Prob for the best; I’m not sure a lotta people would go to McDonald’s to order a hot dog.
I saw The Flash when it came out because he was always one of my favourite superheroes – mainly because super speed is the only power I think really matters.
That’s an entry for another day, I suppose.
But, while I don’t think it deserved to be as maligned as much as it has been, I wanted to tell you why I think the movie failed.
As a comic book nerd, I always gravitated more towards DC comics than Marvel comics, even though I really liked both.
See, Marvel likes to ground its characters in realism – the teenage Peter Parker trying to make ends meet while dealing with massive guilt, the alcoholic Tony Stark, the rage-filled, revenge-seeking Frank Castle, etc.
Comparatively, DC heroes are like otherworldly gods – Superman is essentially a god from the heavens, The Flash is as fast and mercurial as Mercury, Wonder Woman is a goddess.
The thing about these gods, though, is that they are innately good, and – more than anything – bastions of hope.
Me: Did you like Man of Steel? Him: No, because he killed Zod. Snyder doesn’t understand Superman never kills. He doesn’t understand that Batman doesn’t use guns. He doesn’t understand what makes them…them. DC Comics are all about hope. But Synder’s film have no joy, no hope. It’s all spectacle without heart.
And that, I think, is why The Flash bombed.
It’s one of the saddest and darkest superhero films out there; everyone and everything is disposable. Heroes are introduced merely to die. No one and nothing matters.
Look, don’t get me wrong, I understand that tragedy is a part of life.
Fuck, if anyone’s life is a tragedy, it’s mine (albeit, fulla joy).
Plus, there’s nuthin wrong with a cinematic tragedy; but kids trying to see their fave hero on the big screen – especially a DC-based one – want the good guys to win.
Evil to be overcome. Good to prevail.
Goddammit, I thought my own tragedy wouldn’t actually be one. Thought we would prevail. But I was wrong.
In any case, just like you don’t go to McDonalds for a hot dog, you don’t go to a DC based film to leave feeling hopeless.
And that – not just the bad CGI (which I didn’t hate) and the foibles of the main actor – is why I think the movie failed.
I went to college in Cornell, which has some of the most Asians of any school, about 1 outta 5.
Anywho, my college girlfriend was Korean but went to a different college entirely.
One day, I was walking home when I saw a young woman that had her very distinct gait and I swore it was her.
As I got closer, it turns out it was her – she’d left school early to come up to my college to surprise me.
There’s a software company I’ve been following for the past year because it has a rather unique business model; its software aggregates data and then makes predictions based on the data it’s gathered.
Since the Ukraine war has happened, Palantir has been offering its services to Ukraine and I believe it’s Palantir and the western armaments – versus just the weaponry itself – which is why Ukraine has been punching above its weight so consistently.
This is not at all to take away from the sheer bravery and discipline of the Ukrainians.
But it tracks with what I’ve always believed: The most dangerous people/things are not always the strongest but the ones with the most intelligence.
If that were not the case, it’d be people in zoo cages and lions walking free with the keys instead of the other way around.
With this data, Palantir can figure out which are enemy movements – to such specificity as which platoon and commander – and can predict what these enemy troops are most likely to do and offer the Ukrainians the most likely scenario that will happen.
The Ukrainians can then act accordingly.
In that way, Palantir can recognize enemy troop movements similar to how I could tell from a vast distance that it was my then girlfriend and not some other person.
The data I collected – the visual recognition of her particular gait – allowed me to realize that my then-girlfriend was visiting me, without her telling me she was there.
Similarly, Palantir takes what it knows about people/troops and figures out who they are by their unique traits – like a gait.
With that, they make warfare akin to a deadly recipe except that if you do steps 1-16 correctly you’ll end up with mass enemy casualties instead of a soufflé.
I’m conflicted on this point.
Obviously, the Russians are the aggressors here and for everyone not a Republican, clearly the bad guys here.
As a child of the original Terminator films and the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, it makes me uneasy how very good Palantir is at what it does.
On the flip side, it’s trading at $16.42 today, off its three-year high of $35.18.
