Cobra Kai S5: Attack of the Koreans

Like seeing a lamer version of Ryu, Ken and Gouki

One of my friends that I can’t remember whom, said it the best when it comes to describing Cobra Kai: it’s a show that has no right being as good as it is.  All throughout all prior seasons of the show, I always spoke about it with this air of superiority, like I was too good to like the show.  But then I’d watch every single episode and dare find myself enjoying them all.  And as the seasons progressed, I found myself fast-tracking the show ahead of the endless queue of shit that I want to watch.

Needless to say, when I saw some online ad stating that season 5 was dropping on September 9, my first reaction was, aw shit; now I have to jump this shit in the line and watch all of it as soon as I could.  By now, there was no denying that I was a fan of the show, and that the show had no right to be as good as it had been up to this point.

And with all the Emmy consideration the show has gotten throughout the years, it’s clear that the show runners have found a good formula of appealing to a younger demographic, while still being captivating to us olds through nostalgia and not-always that clever references to stuff from the past.  Fewer things seem as cheesy as seeing footage from and of the prior films in a flashback, and then coming back to present time to seeing an old-ass Daniel or Johnny looking all reminiscent.

But anyway, season 5 of Cobra Kai; and I make no promises that I won’t say things that could be construed as spoilers – watched all of it in three days, and found it as cheesily satisfying as most of the prior seasons were.  The ending to the season seemed uncharacteristically wrapped up in neat little bows, and considering the context of everything that had happened, I get the impression that Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg are kind of hedging their bets in the event that the show is not picked up for a sixth season, not to mention that they’re running out of source material from the original series to dip into for nostalgia effect, that things are at least tied up pretty well in the event that this really is the end.

Okay, a cut here, because I probably am going to write about plot points beyond this.

Continue reading “Cobra Kai S5: Attack of the Koreans”

RIP the DeVanzo Shift, you bunch of one-dimensional pussies

Ain’t that a crock: MLB votes in favor of several rule changes that will be implemented starting in the 2023 baseball season, which includes effectively, the banning of the shift

In all fairness, some of the other rule changes are fine.  The pitch clock, limiting pick-off attempts and widening bases.  The gradually increasing ADD nature of humanity can’t sit through three hour games anymore and are demanding change, and adding three inches to bases won’t really be that noticeable except to players who might not get their ankles kicked in or stepped on as much.

But the banning of the shift?  Now that’s booty.  Such a cop out.  Result of a bunch of bitches being, bitches.  The supposed greatest baseball players on the planet all suck so much at baseball and are incapable of hitting the other way so they collectively complain so much that it forces MLB’s hand to outright ban the defensive strategy that has owned them for the last decade.  Total bullshit.

I dislike this immensely.  Instead of trying to raise and develop players to spray and hit to all parts of the field, MLB has basically doubled down its catering to power hitters and is instead modifying rules to benefit them instead of telling them to suck it up and evolve their skillset back to when they were kids and probably told to use all parts of the field.

This is why on a global level, Japan still ranks above the United States in pure baseball talent.  When it comes down to it, they might not have guys who will clobber 50 homers in a season, but pretty much everyone in NPB is capable of hitting the ball to opposite field, and their collective batting average is probably noticeably higher than MLB’s collective batting average.

I still remember back in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, there was a Japan vs. US game; Roy Oswalt started for the US, and he absolutely got slaughtered by Team Japan who hung like six runs on him, without a single home run.  The Japanese hitters were basically just consistently plopping singles the other way, and Team USA just had no answer for it, and ended up losing 9-4 in an embarrassing elimination.

This, is the power of being able to hit to all parts of the field, but this is also something that we’ll probably never see in MLB, because instead of challenging players to adapt to a staunch defensive strategy, they’re just prohibiting the strategy and making it easier for players to remain fat talentless sluggers.

