Thoughts on Royal Rumble 2021

Of all the pay-per-view events of the year, the Royal Rumble is still my favorite.  More than Wrestlemania, and definitely more than Summer Slam, Survivor Series and all of the other tier-2 shows that permeate the rest of the calendar throughout the year.  It’s one of the only shows with gimmick event(s) that haven’t been mutated or removed outright too much, like Survivor Series, which does basically one elimination match per gender a year, as opposed to the old days where every single match was a 4 vs. 4 elimination match.

In fact, the Royal Rumble has only gotten better in time, mostly on account of the fact that they do a women’s Rumble as well, which means fans get two Royal Rumbles on the same night.  So needless to say, I was looking forward to this year’s Rumble, as I do just about every other year, because it’s the one show of the year where a fun gimmick event still happens, and the predictability of storylines can actually take a little bit of a backseat to some highly-improvised battle royal-ing.

At first, I was a little disappointed that the women’s tag team championship match was denigrated to the pre-show that few people actually watch, but from the standpoint that three of the competitors in the match would be pulling double-duty and showing up in the women’s rumble later that night, it makes sense to have them go early, so they can recoup and rest before coming out again later on.  As much as I don’t particularly care for Baszler and Jax as champions, it too also makes sense to put the belts on them, because it sticks them in hold, and out of any potentially meaningful singles storylines, although that’s not that fair to Baszler, whom I think has a lot of potential to be untapped, but I’m very much lukewarm on Jax.  Plus, it frees Charlotte up to do bigger and badder things, although she has to get through this cringey storyline with Lacey Evans kayfabe-banging Ric Flair first.

Good on the show for having Goldberg vs. Drew McIntyre start the official show off.  As much as fans are perplexed and disgusted with Goldberg’s frequent cameos, I have to imagine that the talent probably loves working programs with him.  When they get to their inevitable matches, they’re basically guaranteed a 4-minute spot-fest, a quick decision, and they can be out the door and asleep in their own beds by 10:30, which is ultimately what a lot of the more family-oriented performers really want.

I feel kind of bad for Kevin Owens, because I’m really high on him, but he was undoubtedly used as a stop-gap feud for Roman Reigns, to help hold him over until Wrestlemania.  But I think there was no doubt that he was going to go over, because as much as I like him, I can’t possibly see any ways Creative would have anything for him for Wrestlemania, while Reigns is still doing the lord’s work as the Head of the Table, and there’s still so much more potential to be tapped into before taking the strap off him.  Frankly, I could see him as champion for a whole other year if he keeps this persona going.

Continue reading “Thoughts on Royal Rumble 2021”

Tempting, if I knew how

I don’t really know shit about stocks.  I know the general basic concept of buying shares when you can afford to purchase them, and then it’s a waiting game of hoping they rise and not fall, and if they do fall, sitting on them until they can hopefully rise back up.  And then you sell them, hopefully for more than what you paid for them.

Regardless of my general lack of knowledge, I’m absolutely fascinated with stories about the stock market, whether they’re films like Boiler Room or The Wolf of Wall Street, or numerous books written by Michael Lewis who seems to have a niche writing about stock market stories and/or gambling, but I guess in a way the stock market is basically like gambling, and gambling is something that I do enjoy doing myself, which probably explains why I’m so easily fascinated by stories about the stock market.

The thing is, despite my general fascination of the stock market, I don’t even have the slightest clue to dipping even a toe into the pool.  Supposedly, I could get on apps like Robin Hood or set up an account with like eTrade or some other service, but like I said, I have no idea.  Furthermore, I often ask myself if this is the kind of rabbit hole I even want to explore going down the first place, because as I said, it’s basically gambling outside of a casino, and I’ve most certainly done my share of losing money in a casino, so it might not be such a great idea to put myself in a situation where I can lose it outside of one.

If I were single and without children, the circumstances would probably be different to where I might feel inclined to try, but my life in general these days is more than just myself and I always have to consider that, so in spite of my temptation and curiosity, the likelihood of me actually partaking in it is pretty minimal.

Regardless, it’s hard to not be fascinated, curious and of course tempted, when hearing of the wacky hijinks of the internet where from what I understand, Reddit has basically colluded in a manner, to seemingly artificially inflate the price of GameStop stock, to where it start off at worthless, but has ballooned up like 140%, and people are literally making large returns on investment in quick in-and-outs. 

There are numerous people that I know that are buzzing about it, and have put some skin into the game, and I’d definitely love to be among them, but like I said, I don’t feel like I’m really in the position to be as flippant with my money, and that’s coming from someone who spends hundreds of dollars on replica wrestling blets, but more importantly, I don’t want to create a habit or become addicted to it, because I love winning, I hate losing, and I’m not saying that I’ve ever had any inkling of a gambling problem, but I’m also not able to access Las Vegas every day.

