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2020 LAPC: $400 Limit Hold’em Tournament

January 29, 2020

I started my trip off with a -$464 in some 20/40 LHE last night. It was one of those instances where I didn’t really want to play and then I go play anyway and book a loss and wonder why I do this to myself. The loss isn’t big, or even noteworthy, it’s the nit listening to myself that bothers me.

I woke up at 8am and spent the next 8+ hours in travel mode. We were talking about putting in a session around 5:30 PM and the 12 mile commute to The Bike was a solid 45 minutes or so and it wasn’t looking like I would get in a game until 6:30ish and I didn’t really want to play past midnight… so what was I doing? I thought they might get their 25/50 mix game off the ground and that’s what ultimately pushed me out the door. But that never happened. And for most of the time I spent playing 20, the games were pretty blah. Of course, it didn’t help much having my friends Radio Mike and Ducky at my tables most of the time.

But then I got moved to the third table – the main game – and suddenly the game looked pretty ripe. I saw six different players at the table employing limping into their strategy and some of them were showing up with some LOL hands.

My favorite hand of the night: two players limp in and I check my option with 98dd. The flop is A83 with two clubs. I bet and the second limper calls. The turn is a 6 and it goes bet-call again. The river is a 4 and I don’t see much value here, so I check it over to him and he checks back. I table my hand. The dealer pulls my cards in and shows my 5-card hand and my opponent stares at it for a solid 10+ seconds. I’m not sure what all the theatrics are for in this micro pot but it seems pretty obvious that my hand is good and then he confirms this by flipping over an 8 so I guess he’s just slow folding because he’s annoyed that I have him outkicked here? Another 5-8 seconds go by before he flips over a ten and wins the pot. I have no history with this player so I don’t know wtf is going on here but wow.

Unfortunately, I was too tired and it was approaching midnight so I didn’t get a chance to play much in what looked to be a juicy game. I didn’t want to push myself on my first day here and start my first tourney wishing I had gotten more sleep.

The Limit Hold’em tourney starts in about an hour. Ducky got buried last night and played until the early morning hours trying to get even (and booked a $500 win!) so he will not be joining Radio Mike, Joker, and myself for this $400 LHE event – at least not for the start of the tourney. I think he tumbled in around 9am and late reg closes around 4, so I’ll be pretty surprised to see him sign up today.

Check back here for stack updates for all three of us and maybe some notable hands if I feel like sharing and have the time.

Details: 8-handed play, 15k starting stacks, blinds starting at 100/100, 30 minute levels

My table is 6-handed right now and I don’t recognize anyone.

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January 2020 Movie Reviews

January 28, 2020

Parasite (2019, theaters) *second watch – I had to watch this one twice before I wrote about it just to be sure that it was as truly great as I thought it was the first time. It’s official now: Parasite is my favorite movie of 2019 and it’s unlikely that anything I haven’t seen yet will top it at this point. The film is just pure brilliance: it’s gripping, funny, surprising and beautifully filmed, all while acting as a commentary on the divide between social classes, plus the ensemble cast does a great (and mostly overlooked) job. Maybe the cast has been snubbed by American awards because Parasite is a Korean film and American audiences are spending a good deal of the movie reading the subtitles instead of watching the performances. You definitely can’t appreciate an acting performance to its full extent if you don’t understand what they are saying and your attention is elsewhere most of the time. I guess that’s understandable, but still… I thought the cast was great overall and, even without knowing the language, I could see that Kang-ho Song (poor dad), Yeo-jeong Jo (rich wife), So-dam Park (poor daughter), and Jeong-eun Lee (housekeeper) all gave standout performances. I think Parasite deserves the Best Picture Oscar (but I think 1917 is probably the favorite) and the Oscar for Best Screenplay should be a lock as anything else winning would be laughable. Parasite is the best movie of the year and possibly the only truly sensational film to come out of 2019.

9/10 (Sensational)

1917 (2019, theaters) – This movie is a technical marvel. It’s a war picture that’s presented to look like everything was filmed in one shot (it wasn’t). I think it’s a cool concept and while I could spot certain times where they probably made a cut (i.e. the actors disappear behind a solid object so there are no moving parts on screen), I think they sold it really well and I would imagine some of these sequences still had to be extraordinarily long and that’s pretty damn impressive, both from a filming aspect and the ability of the actors to carry out the scenes convincingly. The set designs in this film are unreal and I would imagine 1917 has a really good shot at the Production Design Oscar. The story follows two soldiers sent to the front lines to deliver a message to stop their attack, or something of that nature. The character development in this isn’t a strength but I didn’t mind. I may not have been emotionally invested in the story, but I was definitely blown away by how it was presented. I could see people that don’t appreciate the technical aspects of films thinking that 1917 is pretty meh, but I loved it and I think it firmly lands in my top 5 of the year.

8/10 (Must See)

Uncut Gems (2019, theaters) – This one has polarized audiences – people either seem to love it or absolutely loathe it. I was in the former camp, as I was entertained the whole movie and thought it was borderline hilarious, but not in the in-your-face kind of way an Adam Sandler comedy usually is. Uncut Gems is much more subtle with the humor, possibly because a lot of the funniest parts are also a bit horrifying. I’ve heard this movie described as a two hour panic attack and that’s not a bad description. The movie opens with Sandler’s character getting a colonoscopy and that’s by far the most relaxing moment he has in the entire movie. After that point, he’s nonstop on the go and the tension basically never lets up. This movie is about a foul-mouthed (Uncut Gems has the 7th most “F-words” in cinematic history) NYC Diamond District jewelry peddler that bets big on sports and spends his life looking for ways to stay in action while dodging the loan sharks he owes. It’s grimy. It’s unsettling. It’s definitely disturbing. But I liked it a lot and Adam Sandler is great in it. I’m not sure he got snubbed for an Oscar nom, but I wouldn’t have found it alarming to see him get a nod. I’m hesitant to recommend Uncut Gems because so many people disliked it, but if we have similar taste, you might find yourself enjoying this just as much as I did.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019, rental) *second watch – My first review for this movie wasn’t that favorable but a second viewing made a huge difference. Maybe it’s all about expectations? I’ve gone from wondering what the heck I just watched to loving this film. Previously, I thought the plot meandered along with no meaningful connection between the multiple storylines and the climax rubbed me the wrong way (and maybe it still does) but now I can’t help but appreciate the sheer brilliance of everything that’s happening on the screen – from the unreal performances from both Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, to the ridiculously detailed old school Hollywood set designs, to the music, to the wonderful cinematography. Also, there are multiples sequences in this movie that will probably wind up being iconic. I still think the ending of this movie is weird and probably disrespectful, but… it’s also kind of cool? Same with the Bruce Lee scene. Disrespectful? Yeah, probably. Hilarious and awesome? Uh… yes. I can’t think of too many movies that have grown on me this much with a second watch, but this is now one of my favorite films of the year.

