The Disaster Artist: The Value of Effort

Growing up, I was constantly told by my teachers and parents that I was smart. School was always easy for me, and my report card was always filled with A’s. When graduating high school, my class rank was #6 out of over 800 students, and I received a full scholarship to the University of Texas as an honors biomedical engineering student. And I barely had to try.

Being told you are smart is an addiction, and there are only two ways to get your next hit. The first option is to keep doing smart things, but that takes hard work and skill. The second, easier option is to do mediocre things with minimal effort. You get a B on the history test, but it’s OK because you did not try. You tell yourself, “If only I put in the effort, I would easily succeed.” You run away from the fact that sometimes you try your hardest and still screw up. Continue reading The Disaster Artist: The Value of Effort

The End of Evangelion: When Motivation Fades

Self-help is a huge industry. People get motivated to turn around their lives through books, motivational speakers, and even YouTube clips. But if their advice and motivation is helpful, then why is there so much of it? If a single piece of media could help you reach your goal to lose weight, get rich, or just be happy, there would be no need for so many works on self-improvement.

The truth is change is never as easy as we expect it to be. And that is the core idea of The End of Evangelion.

Released in 1997, The End of Evangelion wraps up Hideaki Anno’s mecha anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. The final two episodes of the original series are, to say the least, strange. Supposedly, the Gainax team ran out of money and had to wrap up the series with limited animation. The climactic and foreshadowed Human Instrumentality Project begins but rather than seeing what actually happens, the last two episodes dive into the psyches of the main characters, so the audience can see the mental battles they face. The End of Evangelion shows what actually happened in the narrative. Kind of. Therefore, both the film and the original two final episodes must be analyzed together. The movie is even broken up into two distinct parts to further strengthen this link. Continue reading The End of Evangelion: When Motivation Fades

Why I No Longer Watch the Texans

Deshaun Watson’s injury is my fault. After not having a franchise quarterback since Matt Schaub, the Texans had finally found the future of the franchise. The phenom from Clemson gave this franchise hope and went toe to toe against Tom Brady and Russell Wilson.

But, unfortunately, I had tickets to the Week 9 game versus the Colts. My friends and I were excited to watch our new quarterback in person. Then one of my buddies texted me in the middle of the week, “Watson’s injured.” The universe will not let me get what I want. Continue reading Why I No Longer Watch the Texans

Talent Is Overrated

I screwed up my life.

At the beginning, I had so much talent. I skipped kindergarten and dominated my classes. In high school, I was a straight A student who graduated sixth in my class of over eight hundred. My parents and teachers told me I was so smart. I was easily accepted to the University of Texas as an honors biomedical engineering student with a full scholarship. My first semester GPA was a 4.0.

Then everything went to hell. I failed some classes and lost my scholarship. Engineering turned into philosophy, bringing constant questions of, “Philosophy? What on earth are you going to do with that?” After five unsuccessful years in college, I dropped out and moved back in with my parents. I started cashiering again at the same grocery store I worked at in high school. Even four years after dropping out, I have barely gotten my life on track. At age 26, still having a roommate begins to look a little pathetic. Continue reading Talent Is Overrated

Whatever Happened to the Games We Loved?

I have murdered countless innocents, even children. Armies have bowed before me. I have sown genocide across worlds. Worst of all, my atrocities entertained me. Growing up, I would play video games for hours at a time, living out my crazy power fantasies.

But as the years have gone by, video games no longer enrapture me. Super Smash Bros. is the clearest example of this. While Brawl was an all-around disappointment, the recent 3DS and Wii U versions feel like Melee, one of my favorite games of all time.

But it is not Melee, and nothing ever will be. On Christmas Day 2001, I opened up a brand new GameCube and a copy of that game. I would play it with friends every afternoon during sixth grade. We heard unbelievable rumors around school about unlockable characters like Mewtwo and Ganondorf. Each of us would brag about how we were the best, and the only way to settle the debate was by throwing down on Final Destination with no items.

Continue reading Whatever Happened to the Games We Loved?

Me Fail English

Like many twentysomethings, I am writing a novel because it has never been done before. My book is filled with big themes and motifs:

  1. The declining privilege of young, white men in the modern economy
  2. The mind-body problem, particularly in regards to human extensibility with mechanical tools
  3. Sexual frustration and its relationship to power dynamics

But, mainly, what the book is about is giant robots fighting each other. Bottom line, it is an Americanized version of mecha anime. Granted, Guillermo del Toro beat me to it with Pacific Rim, but this is still a Harry Potter-level book idea. Continue reading Me Fail English

Halt and Catch Fire: It Won’t Leave Us in the End So Totally Alone

Full spoilers for Halt and Catch Fire follow.

In the sixth episode of Halt and Catch Fire‘s final season, “A Connection is Made”, most of the gang goes out to shoot off model rockets for Haley’s birthday. The scene is a beautiful moment of fan service. After four seasons of rocky interpersonal relationships, seeing Joe, Cameron, and Gordon (plus Haley and Katey) experience a happy moment is treasured by the audience because they have seen these characters go through so much.

At that moment, a happy, conflict-free ending for the series was all I wanted. Joe and Cameron would live happily ever after. Gordon would have a great relationship with his daughters with his new romance beginning to blossom. Donna would return to the group. But with almost half a season still to go, things were inevitably going to fall apart.

Despite the obvious comparisons, Halt and Catch Fire‘s first season was not like Mad Men. That season was driven too much by the narrative of “build a revolutionary product and beat evil IBM” to let the show become a brooding character piece like Mad Men. We all thought this was an knockoff story of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, and Steve Wozniak in the fictional form of Cardiff Electric, Joe MacMillan, and Gordon Clark. Continue reading Halt and Catch Fire: It Won’t Leave Us in the End So Totally Alone

Mediocre Game Dev

In high school, I was a member of the debate team. Debate, especially Lincoln-Douglas debate, teaches you to bullshit well. Even if your opponent has superior logical arguments, better evidence, and is a more talented speaker, you will still normally make an argument against each and every one of their contentions. Those arguments may not be strong enough to win you the debate, but they are enough to usually put up a fight.

Every once in a while though you face an opponent who is vastly better than you are, and you just shut down. This happened to me twice in my high school debate career: once against a debater from the national circuit and another time against the eventual Texas state champion. All of the time for my rebuttal speeches was spent stuttering and stumbling, trying to fight a battle I had no chance of winning. Normally after a debate, even one I thought I might have lost, I normally thought to myself, “I might win if they voted based on this issue or aspect of the debate.” After I got massacred in these two debates though, I knew my only chance of victory was if the judge had a stroke and circled the wrong winner on the paper. Continue reading Mediocre Game Dev

The Second-Rate Houston Rockets

Hakeem Olajuwon is the greatest Rockets player ever. He led the team to two consecutive championships and was the second best player in the league when the GOAT Michael Jordan was around.

Those 90s Rockets teams were incredible, but they were not my favorite. At the time, I did not really watch basketball and did not appreciate the domination that was being unleashed in my city.

Instead of Olajuwon, my superstars were Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. However, my favorite team, the ’08-’09 Rockets, were mostly missing that pair due to their injuries. T-Mac sat out most of the regular season, but the Rockets still made the playoffs and beat the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. Continue reading The Second-Rate Houston Rockets