Tag Archives: 2020

Day-And-Date Streaming Movie Releases: Did The Experiment Fail?

Movie Releases You Can Stream This Week: 'The Suicide Squad', 'Jungle  Cruise', and More | Entertainment Tonight

Last year, things literally could not have been worse for the movie industry. A once-in-a-generation pandemic had shut down the world. Every industry was affected, but few were hit harder than the movie industry. Suddenly, an industry that relies on people actually getting out of their houses and gathering in enclosed spaces was no longer viable. I personally wondered whether the industry would ever recover.

Then, as the world endured, the industry attempted to adapt. This led to Warner Brother’s landmark decision to release some of their biggest movies on their streaming platform, HBO Max, on the same date as their theatrical release. At the same time, Disney was releasing some of its biggest movies on Disney+, albeit for an extra fee.

I believed, for a time, that this could fundamentally change the industry for good, even after the pandemic was over. I even shared my experience in how this affected my own movie watching habits. I won’t deny that I’ve gotten a lot more out of my HBO Max service, knowing I can watch new movies the day they come out. I did it with both “Space Jam 2” and “The Suicide Squad.”

However, it now seems that this new experience that I’ve been enjoying is about to come to an end. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers is going back to a more traditional model, having its movies come out in theaters first for a 45-day window before going to a streaming service.

THR: Warner Bros., AMC Strike 45-Day Exclusive Theatrical Window Deal for 2022

In a new deal with mega-cinema chain AMC Theatres, Warner Bros. has agreed to return to an exclusive, 45-day theatrical window in 2022.

AMC CEO Adam Aron unveiled the pact Monday during an earnings call. “We’re especially pleased Warner Bros. has decided to move away from day-and-date,” Aron said. “We are in active dialogue with every major studio.”

WarnerMedia enraged cinema operators when deciding to open its 2021 slate simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters. The company has since said that the move was in response to the ongoing pandemic, and not permanent. Insiders add that the AMC arrangement was agreed to in March.

For the most part, I’m not too surprised. It’s now abundantly clear that this release method has a significant impact on the box office returns of a movie. The recent release of “The Suicide Squadis proof enough of that, despite being loved by critics and fans alike. Having seen the movie and enjoyed it immensely, I feel like it definitely deserved a bigger box office than it got.

Given how much these movies cost to produce, it’s unreasonable to expect the studios and the actors involved to be comfortable with this arrangement. Pandemic or not, this is not the same success they’re used to. If movies released simultaneously on streaming make this little at the box office, then that’s just not sustainable. Something has to give.

At the same time, a part of me wonders whether this reversion to a more traditional movie-release schedule will lead to even more change. I get why movie theaters want to go back to the old model where a movie as bad as “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” could still make a billion dollars at the global box office. I just don’t know if we’ll ever see anything like that again.

It doesn’t help that the pandemic isn’t over. In fact, it may never truly be over if things keep going badly. That means things like packed movie theaters just might never come back entirely. We may very well never see another billion-dollar movie again.

In that sense, can we still say that WB’s streaming experiment failed? We don’t yet know how much or how little movies like “Space Jam 2” and “The Suicide Squad” impacted HBO Max subscriptions. We also don’t know how much or how little these types of movies affect the movie-making process or how those involved are compensated. The fact that Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over releasing “Black Widow” on streaming hints the current system is very flawed.

Maybe there’s a sweet spot between day-and-date releases on streaming and theatrical runs. A part of me thinks that a 45-day release window is basically not too different from the old way of doing things. Personally, I think if studios like WB want to maximize both box office and streaming, they’d make that release window a lot more narrow. That would create a scarcity that could prompt more people to go to the movies.

Perhaps that window needs to be longer to allow bigger budget movies to turn a profit. Maybe a two-month window would accomplish that. I honestly don’t know. I think nobody knows at this point. The industry is just changing so much and chances are there will be more changes by the end of this year. Whether or not they’ll be good for the industry and those who work in it remains to be seen.

In the end, maybe this whole experiment will be just a first step in that change. It might not have worked as well as everyone would’ve liked, but few things ever do. It was something new and bold during a time of unprecedented upheaval. Plenty of good and bad can come out of that.