But most of all, I’ll never be able to proclaim “the DeVanzo Shift” again whenever an oaf like Joey Gallo steps into the box and gleefully watch a third baseman position themselves on the right side of second base, before he stupidly clubs a grounder into the teeth of the shift and gets thrown out at first with minimal effort.  In fact, Joey Gallo is probably the odds-on favorite to win an MVP award next season with the shift being neutered, and guys like Brian McCann and Jay Bruce are probably back in the cages right now, getting ready to make a comeback, knowing they won’t have to face the shift starting next year.

When the day is over, I haven’t paid hardly any attention to the game since my children have been born, but I still keep my ear to scuttlebutt.  And it bugs me that rules are being changed in this manner, not just in defiance of change, but because of the sentiment that bad behavior is being rewarded instead of inspiring improvement and betterment of the players’ skillsets, and that’s just pathetic.

New blets are probably going to be inevitable

I haven’t watched much wrestling over the last weeks months years, but when I heard about the latest NXT Worlds Collide show, I made a point to carve out an evening to watch it.  After finding out that NXT UK was being folded in preparation for the coming of NXT Europe, I was kind of sad because I actually really grew to like NXT UK in its short lifespan.  Their show really felt grassroots, and the roster size led to quick and exciting stories, and when they started doing their own Takeover events, they were always full of real quality matches, with always at least one broadway on them.

The rise of Jordan Devlin, Walter vs. Dragunov, and Kay Lee Ray vs. Meiko Satomura were some of the best things about NXT UK.  Even their midcard guys like Noam Dar and A-Kid were starting to really shine, and for a while I’d have said that NXT UK was my favorite program within the entire company; granted it didn’t hurt that everything else had moved to cable tv and I didn’t watch it, but still.

Anyway, none of the matches ended in any real surprises; Ricochet wasn’t going to win and take an NXT blet away from the show, same with Nikki ASH and Doudrop.  Pretty Deadly unifying the tag titles was a little surprising, but if the UK scene needed to have anyone thrown a bone to it, it was obviously the tag team championships, because in spite of how much I was hoping Tyler Bate was going to win, it didn’t seem likely that any of the Americans were going to lose the respective men or women’s NXT championships, which is exactly what happened.

But the thing is, Worlds Collide kind of acted as something of a bookend to me as far as all the NXT UK and even the NXT blets are concerned.  Obviously, the UK blets all have to go since the brand is effectively dead now, but it also doesn’t mean that the existing blets in NXT also aren’t on the chopping block either.  Save for some coloration being added to the plates, all of the blet designs were carried over from “old” NXT, and the designs of the blets don’t match the Cosby sweater new logo of 2.0.

Of course when NXT Europe drops in 2023, it’s inevitable that they will get an array of their own titles, that I hope will look great so I can get them, but also hope that they don’t look great, so I won’t be tempted to get them because I haven’t really been chugging out surveys like I used to, so my blet monies have basically evaporated into nothingness now, and I wouldn’t really have the spare cash to get them.

But I also anticipate that NXT 2.0, within the next 12 months, will probably debut some redesigns of all their existing blets, because with the unifying of their UK counterparts, now seems like as good as any of a time for them to drop the old Hunter-era NXT logo’d blets, and debut some brand new, 2.0’d blets.  Especially since the WWEShop really has caught up to every single active blet being available, and they need something to drop to keep blet nerds like me wet.

I guess I should get back on the survey train and start trying to earn back up some more blet money, because I feel like we’re on the cusp of some new shit being available sooner rather than later.

Thoughts from a much-needed weekend off

Paris – my #2 favorite place in Las Vegas

As mentioned in the fanny pack post, I was actually in Las Vegas over the Labor Day weekend.  This was effectively the first real, multi-day, kids-free breather that mythical wife and I have had since, before the arrival of #1 back in March of 2020, right before the pandemic shut the world down.  Since then, we’ve literally never had longer than a single day where we were both not without children.  We obviously love our kids and our budding famiry very much, but we’d also be kidding ourselves that having gone through such a stretch has been difficult at times, and it’s amazing we’ve gone this long without a true break and not ended up going insane in the process.

