Seoul Searching – Review

A party of English-speaking Koreans lands on their parents’ ground to attend a government-sponsored culture camp bent to show a world outside the realm of MTV. Instead of finding solace in their identity, they find love in between each other, supposedly forgiving their parent’s fears of their child going off to marry a partner who isn’t ethnically Korean – not like there’s anything wrong with that. In a diverse cast of talented actors, there’s the Californian nihilist Syd Vicious-clone Sid Park (Justin Chon); Madonna-wannabe Grace Park (Jessica Van); the Hamburg-born and Hangul-fluent Klaus Kim (Teo Yoo); the ensemble piece’s funny-man, Mexico-born “Coreano-Loco” Sergio Kim (Esteban Ahn); Korean-born misandrist with a black belt in Tae Kwon Do – Sue-jin Song (Byul Kang); and the innocent and timid Korean-faced, German-last named Ohio bred-adoptee Kris Schultz (Rosalina Lee). Given this talent, we are expected to learn about these characters as they learn about their homeland; allowing students to find themselves as they go as confused Koreans who are clearly going through an identity crisis. This camp is expected to shed their pretentious pupas and emerge from the camp as well-rounded Koreans with a firm grasp of their origins. Humbled by a firm understanding of their homeland which espouses their identity, leading them to live fruitful lives with authentic insights from home, instead of relying on what’s hip.

However, as much as these stories are compiled, there are severe underscores regarding its execution. For each character, their motivations, struggles, and longings are largely told in quick blurbs like a passing quote in a conversation; as if we were learning about one’s deepest secrets when we had just met the person. Surely, there’s no way that the film could utilize the “show-not-tell” method in a film largely spoken in tongues, but as each reference to a character’s past comes out, we, as the viewers, hardly nod when we hear it which throws off their eventual metamorphoses – something so sudden that one cannot help but think “When had he/she/they decided to do that?” It’s a shame, really, as the film is meant to evoke feelings similar to the classic film “The Breakfast Club”, this time with a diverse cast skilled evoking their subtle tropes that signal a plea for help; assistance from their seonsaengs trapped in a bubble of misplaced identities, finding it in a corner where one least expects.

Pointing again to the talented cast of Asian-faces, or as I call the natural born Hollywood rejects, playing their roles with such conviction that it’s hard not to want to root for them purely on-premise itself (even if their roles are underwritten.) The music is also worthy of noting as it takes the classic hits from the year 1986 (when the film took place) to bring energy into a production clearly bolstered by the passion, the want, to have this story told in a world where the canon literature could only be found in the halls of Hollywood, with juicy roles and the deepest characters are shamelessly given to the Anglo-Saxon actor next in line. And it’s apparent that those who made the film are sharing their energies of constant belittlement, as artists constantly belittled by the politics of Hollywood, Westerners constantly viewed as aliens at home and abroad (both their ethnic and legal homes), use their frustrations out on a film with the passion of an oral storyteller.

These conflicts of self-doubt (“Who am I?”) are usually kept to a minimum as the social topics towards family conflicts and ego-driven destruction of reputation over humanism, traits that anyone of Asian descent (such as myself) can relate. Out of the seven main characters, the adoptee’s story is prioritized to explore the position of a family by one who willingly gives up a child to the hands of strangers to raise them up as their own, despite the adopted child having no close blood-ties to their parents. When the film ends, do we wonder if the cast has really changed the perception of themselves? Or has the camp been nothing but an excuse to rock and roll all night and party every day?