I’m nothing if not a ruthless capitalist – with a sentimental streak.
On a much lighter note, with both of our kids away, the Firecracker and I are doing basic couple things like grabbing drinks around the way and watching reality TV and cooking shows.
Although I suspect that, while we’re both watching the same program, we’re experiencing them differently.
Her: (watching TV) Serves you right, lady! Your hubris went…pluberis. Me: (shakes head) Her: (turning to me, apologetically) I tried to abort halfway through but I was already committed to it. Me: This has got to go into the blog. You brought this onto yourself.
Location: my basement, trying to figure out why the lights won’t turn on. The circuit breaker tripped
Music: This world can be so cold (Spotify) Subscribe! Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.
Me: What makes a proctologist decide to be a proctologist? I mean they have to look at assholes all day. Firecracker: (shrugging) I’m sure that you lawyers deal with just as many, if not more, assholes every day. Me: Fair.
I find the Firecracker pretty funny, mainly with her earnestness in life.
Because the funniest things come from a place of honesty.
There’s something refreshing about having someone that is relentlessly upbeat and positive, especially considering my recent past.
With that said, I’m not the only one whose life seems on the upswing.
Ran into a friend of mine the other day who was with someone new. Afterward, she and I chatted about it.
Me: I didn’t realize you and [your ex] broke up. Was there any particular thing? Her: (thinking) It was weird. I told him – straight-up – things like, “Could you let me know if you’re running late, “or “Could you drop me a line to make sure I got home OK?” Nothing. Ever. Me: That’s weird. Her: Yeah. Basically, that relationship was: “He knew what I wanted but he never did it.” Me: Jesus Christ, can I relate to that…
Of course, for every person whose life is getting better, there’s gotta be at least one person whose life is getting worse.
Or two – see, two friends of mine just announced that they were divorcing each other. I didn’t wanna pry but it seemed that things mainly come down to issues in communication.
Have you ever actually read the story of the Little Mermaid? The original story is…dark. Waaaaay, dark.
Essentially, the mermaid saved this prince’s life but couldn’t speak so the prince thought some other chick saved his life and married her, and she died.
Think the loneliest people in the world are the ones that aren’t actually mute but can’t communicate.
Then again, some things might be best left unsaid.
Me: Can you do me a favour? Her: Sure, what? Me: Can you walk on my back? I’ve had a rough day at the gym. Her: (laughs) Sure! Me: (10 minutes later, groaning) OMG, hurt me, call me names, make me write bad checks! Her: Umm… you…Mad Hatter! Me: (laughing hysterically) MAD HATTER?! Her: That’s all I could come up with! Now write me some bad checks!
I feel like I’m finally past my lemon days, maybe? That’s the hope, anywho.
Dentist: (70 minutes late) Sorry to keep you waiting. What’s going on? Me: I still have a lot of pain in that tooth you repaired last week. Her: Let me see. (peers closely, runs some tests) The problem is that the crack was so close to your nerve. Let me drill down the tooth a bit and see if that helps. (40 seconds later) Bite down and tell me how that feels. Me: (complies) No pain! Her: (laughs) OK, you’re all done then.
So, repairing my tooth took two visits, $120 of copay, almost six hours of total time, and 40 seconds to fix the initial repair.
That seems on brand for me.
Her: My hair smells like smoke now. Yuck! Me: Well, you are “The Firecracker.” Her: (laughs) Please use that in the blog.
If you’re not from NYC, then you may or may not know that there are these MASSIVE wildfires – 150 to be exact – burning in Canada, with their smoke hitting NYC and hard.
Yesterday, the boy’s school had a pizza party in the school yard when the boy started screaming something and pointing at the sky; right after he started, the rest of his friends joined in.
What were they pointing at, at 6PM? The sun, which looked like an orange fireball.
This picture really doesn’t do it justice.
Everything was normal until about then, when he started coughing and I did as well and a thick smog came down on top of us with the whole yard smelling like a campfire.
We quickly left and went home – this is what it looked like at 6:48 last night.
The next morning, this is what it looked like in the Upper West Side.
