The reflection post, circa 2019

photo courtesy Matt Altmix

If I had to make an observation about what it’s like getting older, I think I would have to say something along the lines of increasingly feeling like there isn’t enough time, like ever, for like, anything and everything.  Maybe it’s exclusive to me, or perhaps it affects millions of others, but I feel that I spent an inordinate amount of time feeling anxious about how I don’t feel like there’s time for anything, or at least, there isn’t an adequate amount of time that I’d like in order to do particular things, and therefore I simply don’t do them.

Like video games, or starting a new television series; typically, I prefer to have like a nice, 2-3 hour block of time in which I can dive in and be properly acquainted with something new, learn the controls, characters, look for critical information that might re-emerge later when stories unfold.  I’m not the type of person who’s ever satisfied with a short introductory period or just a singular pilot episode; subsequently, if I don’t get such conditions, there’s a higher chance that I simply don’t even begin, because there’s always something else I could be doing instead that’s probably actually more productive, or at least essential to my general pace of living, and then suddenly it’s the next day, and I’ve got to go to work, where there’s seldom adequate time for my team to get their tasks done because we’re constantly behind schedule, and are reliant on the partnership of other teams in order to get our jobs done, but they’re lazy and constantly coasting their ways to the next weekend, and then the weekend comes and then it’s almost over, and it’s back to work on Monday where we have yet another planning meeting on how we’re going to catch up, but then the people we rely on are already beginning their downhill coasting towards the weekend on Tuesday afternoon, and this cycle of constantly feeling like there’s no time continues to cycle and repeat.

All this being said, if I had to look back at 2019 as a whole, I would have to say that I think it went by pretty quickly.  Often times, I’ve given thought to how fast things have flown by, and amazed at the idea that when I was a kid, I’d often thought that time couldn’t move slow enough, and how I had all the time in the world to beat and master every single Nintendo game that came across my path.  About how when I was a teenager, I was able to balance time between numerous friend groups, family and responsibilities; like this one time back in 2001 where I somehow remember balancing my newspaper job, going to Baltimore to meet up with some friends who were arriving from out of town for Otakon, driving back to Virginia to meet up with some other friends that night so we could grill out, going to work the next morning, stopping on Columbia on my way back up to Baltimore to visit a cousin, then going to Baltimore for Otakon, taking 200 pictures, coming back home, whipping up a photo gallery and recap of the con for my website, while going back to work. 

Like, I couldn’t even fathom doing that many activities in the span of a week at the age of 37 now.

However, in spite of the perpetual feeling that the clock is spinning faster, this doesn’t mean that my quality of life is necessarily worsening.  In fact, I can say with tremendous clarity that 2019 was a pretty incredible year.  Without question, some of the most grandiose and life-changing events occurred within 2019 and have laid down the foundation for the rest of said life.  Most notably highlighted by the event of having gotten married to my beautiful wife, and having an incredible wedding celebration surrounded by friends and family who all poured into Georgia to celebrate with us.  But then the honeymoon didn’t last that long, or maybe I could say the magic of a Disney cruise was a little too OP in our case, because shortly afterwards did we discover that mythical wife was pregnant, putting us on the fast track to parenthood, and the jarring realization that I was going to become a dad.

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How to reflect on a decade

This year ending isn’t just an ordinary ending of a year, because it’s also the end of a decade.  Naturally, a sentimental person like me tends to want to reflect on an entire decade, because much like individual years, a decade is a nice round chunk of time that one might think it would be easy to reflect upon, but in the greater spectrum, it’s ten full years we’d be trying to look back onto.  Now I like to think I have a good memory, but even without the aid of my trusty brog, it’s difficult to really look back at an entire decade.

Regardless, that’s not going to stop all the self-important jobbers of the internet who will try their darnedest to speak with authority and copy and paste all the same milestones the major news outlets will when it comes to trying to summarize and reflect upon the entire decade.  The funny thing is that most of the internet savvy generations probably aren’t that much older or younger than I am, which means that in the grand spectrums of our respective lives, we’ve only really lived through 3-4 decades, whereas I’d probably estimate that 1.5-2 of them are pretty invalid, because we’re simply not articulate and/or educated enough to have the capacity to reflect on entire decades.

So combined with the advent and growth of the internet, and the notion that everyone has a voice, I’d wager this is probably, at the very most, the second real decade of the modern high-speed internet that people really care to really reminisce about; and I’m being generous by calling it the second, because DSLs and cable internet didn’t really flourish until nearly the mid-2000’s; I couldn’t imagine people trying to use streaming, auto-refreshing social media on a 56K modem, so frankly I see this more as the first real decade that everyone and their literal mothers on the internet are going to be writing about.