8/10 (Must See)

Little Women (2019, theaters) – I’ve never read the classic novel or seen any of the previous film versions of this story, so I have nothing to compare it to and that might be a good thing. I was excited to see Greta Gerwig’s follow-up to her excellent Lady Bird and the cast looked unreal. Unsurprisingly, the cast absolutely delivers. Saoirse Ronan is arguably the best actress under thirty and earned her fourth Oscar nomination in the last twelve years and it is well deserved. Pretty impressive for someone that hasn’t had their 26th birthday yet. Florence Pugh completed a trifecta of great performances in 2019 (the others being Fighting With My Family and Midsommar) and capped off her amazing year by getting an Oscar nod for this movie. I’m not even sure it’s even her second best performance of the year, but I’m definitely happy to see her get nominated… she deserves it. Maybe not for this role… but something. All of them? I was enjoying Little Women for most of the run time, but the last act really brought everything together wonderfully and kicked my rating up a tick. It’s a fun film about people that only cements Gerwig’s status as a top notch film director. I give it a strong recommendation, but it’s definitely not a bro movie.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Judy (2019, rental) – I did not enjoy Judy, but I do give credit to Renee Zellweger for her great performance and it’s definitely the highlight of the movie. I’ve enjoyed plenty of depressing films – and Judy Garland’s last few years on earth are definitely sad – but I just didn’t get into this one. It’s possible I just wasn’t paying enough attention, as I was multitasking while watching it. Zellweger is wonderfully unrecognizable and dives deep into character, convincingly selling herself as an old time celebrity trying to recapture the limelight while battling addiction and alcoholism and struggling to hold her family together. And she also bets out some impressive songs. I loved Zellweger’s performance. I did not love the movie.

5/10 (Decent)

I Lost My Body (2019, Netflix) – Nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar, this is a weird, but cool little film that finds a severed hand escaping from a laboratory to reconnect with its body. This was definitely an enjoyable movie with some pretty awesome animation and a quirky story. I accidentally watched the English dubbed version of this and the subtitles often didn’t match up with what was being said and that was kind of aggravating. I didn’t realize this is actually a French film, so if any of you choose to watch this on Netflix, I would recommend setting the audio to French and using English subtitles – the way it is meant to be watched. After Missing Link won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, I have no clue what to expect from the Oscars in this category, but I’d be pretty surprised to see this edge out Toy Story 4.

6/10 (Recommended)

The Mustang (2019, rental) – A long imprisoned man that can’t connect in any meaningful way with people, including his daughter, forms an unlikely bond with a stubborn wild mustang when he enters a rehabilitation program while doing outside maintenance at the jail. It’s a touching and sad film with solid performances from Matthias Schoenaerts and Bruce Dern. I give it a solid recommendation.

6/10 (Recommended)

21 (2008, Netflix) *second watch – It’s been over a decade since I watched this movie, long enough that I have mostly forgotten everything that happened in the Ben Mezrich book it’s adapted from. I really liked the book and thought the movie did a poor job of bringing the story to screen, either because they left stuff out or changed too much. I just know I didn’t like the movie because I didn’t think it did the book justice. But I don’t remember the differences between the two mediums now so I’m judging this second watch just based on the merits of the movie alone. I guess it’s a good sign that my friends started the movie and I didn’t leave the room or turn it off after they went to bed. That’s something. But it’s also pretty stupid. The concept is cool: a group of MIT students and their professor develop a card-counting system designed to avoid detection and take Las Vegas for heaps of dollars.

5/10 (Decent)

Yes Man (2008, Netflix) – A decent Jim Carrey movie that’s pretty similar to Liar, Liar in concept but not as funny. It was moderately entertaining while I was watching it, but it didn’t stick with me at all and was basically instantly forgettable.

4/10 (Forgettable)

Oscar nominated movies I haven’t seen yet: Jojo Rabbit, The Two Popes, Ford vs Ferrari, Pain and Glory, Bombshell, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Richard Jewell, Harriet, Honeyland, Missing Link

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2020 LAPC Schedule

January 25, 2020

I’ll be headed to Los Angeles for the LAPC next week so here’s a look at the events I’ll be targeting:

Wednesday, 1/29 – $400 Limit Hold’em
Thursday, 1/30 – $400 H.O.R.S.E. (Hold’em, Omaha 8/B, Razz, Stud, Stud 8/B)
Friday, 1/31 – $400 T.O.E. (2-7 Triple Draw, Omaha 8/B, Stud 8/B)
Saturday, 2/1 – Cash Games (or $400 No Limit H.O.R.S.E.)
Sunday, 2/2 – Cash Games (or hunt down a Jojo Rabbit showing)
Monday, 2/3 – $600 Omaha 8/B
Tuesday, 2/4 – $600 Stud (or Cash Games)
Wednesday, 2/5 – $600 2-7 Triple Draw
Thursday, 2/6 – $600 H.O.R.S.E.
Friday, 2/7 – $600 Draw Mix (2-7 Triple Draw, A-5 Triple Draw, Badugi)

I’m really excited about this series because I feel like my mix game play has come a long way… even since I played this same series last year. I’ve never played a 2-7 Triple Draw tournament, or a Stud Hi tournament, and I’ve only played one tournament each of T.O.E. and Draw Mix. But I’ve played all these games a ton over the past year. The No Limit H.O.R.S.E. tourney is intriguing, but I think it’s important to prioritize a cash game day over a tournament I didn’t plan to play. Commerce does award bonus money to the Mix Game Player of the Series so if I happen to bink one of my first few events, I’ll have to consider playing as many as I can and that would also require return trips later in the month. Also, I’m not a lock to play the $600 Stud tourney. If I skip any event I have in ink right now, that’ll be the one. Matt Savage (the Tournament Director) didn’t schedule any events for Sunday because of the Super Bowl, so I’ll be playing cash games that day, but I kind of like the idea of starting a tradition of going to the movie theater during the Big Game I don’t give a shit about, so if Jojo Rabbit is playing anywhere nearby, that’s what I’ll be doing.