Made the kid wear two masks to school while I wore an N95 mask.
I’m heading away with the Firecracker and the kid this week so I figured I should hit up the gym while I could, so off I went.
When I got there, I was already breathing heavily. This is what it looked like when I arrived.
Chad had, smartly, kept the windows and doors shut and the ACs running so we were able to get in a good workout.
But after just three rolls, I was completely spent and left.
Union Square looked like the first or second circle of hell – this is it at 1:49PM.
Hightailed it home to grab the kid from school.
Normally, I try to spend at least an hour outside with him so he gets some fresh air and exercise but there was no fresh air to be had.
I – like almost all of the other parents – quickly grabbed the kid and headed home.
Kept him indoors until it was time for his afterschool, took the bus there (we usually walk), took the train back alone, then did the same thing again 90 minutes later when his class was done.
Both he and I felt pretty run-down the entire day. I had an itchy throat and eyes while he kept complaining his chest and stomach hurt.
Hopefully, by the time you read this, things are much better.
When I was in college, I spoke four languages and was certain that I’d end up working for the Foreign Service.
Then I changed my mind and wanted to be a writer – ended up writing for several national publications including one of the first major articles on Windows NT versus Novell for Computer Shopper, and some travel articles for the New York Sun.
While doing this, I worked in the club industry and made a name for myself, which a few people still recognize me for.
Then I decided I wanted to build networks and ended up building a 100-seat computer network for a Fortune 600 company on Madison Avenue.
Then I went to law school to become a lawyer. Then I went to CNET and became their first International Sale Manager. Then I went back to being a lawyer.
Then I bought my building with some friends and became a building manager.
Then I got another degree and became one of only 350 people in the New York State with that degree while still working on my legal career. Somehow found myself lecturing on the law all over including Europe and New York. Even won an award.
I also started teaching kali on the sly just a block from my pad and started up a private jet company.
After Alison got sick, I gave up everything and became a cancer researcher, a caretaker, and then a father.
Somehow, in my late 40s, I also became a YouTuber and a gym owner.
Look, my point is that Fitzgerald was fulla shit.
You can be anything you want to be. You get to decide and no one else does.
I decided at 14 that I didn’t wanna be fat so I stopped being fat. It was as simple and as difficult as that.
Few things in life are actually difficult; the most difficult thing you’ll ever do is to decide to do something.
Everything else after that decision are just the particulars.
You don’t get to chose your family but you do get to choose your tribe. So, if the people that you hang out with are a buncha people that cheat on their partners alla time, you’re gonna become someone that chats on your partner.
If you’re the most successful person in your group, this is probably a bad thing, too. You need a better group.
This is one major reason why I didn’t want to continue some romantic relationships I was involved in; because, while they were usually fine, their friends weren’t the type of friends I wanted in my life.
Or my kid’s life.
Him: (a long time ago) I heard you two broke up, I’m sorry. Me: It’s fine. There’s no tragedy that doesn’t have some positive bonus and the bonus here is that I literally never have to pretend to enjoy hanging out with her lame friends again.
This is why I’ve cut so many people outta my life – because I want to be around people that point me in the direction I want to go.
Speaking of bonuses, here’s a bonus tip.
Bonus: Sometimes, Logan, you gotta say, “Fuck it, I’m out.”
If you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most, then I’m grateful that Bryson’s one of my oldest and dearest friends – for a whole host of reasons.
He’s dangerous; he boxed with Dolph Lundgren, is a brown belt in BJJ under Fabio Clemete, is a black belt in shorin ryu karate, and is also a skilled Japanese fencer.
But, he’s also a great father and cook, married to a beautiful doctor, and helped build a buncha businesses that you’ve probably visited.
Most importantly, though, he’s a great human being. He’s the kinda guy I wanna be, so I try to hang out with him whenever I can.
The number of times I’ve said, Fuck it, I’m out, since that day has gotta be at least in the hundreds, if not thousands.
It’s an incredibly powerful statement and one that you can whip out at any time, in any situation.
Bad job? Bad relationship? Bad habits?
Fuck it, I’m out, is a perfect answer that leads directly to Tip 4, which is reinventing yourself.