Also, I will miss turning my living room into my own personal movie theater. It was indeed nice while it lasted. However, for the good of the industry and the movies I love, I understand that the experiment was not a solution. Hopefully, more good comes out of this in the long run.

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Filed under Current Events, HBO Max, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, movies

What The COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdowns Have Helped People Realize (According To Reddit)

Let’s be honest. At this time last year, a lot of us were in a bad place. The COVID-19 pandemic was going full throttle. We didn’t have a vaccine yet and had no idea how long it would take to get one. Even by then, the deniers and the idiots couldn’t avoid it. This crisis was real. These lockdowns and public health measures were real. We didn’t know how long it was going to last. Normal, as we knew it, may as well have been another lifetime.

Now, we can actually say with a straight face that the pandemic is almost over. Thanks to widespread vaccine efforts, we’re at a point where many of those emergency measures are being lifted. Even among the states that were hardest hit, the final restrictions are coming down. The normality we once took for granted is almost upon us once more.

I cannot overstate how big a relief that is. I also doubt anyone will forget what it was like to endure over a year of lockdowns and restrictions. I like to think we won’t take this sort of thing for granted again, although that may be hoping for too much. For me personally, this pandemic has taught me a lot about just how frail our modern world is. It also taught me how vulnerable we still are as a species and a society.

That’s just one of many lessons. Others have learned them to and then some. Now, as the restrictions are lifting and life as we knew it is returning, I think it’s beneficial that we all take a moment to reflect on what this pandemic helped us realize. Many of those realizations were harsh, to say the least. They’re still worth acknowledging.

To that end, I found a helpful video from the YouTube Channl, Radio TTS. This channel covers some posts from the popular r/AskReddit subreddit. Some of these responses are a lot more personal than anything I experienced. They’re still worth sharing. If you have others you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.

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Suicides (Surprisingly) Went Down During 2020: Possible Reasons And Insights

Every now and then, I go out of my way to highlight good or uplifting news. From brave priests who do defy the Vatican to wholesome comic strips involving Mr. Rogers, I try to use these stories to lift everyone’s spirits during difficult times.

Let’s face it. We’ve had a lot of that lately. Last year gave us plenty of difficulties, to say the least. It certainly doesn’t help that good stories rarely make the news, mostly because it doesn’t garner ratings or shock value. I tried to do my part, but I admit it wasn’t easy.

I managed to find some silver linings, by they hardly made up for all the soul-crushing hardship that year wrought. My spirit is still not fully intact after being so broken by last year.

Even so, I still want to make that effort to highlight good news, especially when it’s unexpected or surprising. One such story involves the less-than-uplifting topic of suicide, something that is both emotionally charged and incredibly devastating for a great many people and their families.

If ever there was a year during which people could be forgiven for thinking such morbid thoughts, it’s 2020. If a story came out that indicated suicides went up during 2020 as the pandemic raged, then I doubt anyone would be surprised. It probably wouldn’t even be news.

However, according to a story from CBS, that’s not what happened. In fact, the opposite occurred. Against all dire assumptions and understandable cynicism, the number of suicides in the US declined significantly during 2020. I’ll give everyone a minute to wrap their heads around that.

CBS News: U.S. suicides dropped last year, defying pandemic expectations

The number of U.S. suicides fell nearly 6% last year amid the coronavirus pandemic — the largest annual decline in at least four decades, according to preliminary government data.

Death certificates are still coming in and the count could rise. But officials expect a substantial decline will endure, despite worries that COVID-19 could lead to more suicides.

It is hard to say exactly why suicide deaths dropped so much, but one factor may be a phenomenon seen in the early stages of wars and national disasters, some experts suggested.

“There’s a heroism phase in every disaster period, where we’re banding together and expressing lots of messages of support that we’re in this together,” said Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “You saw that, at least in the early months of the pandemic.”

An increase in the availability of telehealth services and other efforts to turn around the nation’s suicide problem may have also contributed, she said.

I want to make one thing clear again before proceeding. Suicide is a serious issue that affects a lot of people. If at all you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, please consider calling a help line or reaching out to someone. There are people out there who will listen.