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Columbus – Film Impressions

Columbus

I thought that this film took place in the city in Ohio. The one that had the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, known only to me as the setting for The (now forgotten) Drew Carey Show. A quick search, however, only led me to find out that the city that the film takes place is in Indiana, where a quaint suburban conservative-knit harbors a knack for modern architecture much like Iowa City, Iowa has a knack for creating Pulitzer-winning writers. And I realized that the city in question was actually Cleveland. It sounds odd to have a cultural hub take place in an area that isn’t on the east / west coast, in a majorly populated state like California or New York, but it’s location soon serves as a surreal juxtaposition that makes up an ephemeral beauty of the town that soon becomes immune to the citizens of Columbus, who eventually find the monotony of slick lines molded on hundred square meter concrete as boring as the windy cornfields of Illinois. This description is offered as one of the main soliloquies by nineteen-year-old resident Cassandra – aka Casey (Haley Lu Richards) – to Jin (John Cho) who uses her hometown as a template to satisfy the young-adult trope of wanting-to-get-away-while-remaining-in-the-same-place mentality. Where despite her interests in architect could lead her, she feels trapped inside the world she’s known. Jin is no different. After his father has a stroke, Jin is summoned to the city where he discovers that his father is in a coma and put under intensive care. This, as expected, cancels the talk that Casey planned on attending where, by chance, they end up running into each other as strangers and become friends.

Written and directed by the academic-turned-auteur Kogonada, Columbus is a film that explores an idea that is endlessly repeated throughout the film: “Can art be healing?” “Does architecture have a soul?” Questions that fail to have a straight answer, ideas that make the enlightened stay up all night and the everyday man shake their head in dismissal of pragmatic ambivalence. Kogonada, who made his fame by creating video essays for the internet, takes his knowledge of Ozu, Kubrick, and Aronofsky without using the film-student trope of using style as a crutch by using flashy camera angles or bouncing pop music. Instead, Kogonada exerts self-control by being subtle in his decisions to help develop the story and the characters who make up the life of the picture. Using the techniques to explore the world and the soul of the characters, the environment, and the dialogue of two humans trying to make sense of the world; using their relationship as their conduit for reflection; using each other as a helper to hold up a mirror to make the beholder, either Casey or Jin, to make the appropriate judgement call of knowing who they really are.

The main characters are not eccentric or full of dramatic flair, and the cast does a great job portraying these normal folks as if they’re playing themselves – no method acting required (because what’s the point?) They’re human, but discontent enough to frown at the Universe due to the circumstances handed by the stars. Casey is a year out of high school and works as a librarian. She considers college but is hesitant to go because of her librarian friend Gabriel who ends up in the same place despite achieving his masters. She is close with her mother, but not for reasons that are centered on “she feeds me and lets me do whatever I want.” Jin, the estranged son, contemplates his father’s looming death; he arrives in Columbus for reasons other than saying goodbye. It’s beguiling yet understanding. The two talk and we nod, but we silently urge them to “get over” their differences and beg the two to “move on with their life.” Because the grass is greener on the other side, but someone had to water the lawn to get it to that color. However, if one is caught up in the affair of themselves, then how can they go on to focus on what’s outside of their minds, let alone their prejudices?

A film about exploring art can seem a bit pretentious and off-putting for the viewer who just wants to sit and escape reality for an hour or two. Yes, the meandering-like dialogue framed with symmetric composition chronicling stubborn people does not make for an entertaining night at the movies, but good art (or in this case, art “good” enough to strike up conversations years after they were created) requires patience. And with patience and a little bit of attention, we can happen to notice a few subtle changes occur in both Casey and Jin. We don’t know why they would make the changes, nor do we have any clear precursor to having either character soften their hearts just a tiny bit, but if one is trained enough in art appreciation (and trust me, it can be learned) then the small details that strike up as little bits of life in a lifeless object – as it is with art like painting, sculpture, and in this case: architecture – truly makes a difference. When watching Columbus, I ended up asking the same exact questions that both Casey and Jin discussed in the film, resulting in an epiphany brought only to me with help of the film to bring up these questions. If one is aware, this seemingly lifeless set of moving pictures made for over a million can help viewers grow as individuals in the same rate as how a bunch of buildings helped these two grow up to become better versions of themselves. And that, by itself, is worth the price of admission.

Sprained Ankle – Julien Baker (Thoughts)

It’s been over a year since I last updated this blog. Let’s just say that I was resting throughout the year and wanted to take a deep breath and calm myself. That the ten-minute meditation turned out to be more than a year-long journey to find my true self. Despite the long absence, it was a break needed, and a well-fitting reminder of the importance of soul searching within a landscape that seemingly has all the answers.