But be careful, because it is so powerful. Use it with caution.
Once told you about this snippet of a Batman cartoon I watched when I was younger.
In it, a villain was trying to convince Bruce Wayne that Bruce was mad but Bruce/Batman fought back and won.
When his friend asked Bruce why he was so sure that he (Bruce) wasn’t crazy, he answered simply that the voices called him “Bruce.”
But that’s not what he called himself.
I’ve been many things I’ve been proud of. I think that, by the time you read this, Scenic Fights will either be at exactly 400,000 subscribers or close to it.
And I’ve got some big things happening in my life that I may or may not tell you about in the future.
But none of that matters, really. In my head, I’m the kid’s father. Full-stop.
If that ends up being the only thing that I’m known for, I’m ok with that.
Substitute teacher: And you are? Me: (pointing at the kid) His father. Her: (brightly) Oh! He’s a wonderful child! When I said that I was a substitute, he came up to me afterward and said that if I forgot anyone’s name, to ask him because he would tell me. He was my helper all day. Me: (laughing) That’s awesome. Her: He’s awesome! Me: You’re not wrong, lady. You’re not wrong. (sighing) He takes after his mom. Her: You two are lucky. Me: (nodding) Yeah. Lucky us.
I’ve been alive for exactly 18,250 days.
I’ve only got 8,250 days left, if I’m…lucky.
Hopefully, I’ll keep writing and you’ll keep reading, yeah?
The last few people I’ve dated, including the Firecracker, have been on the shorter side, which I find amusing.
Me: Man, you’re tiny. You’re like half a person. Her: No, I’m not! I’m a whole person – I have all the parts.
I have most of my parts, but I’ve been worried about how some of them have been functioning lately – mainly my eyes.
My eyesight has been getting progressively worse since I got kicked in the head the night I covered class.
Rang up the doc that I saw a few weeks back and he told me to stop by his office again this past weekend.
One thing that I really like about him is that he runs a tight ship. Within 30 minutes of my arriving he, was already wrapping up the visit.
Him: Everything looks good, your retina is solid, and you just have a touch of cataracts. Me: So why does everything look blurry? Him: Ah, well, you’re developing monovision. That’s when one eye sees distance and one eye sees up close. Your right eye is now essentially for reading while your left eye is for seeing things far away. Me: Whoa, that’s wild. Because I got kicked in the head? Him: (nodding) But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Most people have to have surgery to get that, but you now have it naturally. I have it naturally myself and it’s why I don’t need glasses.
All-in-all, it was a relief.
It’s still weird to walk around and have things so blurry alla time. But he says that I have to practice looking at things far away with my right eye and reading with my left eye.
How hard can that be?
One thing that I found interesting was that, when I first met the doctor, I barely knew the Firecracker.
Now, I’d spent the last two months seeing/chatting with her on the regular.
Her: I’m sorry about your wife. Me: So am I. All my gods look like her. Her: What does that mean? Me: Nuthin. (brightening) Let’s play a game…
It’s the first day of 2023.
I’m writing this on a computer that I first built when Alison was still alive and upgraded repeatedly, such that there’s nuthin left of the original computer, just like I talked about in my Ship of Theseus.
One thing that I did after the hack was to upgrade the operating system of that computer from Windows 10 to Windows 11, something I did with great reluctance.
Still working through the pros and cons of that, but I note that I went through Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 on this machine before finally arriving here.
Just like the philosophical exercise of the Ship of Theseus, the question remains if there’s anything left of the original computer that I originally built all those years ago.
Speaking of philsophy, this blog has, more than anything, been my own personal repository of how I see the world, kinda like Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations.
Suppose my operating system has always been based on German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who was introduced to me in my 20s by the Devil.
One of my earliest blog entries spoke about a quote that served me well my entire life: With increased intelligence comes increased capacity for pain.
When Alison, my dad, and another relative got sick – all at the same time – and I essentially gave up my career(s) to try (and fail) to save them, then lost Gradgirl and Mouse, I think that the truth of that statement is why I’m here writing you now.