Having said that, I also want to note that this news genuinely surprised me. Even as someone who tries to have more faith in humanity than most, this is pretty much the opposite of what I would’ve assumed and in the best possible way.

During a crisis, people tend to panic. We all saw that last year. Anyone who fought someone for access to toilet paper remembers that. When people panic, they get stressed out. When they get stressed, they tend to get depressed. How else are you supposed to feel when you see the death toll climbing every day?

Despite all that, fewer people fell beyond that darkest of dark points. More chose to endure. That bold part is something I highlighted because that is a real effect. Whenever a disaster strikes, people tend to come together. Things like political divisions, racial strife, and what not tend to fall to the wayside when we’re all at the mercy of something we can’t control.

It’s one of humanity’s greatest strengths. Our tribalism may divide us a lot during times of peace, but when the going gets tough, we come together for the sake of survival. That’s powerful sentiment and one that can bring out the best in people. During a global pandemic, we all have to come together to some extent to make it through.

In addition, some cite the rise of telemedicine and the ability to treat people with mental illness remotely as a contributing factor. I certainly think that played a part, but I suspect that the shared struggle and solidarity that often comes during a disaster was a larger factor.

That same shared sense of community and commonality directly counter some of the most powerful risk factors for suicide. Those who make that dire choice often feel alone and isolated. They feel they lack that core sense of community that’s so critical to any social species.

The fact it was strong enough to reduce suicide during a once-in-a-century pandemic is both revealing and encouraging. It shows that this shared sense of community has tangible benefits to large swaths of people. It also hints that the world we had prior to the pandemic wasn’t given enough people this sense of connection.

You can blame that on any number of things, from smartphones to outrage culture to politics. I certainly have my theories, but I’m not smart enough or informed enough to make them credible. I highlight this story because I think it offers and important perspective.

When things get really bad, people will come together. It’s only when they get bad enough that we realize how much more we can do as a community than we can as individuals. We shouldn’t forget that. Even after this pandemic is over and things revert to some semblance of normalcy, we can’t forget that we’re a social species.

We need each other.

We need friends, family, and neighbors. It doesn’t just make us all stronger during a crisis. It’s an integral part of being human.

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Why I’m (Still) Hesitating To Make Plans For The Summer Of 2021

This is usually the time of year when I celebrate the end of winter. For months, I’ve dealt with cold days, long nights, and a frustrating inability to comfortably wear flip-flops when walking around my neighborhood. At this point, I’m ready for warm weather. I’m downright eager for it.

However, this is not a usual year. I still remember vividly how, around this time last year, I was making ambitious plans for the summer. I knew where I wanted to go, who I wanted to visit, and what I wanted to do during the hottest days of summer. This is fairly typical for me.

Then, the pandemic hit and I don’t think I need to remind everyone of how that messed up my plans.

Needless to say, a lot of plans in 2020 got messed up. Plenty of plans in 2021 have been disrupted as well. However, there is legitimate hope that we are turning the tide against this pandemic. We have multiple vaccines being implemented all over the world and more are likely to arrive in the coming months.

The end of this pandemic is in sight. I’m trying to take comfort in that. I really am.

After last year, though, I just can’t bring myself to be that optimistic. I had my hopes and spirit crushed repeatedly last year. I missed out on opportunities and big family events that still break my heart to this day. I can never get those moments back.

I still want to try to create new moments this year, but a lot has to go right for that to happen and after last year, I’m not ready to make such lofty assumptions. The less-than-efficient vaccination efforts have already done plenty to disappoint.

Even so, the trend lines for the pandemic are going in the right direction, for the most part. We can say with a straight face that the worst is behind us. That doesn’t mean the end will come as soon as we want.

Then, there’s the matter of new variants to the virus. That, more than anything, has me concerned about making summer plans. If just one of those variants proves to be a problem, then everything would be set back considerably. We might not be back at square one, but we would be pretty damn close.

So far, it does appear that the vaccines are effective against these new variants. The key term there is “so far.” If we learned anything last year, it’s that things can change very quickly and go horribly wrong in the span of a day.

I don’t want that to happen.

I hope it doesn’t happen.

