Robert F. Kennedy

Based on the recent Netflix/TV show related posts, you’d think I’m on a documentary binge.  I don’t think that’s necessarily true or false.  The “You also might like…” algorithm based suggestions from Netflix presents these shows that look interesting to watch.  Fortunately, my personal preference of wanting to learn things for the sake of knowledge as opposed to studying for the sake of testing taps into many of these suggestions.

This Netflix’s documentary of Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) popped into my suggestions feed shortly after finishing the Champions of a Golfer documentary.  I’ve never been to interested in the Kennedy’s.  My knowledge of them is mainly from reading about a biography of President John F. Kennedy (JFK) and the fact that the Kennedy’s are a major political family.  I knew RFK was the younger brother of JFK and had helped JFK tremendously up until JFK’s assassination.  However, I had no idea about the history behind RFK.  That is until this documentary.

This contains four 1-hour long episodes that traced RFK’s rise to political prominence in 1960 to his own assassination in 1968.  What I didn’t know about RFK were the numerous amounts of public policies and progressive political stances he took during this time frame.  As backdrop, the 1960s was a turbulent era in US: Vietnam war, Civil Rights Movement, the counter culture of the Hippie Movement and Sexual Liberation in US, and even the farm worker strikes (part of a broader Chicano Movement) in California under Cesar Chavez.  All these events are significant in the context of American history.  And it’s amazing to see how one powerful individual as RFK worked to not only correct what he thought was immorally wrong but to work to bring equality to an otherwise racist America.  In one episode where RFK was touring the ghettos and poor communities in Mississippi, he was remembered for telling his kids that it is also their responsibility to end injustices.

Just reading about RFK in wikipedia, I’m amazed at the amount of different socio-political fields he’s worked in ranging from McCarthyism to labor movements to organized crime to civil rights and the Vietnam war.  I think RFK was aware that his “Kennedy” name could be used as a social media tool to show the nation a different aspect to these socio-political movements.  As someone remarked in the show, the Kennedy name brought cameras and those cameras showed the nation the plight of the situation.  As he began his run for presidency, the video footage of the throngs of people who wanted to shake his hand just shows how popular he was.  Similarly, video footage of interviews also showed just how racist white Americans were as well.

In retrospect, RFK might have been the first true modern era populist breaking down barriers of race, religion, and class.

Documentary on Maria Sharapova

There is this short documentary on Netflix about tennis star Maria Sharapova.  To be honest, this show is more a vlog (video blog) recording her thoughts, feelings and general attitude after being suspended from tennis for 2 years (reduced to 15 months) for testing positive for using a performing enhancing drug meldonium.

Watching this documentary, I find her reaction to this unfortunate situation very zen like.  It seemed like she took a step back from everything and examined this incident rationally.  Not being able to play at a high level for 15 months is devastating for any athlete especially for an athlete of her caliber.  She opted to not blame her team and fully accepted the responsibility of her actions as a leader should.  And even if she were to blame someone, she would still have to wait 15 months to play competitively.  As the show points out, Sharapova took the time to pursue other interests that she was never able to do because of tennis… traveling to different locales, studying at Harvard, eating with friends.

As of April 2017, her suspension expired and she was allowed to play again.  However not playing competitively after 15 months certainly has taken a toll on her playing.  Looking at ESPN’s 2017 and 2018 records, she’s only had 1 tournament win and quite a few early exits…. the latest being the Stuttgart Open losing 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 4-6.

Now the real question is… How long will it take Sharapova to be back in competitive shape and ranked in the top 10?

 

Chronicles of a Champion Golfer

I don’t play golf but I’ve certainly heard of these golf legends in this Netflix show.  Golfers like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Greg Norman are interviewed and talk about their particular experiences with the Open Championships.  Their account of their win is pretty amazing to hear.

But unfortunately these episodes are short and doesn’t quite delve into these golf legends enough.  I’d like to know more about their work ethic, their approach to the game and to each tournament as well.

Aggretsuko

What do you get when you cross Sanrio with Death MetalAggrestuko!  With the character design by Sanrio, this isn’t just your everyday cutesy anime show.  The show is about the “life” of an anthropomorphic female red panda named Retsuko dealing with everyday work and personal issues ranging from misogynistic boss to dating and her coping mechanism…. karaoking to death metal song 9091-89.