For this one, I decided to try and write a Chirstgauesque review of an album I adore. But it’s not really a review but just a biased praiseworthy blurb of words, a corpus with no clear message in the middle. But I consider it good practice to try to expand this writing thing to something more than just journal entries, especially when juggling a life that is certainly not centered on reading/writing.

Anyway, I always wanted to know what it was like to be a music critic. I don’t know much about the trend, but I had a fun time writing this paragraph. Read it after the horizontal line.


One misty night in Nashville, Tennessee, Julien Baker, an English major at Middle State Tennessee University, got up from her bed and picked up her guitar, put on her shoes, and ran away from home. She was on a quest to find God, or at least an alternative, after discovering that she had feelings for her best friend who just so happens to be a woman. Eventually, after years of wandering the desert, dabbling in drugs, friends, and questioning the significance of the Cross, Julien Baker realized that the answers – along with Him – was back at home. Once returning, she sees a figure standing in front of the Baker household – the same as it was when she left. Her legs are tired and buckling under fatigue with a face that is deeply tanned and scarred; cheekbones peering out like a knife; a stare that pierces the soft heart with a glance. However, such a look fails to scare Him (and I mean that with a capital ‘H’) as His arms are spread outward, wanting to give Baker a homecoming hug after her absence. Baker considers the gesture, but not without having second thoughts– what if this is just an illusion? What if this is my body trying to subvert reality to find comfort after I kicked the cigarettes?  But she knows it’s time, and she limps to His hand and shakes it. And soon, she reflects on her journey, in song, about the experience walking into the dark part of the wood during the witching hour. A period of life that humbled her into writing an album that provided an empathetic look into the human-wide struggle of self-doubt and a lack of faith – in one’s self and in a Savior – to provide an intimate and cathartic confession; songs bolstered when the singer broods on their sorrows to make the audience feel for the singer. Humanistic aesthetics serves as good folk songs popularized by the likes of Elliot Smith and Sufjan Stevens. Her music is lined with Christian convictions, as in the songs Blacktop, Everybody Does, and the all too obvious cynical praise song Rejoice. But don’t let the God-drops fool you into thinking that she’s on a mission to convert you back into your parent’s religion. Baker is an artist and a poet who does not try to preach to the masses. It’s all built on the set up of a single guitar and her voice – with one backed by a piano that isn’t as precisely played as her six-string – where nothing comes out of the speaker except you and her. It’s an album that is best listened if you’re alone as the sounds coming out of your speakers are akin to the intimate thoughts of someone venting out their deepest selves’ in a one-to-one conversation with someone who would die for you. To be in love with someone willing to die for you… That sounds familiar.

 

Exceprts from a Cheap, Cardboard Notebook Smothered with Stickers

There are days when she’s bound to go away. How often one looks at her with the heart becoming influxed with emotion! Causing the body to forget its basic task, until it realizes that its eyes see reality speeding the body back into motion. Causing that little panic attack, condensed into a physical characteristic, upon sight.

When the heart skips a beat, there is nothing that earthly needs could use to distract us from the heavenly body which has come down right in front of us. Only for a moment do our phones stay silent and the mouths of our detractors remain shut. For one moment experienced in our short life do we experience a split-second trip blip can truly go on forever.

But goodbyes, as noted by a famed Portuguese poet, are known to us as deaths within the smallest factor. Human death is of no context but rather the feeling of change that is so desperately needed. Yet our body and mind reject it at first glance. Some may view this and laugh it off like a deluded man turning off the television; set upon sight of a man, with a red jumpsuit apparatus. Toying with the performers while they look back with a smirk of amusement as the crowd grows united within one another.

But it’s easy to disregard the devil if you don’t believe in the devil. For the poor man who is heartbroken, when he chooses to shut himself out from the world, to wallow his feelings inside of a dark closet, then demons surely do exist. He is in its real human form. And when such temptations to fall under his wing prove successful, then the world can never find out to what caused such a man to be possessed by something so simple yet so demanding and devastating in effect.

