I import text, I can't get the text that succeeds it to revert to the original size?...I guess everything happens for a reason! (I can't wait for the universe to reveal in its wisdom why it has planned this for me! I can hardly sit still!)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Opening Entry

Monday Jan 18 11:55pm

Berlin, Germany

Today was a wasted day if there ever was such a thing. I woke up around 12:30pm, well actually, Ezra woke me when he got back from school. I rolled over, opened my laptop and checked for any bites. I put some pretty good chum in the water last night, so I had high hopes. What? Two bites? That's it? And one of them was Ezra humouring me! That was some of the best chum I've put out in a while!

Let me explain. Somehow, in the last week I have become so lazy that I even bemoan the discomfort of having to walk the 10 steps to the bathroom. I just kind of lie there. It doesn't help that Ezra's going through a lazy phase too. So he comes home from class and we both just lie around and kill time online. Mostly posting comments on facebook and seeing if we get any responses. But it's not like we post something, go do something else for an hour or so, then check. Nope. We just lie on our respective futons and hit refresh over and over again, mumbling about no bites. So we started commenting on each others posts (keep in mind we're both lying around in the same room, sometime on same futon!). Then we couldn't come up with anything witty to say so under the other's post we write "comment, comment, witty remark, comment". To which the other writes "reply, reply, witty retort, reply".

Last night Ezra came up with the funny idea of calling posts that are intentionally meant to incite commentary as "chum". So now when we post a provocative video or comment and after hitting the refresh button for 30min or so we will say to the other things like"I can't believe it, I put some grade A chum out there and not a single bite".

Well, this sad behaviour has been going on for a couple of days and earlier this evening we were both schooled big time by our little sister Maria. As I was checking on the chum I'd thrown out there previously I noticed a video that Maria had just posted. It was the height of ridiculousness. It was her friend saying a first name of a celebrity in a loud strong Germanic accent and Maria responding by saying that celebrities last name with the same absurd accent. There was nothing clever or witty about it, but for some reason it was hilarious. In under 10 minutes she had 15 comments, they just kept popping up like mushrooms. Now that's some grade A chum!

About this Blog

I decided to start this blog first and foremost to prevent my brain from atrophying any more than it already has working as a Chippendale. Second, I thought it might my interesting in posterity (and hopefully even a little bit now) to have a record of these last 6 months as a full time "exotic dancer" (Chippendales doesn't like to call us's an image thing) as I prepare to enter graduate school to pursue my dream of becoming a community college philosophy instructor.

Originally, when I started working as a stripper in Vegas I told myself I'd keep a journal. I never did. When I got hired by Chippendales for the world tour I told myself the same thing. I never did. I'm in my second year of tour and this is my last chance to write about it because once I start school I'm not coming back to dancing (except Saturday nights while I'm in school to pay rent).

If you are looking for tales of sordid behaviour and immorality you won't be getting much of that here. That's easy, just turn on any reality show and you can get that. I will try to focus on what it's like to travel the world with Chippendales, the fans, the staff, myself, the local culture and so on...well, I'll try. There may be the odd anonymous anecdote of profligate behaviour...kind of comes with the territory.

So you may be wondering why the first post seems to be dealing with such pathetic, lazy behaviour. Actually Chippendales are on a short break right now. We were in Berlin for just over a week, then the Vienna show got cancelled so there are no shows until the 23rd. The other guys flew home but I'm staying in Berlin because Ezra (my brother) lives here. So basically I have nothing to do until the 23rd, when we perform in Munich.

"Nothing to do!?" you say, "your in a world class city....go to a museum, an art gallery, some famous buildings". To which I reply, yes you are right, I should, and I want to but I sprained my ankle....

On Sunday I went with Ezra, Katarina (Ezra's German girlfriend), Markus (Katarina's brother) to meet Katarina's parents. I won't go into too much detail here but I will say they are both very kind and warm and Katarina's mother (Agnes) cooks the best roast goose in the world.

After the meal I was one stuffed goose and could barely move, let alone keep my eyes open. Coffee was brought to the table and several minutes after regaining consciousness Ezra, Markus and I decided to go tobogganing. A word about German toboggans: old school, baby! You know the typical sled you see in an xmas card? 2 steel runners, frame made of wood and a high centre of gravity? Well, that's what everybody uses. You'd think with all the hubbub people always make about German engineering they would have made a few modifications since the Allied troops marched into Berlin, but noooooo. Anyway, we get to the top of this hill which is swarming with ants...oops, kids and shuffle our way forward in the line. We have 2 sleds between us, so Ezra and I get on the (slightly) bigger one and stare down the precipice: the first half (the steep part) is sheer ice. The bottom half is covered in large perpendicular ridges to launch you into the air. Looks like lots of fun if your not sitting upright with your tailbone compressed against solid wood. I might add that each bump was followed by a trough which was basically ice; i.e no give on the landing. Before we launch ourselves I already know it's going to hurt, but that's what makes it so exhilarating, isn't it? Down the ice acceleration ramp we go, and we got some good speed. Then the first bump, slam; second bump, slam. At this point in my head I'm trying to ignore the fact that my tailbone is being slammed into solid wood with absolutely no give and just enjoy the ride. Slam. That's it. I bail and tumble to a stop.

Then I took the solo sled and went down on my stomach. Not so bad. In fact, it was kind of fun, like I remember it as a kid. Next Ezra decides it would be fun for 3 grown men to go down the hill of doom on one old skool German sled with a high centre of gravity which was built for two children. After the first bump Markus bailed citing damage to his tailbone, then I think I fell off a bump or two's all a bit foggy. My last run came when Ezra and shared the sled again, but this time with me in the front. If I can see the bumps coming, I reasoned, I can brace myself and at least minimize the impact.

Once again, we got some good speed. I think even the kids were impressed. Then we hit a couple of bumps and my foot got dislodged from it's resting place. Upon arrival at the next bump, my dislodged foot met the bump before the sled. Strangely, my foot stayed pressed against the bump while the sled, along with the rest of my body and Ezra continued over the bump. It was right around this time that I perceived a most unpleasant sharp pain in both my right ankle and knee. Although I cannot definitively point to the cause of the pain; in retrospect, there seems to be a temporal link between the event and subsequent sensation. As I stood I continued to feel this unpleasant sensation and informed Ezra and Markus that, if they so desired, they may continue to toboggan down the hill; but heretofore, I shall remove myself from the activity.