2018 Books

Juan Orozco
Juan Orozco

One of my "intentions" last year was to read more. Unfortunately, I didn't read nearly as much as I wanted to. Technically I didn't read much at all, I listened. Regardless, I am pretty happy that I set up the behavior to enjoy books this last year.

I used to read a lot more as a kid. These days, I don't have the time or don't want to sit idly for so long. I want to change that. Again, for now, I'm just happy that I'm giving my brain some different kind of creative food.

  1. The Power of Habit
  2. The Handmaid's Tale
  3. Kitchen Confidential (RIP Tony)
  4. Ready Player One (again)
  5. Outside the Wire
  6. Howl's Moving Castle
  7. Children of the Mind
  8. Artemis
  9. Hyperion (I think I finished this in December but can't remember...)

Hyperion is by far the best thing I "read" last year. Handmaid's Tale is bleak and disturbing as hell but kinda mind-blowing at the same time (I can see some of that stuff actually happening). Kitchen Confidential was important to me because I so love Anthony Burdain's views towards life. Oddly enough, I learned more about leadership from his book than I thought I would.

What is introspection

Juan Orozco
Juan Orozco

How do you learn from mistakes? How do you see challenges? How do you take critique?

I've been wondering and theorizing about my own ability to self-analyze. I assume most people feel the same way towards self and others, that we all want success and happiness. Whatever that means to you.

Yet, what I see, sometimes, is a sort of slow self-destruction through stagnation or through arrogance. Do we see failure as being easier than change? Change is hard, but remaining static is deadly.

I’ve been there. I have failed HARD. I took a step back, looked at how my actions got me there and thought critically what I could have done differently.

Sometimes, I did mostly everything right with the knowledge I had at the time. Sometimes I could have sought more knowledge. Sometimes, I could have been more proactive. Regardless, in every case, there were opportunities for growth; for change.

The really big failures caused the most stress and the most change. But also resulted in the most opportunities for happiness.

I'm not offering an answer here, just the question: Is change really worth giving up being happier?

Quick Movie Reviews – Annihilation and Automata

Juan Orozco
Juan Orozco

I've been a HUGE Natalie Portman fan since Leon (and a MEGA Gary Oldman fan for equally as long). I don't really have a problem with the Star Wars prequels but her participation in the Thor movies was totally punching below her weight. Still, if she had fun that's all that matters. Mars Attacks and V for Vandetta are more of my favorites. Black Swan and The Other Boleyn Girl, great performances of hers but not really my thing as far as movies go.

I watched Annihilation, finally, after discovering it was on Amazon Prime. I enjoyed the subtlety, striking images, and depth so so much. I am surprised that Annihilation slipped past my radar when it released - I feel bad not having watched it sooner! The ending blew me away - I sat there and almost rewatched the final scene where she enters the lighthouse. I didn't because, well, life. Still, that ending is jammed pack with subtlety. It's beautiful.

The ending is presented in a subjective manner, it could mean so many things. Ultimately, I just really enjoy philosophical movies like this, movies that show us some analog to life that causes us to question things. I LOVE THAT. I love wondering and pondering. I love different points of view.

I wish I had time to watch it again. Instead, I took to the internet to find out what other people thought of it. I found discussions about how the movie is about self-destruction, mutations, cancer, corruption, change, death, life... I agree. With all of it, especially the theme of self-destruction and with change.

With respects to people that have been touched by depression, loss, and cancer - I thought this movie touched on these subjects with sensitivity. The film is a good discussion on what happens when we self-destruct but from a point of view of an ecosystem instead of a single mind. I mean, when you break it down, people and planets are both organisms made up of other organisms.

Ok, so here's how I rate films.

  1. Own a hardcopy. (I love digital copies but I'm getting old so I think I have to say "hardcopy" soon)
  2. Watch it... as soon as you can. Renting is fine but you might want to own it.
  3. Watch it... when you can. Wait for streaming services to get it. Or rent it if you like.
  4. Watch it when you have nothing else to watch. It's entertaining, at least.
  5. Ignore it.

Annihilation is definitely a hard "own it".


I don't remember this movie doing to well. The intro made me wince. I'm a fan of less is more. If you need to explain a lot in the beginning, we're likely going to have "story telling" issues throughout. The plentiful text was followed up by a decent credit montage that showed a sort of golden age of human ingenuity trending to the downfall of society.

Thinking back, the montage is basically a high-level view of the movie. The rest of the film is just this one random dude's moment that allows watchers to relate so they can understand the montage. /shrug

Overall, it was OK. I like Antonio Banderas - Assassins is a guilty pleasure of mine, as corny as Antonio's acting was in that film. I also really love Desperado (and the El Mariachi trilogy overall - first movie is the best, of course). He was pretty good in this as well. He exercises some range to go from this overworked jaded guy to this freaked out guy to a somewhat inner peace guy. Not award worthy but not horrible either. His final scene is pretty damn good.

The story telling did, in fact, have issues, though. There were interesting things being discussed but then... meh. Ohhhh!! Super intelligence?! Neat! Wait, no, sorry... just self-awareness. Still cool but we are sold so hard on the "super brain" thing for nothing.

This is repeated throughout the movie - plenty of rope-a-doping. There's talk about the main character betraying his species. Super interesting! Yes, let's go there. Oh, wait, this just in... Nope, it doesn't seem like we're going there after all, sorry.

In the end we find out that humans suck and we really don't deserve the chance of life we were given. I mean, fair point but there was nothing driving the story to that point. The only support for this was the typical homicidal henchman antagonist. Ok, there were other characters that supported the "humans deserve extinction" idea but their screen time was brief and their contributions lost.

I remember looking forward to this movie but when I saw how poorly it did, I just never looked back. I saw it was on Netflix and decided to finally watch it. That fits perfectly in line with my rating for it: Watch it when you have nothing else to watch.

Oh, one thing that reallllyyy bugs me? The beginning of the film, Antonio's character shows a family how safe robots are by trying to drop a knife on his own hand. The robot demonstrates some agility by quickly catching the knife before it can hurt Antonio's hand. That must have been the latest model robot because the rest of the robots can't move as fast to literally save their own lives from bullets and such. Ugh! *shakes fist*

Go watch Annihilation.