Needless to say, the highlight of the trip was without question, simply getting to sleep in for two straight nights.  As in, turn off all alarms, pin the blinds shut, and go to sleep, only to wake up naturally, once our bodies deemed it no longer necessary to remain asleep.  I know we were in Las Vegas, the city that never truly sleeps and we’re supposed to be out gambling, drinking and being total shitheads all night every night, but damn if it wasn’t so refreshing to wind down the evenings knowing that we could sleep as long as we wanted.

To any of my zero readers who might be under the age of 32, I can imagine just how depressing of a paragraph the preceding one was, as a glimpse of what life after the age of 40 and with multiple kids can await but I really do love my famiry I really do.

As for Las Vegas itself, it was a good weekend to get away from the grind of daily living, but I have to say I had a lot of thoughts about not just Las Vegas, but the experience of traveling, and the state of the world itself.  And not to shit on what was a very welcome weekend to relax some, but me being who I am, of course these aforementioned thoughts are quite critical.

If I could get right to the point, I would have to say that I feel like there is a pretty wide disconnect when it comes to the world of business and the people of the world, and where they stand on how “re-opened” everything really is versus how re-opened everyone thinks it is, or should be.

Case in point: travel to Las Vegas is expensive as fuck, due to supposed demand and inflation.  What should be no more than really a $350 RT give or take anywhere in the continental United States was like an $800 RT per person, resulting in mythical wife and I settling with Greyhound Spirit Air in order to not get to the casinos already broke.  Except when you get to Las Vegas, casinos and restaurants all over the city are operating at less than pre-pandemic capacities, almost all of the buffets are either shut down or completely impossible to get in on account of them being the only ones left, table minimum bets are way higher than they used to be, and it’s basically impossible to be spontaneous or do anything substantial on short notice anymore.

Aside from sleeping the fuck in, two things that I wanted to do at my first time in Vegas in like 5-6 years was to eat at a buffet, and visit Ellis Island.  Neither of which happened because pretty much every buffet in Las Vegas was either closed or required a massively advance reservation, and nobody in my party wanted to go to Ellis Island and even if we did go, there’s no doubt that their restaurant would’ve had a massive wait and been impossible to get in at.

Not that they were that bad by any means, but we had several meals at places I probably wouldn’t have gone to if there were buffets available, not to mention that they were all way more expensive than good Vegas buffets were.

But due to the general feeling of restrictions and handcuffs here and there, I found myself breaking a couple of my own neurotic rules in Las Vegas, out of a feeling that I didn’t have any choice.  Two of them, at the same time, which was no playing where you stay, and no playing at tables with robotic female Asian dealers, because to me, both are omens of horrible luck.  But I did both anyway, and found myself down a good bit in short order, and going to bed feeling agitated and dejected.

Fortunately, a positive gambling session at Paris the following day helped salvage my gambling exploits, but I still left the city an overall net negative in the process, not that such isn’t always the case when it comes to going to Las Vegas, but the point is, there’s a noticeable disconnect between how much the city wants to operate versus the demand of things from the people who are visiting, leading to a lot of obnoxious waits, crowds, rushes and rejections.

Such sentiments weren’t limited to Vegas itself, just the traveling experience in general, is very similar in the sense that airports want to operate in these pandemic-era manners with skeleton crews, early closures and basically taking away all seating from travelers, but not taking into consideration every single flight is basically oversold, because of the reduced number of flights is making every ticket a hot one, and all these people are stacked on top of each other, sitting wherever there’s floor space and an outlet on the wall.