Joker, Radio Mike, and Ducky will be joining me for the first 4-5 days of this trip and I think all of them are planning to play the LHE event, so that will be a fun day to sweat. I’ll probably post some blogs with stack updates, but I won’t be doing any in-depth writing while I’m on the road.

My last trip to Commerce was just profitable enough to nudge it below Aria on my list of worst locations ever. It is still one of three locations I’ve lost over $2k at (Tulalip and Aria being the others) and the only casino in the world where I’ve played 200+ hours and have lost money overall.

So… let’s change that and get 2020 off to a nice start!

Click here for the full LAPC schedule.

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2019 Poker Results

January 23, 2020

2019 has been a rough year for me, professionally. I feel like I mostly coasted through my first 2+ years gambling for a living. Buoyed by a huge summer at the 2016 World Series of Poker, I had what is still easily my best year of poker in 2016 and that allowed me to quit my day job in October of that year. I followed that amazing year up by making just over 80% of my 2016 poker net profit in both 2017 and 2018 – numbers I’m extremely happy with considering the stakes I play regularly and a home state that isn’t really a prime poker location. Of course, in 2017 I had a $45k score at the WSOP and in 2018 I took 1st in a tournament at the Muckleshoot Spring Classic and then won Player of the Series – good for a combined ~$26k profit in just a few days. So in each of the previous three years, I’ve had huge tournament success (for the stakes I play and the volume I put in) that really gave my overall profits a huge boost at the end of the year.

I didn’t get that boost this year. I did make a nice run in the $2500 Omaha 8/Stud 8 tourney at the WSOP, finishing 12th for around $12.5k, but that was my only good score of the entire year and I ended up having the first losing year of tournament poker that I think I’ve ever had. I certainly haven’t had a losing year of tourney poker since I started keeping meticulous records in 2011. Even going back to my drinking days during the pre-Black Friday era, I don’t think I ever had a losing year in tournaments. My thing back then was I would always have really nice tournament scores online and then blow all my profits back playing cash games when I was drunk. I can’t even tell you how many times I woke up from a night of drinking with $0 in my online poker accounts. It was like clockwork.

I’m not a tournament player though so it’s not like I can rely on big tourney scores as part of my annual income. I play a decent amount of events during the LAPC and WSOP (plus a few others throughout the year), but even in the big series, I play very few events compared to people that probably consider themselves tournament regulars. Obviously these big scores are great when they happen – and I’ve proven I can find them with decent frequency considering my volume – but they aren’t reliable and when you factor tournament wins into my last four years, the results play a pretty significant factor in my overall numbers (positively the first three years and negatively this year). I’ll get more into my actual tournament results later.

So yeah… I didn’t get that extra boost and that’s fine. What’s unfortunate is that I also combined it with a subpar cash game year. This has been somewhat documented already, but I’ll get into it in more detail later.

Considering all this, the second half of 2019 was the first time in years that I really wondered about my sustainability of playing poker for a living. Sure, my results were pretty lukewarm and that’s part of it, but the biggest reason I started to feel this way is because of what has happened to the poker scene where I live. I talked about it a bit in my last post, but I’ll recap here: my game of preference is mid-stakes (15/30 – 40/80) Limit Hold’em and those games are really dying in the Puget Sound area. The Fortune 20/40 only goes a few times a week now and only gets one table these days and the Palace 15/30 has really dried up over the last month. The 8/16 games at Palace are as good as ever, but I’ve put in thousands of hours in that game and it seems like $22/hour is about what I can expect to make in the long run. That’s not the worst. I mean, how can you complain about making $20+/hour doing something you really enjoy (and yes, I really do enjoy Limit Hold’em!) I know I can beat bigger games though. I’ve played as high as 50/100 and I’ve always felt like I was a favorite to win money in the long run in any game I’ve played. I’ve encountered plenty of players I think are better than me, but I’ve never really felt outclassed in a game I was sitting in. Even if I was only a 0.5 BB/hr winner at the 40/80 level – and nothing in my history suggests I can’t do at least that well – that’s still $40 an hour! That’s certainly a lot more attractive than playing 8/16 most of the time.

So what’s the answer? Move? Not going to happen. We just bought a house we love a year ago and we both really enjoy living in the Pacific Northwest. Travel more? I guess I have to. I honestly don’t feel like I travel that much considering the job I have, but then I look at my Trip Report for 2019 and see that I spent almost 20% of the year in another state, away from my wife. Plus, we want to start a family eventually and it’s hard to imagine that my time travelling would increase if and when we bring kids into the picture.

I guess it is what it is. I don’t think I have an answer. I suppose I have to just hope that the local scene somehow builds back up to my liking, or I transition to other games (No Limit cash), or online poker comes back, or I win a big enough tournament that I don’t have to really worry about it for a while… or… I get a day job again? Or… I just have to find contentment living at my absolute floor as a poker player.

That’s the battle going forward, but let’s get into my results from last year.

Live Cash Games

I played just over 1400 hours in live cash games and finished with an overall hourly that I’m okay with, but not thrilled about. The main reason I’m lukewarm on my hourly is because of my well-documented meager results at Palace last year. I spent over 65% of my total live cash game hours at Palace and produced my worst hourly in five years of full-time play there. I played 117 hours in home games and booked a $29/hr win rate in those gatherings. And then there are my “road” stats. Basically, any casino not located within a 30 mile is radius is considered a “road” casino in my eyes. I consider places like Palace, Muckleshoot, Red Dragon, and Fortune as “home” casinos, but something like Last Frontier, which is a 2+ hour drive each way and will usually require an overnight stay, is considered a “road” casino and certainly any poker room in another state is. Anyways, my hourly on the road in 2019 was a whopping $100/hr. After filtering out the few hours of big bet poker I played on the road, I’m left with a 1.97 BB/hr win rate in the limit games. Insane… especially considering the fact that I’m almost always playing bigger stakes when I’m travelling. In fact, my winnings on the road accounted for 63% of my live cash game profit in just 20% of the total hours. At least I ran good when it mattered most. Shrug.