It may still happen and a part of me can’t help but brace for that.

I still want to make plans for this summer. I want to go to the beach, go to the movies, visit friends and family, go to a baseball game, and enjoy a family barbecue at some point. Even if I can’t do everything I hope to do, I’d like to be able to do some of it.

I hope the world is healed enough by then to make that possible.

I hope everyone else gets a chance to make summer plans as well. We’ll just have to wait and see, once again hoping for the best while bracing for the worst.

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The COVID-19 Pandemic: One Year Later

At this time last year, the world was a very different place. There’s a running joke that people now refer to this as “the before times,” but in retrospect, it’s no laughing matter. The world, as we knew it, before the COVID-19 pandemic might as well have been a different universe. Honestly, I look back at those times with mixed emotions now.

Back then, we could go to a crowded movie theater and not feel unsafe.

Back then, we could go to a restaurant without a mask and not feel at risk.

Back then, we could go to a concert or sporting event and enjoy being surrounded by thousands of cheering fans.

Back then, we could decide to travel on a whim, going wherever we pleased without concern about what was closed or cancelled.

I long for those times, as well. I miss them as much as everyone else. Even with all the encouraging news about vaccines and improved treatment, the world is a long way from returning to those fanciful times. Some wonder if we’ll ever go back. I hope we do, but I don’t want to dwell too much on that.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because, here in America, we’re nearing the one-year mark for one things really went south. The COVID-19 pandemic may have begun in late 2019, but the world didn’t really start feeling the effects until February 2020. That’s when the news started to get scary and dire. That’s also when things started shutting down, from major sports to major events.

However, it really didn’t sink in until March 2020. That’s when it became painfully clear. This was not going away quickly. This was not some storm that would pass. It was not going to go away after a few weeks, despite what some claimed. It was when the harsh reality sank in. The pandemic was here and our lives were never going to be the same.

I remember where I was at this time last year. I was having coffee with my mother on a Sunday morning. She too had been watching the news. We were both concerned, but didn’t know just how bad it was going to get. On that same day, I started getting notices from friends and family. The next day, the state made it official.

Everything was being locked down. Schools were closing. Movie theaters were closing. Everything that wasn’t essential was being locked down. People had to either start teleworking or lose their jobs completely. Nobody could travel outside their state. Some states even began stopping people with out-of-state plates from entering. It was that serious.

It happened so fast. In just a few days, the world as we knew it shut down. We didn’t know how long it would last. We didn’t know how bad it was going to get, but it got pretty damn bad.

To date, over 2.5 million people have died from this pandemic. Millions more have been sickened and left to suffer. Numbers like that are impossible to wrap your head around. This pandemic crossed borders, cultures, and classes of all kinds. It didn’t matter what you believed in or who you voted for. You were still vulnerable.

It’s hard to overstate how much this pandemic has changed our world in the past year, so I’m not going to try. I don’t doubt that it will have a major place in future history books. It will also be a traumatic moment in our collective memories.

Regardless of your age or background, you’ve felt the effects of this pandemic. This past year has seared itself in your memory for all the wrong reasons. We’re at a point where we can barely remember what the world was like before all this happened. It’s a painful reality, but one we cannot and should not ignore.

I’ll definitely remember this past year. No matter how long I live, I suspect I’ll feel the effects of this year until my dying days. I don’t claim to know what will happen in years to come or how much the world will change from here on out. I just know that, one year ago, the world as I knew it changed forever.

We all took it for granted. We can look back on it fondly, but let’s not dwell on it too much. We can’t change the past. We can only effect the present.

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Filed under Current Events, health, Jack Fisher's Insights, real stories

The First CRISPR Patients Are Living Better: Why That Matters After 2020

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about CRISPR, biotechnology, and the prospect of ordinary people enhancing their biology in ways straight out of a comic book. In my defense, this past year has created plenty of distractions. Some have been so bad that my usual optimism of the future has been seriously damaged.

While my spirit is wounded, I still have hope that science and technology will continue to progress. If anything, it’ll progress with more urgency after this year. A great many fields are bound to get more attention and investment after the damage done by a global pandemic.