Either way, I don’t regret the trip, and I’m grateful to have gotten away from ordinary life for just a few days, and could sleep in and feel like a self-absorbed adult for that time.  By the time it was time to pick the kids up from grandma’s, I couldn’t wait to see my girls, and give them big hugs and kisses again.  But obviously me being the headcase that I notoriously am, nothing goes by without me overthinking about it, even good shit like small vacations.  But I would wager that I’m not the only one who feels that it’s kind of obnoxious that the commercial world is trying to have their cake and eat it too when they try and use the pandemic as an excuse to operate at 75% when the consumer world is ready and itching for things to be operating at 110%.

150+ years before the Game of Thrones… Westeros had Asians

Mythical wife and I went into House of the Dragon with the level of excitement of a DC Comics film and the expectations of, a DC Comics film (extremely low, if I have to explain).  As those kind of book snobs, we’re salty that George R.R. Martin has become the television writer I knew he was going to become, instead of writing any of the fucking books, that the television show blew past where they left off, in like season 4 of GoT.  But as inherent fans of the property we still are, we knew it was inevitable that we were going to watch it anyway.

Anyway, I’ll reserve heavy reviewing of the show until more of it has come out.  I’m still learning all the new faces and houses, and much like its predecessor, I’m sure I’d benefit from re-watching some shit at a later date to really absorb early occurrences.  Except that all the Targaryens are funny looking to me, because they’ve all got bright-ass hair, but unlike Daenerys and Viserys, they’re all kind of tanned-complexioned, which kind deviates from how most Targaryens are described.

Whatever though, the whole point of this post is really the marvelous realization that it only took an entire 8-season series and two episodes for an actual Asian man to get 3 seconds of screen time in a GoT property.  Yes, I know Jessica Henwick was one of the Sand Snakes, which is why I specified man, because when it comes to representation, Asian men obviously get the shaft when it comes time for everyone to become woke.

And not as an ambiguous and heavily make-upped Dothraki, Meereen slave, Flea Bottom beggar or any inconsequential character.  No, this guy is a fucking knight, with armor and presumably some degree of honor and bravery, if he’s representing House Velaryon.

I have no idea who he is, what his actual specific heritage is, but either way, he’s still a fucking hero.  And the fact that he made it into the GoT universe after just a decade is still like, three decades faster than Star Wars really decided to start giving Asian men some screen time.

Progress is progress, but all the same I have to say it: it’s about fucking time.

When did fanny packs become acceptable again?

While out in Las Vegas over Labor Day weekend, I couldn’t help but notice that there was an unusually large number of people who were wearing fanny packs all over the place.  Not only were they wearing fanny packs, they were all wearing them slung across one shoulder and chest, like people used to wear messenger bags.  And after seeing the 350th person wearing a fanny pack like a satchel, it begs me to ask the question that this post is titled:

When did fanny packs become acceptable again?

I choose my words deliberately, and I don’t say cool, because to me, fanny packs were never not cool at any point in my lifetime, but there’s no mistaking that there was a large swath of time in which they were just not deemed acceptable by popular social standards. 

When I was a kid, I rocked a fanny pack between the grades 2-4; not only was it a great place to keep all my cash on hand, but it was the perfect place to stash absolutely anything, anything at all, without having to burden my hands.  Cool rocks or sticks I found in the woods, my WWF or TMNT action figures, the metaphorical golden treasure to a fat kid that was candy and/or gum.  I always had shit on hand, thanks to the utility and convenience of my fanny pack.

But at some point in time, I began to get ridicule, and I was eventually branded some sort of nerd for having my fanny pack.  I wasn’t sure if it was the culture shift I had gone through moving from rural Virginia to prestigious northern Virginia, just the changing of the times, or asshole kids being bullies to me, but it got to the point where I stopped with the fanny pack, and short of zubaz-wearing professional wrestlers, they were mostly unseen for the next three decades.