But damned am I fascinated by it all, and tempted if the circumstances were different, because it literally seems like a really easy way to make some real quick and thrilling scratch if I just ponied up a little start-up capital and pulled out quickly.

New Father Brogging, #034

Normally, I wait until I finish a series before I write about it, but I feel like writing right now, and there’s no guarantee that feeling will last later.  But I’m just about finished with The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix.  Although some of the subject matter about substance abuse is a little uncomfortable watch, not because I can relate so much as it’s just not always pleasant watching people degrade themselves through the things they do to themselves, it’s an excellent series that I’ve enjoyed very much and hope the finish is as strong as the series has been.

It’s a show that’s legitimately made chess seem as cool as I typically think it is from a metaphorical standpoint into actually being cool to watch a series that revolves around it.

Whenever I run on the treadmill, I’m usually watching wrestling highlights or shit on the WWE Network, most notably any of the documentaries that the service continuously puts out much to my delight because if there’s one thing that the WWE does very well, it’s produce documentaries.

Among the documentaries that I enjoy the most, are usually the ones that are about the female talent.  Alexa Bliss, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and most recently, an episode of Chronicle about Bianca Belair, which was especially good, because she’s a particularly extraordinary woman in the sense that she’s probably pound-for-pound the best athlete in professional wrestling, but also a hell of an artistic talent that designs and fabricates all of her own ring attire.

What I’m getting at is that especially lately, I’ve been enjoying watching stories, be them fiction or documentaries, about strong women, because as a dad to a daughter, it lets my imagination run wild about what my own little girl can grow up to be when she hopefully becomes a strong, talented and intelligent woman one day.

I’m not saying that I want her to be a chess grandmaster or a professional wrestler, specifically, but what I do want for my kid, and it wouldn’t have mattered if she were a boy or a girl, is for her to find at least one thing; one hobby, one activity, that they can hopefully become passionate about and hold onto through adolescence.  Swimming. Drawing.  Gymnastics.  Piano.  Martial arts.  Anything at all; multiple would be great, but I really just want her to have at least one thing, that she can hold onto, and make into some sort of lifelong habit.

One of the few regrets I have in my life is the fact that of all the things that I was doing as a kid; piano, Tae Kwon Do, basketball, drawing, Japanese language; I never really held onto any one of those things, never persevered through adolescence with any of those potential talents, and I let the talents and skills erode and fade away over time, and I can only wish that I didn’t, and that I could be above average at any one of those things today.

I don’t want my daughter to make the same choice, and obviously I know there’s a fine line of her voluntarily maintaining an activity versus being volun-told to stick with it, with the latter obviously leading to inevitable failure, but all I can do is really hope to encourage and let her make her own choices with her life, and watching stories of strong females in the world today gives me hope that there’s an endless bag full of possibilities for my daughter in the future.

Love him or hate him, Tom Brady is a winner

Not that I’ve been paying that much attention to the NFL this season other than the ironically entertaining aspects of a season that I maintain probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place; if it were up to me, the upcoming Superb Owl would be the Washington Redskins Football Team versus the Buffalo Bills, so that we could have a repeat of 1991, but a team with an idiotic interim name and a 7-9 record would, give the Buffalo Bills a loss in the Superb Owl, for old times’ sake, and the season would end in an ironic combination of some things change, some things stay the same.

Instead, we have the heavily favored Chiefs, which in itself is a little difficult to comprehend, because for the longest time the Chefs (yes the Chefs) were that one team that always made it to the playoffs, but would always get bounced in the second round, usually losing to like the Steelers or Broncos, and nobody would ever really take them seriously as legitimate contenders, especially since Andy Reid took over, and that guys manages timeouts like he manages cheeseburgers, which is to say he devours them all, and then there’s nothing left at the end.

And opposing the Chefs, is a team that hasn’t sniffed a championship since 2002, but at the very helm of it is a guy that has sniffed more than his share of Lombardi trophies in his time, in none other than Tom. Period. Brady. Period.

Just about anyone with a sports pulse knew of the general story of how Tom Brady left the New England Patriots, and instead of retirement, he just kind of inexplicably signs with, of all the teams in the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  A team that had gone 59-101 over the last decade, and was coming off of three straight losing seasons, with two of them placing last in the pitiful NFC South division.

For a guy that literally had nothing left to prove, as he already has six Superb Owl championships, an underwear model wife, and lord knows how much money earned in his career, another season for a cellar-dweller like the Bucs seemed like a really sad way to end his career, and likely injured on the way out as a shit team usually can’t protect their QB.