Megacon Brings In The Worst People (Part 1)

It was a gloomy Saturday morning with the sky as a blanket of clouds and the sunlight producing a blissful haze throughout the region.

My brother, Johnny, is posing as Kato from The Green Hornet with the hope that one of his photos would serve as his latest profile pic. He was keen on participating in a pastime well known for many the nerds and geeks worldwide who anticipate such a day within the likes of Johnny and I. Posing in various martial arts stances, after taking two pictures, anguished, he let out a big yell “Augh! My costume has a hole on it!”

This was when the adaptation of “The Green Hornet”, directed by the visual French eccentric Michel Gondry, was released. The once hyped movie of the summer in 2011, ultimately brought down to mediocrity due to a number “imperfections” caused a once beloved series, integral to the rise of stardom for the iconic Bruce Lee, to go down as nothing more than a mere cash grab. Likely to end up in the collection of five dollar DVDs at the local Walmart. Holding high regard towards the Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou, for the portrayal of his hero’s breakthrough role, my brother dressed as said character in respect to the late actor. I took a picture from his back. A large sea of white ripped from the Velcro lining, serving as the first clause of dismay to the Bruce Lee wannabe. It didn’t his news deteriorate my excitement for the day though. In the weeks prior to the event, the largest and most premiere Comic Book, Anime, Sci-fi, and Pop-Culture festival in Central Florida, my brother invited me to go with him to this public event. Joining his friends eager to surround themselves with the life they once enjoyed. Everyone I knew in high school was keen on attending and if I hadn’t conjured up the interest to say yes, I imagined a month long period of remorse; fueled by the giddy conversations of past attendees of explaining the event in vague and clichéd key words such as “epic” and “cool”. With all of these factors playing against my conscience, naturally, I accepted his invitation.

“Megacon it is.” My brother replied.

The year was 2011 and I am driving down John Young Parkway squashed with cars due to the morning rush hour. Inside a dark indigo Nissan 300z, Johnny is riding shotgun while my father sits in the back seat. I had just gotten my permit and my father wanted me to use every available opportunity to get scolded by him for any common mistakes I made when practicing. Whenever a mistake was made, I would end up with an earful of livid sentences screaming out from a man who never got sick from his overwhelming redness. This was not faring to be a good morning.

Driving through John Young Parkway, mired in the morning rush hour, a large HONK from a white Lexus passed on my right. My father yelled:

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING ALBERT!? PUT THE CAR IN THE CENTER!”

Apparently, I was jeering out of my lane with the right side barely merging into traffic. Frayed with emotion, I obeyed his orders and brought the car back in its lane as I tried to remain cool and content while my livid father lectured me from the back.

“You see Albert? Keep the car on the center of the lane. If you don’t then you’ll merge into the other lane and cause an accident! Keep the…keep the car in the lane. Okay? The center lane. Keep the car in the center lane.”

Johnny, who had grandfathered my dad’s unpleasant attitude, put his hand in front of the dashboard and gestured it to the left, causing to further bottle up my emotions. I looked to the rosary swinging from the rearview mirror while my restless soul fevered with rage. What had I done to deserve this? I was bound to have a good morning today, and already I was experiencing a moment that tends to ruin my day. I was trapped with these two people for the remainder of the car ride. Normally, when I would become increasingly frustrated, my parents would notice this behavior and demanded me to explain what’s wrong while asking to keep my mouth shut. Needless to say, I picked up on their advice and remained stoic while my brain reduced itself to an anger infused mush.

Yet from behind, my father continued to dwell on my close call with death.

My father sneered “I just don’t get it Albert. I just don’t get it.” He picked up his phone and dialed his brother on the phone. The rest of his family lives in The Philippines. Cebu City to be exact. A city that I would much prefer to live if I didn’t forsake my Visayan tongue to mingle with my passively racist friends. His voice immediately became cheerful and enthusiastic as a conversation consisting of updates from his mother, his sisters, and his brothers were on the topic. While he happily continued conversing with his family, I was whispering to myself. Speaking in tongues into the open air to remain calm. Telling myself “It’s going to be alright. Everything is fine. Just let this pass and you can live the rest of the day without your father breathing down your neck.”  My father noticed my bizzare behavior and immediately put his phone on his chest.