Schopenhauer’s worldview was that life is, at its core, suffering.
Life swings like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom. – Arthur Schopenhauer
At no point in this blog – through all the highs and lows – did my baseline OS change; it was always run on some variant of Schopenhauer.
And you know my feeling about those who’s worldview never changes. I can’t be a hypocrite.
All this, despite the fact that some baseline beliefs of his contradicted directly with my own heart’s desire.
For example, I’ve always wanted family and family, by definition, requires children. Yet Schopenhauer, like my billionaire buddy, feels that “Bearing children into this world is like carrying wood into a burning house.”
Schopenhauer, as the base operating system of my life, was ill-equipped to deal with the overwhelming sadness and despair of it all, for various reasons.
For example, Schopenhauer’s world view of Wille zum Leben respected love like one respects a dangerous animal, but it doesn’t deal with love, which I both respect and submit to.
To Schopenhauer, love is an illogical means to an important end: The extension of our very species.
I understand that but, having loved and lost in the profound ways I have, I think it’s an idealized version of what humans are actually capable of.
While it’d be nice to live a life purely pragmatically, the way humans are designed, it’s not practical. Because emotions exist and aren’t going away.
I need an OS that reflects that reality.
The Devil’s gone from my life and, while I appreciate all that he’s shown me in the world, the OS he helped build for me doesn’t work with who I am now, especially given all that’s happened.
Moreover, I want more for my son. Assuming that Schopenhauer was correct, and our universe is only what we experience through our mental facilities – our operating system – then I plan on giving my son the best one I can.
After close to 30 years of working on myself, I think that answer lies in Stoicism. Not “stoicism” with a lower-case “s,” rather the full philosophy of Zeno, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca.
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. – Marcus Aurelius
I don’t think, at all, that Schopenhauer was wrong, or that the last three decades of my life were wasted. Rather, I think that it’s served its purpose for what I needed for that time and that version of me. Now, I have a new purpose – the boy – and that requires a new way of thinking.
We suffer more often in imagination than in reality. – Seneca
It’s still early yet in all this. Just like it’s early in the new year.
But I spent the last month reexamining my life and need to discard the things that aren’t working for me anymore, if they ever did, and find things that do work.
Don’t think you’ll notice any drastic changes here, per se. Just little things for myself as I try to give myself and – by extension, the boy – the tools I’ll need to be the best version of myself.
Man conquers the world by conquering himself. – Zeno
I’m still me, but I wonder how much of who and what I am/was is still there or if I’m a completely new being altogether, just like this computer I type alla this out on.
On that note, let’s start the new year off with a song.
This is by a young woman named King Princess that my brother introduced to me a little while ago.
Can’t put my finger on it, but it always makes me dream that my life might be better than it is.
Maybe it’s the line that goes, “I will keep on waiting for your love,” which goes directly against Schopenhauer’s distant respect of the concept of love.
Because love’s not only something I respect, but also something I want – to both give and receive – so it’s worthy of patience and time.
Even if it never comes my way again.
Here’s to 2023 and changing for the better.
Her: (surprised) Why did you do that? Me: (shrugging) Seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Her: (laughing) OK. (pause) You can do it again.
Him: I came across some of your blog entries. It was unexpected. Me: (nodding) I get that a lot. But we are what we constantly do and I always wrote. You surprised me as well. And I’m not often surprised. Hence, my being here. It seems that we all have our secret lives…and skills.
Him: [My wife] runs the entire division. Me: God, I wanna marry rich. Send me your rich, hot friends. Him: (laughs) I might have someone for you. Me: You should know, [I’m very shallow.] Him: (laughs again)
There’s something about fighting that makes people struggle and scuffle in all areas of their lives. He’s not the first highly successful, highly dangerous person I’ve met in my life.
He reminded me of an old friend of mine. Quiet, highly educated, well-spoken, and well-dressed, but completely inured to violence.
Him: (pointing over to someone at the bar) I know, what it will feel like if that man and I fought. I know how it would end, without knowing anything about him. Me: If I had to fight you – or any grappler – I’d have to slit your wrists as soon as I could. I can’t allow you to grab me. Him: (smiles) [You thought this through]. Me: I’ve survived this long by thinking things through.