Obviously living under the rock I do, I have no idea of when specifically they’ve suddenly become so acceptable again, but I’m just noticing just how everyone seems to be getting their hands on them these days, and amongst the kids of today, they’re being treated like some brand-new innovation of style and convenience.  I’m sure a fanny pack is perfect for holding your phone without bulking up your pockets or if you don’t have pockets because male rompers seem to be acceptable too.  Battery packs and charging cables because everyone is so glued to their mobile devices that a single day’s charge is insufficient are nice to be able to stash close to your person too.

Man, fanny packs sure are fucking cool for all the utility and convenience they provide without having to commit to an entire backpack or messenger bag!

But I have to question the part where they’re being worn around the shoulder, because fashion not-withstanding, that’s just a poor distribution of weight, and on the long-term, can have some physical detriment to the body.  I used to carry around a messenger bag, and wear all my duffel bags over the shoulder, but after long periods of time, that shit begins to wear on you, with all the weight they’re putting on a single shoulder.

It’s not lost on me just how bitter old man this all makes me sound like, but you have to understand that the backlash fanny packs got back in the early 90s was pretty fierce, to the point where they practically went extinct overnight in like 1991.

I suppose this is something that generationally, everyone eventually goes through at some points in their lives.  Perhaps in the near future, I’ll get to the backlash on fanny packs a second time, but as a judgmental bystander, and watch with smug satisfaction as all the dumb kids of today shamefully hang theirs up as discreetly as they can, and be sad that the sheep of the world don’t like utility and convenience anymore.

It only took a year (and change)

But I finally have my Montgomery Kimchi cap.  Ever since I found out that the hicks in Montgomery, Alabama aren’t all racist shitheads and decided to have some Korean heritage nights, complete with renaming the Biscuits the Kimchi for a night, complete with new branding and identity, I knew that I didn’t just want to have a Kimchi cap, but that I needed to have a Kimchi cap.

Leading up to the event, I was eventually appalled when informed that there would be no ballcaps available.  “Next year,” is what I was informed when reaching out.   I was crushed, but settled on a Mr. Kimchi mascot t-shirt that was available, in very sparse and limited quantities.

Obviously, short of me setting up a long-in-the-future Google alert or something, it didn’t occur to me to keep an eye out on the Biscuits’ schedule for the 2022 season, but a KBO group on theFacebook that I’m a member of posted something about the Montgomery Kimchi a few months ago, and it jogged my memory to quickly check.  Sure enough, there were Kimchi caps for sale, but by the time I started looking at them, they were basically wiped out, and most definitely my NewEra size of 7 1/2 were all gone.  One again, I was disappointed, but I figured that once the 2022 Korean heritage night rolled up, there would probably be more stock, hopefully.

Except upon further digging, I found out that Korean heritage night had already passed, with the Kimchi emerging (and losing) way the fuck back in April.  I was mortified by this, because surely there was little reason for the team to go out of their way to restock merch for an event that had already passed.  And then the tab I kept open for the specific item eventually turned into a 404, and it seemed very apparent that my window to get the cap that I didn’t want but needed, had closed. 

Funny thing is though, I didn’t close the tab on my phone.  And one day, after a restart of my phone, I noticed that the tab’s thumbnail wasn’t the 404 page anymore, and upon refreshing the actual page, it turned out that Kimchi caps were suddenly back on the table once again.  Unlike 80% of the time I see something I want, but don’t pull the trigger, I didn’t wait at all to get my wallet out.  Furthermore, they still didn’t have a 7 1/2, but I wasn’t willing on taking any chances and risk missing out again, so I actually got a size up at 7 5/8.  A few minutes later, and my order was confirmed – I was finally going to get the Kimchi cap that I needed.

And here we are.  After a year and some change, I’ve finally got one of the greatest ballcaps to my collection.  The funniest thing is that the more prestige I put onto a cap, the less I’ll actually wear it, because I don’t want to risk them getting grungy and dirty or rained on, thus defeating the purpose of caps in the first place, but the most important thing is that I got it finally, and I’ll wear it with pride and joy; whenever the conditions are optimal for me to actually wear it.