“Albert…CALM DOWN.”

What he had failed to realize was, because I was learning to know how to drive, I was in control of the steering wheel. And whoever has control of the steering wheel was in total control of the car. I stepped on the pedal and the Nissan revved in acceleration. The three of us jerked back and the cars in front of us started to slow down, causing me to dodge the red tailights of the commuting traffic. In the back, my father drops the phone and panics in despair. He begins yelling at me in a such a powerful voice; akin to when I insistently hold my ground. Johnny begins to grab the wheel while he punches me in the face. He was always nuts about martial arts, but it’s too bad considering I have an affinity with cars. I focused my attention on the steering wheel; using years of training from playing Gran Truismo and Daytona USA. I was determined to make things go my way. My father always got what he wanted… and today was the day when I finally stood up to him. The serves in traffic begin to become blurred lines and I look to the dashboard. One hundred miles per hour.

I veer off of the lane and dip into the grassy median into oncoming traffic. I lose a bit of speed from the grassy knolls on the median. But when I went on the road, sparsely populated in comparison to the lane I was in, I pick up from where I left off. This time, the honks become more vivid and numerous. I begin dodging through traffic while my enraged and terrified father begins to grab the wheel while my brother holds it in the same position. Trying to pry of my hands by pounding on my finger tips, slapping my cheeks, and pushing the steering wheel with great force. This time, their power overwhelms me and cars begin skidding off the road. From a distance, I see a tow truck. Whatever’s on the back made no difference to me. Considering that it takes quite an effort to turn a big rig to the left or right, especially in a frantic manner, this is where I made my last stand. I gunned it, and the headlights begin to look like stars going through light speed. I see the metal grill of the Peterbilt head and I close my eyes. The screams and efforts of my father and Johnny against me have, for the first time in my life, failed. I was in peace.

The light turns green and Johnny reminds lightly hits me on the arm. I look up and I go before the annoyed commuters start honking at me.

We decided to park on a driveway near the convention center. I stepped outside and immediately walked to the stairwell while my father was profusely apologizing for his behavior. I couldn’t bear to look at him in setting the tone for the day, but deep within of my heart, he was my father. And I couldn’t stand to think of a person with malice so I forgave him. Taking a picture of my father posing with the car, I walked up to the catwalks. At this time, the sun was up and provided the convention center with light that brought the thirty year old center a modern look. From the pearly white walls of the mezannine and its outdated architecture common, I was ready.

After some walking, we finally end up near the front entrance as noted by the increasing volume of attendees. All around, I see the fine-looking animals. Bodies shaped from their countless years of devoted fitness routines and their dedicated nutrition habits. The majority of them who were playing dress up to look like their favorite characters from role playing games such as Lightning from Final Fantasy 13 or well-loved T.V. shows such as The Walking Dead. (I only took photos of the characters that I recognized.) These beauties were walking side by side with the nocturnal beasts of the night; rocking their shirts of their virtual idols. These are the people whose lives are lived within the confines of their bedroom. Their imagination, computer keyboards, computer monitors, and their game systems providing everything needed to be satisfied in life. For three days, they have come out of the dark; briefly exposed to the outside world and its glamour of which they can only see from afar. To mingle with their friends; to live out their virtual fantasies; where an extensive knowledge of trivia and useless knowledge was not only a sign of dedication but as a sign of integrity. It was one the few instances of their life where their hobbies had led them to become accepted. Where they could walk around without any of the protruding Pharisees, ranging from the athletic jocks to their own parents, commenting how much of their life has been wasted keeping up with such trivial interests.

Megacon 042

The mezzanine also played an integral part to showcase the imaginative creativity of Cosplayers.

Megacon 034

Johnny’s martial arts training did come to good use.

Megacon 032

He was quite a hit.