But I guess Brady really wanted to prove that he could win without Bill Belichick, and put to rest permanently the answer to the question of who really was the talent behind the Patriots’ success throughout the last 20 years, and seeing as how one has reached the Superb Owl, while the other didn’t even make the playoffs, I guess the answer is pretty abundantly clear now, but it really shouldn’t have been a surprise.

Love him or hate him, Tom Brady truly is the GOAT of football.  It doesn’t even matter if the Bucs win the Superb Owl or not, although me personally I can’t say that I kind of would be rooting for Brady, despite the fact that I’m most definitely no fan of the Bucs, but I’ve never really had any issue with Brady, and I respect the greatness.  But he’s already proven his point and one that really was inconsequential in the grand spectrum of things but was clearly still very important to him to stamp his claim over Belichick as the real reason for the Patriots’ success.

But really, I just kind of sadistically enjoy how everyone fucking hates Tom Brady so much, but it’s like he feeds off the hate and burning rage that his existence incites within haters, and it only makes him that much more effective.  Patrick Mahomes is a legend in his own right, being someone who was capable of lifting the once-hapless Chefs into becoming the respectable defending champion Chiefs, but in two weeks’ time, he’ll be going up against the literal god of professional football, and he’ll be back to square one at having his own thing to prove.

In the end, I don’t really care who wins, because the NFL is kind of a sad sack of an organization, and I resent just how much pull and influence it has on the entire, well country.  Which is why I’d like to see Tom Brady hoist up yet another Superb Owl Lombardi, because it’s the closest thing to a giant middle finger to all the haters there possibly could be.

Can people on the internet just shut the fuck up

I know it’s a rhetorical question with the answer being a very obvious NO, but still, I really really really wish people could just shut the fuck up all the time sometimes.

One of the things that I thought was refreshing about WandaVision was the fact that I was completely blind going into it.  I had no earthly idea on what was going to happen, how it came to be, the general players of the series, and most importantly, zero idea to what the source material(s) was going to be.

As much as I enjoyed large swaths of the MCU Phase 1, everyone knew what the source material was, and everyone basically knew how it was going to end.  Most everyone who read comic books at all during the 90s knew what The Infinity Saga was, and it was always widely available in trade paperbacks, or people could just look on Wikipedia to get straight to the point of how it all played out.  Although MCU took tons of liberties on how things transpired, there was a very basic and inevitable conclusion to the journey, and it was pretty much as expected through and through.

After a little bit of a hiatus, restructuring and Didney engulfing even more properties and licenses, the next phase has been launched, primarily with the Disney+ deployment, and the early installment of the series starts with WandaVision.

It’s weird, I have no idea what’s really going on, but there are hints and glimpses of things to come which all seems pretty interesting.  But I’m also loving the general creativity of the visuals, the entertaining journey through time, and just how everything is so crisply presented.

One thing I noticed early on was that despite the supposed 35-minute run times of each episode, around 7-8 minutes of it is dedicated to the credits; it was pointed out to me that the filming of the show, as well as all other future TV series, were basically filmed like movies, but then broken up into episodes, so it seems apparent that each episode seems to be running the full ending credits for what amounts to a film; it’s kind of annoying, and deceptive to the run time, but after realizing that there’s no mid or post credits scenes, I haven’t bothered sitting through them again.

But that was clearly just me; because I try to practice what I preach, I won’t get into the granular details of what’s already been revealed to me because people on the internet can’t shut the fuck up, and are even worse at blurting out spoiler-y clickbait headlines, but I was scrolling through theFacebook, I noticed this headline about how some particular words used in the lengthy credits for WandaVision give some pretty predominant hints on what is to come, plot-wise, and because of the aforementioned inability to shut the fuck up, they basically go on to name it in the subtext, visible in plain sight, plain as day.

So great, now that I’ve seen that, things kind of make a little more sense, and I can kind of see the wireframes of how the show is going to get to such a narrative.

Because a bunch of nerds have to know what the source material or end game of the series is, they have to ruin it for people like me, who simply want to enjoy the ride, not think too fucking hard about things, and accept things as they’re presented to me.

It’s times like this I loathe the internet and social media especially, but because I don’t want to be an island of a person again, it’s not something that I can just walk away from cold turkey.  But god damn does it infuriate me from time to time, and it’s sad that the world is so dependent on it that we can’t seem to operate without.

Is it even an upset anymore?

Because of coronavirus and/or the fact that I’m a dad with little time to indulge in sports as much as I used to/like to, a lot of sports news tends to go over my head these days.  I still think that it’s a bad idea for any sport to be happening in a country that can’t get their shit together to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but here we are, and pretty much every sport is going on business as usual, with that phrase being used as succinctly as possible, because they’re not really so much sports as much as they are businesses with the expectation to make a bunch of rich people even richer.