In any ways, this craziness was a nice respite from the other craziness in my life.
He caught a cab home past midnight. We’d chatted for over four hours. It’s strange talking to my peers again.
Spent so much time talking to people so much younger than me for so long that it was like I was wearing old clothes that – surprisingly – still fit.
Him: I know you have close friends and a support network but if you ever feel down, don’t hesitate to ping me. Me: I appreciate that, and the company and conversation tonight. These are the questions people of our age ask: Why are we here? And are we leaving the world better off than when we arrived? I don’t know the answer to either but am hopeful, for some reason.
I’m stupid like that.
And I don’t have many close friends on purpose. People are…difficult.
Walked home to my empty apartment, which was sparkling clean because the housekeeper was there earlier.
She found my wedding ring. I’d lost it ages ago but Alison never cared. She knew I was her fella; we were happy with just the other as company.
Friday nights were always our favourite.
It’s funny, the wedding ring never mattered to either of us, just the marriage itself.
Was actually holding it in my hand, thinking about my possible pasts again, when The Frenchman reached out to me earlier that night.
In any case, after I got back, I sat down and poured myself a drink and wished I asked him for his friend’s name that died from the brain cancer to give him a toast.
Instead, I just cheered Alison and my dad and downed it and half the bottle by myself in my empty apartment – the boy was away.
This is after four drinks with The Frenchman.
Woke up the next morning on my couch, still in my clothes. The ring was on the table.
Someone once asked if I was jealous of her bestie that recently had a baby with his wife.
She said it to break my heart but the joke was on her because you can’t break what’s already broken.
It was the strangest question because I thought the answer was obvious.
Of course I am, I said. I’m jealous all the fucking time.
For those of you that have been reading this blog for a while, you may have noticed a recurring theme, which is, What does it mean to be human?
It seems like a silly question but we’re all essentially imperfect; physically, mentally, and emotionally, we’re all lacking in something that makes us fully realized human beings.
On that note, I had an interesting exchange with a young visitor at the gym the other day.
Him: I never knew that there was such a thing like knife and stick fighting, I just thought people picked these things up and used them. Me: All fighting is skill-based. Some require more skill than others. The argument against weapons fighting is that it’s unnatural, because we’re not always armed, and I think that’s precisely the opposite of reality. Him: What do you mean? Me: It’s empty-hand fighting that’s unnatural; the nature of being human is that we use tools.
Imagine you’re alone in your home and you hear a noise in your living room. Do you just saunter out to check things out or do you grab a bat, stick, or lamp first?
Or, google any uprising and lemme know how many unarmed people you see? Or any mob action, including the January 6th riot – how many people are completely unarmed?
The nature of human violence is that we want something – anything – in our hands, in times of stress. Because we all instinctively know that weapons are force multipliers.
Fighting someone without any type of weapon is unnatural, precisely the opposite of what most people think.
And that’s why I think everyone should have some weapons training.
Here’s the kicker: If you’re unarmed, you don’t get to decide if you’re in a weapons fight or not. Only the armed person gets to decide that.
On a somewhat related point, we had to cancel the children’s classes at our gym because the kid’s coach we were using got an offer we couldn’t match.
So, I signed up the boy to the local gym around me.
I’m probably a bit biased but…man, he’s so damn cute, I can’t stand it.
This is in addition to alla his other afterschool activities like swimming. He’s the lime green blur in the photo below.
Trying to get into the new rhythm of the school year. One unexpectedly sad thing I realized was that every year for the past three years is that I’m the only emergency contact for him.
I had someone as a second contact when he was pre-4K but that was a long time ago.
It’s annoying, these little heartaches that randomly crop up.
On a much happier note, while I was there at the gym signing the kid up for his new class, this young man – very excitedly – waved to me:
Him: I’m so sorry, but are you Logan Lo? Me: (laughing) Yes! Do you watch Scenic Fights? Him: YES! I’m a subscriber! This is so cool! Me: For me too!