Megacon 040

We end up meeting Johnny’s friends near the doors, and from there we all played the waiting game. I don’t know how I ended up hanging out with my brother’s friends as I have never considered them to be a part of my own circle. They had just graduated high school and had embarked on their first year in college while I was still in junior year figuring it all out as I went along. The music they loved was the “catchy-yet-soon-to-be-forgotten” Top 40 hits while I desperately wanted to become a musical “hipster” (a term which was gaining traction around that time) by listening to EDM and alternative music through the means of YouTube and Pandora. It was during these years when I had discovered Deadmau5 (loathing that I had discovered him when he had already achieved fame), Skrillex (months before he blew up with “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”), and Empire of the Sun (discovered them as part of the lineup for Ultra Music Festival 2011). With these group of upperclassmen, they simply preferred to talk to each other since they had formed a clique conversing on topics of which they would only know between themselves. But it was through the actions of my brother, who was trying to live up to his “older sibling” intuitions, that I would find myself spending some time together within the company of his closest friends. All to provide me with some sort of entertainment and break from the monotony of YouTube videos that I filled my evening 99% of the time. Although I was clearly the outcast, Johnny’s circle welcomed me with open arms. This morning, however, it seems as if I stepped on their tail or something.

Johnny’s closest friends, who go by the name of Wilbur and Sam, tend to be a bit hyper when it comes to their love of pop-culture. While discussing about these certain topics, their passion had soon come caught up to them as the two started to shove each other around while laughing with their bellies. Soon, hormones took over and their aggressive horseplay caused a nearby group of girls nearby to be shoved along with them. Their faces already expressed discomfort as if a Florida man walked up to the pair and asked the two for sex in exchange for a hotdog. A few shoves in and their father soon comes to the rescue by asking them to stop. It wasn’t in the case of the father asking them politely with a gentle tone yet reassuring tone,

“Look, I know we’re in Megacon and you’re excited to be here. But could you…behave until it actually starts?”

Instead, the father demanded that Sam and Wilbur to behave themselves. The two repeatedly apologized to the father for being stupid teenagers. In response, the father showed them no form of remorse,

“This is the only time that I’ll say this.”

The mood went quiet and things died down, only for them to come up again. Yvonne, Johnny’s girlfriend, is known for being extremely ticklish with a yelp indicating that she is being tickled against her will. Wilbur was the suspect as he touched the inner crevices of her body, causing a number of their friends to cackle at her. The sight was amusing and the only reason why someone would continually tickle someone was to see their reaction. I wanted to join in on the fun, and when opportunity had risen, I tickled her. This time, the frown was gone and Yvonne looked straight in my face,

“Stop!!” she demanded.

“Yeah seriously…stop man” Her friends would echo from behind.

Confused, I kept my mouth shut and took a step back. I wasn’t too happy with how things were turning out. I took pictures of a few more of the costumed attendees and waited a bit, seething a bit in my own humiliation which had turned into anger. I know now that people have their limits, but it was quite hard for me to fix my attitude. I already had a bossy father to seal the expectation that anyone who raises their voices far beyond the likes of an inside voice was already on my shit list. I didn’t dare to say anything back at them though. What would that make of me? A hyprocrite most likely.

I couldn’t deal with the pressure arising from my body. So I simply stayed silent while I waited. Then from afar, I hear people cheering, laughing, screaming with delight. There was a small light in the corridor. The crowd of people were starting to move forward and my brother informs me to hold up my wrist band to get in. This was the moment that I had wanted to experience for years. And in a few seconds, I would finally have that opportunity.

In other words, the doors were open.

The Faith of Christopher Hitchens – Thoughts

*Note: This is my first review…ever. So I apologize if I seem a bit absent minded. Also, I’ll try to keep this review spoiler free.*

When I heard that Christopher Hitchens, the man known to vocally rip the so called “heroes” of faith such as Mother Teresa and Jerry Falwell, admitted to being close friends with the author, an Evangelical Christian named Larry Taunton, I made it my mission to find the proof towards their seemingly unlikely bond for each other. However, they wouldn’t come to terms with a few “certain” issues about faith (except their shared views towards Islam).  Starting from his post and a joint interview, which was posted on the CNN Religion Blog a few days after Hitchens’ death, I looked far and wide, with the help of Google, to learn more about their unlikely rapport. All to fulfill my desire to know what the power of friendship can do to the most unlikely of characters.