Anyway, I’m going to attempt to try to recollect from mostly just my own memories, and stick to things that are more relevant to my own little world, and not the big gigantic depressing one we live in.  If I had any readers, they can google any decade in review, and probably find more worldly and probably more high-profile shit than the things I have to say about the things going on in my own little life, like the start and finish of Game of Thrones, Pokemon Go, the sad state of American politics, all the endless mass shootings, and Bill Cosby being outed as a rapist.

And the reason that I disclaim the whole “if I had any readers” because one of the most devastating things that occurred for me is the fact that despite my WordPress going online in 2010, at nearly the very start of the decade, midway through the decade my brog went down indefinitely, when my brother relocated from one part of the country to another.  A lot of hardware changes meant no more place to host my brog, and despite having the supposed backups, I simply haven’t taken the time or allocated the funds necessary to get my site up and running again.

If I were the type to do New Years resolutions anymore, I think I’d resolve to get my site back up and running again in 2020.  TBD on if that will actually occur, and frankly with the things I have on my plate going into the next decade, I don’t want to commit and then fail to deliver.

In spite of the brog blackout, that hasn’t stopped me from writing.  Even to the day my site went down, I have been writing on a fairly regular basis, taking no more than two weeks off before the internal guilt gets my fingers flying across the keys again, and I’ve got at this point, hundreds of folders of dated and timestamped Word docs, all awaiting their day in which they can be posted retroactively to a brog.

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The Mandalorian has what a lot of Star Wars lost sight of

It was kind of interesting watching through The Mandalorian leading up to, as well as after watching The Rise of Skywalker.  Going into The Rise, I can’t say with much certainty that I was particularly looking forward to it other than the fact that there’s always some sort of nerdy obligation to see Star Wars films fairly immediately upon their release.  In contrast to after watching the first two episodes of The Mandalorian, I bought in, and as Disney+ released them at an agonizing weekly episodic pace, I looked forward to each on a weekly basis.

Now it’s a little unfair and partially not quite an adequate balance comparing a television series to film, but when I sit back and think about everything I’d taken in that are all part of the Star Wars universe, the ultimate takeaway I really have is how much I really enjoyed The Mandalorian, versus how lukewarm I am as it comes to not just The Rise of Skywalker, but just about all Star Wars films released within the last decade.

In all fairness, I did really enjoy Rogue One, but when the day is over, Solo just kind of existed, and I’m at a push when it comes to the latest trilogy; The Force Awakens was a fantastic film, but The Last Jedi was pretty awful, and The Rise of Skywalker spent 80% of the film digging itself out of the chasm its predecessor put it in.  But as a whole, the decade’s Star Wars films all add up to a widely mediocre median.

But The Mandalorian, I thought was exceptional.  If I had a Disney+ subscription, I’d say that this show is probably easily the hard carry of the entire service so far, but that’s really not saying that much considering it’s basically the only piece of original content they have so far, but I guess what I’m really saying is that it’s almost worth the price of a subscription just for this show, it’s that good.

To cut to the chase, what I really loved about The Mandalorian, aside from how it was short and sweet, was that boiled down, the show simply has a heart.  They don’t waste a lot of time trying to piece together a complex plot, or weave a web of characters and potential storylines; they move in a very linear path from episode to episode, introduce characters who are immediately used, and then move right along.

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Winning ugly: the Star Wars third trilogy

Fewer things I’ve seen over the last few years have been as divisive as the third Star Wars trilogy.  In a way it’s kind of a microcosm of today’s extremism society where people feel the need to have either completely bonkers dedicated opinions in one direction versus the other, with those of whom aren’t hard on one side are perceived as flakes and/or invalids. 

Either people completely loved the series (aka loved The Last Jedi) or they hated the series (aka abhorred The Last Jedi), with there being no real space in the middle.  Fights broke out on the internet, people unfriended/unfollowed/muted/ignored others on social media, and eventually The Last Jedi became something of a topic like politics during Thanksgiving; a powder keg of a topic that’s often at the tips of everyone’s tongues, but kept quiet for the sake of the group’s collective enjoyment, but really it’s an uncomfortable armistice just to hold their mouths shut.

At the risk of being an invalid flake, I am kind of in the middle when it comes to the series.  I thought The Force Awakens was an outstanding entry into the Star Wars primary series, and I often likened it to being JJ Abrams’ love letter to the Star Wars franchise.  It introduced solid characters and laid down the groundwork for a fairly logical path to success.  In terms of comparing it to a football score, I would have said The Force Awakens was like a solid 31-7 score at halftime, in favor of the light side.

Obviously, the shit really hit the fan after The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson; normally, I wouldn’t bother mentioning directors, if not for the fact that it’s Johnson himself whom is either loved or reviled by Star Wars fans across the globe, for the way he handled the series, once given the reigns to the story.  Personally, I’m definitely in the camp that’s more dislike than like, but I will still maintain that in spite of the negative outlook on The Last Jedi, I would say it was still better than the Jar-Jar Trilogy.