My win rates at various limits and games (50 hours minimum):

40/80 LHE: 1.98 BB/hr
20/40 LHE: 1.90 BB/hr
15/30 LHE: 0.33 BB/hr
8/16 LHE: 1.02 BB/hr
20/40 Mix: 1.36 BB/hr
15/30 Mix: 0.36 BB/hr
1/3 PLO: -$4.16/hr

20/40 or higher: 1.28 BB/hr
8/16 to 12/24: 1.34 BB/hr
5/10 and lower: 4.72 BB/hr (LOL – only 57 hours though)

All live limit games: 1.22 BB/hr (over ~87% of my total live hours)

Live limit Hold’em games: 1.1 BB/hr
Live limit Mix games: 1.32 BB/hr

All live big bet games: -1.68 big blinds per hour

5 Biggest Wins:

+$5515 in $40/$80 LHE @ Bellagio
+$5035 in $40/$80 LHE @ The Bike
+$3789 in $1/$3/$5 PLO @ Palace
+$3430 in $8/$16 LHE (!!!) @ Palace
+$3186 in $50/$100 Mix @ The Bike

5 Biggest Losses:

-$2177 in $40/$80 LHE @ Bellagio (in < 2 hours!)
-$2089 in $15/$30 LHE @ Palace
-$2060 in $40/$80 LHE @ The Bike
-$1875 in $15/$30 LHE @ Palace
-$1857 in $20/$40 LO8 @ Muckleshoot

Live Tournaments

As noted previously, I had my first losing year of tournament poker. I only played 43 live tournaments last year, cashed in 10 of them (23%) and produced a -43% ROI. I had an average buy in of $790, but if you remove the Main Event ($10k buy in) from those numbers, the ABI drops down to $571. Of course, whiffing in a $10k event when your ABI is < $600 can have a traumatic effect on overall results. The Main accounted for 68% of my tournament losses and removing it from my results bumps my ROI up to -20%.

Unfortunately, four of my ten cashes happened at All Star Lanes and Palace in small local tournaments. I won both tournaments I played at All Star last year and made the final table of the Palace monthly two of the three times I played it.

That means I had six cashes in the other 37 tournaments (16%) I played last year and this is what I would consider my tournament drop zone – buy ins ranging from $350 to $1500. Filtering out the small local tourneys, I started my year off by bricking in 19 straight tournaments, even though I did cash the first event I played (I was in two bullets and still booked a loss). I guess the bright side is that I had a decent year from that point on, cashing in 6 of the last 18 tourneys I played for a 29% ROI.

Here are those six cashes:

21st of 219 in $400 8-Game @ Orleans for $860
12th of 401 in $2500 Stud 8/Omaha 8 @ WSOP for $10,600
6th of 55 in $550 Triple Stud @ Binions for $1280
21st of 342 in $800 NL Main Event @ Chinook Winds for $2320
6th of 88 in $400 Omaha 8 @ LA Poker Open for $1435
9th of 89 in $400 NL @ Muckleshoot for $980

Basically, I did one cool thing all year in a poker tournament. On the bright side, I made my third legitimate run at a bracelet in four years and that really makes me feel like I’m going to snag one someday.

Online Cash Games

Disclaimer: Online poker is a pretty grey area in many states in the U.S. and a black area in the state of Washington. Global Poker found a loophole in the system to make it “legal,” but even they eventually stopped allowing Washington state residents to engage in their Sweeps Cash model. With that said, the results I’m about to post were real on Global Poker, but results for any other site are just for play money. However, if I’m going to practice playing poker, I’m going to practice by playing my A-Game as much as I can and I’ll continue to use dollar signs when talking about my results in order to stay consistent.

In all, I played a shade over 700 hours in online cash games, but it should be noted that the actual amount of time spent playing is probably considerably less since I frequently play multiple tables at the same time and one hour at three tables would be considered three hours of play in my records. My results in 2019 were bad, basically because I got absolutely annihilated on a site that specializes in mix games. I actually quit the site three different times last year and at multiple points I was convinced that something was amiss; like I was being cheated in some way. While I don’t think I’m an expert at mix games, it was hard for me to swallow that I could possibly be this bad. I’ve certainly never had any problems winning in live mix games. It seemed like insane things were happening to me on a constant basis. I just couldn’t believe it. But I also realized my mind sounded like every losing poker player that wants to blame what’s happening on anything but themselves. Ultimately, I think it was just a lot of noise: horrible bad luck over a short period, especially when I was “taking shots.” And yes, I wasn’t as good as I thought I was and the player pool seems to be much stronger than average, even at the lower stakes.

Since I’m on this topic, I’ll go ahead and break down my online mix game results. 70% of my online cash game volume were in these mix games and I really did get killed. It is almost all limit mix games, but I did sprinkle in a few big bet hours so I’ll go ahead and filter those out since they didn’t have much of an effect on my overall results here. In all, I played 480+ hours in limit mix games and lost at a whopping -1.27 BB/hr clip! That’s a large enough sample that it’s legitimately worrisome. I wasn’t thinking about quitting multiple times for no reason!

I was able to find a bright side though. I played 36 hours at the 15/30 level (“shot-taking” stakes for me online) and ran at -5.44 BB/hr over that extremely small sample. However, that small sample had a extraordinary effect on my overall results: 64% of my total losses came in 7% of my total hours. I was still losing at nearly 1 BB/hr in the smaller games, but over my last 200 hours at those levels, I was only losing at -0.54 BB/hr. That gives me reason for hope and makes me think that I’m getting better, or at least the games are getting better. I’ve definitely seen an influx of new players in January and the games have been as good as they’ve ever been. It’s not like this is my first time paying tuition in poker. It kind of sucks to get throttled while you learn, but I feel like it’s worth it in the long run. At least for me.

My results on the other sites were much better. I ran at 1.26 BB/hr in limit games and 11.46 big blinds per hour in big bet games. I continued to improve in online PLO games, bumping my win rate up to 7.32 big blinds per hour – much better than the -25 bb/hr I was logging a couple years ago. Still, it was a pretty small sample size so I’m not going to celebrate too much.

Overall, it was a pretty bad year for online cash games because I did so poorly in the mix games.

Online Tournaments

I liked playing tournaments on Global Poker because they were soft and I didn’t have to plan an entire day around them. If I happened to be home around 5 PM on a day off, I could get in 5-6 decent tournaments and have a chance to go deep in all of them without having to play past 10 PM. But Global iced Washington players in June and the tournaments on ACR are so long that I basically never play them – I played ten online tournaments total over the last five months of the entire year. This kind of sucks because while I rarely target live No Limit Hold’em tournaments, I was playing them regularly enough online that I didn’t feel like I was completely out of practice when I did play a live one. Now though… I’m just never playing any No Limit Hold’em. Oddly enough, I played the 5th Sunday tourney at Muckleshoot in December and made the final table, so I guess I haven’t completely lost it.

