Tuesday, November 2 2021

dry air, the zoo, and squid game's ending



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Tuesday. If you're a dog, it's time to nap on your favorite cushion in the morning sun while you digest your breakfast. If you're Miles, go ahead and grab a seat in your high chair and eat dry Cheerios at your leisure. As for me, I'm going to take a seat at the dining room computer and write. Oh, and there's plenty of coffee to go around.

Sip. Oh coffee. I need you today. On this Tuesday morning, I've reached new levels of tired. I even hurried through my morning chores so I could squeeze in a thirty minute power nap as soon as Marissa and Rodney went out the door. The thirty minutes vanished like a vapor in the wind, and I had no choice but to drag my same old tired self back out of bed and try to fire up the morning routine.

For as beautiful as it is outside, we've reached that brutal point in the season where all the humidity falls out of the air. The hygrometer on the spider shelf tells me that we've crashed almost 30% in the last few days. The dry air seems to be adding on a few bonus days of lingering misery to the cold I just got over. Cough. Hack. Sniff.

But I'll come around. There's a lot of good things going on this week too. I got a ton of work done yesterday, and it felt good. The Blackhawks finally won a game this season, and watching them beat up on the Ottawa Senators yesterday certainly put a spring in our step. And there's always the weekend, which is now just four days away.

Rodney had a good day yesterday too. His school had a short day. Marissa dropped him off around 7:30 only to pick him up again at 10:30 - basically enough time to come home and take a quick nap. So they decided to spend the rest of usual school hours paling around at the zoo. Rodney's buddy Archer and his mom accompanied them. They took turns pushing baby Miles' stroller because Archer loves babies. Marissa had both of them doubled over laughing when she accused them of rubbing their "smelly butts" on the lion's glass and making him roar.

zoo-day

And what are the animals up to? Spidey wants to be taken seriously now. He doesn't mess around. He has a rock in his enclosure, and now he's a rock spider. If you need him, he'll be chilling out on his rock.

rock-spider

Ducky is getting more comfortable. We feed her at night just before bed. At first, we'd only get to see her little lizard head poke out of her hiding place, but now she's comfortable enough to take a quick stroll around her enclosure. Evening feeding time is becoming evening play time.

playtime

I love that friggen' lizard. It's an honor to sit beside her for an entire working day and witness her do nothing but nap smile through the glass. She tosses back mealworms like they're cheetos. When she sleeps, she looks like the happiest creature on the planet.

That's about all I have today in terms of real world content. But not long ago my buddy Ben reminded me that I have yet to weigh in on the first season of Squid Game. With about four hundred words to burn, I can't think of a better thing to delve into - so let's do this.

If you haven't finished Squid Game yet, you can stop reading here.

So I'll kick things off admitting that I absolutely loved Squid Game. I loved the minimalist presentation. The acting (especially the voice acting) was fantastic. The most special part of Squid Game to me was all the non-verbal elements that still effectively moved the story. They weren't told they would die if they lost - we just heard the loud crack of a machine gun in an empty room. The camera held still on a streak of bright red blood on a playground slide. We saw drops of sweat falling in the dirt and characters exchange nervous glances with vibrating eyes. The scene where the three finalist enjoyed a steak dinner epitomized what Squid Game was really good at. After the luxurious meal, the assistants buss away all the dishes, leaving three steak knives in front of each player. A hush falls over the room as they quietly tuck the knives away. Not a word was spoken, but the message was loud and clear - only one of them will survive.

Compelling characters, interesting storylines, audio and visual story telling - for all these reasons I enjoyed 99% of Squid Game's playing time. But then in the final episode, the ending really threw me. The main character met the old man in a hospital bed. They revealed in a brief conversation that he was behind the games all along. The main character decides to return to the games instead of getting on an airplane to finally be reunited with his daughter. As the credits rolled, I felt like I was waking up from a bad dream. The ending left such a bad tasted in my mouth, that I was ready to write off the whole series as a bust. But a very popular, bald, flannel wearing YouTuber talked me back down from the ledge.

Fantano strikes again. He seemed to understand why I hated the ending better than I did - the Fantano effect - and I don't have much to add to his breakdown of why the ending sucked. As Fantano explains, everything following the "one year later" transition in the final episode seems to counteract all the carefully woven moral fabric of the Squid game. There are no lessons learned. There's no respect for the dead. Even the conversation with the old man in the hospital bed felt foreign to the rest of the show. I found it hard to believe that a show so skillful and subtle with organically unfolding the story would settle with throwing two characters in a room so one of them could explain the big twist in one montage, like the formulaic ending of a Scooby Doo episode.

So here's my extra theory. I think Squid Game originally ends with the main character returning home to find that his mom died. I think he feels so guilty about abandoning her to gamble his life in the Squid Games that he never touches the money. Everything that proceeds from "one year later", I believe, was written by Netflix. They knew the show was going to be popular and asked the production team lead in to another season, hence we get the hastily made plot twist.

What do you think? That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by everyone - let's have a Tuesday.