We can’t agree on much, but we can at least agree on this. Pandemics are bad for business, bad for people, bad for politics, and just objectively awful for everyone all around, no matter what their station is in life.

There’s a lot of incentive to ensure something like this never happens again is what I’m saying. While we’re still a long way from ending pandemics entirely, we already have tools that can help in that effort. One is CRISPR, a promising tool I’ve talked about in the past. While it wasn’t in a position to help us during this pandemic, research into refining it hasn’t stopped.

Despite all the awful health news of this past year, some new research has brought us some promising results on the CRISPR front. In terms of actually treading real people who have real conditions, those results are in and they give us reason to hope.

One such effort involved using CRISPR to help treat people with Sickle Cell Disease, a genetic condition that hinders the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen. It affects over 4 million people worldwide and often leads to significant complications that can be fatal.

Since CRISPR is all about tweaking genetics, it’s a perfect mechanism with which to develop new therapies. Multiple patients have undergone experimental treatments that utilize this technology. In a report form NPR, the results are exceeding expectations for all the right reasons.

NPR: First Patients To Get CRISPR Gene-Editing Treatment Continue To Thrive

At a recent meeting of the American Society for Hematology, researchers reported the latest results from the first 10 patients treated via the technique in a research study, including Gray, two other sickle cell patients and seven patients with a related blood disorder, beta thalassemia. The patients now have been followed for between three and 18 months.

All the patients appear to have responded well. The only side effects have been from the intense chemotherapy they’ve had to undergo before getting the billions of edited cells infused into their bodies.

The New England Journal of Medicine published online this month the first peer-reviewed research paper from the study, focusing on Gray and the first beta thalassemia patient who was treated.

“I’m very excited to see these results,” says Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, who shared the Nobel Prize this year for her role in the development of CRISPR. “Patients appear to be cured of their disease, which is simply remarkable.”

Make no mistake. This is objectively good news and not just for people suffering from sickle cell disease.

Whenever new medical advances emerge, there’s often a wide gap between developing new treatments and actually implementing them in a way that makes them as commonplace as getting a prescription. The human body is complex. Every individual’s health is different. Taking a treatment from the lab to a patient is among the biggest challenge in medical research.

This news makes it official. CRISPR has made that leap. The possible treatments aren’t just possibilities anymore. There are real people walking this planet who have received this treatment and are benefiting because of it. Victoria Gray, as referenced in the article, is just one of them.

That’s another critical threshold in the development of new technology. When it goes beyond just managing a condition to helping people thrive, then it becomes more than just a breakthrough. It becomes an opportunity.

It sends a message to doctors, researchers, and biotech companies that this technology works. Some of those amazing possibilities that people like to envision aren’t just dreams anymore. They’re manifesting before our eyes. This is just one part of it. If it works for people with Sickle Cell Disease, what other conditions could it treat?

I doubt I’m the first to ask that question. As I write this, there are people far smarter and more qualified than me using CRISPR to develop a whole host of new treatments. After a year like 2020, everyone is more aware of their health. They’re also more aware of why science and medicine matter. It can do more than just save our lives. It can help us thrive.

We learned many hard lessons in 2020, especially when it comes to our health. Let’s not forget those lessons as we look to the future. This technology is just one of many that could help us prosper in ways not possible in previous years. We cheered those who developed the COVID-19 vaccine. Let’s start cheering those working on new treatments with CRISPR.

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A Note On New Years Resolutions For 2021 (And From 2020)

At the start of every year, I make a brief list of New Years Resolutions that I hope to pursue in the coming months. I know it’s corny, but I believe there’s real value to it. Whether you accomplish them or not, setting goals and trying to improve yourself has real merit. I highly recommend that everyone try it. You don’t even have to call it a New Years Resolution.

In previous years, I’ve mentioned my resolutions. I’ve also talked about why many, including myself, often fail to achieve them. At the beginning of 2020, I went through the same process. I laid out some goals and some general plans I hoped to stick to. I didn’t expect to achieve everything, but I was genuinely hopeful.

Then, 2020 became the 2020 that we all hate and dread.

A once-in-a-generation pandemic hit.

Society and the economy shut down.

People lost friends, loved ones, and their jobs.