In all, I played 117 online tournaments with an ABI of $24 and cashed in 29 of them – good for an ROI of 23%. It looks like I won four MTTs on Global before I got locked out and I took 1st of 498 in a $5.50 NL tourney on ACR for $473.25 and that was my biggest online cash of the year.

Life Goals

In 2019, I wanted to start exercising regularly and meditate every day.

We moved in January and I signed up for the LA Fitness that’s just a few minutes from our house and I figured that would leave me with no excuse to not go to the gym. I did start going pretty regularly before completely falling off a cliff during the WSOP (I gymed twice in 5+ weeks while I was there) and had to start all over again when I got back. I feel like I want to lift weights a bare minimum of three times a week, but I think four is really my happy place. Over the last six months of the year, I lifted this many times a month:
July: 10x
August: 10x
September: 9x
October: 11x
November: 5x (I was sick for 2+ weeks)
December: 16x

It basically took me all year, but I feel like I’m in a really good groove now. Some of the progress I’ve made is mind-boggling to me. When I was in high school, I never weighed more than 140 pounds and I don’t think I’ve ever benched my body weight in my entire life. If I ever put up 160 lbs on bench press in my life, I don’t remember doing it. It seemed like I would always be really underweight but over the last few years it finally happened: I’m on a scale looking down at 195 pounds now. This extra weight has obviously helped my bench press numbers, but I was still pretty shocked when I put up 185 lbs in early December. And then yesterday I put up 225 lbs. Wut.

When I started lifting in January of last year, I had a day for shoulders and I couldn’t even get through my routine because I was in so much pain. I didn’t know if it was pain from soreness or if I was actually injured, but it sure felt like the latter. I started doing standing barbell shoulder press with just the barbell (45 lbs) and I couldn’t even finish my reps. My shoulders were unbelievably weak. Now my 12 rep max for that lift is 85 lbs – almost double what I couldn’t even do when I started! That’s just crazy to me and it makes me feel really good about the progress I’ve made and the effort I’ve put in.

I suck at meditating. I really want this to work for me, but it’s a struggle. I meditated a tad over 50% of the days in 2019, but I didn’t have much consistency. I hit a stretch of 27 straight days in July, but I rarely string 4+ days in a row together otherwise. I did finish 2019 strong and continued a stretch of 31 days well into January, but I finally missed a day and now I’ve meditated once in the last five days and it feels like I’m starting all over again. But but but. One of these days I want to be so consistent and routine with this that it’s just a habit and hopefully I can really start reaping the benefits of doing it every day.

And that’s my 2019. I’ve never been so excited to put a year behind me. I’m heading to the LAPC next week and I’ll post a schedule of the events I’m planning to play before I go. I’ll probably also post my movie reviews and music stuff for the month before I head down because I won’t have time to do it while I’m down there.

Here’s to 2020!

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Album Reviews (December 2019)

January 5, 2020

A good rule of thumb in order for me to rate an album is that I probably need to listen to it at least twice. Possibly the only exception to this rule is when I deem an album unlistenable and can barely (or can’t) even make it through the whole album the first time. Listening to and evaluating music is a pretty fluid process though, so all ratings are subject to change in the future as albums grow on me or I realize I initially overrated them.

When I list the best tracks for each album, I will bold any song I added to my Bangers Playlist, meaning I think it’s one of the standout tracks of the entire year.

I only used this for the last couple of albums I rated, but here’s a scale I came up with for rating each song:
5 – All-Timer
4.5 – Super Banger
4 – Banger
3.5 – Keeper
3 – Cool
2.5 – Decent
2 – Weak
1 – Trash

Kanye WestJESUS IS KING (Gospel/Rap) – A full album devoted to Kanye’s… devotion to his faith? Ugh, no thanks. But we are talking about an all-time great musician here, so I’m obliged to listen and, well, it’s about as (un)enjoyable as I thought it would be. I think I’ve listened to it in entirety 4-5 times as I write this and most of it still doesn’t stick with me. This is the worst project Kanye has ever released. The direction of the album already turns me off, but I was hoping the music would still be good. I’m not a fan. I think I genuinely like two songs on this album.

Best Tracks: “On God” “Selah”

Verdict: No Thanks

Emotional OrangesThe Juice, Vol. II (R&B/Soul) – This is pure feel good music that you could have on in the background of a party and everyone would probably be content about it. The production on this album is pretty high quality and songs like “West Coast Love” and “Not Worth It” are pure fire. This a short little album that bumps the whole way through.

Best Tracks: “West Coast Love” “Not Worth It” “Don’t Be Lazy”

Verdict: Highly Enjoyable

03 Greedo & Kenny BeatsNetflix & Deal (Rap) – I was really impressed by this album. I think there’s maybe one song on here I didn’t really like. Greedo isn’t a super strong rapper, but he’s creative and clearly has a talent for crafting catchy and memorable songs. The production on here is also really well done and I’d be all over it if this duo put out another album together. I basically only listened to this album because of the strong list of guest features – Freddie Gibbs, Vince Staples, Maxo Kream, Buddy – but I’m glad I did. It was a very pleasant surprise. I currently don’t have any songs on my Best of 2019 playlist, but that’s certainly subject to change. I think there are plenty of standouts, but I’m still unsure if any of them are certifiably amazing. This is a strong album with very few weak spots.

Best Tracks: “Disco S**t” feat. Freddie Gibbs “Maria” “Blue People” feat. Vince Staples “Brad Pitt” “Soul Food” feat. Buddy

Verdict: Highly Enjoyable

Brother AliSecrets & Escapes (Rap) – Once upon a time, I thought Brother Ali was one of the best rappers in the game. His first few albums all are amazing. If you haven’t listened to Shadows on the Sun, the Champion EP, and The Undisputed Truth, put them on your to do list. That’s a rapper operating at the highest level. Since then, I’ve become progressively less excited about Ali and this latest project is one of his least memorable. Ali usually works with Ant (of Atmosphere) on the boards, but on this album I believe Evidence (of Dilated Peoples) does most of the production and it is an unfortunate departure. I really like Evidence as a rapper, but Ant is a way better producer – at least for Ali’s sound. Ali can still rap at an elite level though and that makes things at least somewhat enjoyable. Still, if I were to introduce someone to Ali’s music I wouldn’t even mention this album.