Link to his CNN post:

My Take: An evangelical remembers his friend Hitchens

Since then, like many journeys to find the hidden treasures that very few know about, I was able to uncover a few gems. YouTube videos showcasing that Taunton, who initially, according to the book, was antagonized by fans of the Hitch for his religiosity, wasn’t bluffing about being close friends. There is proof all around YouTube showcasing their comraderies. Just type in “Christopher Hitchens Larry Taunton” and all of the links provided are merely the first few videos that I happened to post on this review. But when I discovered that an actual book was coming out detailing Taunton’s bromance with Hitchens, who was known to have his atheist companionships with the likes of Richard Dawkins, Salman Rushdie, Lawrence Krauss, and other like-minded individuals, I preordered the book without hesitation. Fueled by the expectation that I would finally know more about what those two did during Hitchens’ final years.

The first half of the book starts off with a general overview of Hitchens’ journey towards unbelief starting from his rocky boarding school days, his rise to prominence in Oxford, and as a controversial contrarian who broke ties with the left due to his stances a few topics. I learned quite a bit towards Hitchens and his envious journey to the top. Hitchens’ mother did mention that he was bound to become a member of the upper class. And ultimately, he did. All on his own terms.

Taunton does add in a few of his opinions towards his view towards Atheism and how such views support his foundation for Christian belief. (To avoid sparking any debates concerning my thoughts on his words, this is as far as I’ll go.)

Then came to the last half of the book. The section that I was eagerly anticipating since ordering it online. The day when Taunton meets the Hitch. It’s interesting to note that while reading this section, Taunton reuses some of the lines of his first encounter from the CNN post over here. He even uses the same description in his podcast featuring the very interview recorded on that day. On the acknowledgements, Taunton mentioned that the task of writing a book takes years to complete. So I’m guessing that the idea for this book was on his mind on the day of his closest companions died.

Link of their discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obycPvu5fro

The book then fast forwards to a few months after the discovery of the same disease that killed his father: stage four cancer of the esophagus. Upholding his commitment for an upcoming debate in Taunton’s home state, Alabama, the two buddies undertake on a road trip. During this section I was filled with joy and laughed out loud between witty banter and eccentric quirks shared between the two. I could easily imagine such events occurring between my friends during a road trip. A few months later, another road trip, this time on the beautiful mountain state of Montana, travelling to Yellowstone National Park, proceeding yet another debate between the two in Billings, Montana.

Link of their trip to Yellowstone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n85Sjh0r7s

 

It was here where Hitchens, in front of a camera crew for a local news outlet, spoke his true feelings about Taunton: “If everyone in the United States had the same qualities of loyalty and care and concern for others that Larry Taunton had, we’d be living in a much better society than we do.” There is no denying that there was a special connection between the two master debaters. That their friendship, given to the dying Hitchens so late in his life, was one that allowed him to reflect on all of his years to begin reconsidering the validity of the foundation in which Taunton bases his life’s works upon.

Hitchens jokes that by saying it on camera, there’s now video evidence to prove his words.

Link of the news report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xorMPrHrzNU

Needless to say, not only was I satisfied with the content living up to my expectations, it provided me with a newly found worldview that I hope would satisfy my journey towards self-enlightenment. I loved how Taunton wasn’t depreciative towards his death compared to many of his Christian contemporaries and made sure that the book was focused towards his personal views of the Hitchens’ journey home. Some might be thrown off by Taunton’s views towards his Christianity but then again, a number of believers were big fans of Hitchens despite his obvious thoughts against what they believed in. As I closed the Kindle app (I bought this as an E-book), I took a deep sigh of relief and patted myself on the back. It was sixteen dollars’ worth spent.

Five stars out of five.