Anyway, the point of this post is the fact that Duke went to Blacksburg almost two weeks ago and lost, again.  For those keeping count, this is the fourth time out of Duke’s last five trips to Blacksburg that they’ve lost to Virginia Tech, and at this point, we really need to ask, is it even an upset anymore?  I mean I know I haven’t been paying much attention to sports in general as it is, but I still try to keep an ear to the ground, to at least interesting happenings, upsets or general news in the world of sports.

Duke is currently sitting at 5-5 with a 3-3 conference record, which makes them plain mediocre overall, and it doesn’t really make any news until Coach K blows up at a student reporter and that’s where I even learned that Duke had lost three in a row, which for as much as I dislike the program, is pretty unprecedented.  It’s what prompted me to check to see how they fared against Virginia Tech, since I knew they were on the schedule, and I was a little surprised to see that not only was it not a part of the three consecutive losses, but it was nearly two weeks ago and I didn’t hear a peep about it.

So the takeaways of this post are the obvious fact that Duke sucks; but actually sucks this year, in the sense that they’re nowhere near the top of the ACC as they typically are.  And the fact that for whatever reason, they have a real hard time of winning in Blacksburg and beating Virginia Tech; in basketball, their B-sport, although there are probably tons of jokes about that notion over the last few years, but I think the point is made.

Granted, this is akin to the jinx that the next time Duke rolls into Blacksburg, they’ll probably have 3-4 of the top-10 recruits in the nation ready to do their one-and-done seasons, and because I’ve gotten smarmy enough to make a post like this, they’ll probably blow the Hokies out by like 24 points.  Whatever though, it’s a fine time to be a Hokie as far as Duke basketball is concerned right now.

Seriously, Eddie?

As an actual Asian person who earnestly cares about actual Asian representation in film, theFacebook has gotten wind that they can target me movie trailers for movies starring Asian people and I’ll probably actually give more than the passing glance or hide-from-X treatment that I give the fast majority of other targeted ads.

Recently, I saw this preview for this film called Boogie, which is the directorial debut of Eddie Huang, the guy who made Fresh Off the Boat, a series that I really wanted to hate based on the horrible title, but ended up watching way more of than I care to admit and actually liking a lot of it.  The premise of the film is pretty simple: charismatic and athletic Chinese guy living in New York, aspires to play basketball professionally, but has to overcome all sorts of stereotypes, oppression and racism to strive towards his goals.

I’m typically on board for all Asians vs. the World kind of plots, especially ones that feed the observational narrative of the racist double-standard that exists within all races in the world, towards Asians.  However, there was one thing that instead has piqued my curiosity, and really makes me skeptical of the, planning of the film, regardless of how the story and film actually pans out.

The titular character is played by some guy named Taylor Takahashi, and my very first thought was, really?  A Japanese guy to play a Chinese guy?  Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that concept, it’s just that this seems like one of those characters that I feel like would probably have been a little more appropriate if it were actually being played by a Chinese person.

Look, I’m all about guys like Randall Park and Ken Jeong being arr rook same’d and getting cast as Chinese guys, because they’re still getting paid and go get it if it’s offered, but the same rhetorical question applies to them as it does for Taylor Takahashi: were there seriously no talented Chinese actors to play these roles?  Or I guess more accurately, was there any genuine effort in trying to cast any talented Chinese actors for these roles?

Like, in the case of the Boogie preview, I’m having a hard time digesting and a hard time not laughing, when a Japanese guy is reciting lines about how stereotyped we Chinese are, and how he’s got 2,000 years of Chinese oppression on his shoulders that he’s trying to overcome so he can be what sounds like a fictional version of Jeremy Lin.

I know I clown on China a lot being Korean and all, but real talk here is that I’m very aware that in a country with a population of a gabillion, there are bound to be quite a number of talented, bilingual, and physically comparable actors as Taylor Takahashi, who probably would be slightly more believable and convincing to play the role of Boogie, than a guy that’s inherently of Japanese descent.

So egg on Eddie Huang’s face for what I think is kind of an embarrassing faux pas here.  Looking at all promotional material for Boogie, it’s embarrassing to see the three marquee names, being Takahashi, Paige and Jackson, in a movie that’s basically about Chinese culture living in New York.  But Huang’s kind of become a giant king of the twinkies anyway, or as what I saw a friend say on the internet being an Uncle Tong, so I guess it’s no surprise that he’s utilizing all these non-Chinese guys to promote his own stories of ironic appropriation and further exploitation of his own culture in order to stay relevant and famous.