Best Tracks: “Father Figures” “Red” feat. Evidence

Verdict: Decent

Little BrotherMay the Lord Watch (Rap) – Little Brother is a hip-hop collective out of North Carolina that had a run of great albums throughout the 2000s before disbanding in 2010. Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh reunite here on their fifth studio album, but longtime producer 9th Wonder is completely absent from the project. Still, May the Lord Watch manages to sound very cohesive and feels like a proper sequel to Little Brother’s 2005 album The Minstrel Show. Phonte is on my all-time underrated list and he’s still rapping at a nearly elite level here, although I prefer his solo album No News is Good News from last year. There’s nothing flashy here; this is mature grown folk music. There are a lot of good tracks on this album – and no real weak songs – but nothing that really blew my mind either.

Best Tracks: “The Feel,” “Everything,” “Sittin Alone,” All in a Day”

Avg. rating: 3.3/5

Verdict: Recommended

SiRChasing Summer (R&B/Soul) – This was the first album that I gave a song-by-song rating for and it was a little disappointing to me. I had listened to this quite a bit already and thought it was pretty good, but there are really only a couple of standout tracks on this. The lead single “Hair Down” has the best hook and beat on the album plus Kendrick Lamar absolutely destroying his verse while completely switching up his flow at least five times while doing so. It also happens to be the first track. “John Redcorn” is the second song and also the second best song on the album. That means that the album peaks very early and never comes close to reaching the heights of the first two songs. I think the album is mostly good though with only a couple songs I thought were merely decent. Worth a listen for sure.

Best Tracks: “Hair Down” feat. Kendrick Lamar, “John Redcorn,” “Still Blue” feat. Jill Scott, “Mood”

Avg. rating: 3.14/5

Verdict: Recommended

KembaGilda (Rap) – This has to be one of the most overlooked albums of the year, as I have hardly seen anyone talk about it, yet I don’t think this has a single weak song on it, while almost half the songs are certified bangers. It’s a bit of a dark album, with Kemba lamenting, ‘I learned metaphors before I knew what’s a credit score/ I’m sure that’s a bar that’s never been said before/ mail at my door offered me a new credit card/ cause if you poor they’ll make sure you forever poor‘ on “Captain Planet” and it doesn’t get much more bleek than his hook on the somewhat disturbing but absolutely beautiful “Dysfunction”: ‘I’m nothing more than insignificant/ all my hopes and my dreams, all my goals, my achievements, were pure coincidence/ I am but a speck… of dust.‘ Yikes. It’s truly haunting, but I can’t stop listening to it. The album ends on a higher note, with both “Last Year Being Broke” and “Alive” showing signs of optimism. This is a true piece of art and more people should be listening to it.

Best Tracks: “Dysfunction,” “Nobody I Can Trust,” “Exhale” feat. Smino, “Alive” feat. Eric Bellinger

Avg. rating: 3.68/5

Verdict: Must Listen

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December 2019 New Music

January 1, 2020

December Notes: I really expanded my horizons in December and listened to an exorbitant amount of music, adding a number of albums I missed earlier this year, plus some from last year, and even some super old mixtapes from current legends like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Travis Scott. It’s insane how much content I took in last month and you can see how that is reflected in the fact that I added 30+ songs to my 2019 Bangers playlist. I decided to start dropping thoughts on certain album as I give them overall ratings and the way I’m going to do that is in a separate post that will be published in the next few days or so. This way I can listen to albums and write about them as the month progresses while keeping organization on my blog nice and tidy. I always see Young Thug, JPEG MAFIA, Tyler the Creator, etc. on Best of 2019 lists, so I’ve been trying to understand what people see in their music… and something finally happened this month: I became a Young Thug fan. I’ve basically thought of Young Thug as the epitome of the kind of Mumble Rap I don’t like over the last few years, but I guess I finally see the appeal. I listened to his So Much Fun album until I had to admit to myself that it was actually good… and I’ll be damned if it isn’t. Jury is still out on Tyler and JPEG MAFIA. I can see Tyler’s appeal, but I’m not sure if I’m a fan or not. Meanwhile, I wanted to turn the JPEG album off after five songs… and I struggled to get that far.

Here’s what I listened to in December 2019 and how much:

* indicates second month on PRIORITY playlist

HEAVY ROTATION (heard whole album many times)

*BENNY THE BUTCHER – The Plugs I Met (June)
*Griselda – Wwcd
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
KIDS SEE GHOSTS (Kanye West & Kid Cudi) – KIDS SEE GHOSTS (2018)
Roddy Ricch – Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial

STRONG ROTATION (listened to most of album 3-4 times)

*03 Greedo & Kenny Beats – Netflix & Deal
*Apollo Brown – Sincerely, Detroit (October)
Arin Ray – Phases II – EP
Black Pumas – Black Pumas (June)
*Brother Ali – Secrets & Escapes
DaBaby – Baby on Baby (March)
*Emotional Oranges – The Juice, Vol. II
*Gang Starr – One of the Best Yet
JACKBOYS – JACKBOYS
*Kemba – Gilda
*Lana Del Ray – Norman F*****g Rockwell (August)
*Michael Kiwanuka – KIWANUKA
Rich Brian – The Sailor (July)
Tobe Nwigwe – FOURIGINALS (October)
*Tyler, The Creator – IGOR (May)
Young Thug – So Much Fun [Deluxe]

SOLID ROTATION (heard whole album at least twice)

*Earl Sweatshirt – FEET OF CLAY
Fat Joe & Dre – Family Ties
Free Nationals – Free Nationals
*Smoke DZA & BENNY THE BUTCHER – Statue of Limitations – EP (October)

COURTESY ROTATION (heard whole album)

*Action Bronson & The Alchemist – Lamb Over Rice
*Beck – Hyperspace
BENNY THE BUTCHER – Tana Talk 3 (2018)
*Bishop Briggs – CHAMPION
Cam’ron – Purple Haze 2
*CRIMEAPPLE – Viridi Panem
DaBaby – KIRK (September)
*Dave East – Survival
Denzel Curry – ZUU (May)
*Fabolous – Summertime Shootout 3: Coldest Summer Ever
*FKA twigs – MAGDALENE
Flawless Real Talk – Every Second Matters
Harry Styles – Fine Line
*IDK – Is He Real? (September)
KAYTRANADA – BUBBA
*Kembe X – I Was Depressed Until I Made This (October)
Kendrick Lamar – Kendrick Lamar EP (2009)
Kevin Abstract – ARIZONA BABY (April)
*Kota the Friend – Foto (added in November, released in May)
*Larry June – Product of the Dope Game
Polo G – Die a Legend (June)
*Queen & Slim Soundtrack
*Rod Wave – Ghetto Gospel
*Salaam Remi & Joell Ortiz – BoxTalk – EP
*The Game – Born 2 Rap
Travis Scott – Days Before Rodeo (2014)
*Trippie Redd – A Love Letter to You 4
*Various Artists – Queen & Slim Soundtrack