I find this show to be a hilarious take of Japanese office life.  It’s one of those shows that manages to perfectly balance that fine line between something that covers everyday office issues in a comedic light hearted fashion.

Netflix’s Eat Your Words

I randomly stumbled onto this Netflix show called Eat Your Words.  The show recruits random people who have badly criticized the food they ate from multiple restaurants and place these amateurs into a kitchen to cook something for a panel of three judges.  One of the judges would be considered knowledgeable in the type of food these amateurs are cooking.  The amateurs have to score an average of 3 or higher else face the punishment of taking back their “words” on social media and live with their hubris/arrogance.

Honestly, I find this show to be infuriating.

  • I don’t understand why people would critique food badly.  Chefs don’t purposely make food taste bad.  Plus chefs cook food under some pressure situations where they have to serve dozens of people every night.  I think it’s a pretty hard job.  These random people should know better than to criticize the food just because the food didn’t fit their food pallette.  Seriously, if you don’t like the food, just move on without having to rip the food apart. Wise words from a rabbit…
  • I also don’t understand why you need to have a show that turns the table around onto these random people.  At its heart, this is a show that basically takes down people a few notches under the guise of a cooking show.  It’s like the show is trying to elicit a gleeful wicked laugh at the people’s attempt to make a dish in an hour.

I ended up skipping to the very end of every episode to see what scores they got.  Some just barely passed.  And those that didn’t, I got the feeling that they took this all as a joke with very little remorse of the things they wrote.

 

 

Ugly Delicious Again!

So I finished this show and the last episode about dumplings is fantastic.  The guest appearance of Ali Wong at Din Tai Fung was hilarious.

But aside from craving fried chicken, asian dumplings, BBQ, fried rice, pizza and tacos (all of which Chang showcased as a thematic episode), there’s this underlying theme that Chang touches in every episode about “What is American food?”

My friends and I also had this discussion once during an overseas trip.  We came up with only a few food dishes that seemed to be authentically American: Creole/Cajun, Barbeque, and hamburger.  Most of these dishes were derived from other cuisines… but it’s been transformed to become uniquely American.

The show takes this question a step back.  The chefs, food writers, and food critics on the show imply that America embraces these foreign cuisines like Italian, Chinese, French, etc… and then creates a cuisine that is not quite like the original.  When America is talked about as the “melting pot” of the world, the food evolves as the immigrant community becomes assimilated into the ever changing American culture.

Creole/Cajun is a great example of what the show is saying.  Creole food originates from the French settlers in New Orleans in 1690s.  The settlers absorbed the food traditions of other immigrants (Italian, Spanish, African, to name a few) to become what it is today.  Cajun food originates from the Acadian settlers who were transplanted from French Canada in the 1700s.  Although there are differences between Creole and Cajun, the fact that these food cultures absorbed other food culture and traditions is exactly the “melting pot” metaphor of America.  To add even more credence to this melting pot phenomenon, the term “Creole/Cajun” is even synonymous to the Louisiana food region despite their differences.

Perhaps I’m reading a bit too much into the show given the state of our charged political climate, but I think the show is saying that what makes America great is the cultural appropriation of immigrant culture.  What evolves from this appropriation becomes uniquely American yet neither American nor the donating culture.

Icarus

I just finished this Oscar winning documentary called Icarus on Netflix.  I have to say it’s pretty amazing.  It’s a documentary was made predominantly in 2016 about the Russian doping scandal.  The documentary follows a Russian ex-WADA whistleblower, Grigory Rodchenkov, in his quest to expose the state sponsored Russian doping scheme in the Olympics.  The show goes into detail how the Russians in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics circumvented the WADA testing with the help of the FSB (formerly KGB).  The investigations that followed from the exposé led to Russia being banned from Olympics in 2016 Rio Summer Olympics and a partial ban from the recent 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Although we don’t know truly the full extent of the Russian doping scheme, I have to commend Grigory for his bravery to release these details.  The show ends with Grigory entering the witness protection program.  Hopefully nothing bad will happen to him unlike the recent double agent spy assassination in London.

 

On a side note, does Russia view the doping scheme as a “scandal” or more along the lines of #fakenews?