But there’s little denying that Rian Johnson shit the bed with The Last Jedi, twisting the storyline to some strangely asinine directions, introducing strange characters, veering existing character arcs into weird plot/relationship chasms and missing out on some really easy layups.  After such careless bumbling, the score of the game was 42-31, with the dark side scoring five consecutive shit touchdowns to take a commanding lead heading into the final period.

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O how costly the losses

I was just thinking how I hadn’t written anything for a minute; my professional and personal lives have a tendency to get a little crowded at times, and sometimes I can’t find even five minutes for myself to just decompress and relax, much less take the time to write, no matter how important the act is to me.

But I didn’t really have to stretch real far in order to find any inspiration to write; sometimes the world just simply provides.  It’s been a while since I’d found one of these types of stories, but it doesn’t inspire me any less whenever one emerges to the forefront.

Out in McDonough, Georgia, a train collided with a cargo truck, obliterating it, and scattering its contents as far as a quarter mile.  And because it wouldn’t warrant entry into the brog without certain conditions, the truck wasn’t just any truck, but a beer truck, and the contents that were scattered as far as a quarter mile were cases and kegs of beer.

However, I would use the term “beer” loosely, because it was a MillerCoors truck, so the vast majority of the product lost was Miller Lite, along with some Old Style and Redd’s cider.  That being said, I would have to estimate that the cost of the lost product amounted to around $78, with at least $50 of it being the cost of the Redd’s, since cider is often considered a specialty beverage.

One thing the article does not mention that I’m very curious about, is that a quarter mile is a pretty long distance, when it comes to surface area for scattered cargo to go clattering around on.  As is often the case whenever it comes to shit being liberated from their confinement on the roads of America, this often times results in people who happen to be fortunate enough to be in the vicinity when shit goes free, to spontaneously turn into greedy looters who spring into action and try to get away with as much free shit as they possibly can, when pandemonium strikes.

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Parasite should probably be Best Picture

I remember when I first saw the trailer for Parasite, my first thought was: what the hell is this actually about?  The trailer gives pretty much nothing away, and the only thing that can really be deduced from it is that there is one family that is dirt poor.  There’s little clue to why the film is even called “Parasite” for the matter.

Regardless, the cinematography looked intriguing, the brief clips seemed quirky enough to pique curiosity, and naturally I wish to support anything Korean that can ascend to the world’s stage, so I knew that I wanted to see this flick.  It didn’t hurt that on the film festival scene, Parasite was cleaning up, even winning the Palme d’Or, which full disclaimer I had no idea what it was, but it’s basically the highest award at Cannes, which is a pretty big deal.

Needless to say, having watched Parasite, I can say that I do feel that the film did live up to all of the hype.  It’s one of those films where you enjoy the ride while you’re on it, but then afterward, the mind wanders and analyzes and delves deeper into the story and execution, and the more I think about Parasite, the more I think about how good it really was.

And not just because the fact that me being Korean I’m going to give a Korean film an automatic pass on a pedestal; sure it definitely doesn’t hurt it, but when I break Parasite down into my own criteria of storytelling, cinematography, acting and plot analysis, I think the film as a whole really stood out.

The story is pretty linear, and not really that complicated; without giving too much up, poor family finds a way to entwine their lives with a rich family, and then some complications arise, leading to the culmination of the plot.  The acting is good and Song Kang-ho is to me, one of the most recognizable faces in Korean cinema, to where even a novice to Korean media like me can pick him out.

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You heard it here first

Say it with me now: Luke Harper* – IWGP World Heavyweight Champion

*or whatever name he chooses to go with, because the WWE probably owns the copyright the name “Luke Harper”

When news broke that the WWE had released, among several performers, Luke Harper, from their contracts, my friend and I immediately realized the destiny that was now free to become fulfilled: Luke Harper was now free to migrate over to the land of the rising sun, and begin his reign as a foreign terror, en route to a lucrative and prosperous career revitalization for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, culminating with at least one reign as the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.

For a while now, my friend and I have always made the joke about how Luke Harper was a future IWGP champion; historically, there’s no secret that NJPW loves bringing in big white guys to push as these evil foreign heel characters for their national Japanese heroes to feud against.  And in order for the feuds to have any modicum of impact, they occasionally need to be allowed to ascend to the highest honors, so that the heroes can have lofty goals to achieve.

From guys like Vader, Scott Norton, Tyson Tomko and even Prince Albert, Japan has often times embraced the big white guy heel, pushed them to the moon so that their stars could fight them, and eventually put the faces over, and if there was ever a guy more destined to be the next great big white terror in Japan, it was Luke Harper.

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