SKIM ROTATION (haven’t heard whole album)

Atmosphere – Whenever
Azizi Gibson – Chimera Act
Injury Reserve – Injury Reserve (May)
J.Cole – Friday Night Lights (2010)
JPEG MAFIA – All My Heroes Are Cornballs (September)
Juice WRLD – Goodbye & Good Riddance (2018)
*Jvck James – DETOUR – EP (October)
Kendrick Lamar – Training Day (2005)
KXNG Crooked & Bronze Nazareth – Gravitas
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You (April)
MAVI – Let The Sun Talk (October)
*Smoke DZa & Curren$y – Prestige Worldwide
Stormzy – Heavy Is The Head
Sunday Service Choir (& Kanye West) – Jesus Is Born
*Tory Lanez – Chixtape 5
XXXTENTACION – Bad Vibes Forever

TOO NEW/NO LOVE (zero listens)

Kendrick Lamar – C4 (2009)

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Roddy RicchPlease Excuse Me For Being Antisocial

I have to admit Roddy Ricch wasn’t even remotely on my radar (despite appearing on Nipsey’s “Racks in the Middle” and Meek’s “Splash Warning”) before this album dropped and his stage name made me think he was probably just going to be run-of-the-mill trap music. But I ended up being shocked by Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial. It’s a solid album with multiple standout tracks and “The Box” really sets things off and immediately put me on notice with its incredible instrumentation and Roddy bringing some impressive vocals with a catchy hook. There is plenty more heat, with “Bacc Seat” being a particularly good track, with Roddy and Ty Dolla $ign spitting verses about their sexual conquests over a smooth ass beat. Production on this album is a major strength and Roddy is clearly a solid songwriter that understands how to tailor his lyrics and vocals to the mood of the beat. Roddy isn’t a great lyricist, but he does everything else really well. I rated every song on the album on a scale of 1 to 5 and the 15 songs averaged out to just under 3.5, but there are six tracks on here that I gave a 4+ (certified bangers) and that’s a strong showing for anyone. I’m a big fan of this project and it could have been even better by trimming off a little bit of the fat (especially towards the end), but this is a very solid debut studio album from an artist whose stock is going to rise rapidly.

Highly Enjoyable

2019 Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists

Apollo Brown ft. Fatt Father, Journalist 103 & Valid, “Oh Lord”
Apollo Brown ft. Clear Soul Forces, “Deception & Woes”
Arin Ray, “A Seat”
Benny the Butcher, “Took the Money to the Plug’s House”
Black Pumas, “Know You Better”
Black Pumas, “OCT 33”
Brent Faiyaz, “Rehab (Winter in Paris)”
Boogie ft. Snoh Aalegra, “Time”
Conway the Machine ft. Westside Gunn & Benny the Butcher
Dave East ft. Ash Leone, “Daddy Knows”
Dreamville (J.Cole & Lute ft. DaBaby), “Under the Sun”
Dreamville (JID, Bas, J.Cole, EARTHGANG & Young Nudy), “Down Bad”
Emotional Oranges, “West Coast Love”
Griselda, “DR BIRDS”
JACKBOYS ft. Don Toliver, “WHAT TO DO?”
Kemba ft. Eric Bellinger, “Alive”
Kemba, “Dysfunction”
Kemba ft. Smino, “Exhale”
Kota the Friend ft. Saba, “Solar Return”
Lana Del Rey, “California”
Maxo Kream, “Meet Again”
Mustard ft. Nipsey Hussle, “Perfect Ten”
Rick Ross ft. Drake, “Gold Roses”
Rod Wave, “Poison”
Roddy Ricch ft. Meek Mill, “Peta”
Roddy Ricch, “The Box”
Roddy Ricch ft. Ty Dolla $ign, “Bacc Seat”
Roddy Ricch, “Roll Dice”
SiR, “John Redcorn”
Wale ft. Jeremih, “On Chill”
Tobe Nwigwe ft. The New Respects, “HELLA BLACK”
Tobe Nwigwe, “IVORY”
Tobe Nwigwe, “I’M DOPE (NPR MUSIC’S TINY DESK CONCERT)”
Travis Scott, “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM”
Young Thug ft. Future, “Sup Mate”
Young Thug ft. Travis Scott, “Hop Off a Jet”
Young Thug ft. J.Cole & Travis Scott, “The London”
Young Thug ft. Machine Gun Kelly, “Ecstasy”
Vince Staples, 6LACK, & Mereba, “Yo Love”

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December 2019 Movie Reviews: Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, Knives Out, Christmas Movies

December 21, 2019

Going forward, this is how I’m going to review movies – unless I want to highlight a specific movie I think warrants more discussion (i.e. leaving Parasite off this list). You can expect quick, succinct reviews here that give you an idea of how I felt about a movie and a few strengths and weaknesses, if warranted. I’ll keep track of every movie I watch throughout the month and post my thoughts on them at the start of the next month. This will include rewatches and possibly rating changes. I’ll also post some thoughts on any TV shows if I finish watching a season during the month. My rating system for TV is a little different than for movies because… I’m a psychopath.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019, theaters) – Geez. I’ve never proclaimed to be a big Star Wars fan, so it’s not like I’ve ever been super invested in these films, but… I think I’m over them. There have been eight Star Wars movies released since I was in high school and I’m a genuine fan of two of them (Rogue One and The Force Awakens) and none of them have been dear to me. That’s a lot of mediocrity. The Rise of Skywalker just adds to the list. It was mildly entertaining, but I honestly didn’t care about anything that was happening. As always, these movies are pretty good visually but I just can’t get emotionally invested in the story or find a way to care about these characters.

5/10 (Decent)

Knives Out (2019, theater) – This probably deserves a formal review but here we are. It’s a slick whodunnit with a great cast and plenty of memorable characters and is wildly entertaining the entire way. I give it a strong recommendation and would be happy to watch it again. I can actually see this growing on me and giving it a higher rating in the future.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Thoroughbreds (2017, HBO NOW) – Interesting, entertaining and a bit disturbing with some quality performances from Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy. Also features the late Anton Yelchin in one of his better roles. I recommend it.