On top of that, political rhetoric somehow got worse in an election year.

It was bad. If ever there was a year in which you could be forgiven for overlooking your resolutions, it’s 2020. I think most reasonable people agree. We all need a mulligan on our resolutions from last year. We may even need one for the first part of this year, as the impact of 2020 has already extended into January.

For me, personally, the events of 2020 had a serious impact on the resolutions I laid out. The ones I thought would be simple, such as intensifying my gym workouts, proved to be very difficult when gyms were shut down for four months. While I tried to adapt, running more and doing body weight exercises, I still wouldn’t consider that resolution achieved.

My more ambitious resolutions were a lot harder to adapt. Every year, I make it a point to improve my social skills. That’s one of my major deficiencies and has been since high school. It has been a serious uphill battle over the years, learning to talk to people, make friends, and foster meaningful social connections. I’ve gotten much better since college, but I’m still below average.

Last year set me back again. Naturally, it’s pretty damn hard to work on your social skills when people are social distancing, working from home, or self-isolating due to concerns over illness. It turns out it’s just not easy to be sociable during a global pandemic. Go figure.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t make an effort. I really did try to adapt. Learning how to use Zoom and getting family members to embrace video chatting really helped. I was able to both maintain and even strengthen the connections I had. When it came to making new ones, though, I was very limited.

As a result, my resolution to make a concerted effort to find girlfriend was effectively shunted. There was just no dating scene during a pandemic. It’s hard to embrace romance when so many people are afraid of kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or just going new places with someone. While online dating tried to adapt, I struggled to keep up.

If nothing else, last year made me realize how lucky other couples were to have that connection through the pandemic. You may be stuck at home, but you’re not alone and you have someone who can keep you grounded when you start to go stir crazy.

I needed that in 2020.

I needed that more than I care to admit.

Hopefully, that motivates me even more to put myself out there and find love later this year. I may ultimately have to wait until next year for things to be normal enough to embrace romantic pursuits, once more. I’m still willing to put in the effort in the meantime. If 2020 taught me anything, it’s that a crisis is much easier to endure when you have someone to endure it with.

Other resolutions, like traveling to certain places and taking an exotic vacation, had to be pushed back for purely pragmatic reasons. Missing out on those resolutions wasn’t too jarring. It’s just a matter of finding the time and making arrangements. That’s relatively easy to do once things settle. It’s the harder resolutions that might take longer.

I still want to make those resolutions for 2021. I also encourage others to do so, even if it just means carrying over every resolution they couldn’t achieve in 2020. That’s perfectly fine. I think most people would understand. Last year was a mess. We all deserve a pass.

At the same time, let’s not overlook the fact that a lost year is still a lost year. None of us are getting any younger. I’m getting to an age where I can’t afford to lose too many years, especially if I want to put myself out there, explore new places, and eventually find love.

So, regardless of how you feel about New Years Resolutions and the scars of 2020, I think it’s wise we all pursue our goals in 2021 with greater urgency. We don’t have to completely make up for all the time we lost in 2021. We should just remember how quickly plans can get derailed by forces beyond our control.

We can face some very tough setbacks over the course of our lives, but we should never stop pursuing meaningful goals.

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The Perfect Love Story For 2020 (Courtesy Of Ryan Reynolds)

I’m a big fan of romance, love stories, and the sexy stuff that comes with it. I hope the novels and sexy short stories that I’ve written have made that abundantly clear. I’m an unapologetic sucker for a good romance, be it cute, cheesy, raunchy, or some combination of the three.

I also don’t deny that 2020 has been a goddamn nightmare. As bad as previous years have been, 2020 has risen the bar for all things awful. This year has caused many people objective pain, loss, and heartbreak. I’m just one of many.

This year has taken such a heavy toll on me personally. It’s taken a far worse toll on many others, especially health care workers and doctors. However, as bad as it has been, there’s still room for a good love story.

Granted, that love story would have to be weird on a whole new level to function in a year like 2020.

Thankfully, that’s why we have people like Ryan Reynolds.

He doesn’t just play a fast-talking anti-hero in skin-tight outfits. He’s done some objectively heroic things in real life. Sometimes, he even supplements that effort with something that just makes us laugh, cry, and cringe all at once.