6/10 (Recommended)

Klaus (2019, Netflix) – A worthy addition to the staple of Christmas holiday films with a fresh take on the legend of Santa and some unbelievably crisp animation. I thought this was top notch, but I want to see it again before labeling it a Must See.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Home Alone (1990, Disney+) – The most amazing thing about Home Alone is that I’ve probably seen it more than any other movie in my lifetime and yet, I still enjoy it. Even as I enter my late 30s I still don’t mind watching it every single year around Christmas time. This movie is full of plot holes, nonsense, and unbelievably dumb characters, but I still love it and it’s charm is undeniable. A true classic, even if it isn’t exactly a great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992, Disney+) – I can’t blame anyone involved for making this, but it’s basically just a retread of the first film set in New York City under even more unbelievable circumstances. I guess it’s still kind of fun, but it doesn’t come close to capturing the magic of the original.

5/10 (Decent)

Fatal Attraction (1987, Amazon Prime) – A movie that has always intrigued me but I never got around to watching. I always thought it was probably just softcore erotica, but Fatal Attraction actually got nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture! Seeing it streaming on Prime, I finally watched it and it was… pretty good! Glenn Close totally makes the movie and plays unhinged and obsessed really well. It didn’t strike me as a film that should be in anyone’s top 5 of any year, but it was definitely worth watching.

6/10 (Recommended)

Us (2019, HBO NOW) – I’ve seen it three times now. After two viewings, I was pretty confident labelling it a Must See, but after a third viewing, I think it’s just a pretty good, but not great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable) [revised rating]

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, Netflix) – I thought this was really mediocre and bordering on bad the first time I saw it, but after being convinced to give it another chance (plus wanting to refresh before the new movie) I found it to be enjoyable this time around as some of the things that bothered me (i.e. Rose) didn’t anymore. I still don’t think it’s good enough that I’d recommend it though.

5/10 (Decent)

The Santa Clause (1994, Disney+) – A forgotten Christmas classic. Whenever the best holiday movies come up, I don’t seem to hear The Santa Clause get mentioned much, but it’s far too enjoyable to be omitted like that. Tim Allen is somehow great casting and this movie oozes charm and holiday spirit.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (2018, HBO NOW) – Total trash. Like… absurdly dumb. It gets called a Final Destination ripoff a lot, but I thought the movie it really wanted to imitate was It Follows. This is almost certainly the single worst movie I’ve watched in 2019 (but note it is a 2018 release).

2/10 (Painful)

Noelle (2019, Disney+) – Apologies to Truth or Dare, this is the biggest piece of shit I watched in 2019. Unbearably cheesy, misguided, and not even remotely funny, my wife and I both thought this was unwatchable. I’ll give Dina credit for making it to the halfway point – and I was going to power through if she wanted to – but when she quit it, I figured I probably shouldn’t spend my last hours of 2019 watching the worst movie of the year, and I turned it off about 50 minutes in.

2/10 (Painful)

TV SHOWS

Big Mouth (s2, 2018, Netflix) – A guilty pleasure, I guess? It’s raunchy animation focused on middle school kids going through puberty and all the emotional and physical craziness involved when your hormones start taking over. This show is NOT for kids though. It’s a hard rated-R – and possibly even worse – with absurdly graphic sex talk and even shows the kids naked sometimes. I almost feel bad even watching it. Some of the characters are way too over-the-top and gross (Jay, Coach Steve, the Hormone Monsters). On the other hand, it’s also pretty damn charming and plenty funny, plus I think it does a good job of really digging into the difficulties and wonders of discovering your bodies at that age. Nick Kroll does some excellent voicework and I really liked the addition of The Shame Wizard in this season. I’m a bit ambivalent about how I feel about this show, but I guess I like it overall and have to admit I enjoy it.

3.5/6 (Decent/Good)

The Mandalorian (s1, 2019, Disney+) – I’m going to say it… this is the best thing to ever come out of the Star Wars universe. I’ve already mentioned I don’t hold any of the films dear to me, so when I make this statement, it’s not coming from someone that is in love with the franchise. I kind of went into The Mandalorian wanting to not like the show, but it didn’t take long to win me over. Everyone knows about Baby Yoda by now and that was a goddamn stroke of creative genius. Baby Yoda is a level of cuteness that has possibly never been seen before and adds a serious mystique to the show. It’s not a spoiler to say that this character is never referenced in the trilogy that just wrapped up, so… I’m extremely curious to see where this story is headed. I think Baby Yoda makes the show, but there is plenty to love about The Mandalorian. From a technical standpoint, it’s as spectacular as any show I’ve ever seen. The sets, sounds, costumes, and creatures are all elite. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what Jon Favreau and co. have in store for season 2.

5/6 (Must Watch)

Rick & Morty (s4 pt. 1, 2019, Adult Swim) – I got into Rick & Morty either this year or last year, so I was late to the party, but it didn’t take long to win me over. I devoured the first three seasons and by the time I was done with them, I was on board with the sentiment that the show was all-time levels of awesome. Season 4 is the first time I’ve watched the episodes as they came out and I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the first half of season 4. They have released five episodes so far and I thought two of them were great (episodes one and five), while episode four (with dragons?) was one of the worst of the whole series. To be fair though, the bar for the series is insanely high, but that episode was a bit of a head scratcher for me. The other two episodes I was a bit lukewarm on but still liked overall. Considering the consistent level of greatness this show has operated on for three seasons, having two cool episodes and a weak one in the first five of season four seems like a step in the wrong direction.

4/6 (Good)

Don’t F*** With Cats (2019, Netflix) – An insane story about how a bunch of internet nerds formed a Facebook group to track down some kid that made a video of himself torturing and killing a cat and then posted it online. It’s pretty crazy how the group figure out who the person is and then watch in horror as he escalates to actually murdering a human (also posted in a video online). I guess I’m confused about how the internet works because it seems like it would be extremely easy for law enforcement to find out exactly where a video was posted and track down the person that made it, but maybe these are advances in technology that have mostly be fine-tuned in the 7+ years since these events took place. Still, this is an unreal and extremely fascinating story. There are three episodes and once you start the first one, you won’t want to stop watching until you are done.

4.5/6 (Good/Must Watch)