This latest project is one of them. It’s built around a love story. However, it’s a very twisted love story and one that can only occur in a year like 2020. I wish I could put it into words and do it justice. I am just not a good enough writer.

Just see for yourself. You’ll understand. I promise.

Yes, that was real.

Yes, that was a love story about Satan and the year 2020, in the form of a woman.

Yes, that was every bit as fucked up as you thought it was. It’s also every bit as glorious.

As a fan of romance, as well as someone who appreciates the all-around awfulness of this year, this was just perfect. It’s poetic in its approach, doubling down on the notion that this year has been Hell and taking it to a literal extreme.

At the same time, it shows how love can blossom. Even if you’re the ruler of Hell and the worst year in human history in female form, you can make it work. It’s just a matter of finding that perfect person to connect with. When it happens, it’s a beautiful thing, even when it involves disturbing figures.

The addition of Taylor Swift music just makes it even more effective. As a love story, you can’t get much more genuine and/or disturbing. While a part of me still wants to throw up at the thought of enduring another year like 2020, my romantic side can’t help but take joy in this video.

To Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Swift, and the fine people behind this video, I sincerely thank you. On behalf of romance fans and people who are so sick of 2020, we applaud you. We needed something like this. It’s the only way we’ll continue to live, love, and endure to the next year.

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Thoughts On A (Bittersweet) Black Friday 2020

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

If you did it right, you’re still digesting dinner and desert. I sure am.

However, as fun as it is to enjoy food, family, and football on Thanksgiving, Black Friday has become an extension of sorts for the holiday. For some people, it invites even bolder traditions than Thanksgiving. I’ve known people who will immediately camp outside of major stories almost immediately after Thanksgiving dinner.

I’m not one of them. I prefer enjoying Black Friday shopping on Black Friday. I always have. It’s not that I’m a sucker for sales and excessive consumerism. I just genuinely enjoy the Black Friday shopping experience, from the crowds to the holiday decorations to the various festivities.

I know that makes me weird in the eyes of some. I understand that. Black Friday is one of those events that you either love or hate. You love it because it’s the best shopping time of the season. You hate it because it’s the pinnacle of rampant consumerism. I can appreciate both positions. I still enjoy it.

That’s why this year is so difficult. This is the first year where I won’t partake in any Black Friday shopping sprees of any kind. Thanks to a global pandemic and a massive spike in cases over the past few weeks, pretty much any hope of salvaging this event, even in part, is gone.

For some, it’s no great loss. Not being able to go on a shopping spree in crowded stores probably doesn’t mean much to a lot of people. It means a lot to me.

It’s not just for the shopping part. Like many others, I do most of my Christmas shopping online. I finish nearly 90 percent of my holiday shopping before Black Friday. To me, just getting the gifts I want for my family isn’t the point anymore.

It’s the experience I’ve come to appreciate. That experience is what matters to me. It’s an experience that comes partially from my mother’s fondness of shopping.

She has told me on multiple occasions that her favorite activity with me, when I was a baby, was going shopping at the malls. I feel like I inherited that fondness for the experience from her. It’s one I even shared with my ex-girlfriend years ago. Some of our most memorable moments came while shopping on Black Friday.

Now, it’s just not possible to have any of those moments in a year like this.

It’s not surprising, given the current state of affairs, but it’s still disappointing. It’s yet another indicator that 2020 is a year in which we’ve lost so much. Between major movie releases, major sporting events, and beloved celebrities, the losses just keep accumulating. This is just the latest.

I don’t doubt it’ll come back at some point. Depending on how rapidly we recover from this pandemic, I have a feeling people will be eager to make up for lost experiences next year. I know I will.

Until then, I just want to take a moment to appreciate the past experiences I’ve enjoyed with Black Friday shopping. The experience of just going to malls, being around crowds, and taking part in holiday festivities are some of my favorite aspects of this time of year. I won’t let 2020 ruin my holidays, but I intend to appreciate future Black Fridays even more.

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Remembering (And Learning From) The Cuban Missile Crisis In 2020

I know 2020 has been historically awful.

I know this year will leave an unmistakable scar on countless many for multiple generations.

I know it seems like the world, as we once knew and took for granted, is ending and is never coming back.

I’m living this year-long nightmare with the rest of you. I’m experiencing all the bleak news, life disruptions, and major cancellations. For the rest of my life, no matter how it unfolds, I’ll remember 2020 and how it felt like the world was falling apart. While I don’t deny it will recover, albeit slowly, we will move forward.

At the same time, I think it helps to offer a little perspective. As bad as this year has been and as dire as things seem, you can’t definitively say this is the worst it’s ever been. That’s hyperbole and hyperbole is rarely accurate or helpful. To help make this point, I’d like to remind everyone of a real historical event in which the world almost did actually end.

That event is the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s also a wholly relevant event because, as of this writing, we’re entering the third week of October. That puts us right within that critical timeframe between October 15th and October 27th, 1962. During those fateful days, the crisis unfolded. You don’t need to be an expert in history to appreciate how close we came to nuclear war.

The specifics of the crisis are well-known. The USSR had shipped missiles with nuclear warheads into communist Cuba. The United States, feeling threatened, demanded those missiles be withdrawn. Tensions ensued. Diplomatic and military preparations were made. Every hour counted. Every decision was critical. One wrong move and millions would die in nuclear hellfire.

At one point, it came down to the decision of a single human being on a Russian sub. His name is Vasili Arkhipov and I’ve mentioned him before. It’s not an exaggeration to say that his decision not to fire nuclear-armed torpedoes in response to depth charges prevented nuclear war. We really were that close. This video nicely explains the situation.

Personally, I probably owe that man my life. My father was just kid at the time, but he, my grandmother, and grandfather lived just outside of Washington DC at the time. To offer some perspective, they were less than a 30-minute drive from National Mall and that’s accounting for traffic.

If nuclear war broke out, it’s a given that DC would be among the first targets hit. Had the missiles started flying, my entire family would’ve been among those millions of dead. I wouldn’t be here and it’s doubtful that most of the people reading this wouldn’t be here. Unlike a deadly pandemic, it wouldn’t have been a natural disease. Our destruction would’ve been our own doing.

It all unfolded in the span of two weeks. Think about that, relative how skewed our concepts of time have become in 2020. In just two weeks in 58 years, we almost destroyed ourselves and our entire civilization. We were that close to the brink, but we got through it.

It was tense. It took some key decisions from men like Vasili Arkhipov, John F. Kennedy, and Nikita Kruzchev to make it through in one peace, but we made it. There were plenty of opportunities to mess up or make the wrong decisions, but we didn’t. That’s why we’re here in 2020, alive and complaining about having to wear a mask in a restaurant.

Take a moment to appreciate that context.

Take another to appreciate how we moved forward from that event.

After the crisis, both sides of the Iron Curtain went to great lengths to avoid a situation like that. The world shrunk in the sense that communication became more critical. Countries and communities needed to communicate with one another to make sure nothing got overlooked, lost in translation, or mistook.

When there are nuclear weapons in play, you literally cannot afford to make mistakes.

Those were hard lessons for everyone. That’s why I have some sliver of hope that the scars from 2020 will teach us similar lessons. This pandemic has shown just how fragile our civilization still is. It also shows that the deadly forces of nature are apolitical. They don’t care about your ideology, race, or beliefs. They’ll hit us just as hard. They’ll hurt us just as much.

Pandemics don’t give a damn about borders. They don’t give a damn about divisions. They’re as chaotic as a nuclear explosion. They’ll burn and scar anything that gets in their path. We can’t negotiate or bullshit our way out of it. The only way we get through it is by cooperation, compassion, and understanding.

It’s been 58 years since the Cuban Missile Crisis. It left scars on a generation, but those scars ensured we worked harder to avoid nuclear war. I sincerely hope that the scars left by this pandemic will teach a new generation how to cooperate and how to get through a global crisis like this.

Those hopes may seem overly ambitious, given how divided we still are. I believe our desire to not live in a world ravaged by disease or nuclear war will motivate us to unite in the long run.

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Filed under Current Events, human nature, Jack Fisher's Insights, politics