Back Story

So this week in NBC's This Is Us, it told the story of the day the twin was born. An expansion of the pilot. I wasn't that excited upon knowing it will all be back story, nothing in the present day. I guess it's because I relate more to the twin and their stories interest me more. I also think I relate more to them because as mentioned in the previous post, they're closer to my age and their feeling of being lost or stuck in life resonates with me. That also makes me think of how much I just don't relate to my peers who are married and perhaps in their 2nd child now. I know I want to have kids and all, but sometime when I see parents with their toddlers and all the work, I do feel thankful that I don't have to deal with all that. I wonder if subconsciously I don't like having kids. I'm praying but maybe God knows better, but hopefully He'll entrust some to me one day. So anyways that back story thing got to my head today as I heard 2 people discussing something. Suddenly I was so curious about their back story. How they got to this place. I wonder if any of you have ever been curious about the back story of the people in your day to day life. Unfortunately, unless I ask, by ask I mean thorough interview which can be seen as very intrusive, I don't think I will be able to get much detail. I have had people make unflattering remarks about my curiosity. Most of the remarks are in the line of I am being so odd, but I pride myself of it. I think it's so important to be curious in life.

TV to book. I finished reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Someone saw me with the book and told me he actually knows the author personally. Gosh, my degree of separation to a Pulitzer Prize winner is not that big. Now that I think about it, since it's a small world or perhaps because Singapore is small, my degree of separation to the Prime Minister of Singapore is also just as big as my degree of separation with this Pulitzer Prize winner. So anyway, I was telling this person I know that I was reading the book because for the past years I've been trying to read every Pulitzer Prize winner. This actually just goes back to as far as 2013 with a recommendation from Oshie I believe. Now from way back to 2013, the winners are:
  • 2013: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
  • 2014: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • 2015: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • 2016: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
I also read a 2015-finalist, The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami. I gotta tell you all the winners dating from that 2013 have quite a sad tragic story. Though perhaps some not as tragic as the others, but truly there were just moments where it was like one sigh after another for me. My favorite among those is perhaps All the Light We Cannot See. It's sad, but it's also so beautifully written and just drags you in into their world. The one I most want to see as a TV series is The Goldfinch. After I completed it, I wrote in this blog that I can see someone like Nicholas Hoult for the role of Theo, but Boris would be a hard one to cast. Now I think maybe Adam Driver can play him. Anyway I'm digressing (what else is new?). I don't quite enjoy The Sympathizer. It tells the story of this mole for the Viet Cong. The story pretty much began with the fall of Saigon during Vietnam war and there's also a lot of backstory about this character. The author used the word bastard a lot in describing the main character being the son of an erring French priest and a Vietnamese woman. The character talked about how he had to always deal with this duality and how it's like destiny that his job required him to be in this dual kind of existence. At the end of the story he even addressed himself as 'we' instead of 'I', a move that made me rather confused in reading it. I don't know if it's strange because it's in writing or because it's introduced at the back. When I watched Mr. Robot and Elliot Alderson addressed himself as 'we', it never felt strange. Maybe perhaps because it's introduced from the very beginning or it could be because it's spoken or maybe because when he's speaking to us, the audience, we still feel like a separate entity while in the The Sympathizer when you read 'we' it's like we're forced to fuse. So I think there's a lot of awkwardness there. I think in Mr. Robot making us that silent presence in Elliot's head helps us be more invested in the character. I'm curious how Elliot actually sees us. Anyway reading The Sympathizer, I do wonder if many people of mix race often feel a kind of uncertainty about what they really are, if they feel like they never quite belong anywhere. I asked the person I know about the author and if he's one of the boat people. He's not one of the boat people, but he did escape as a child and immigrated to America so he did have some first hand account about how things were for the refugees back then. Overall I don't fancy this book much. Now I am reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee which I will count as the first book of the year. I'm just gonna count The Sympathizer as book 0 since I started last year.

On movies, the last movies I watched was Collateral Beauty and Arrival. I kinda had high expectation on both, but both didn't really quite deliver for me. I found Collateral Beauty to be not so subtle in the messages it tries to deliver. It tells the story of these friends trying to help Will Smith's character to deal with grieve with the help of Death, Love, and Time. In the process of trying to help Will Smith's character, these friends helped themselves too. It's still very touching and all, but it's so direct in its delivery, it's like being shoved these messages of death, love, and time. The actors were great though. As for Arrival, I was so intrigued but in the end I was just not that satisfied. It was explained why the Aliens came, but I guess I needed more information on what they are and what they gave (if any) to the humans.

I watched Arrival last week which caused me to be late in watching the first gubernatorial debate in Jakarta. You know I think the US election has caused me to be quite traumatic. Watching the debate and reading so many amusing tweets in Twitter, I suddenly became quite fearful that it would be Hillary (do you realize that she only needs her first name to be identified) and Trump situation. It is clear that our current governor came to the debate backed up with data and substance. He was better and and yet I feel he can still lose this whole thing. Seriously the situation is quite similar to Hillary's. The current governor has a proven track record, many celebrity endorsements, and supports of the Twitter sphere, but it's possible he would lose votes from Muslims who are swayed by his (unfounded) blasphemy allegation and the poor people who allegedly are suffering so much as cited by the other 2 candidates. If we're to learn anything with what happened to Hillary then it's even more crucial right now for Pak. Ahok to talk to these Muslims to assure them that he's respectful and also to the poor people to explain his actions more and show that he's not an elitist. The annoying thing is that many radical Muslims are blocking his ways when he wanted to visit people so it seems he mostly spends campaign days in his campaign headquarter. This is not good because people coming to see him are already supporting him. What he needs to do is to capture undecided voters and voters currently lost due to attacks aimed at him. It's really important not to be complacent now.

The rules for Jakarta gubernatorial election is that the candidate must win more than 50% of the votes to win the seat. If not then a second round will be held for the top 2 candidates. The ideal situation is for Pak. Ahok to win in 1 round because that will show a strong mandate and seriously another election is a waste of money and time. This election matters for me because I feel just like in America right now, Indonesia is in the process of being divided by intolerant people pushing agenda representing just one group of people. It so happens this group is the majority and for the minority like me, this direction is getting more and more disturbing. I feel that they're encroaching our freedom and rights. The second debate will be held next week on Chinese New Year's Eve, a date which I find to be somewhat inconsiderate to Pak. Ahok who is an ethnic Chinese though perhaps he doesn't mind, but seriously how would Muslims feel if it's held on the eve of Idul Fitri or for the Christians if it's held on Christmas eve. It's like another sign showing they don't care about us the minority Chinese. I will be watching the second debate at home which is perhaps nice watching it with my parents, but I really will miss seeing the funny tweets. I'm totally offline when I get back home. It's really truly enjoyable watching the debate and the live reaction in Twitter.

As for America, truly I am sharing the despair that many Americans feel. You know with the Russian involvement allegation, Donald Trump can just say well it didn't work because there's still more people voting for Hillary, but of course he can't say that, that will just delegitimize himself. Looking at how he's been preparing so far, it's looking bleak for America and that's another reason why I'm worried about Jakarta gubernatorial election. We cannot move backwards with incompetent people. The current governor has to take leave during this campaign period and already the interim governor is making questionable actions. He's like the best campaign tool for the current governor if only people would just see it. Going back to how things used to run is awful and we'll be regressing. We need to move forward and this is not just about competency but it's also about the signal the people is sending regarding tolerance, respect, and appreciation of people who are different from you. Please God help us. Please help all Jakartans make the right decision.

So I'm going back next week. Feeling rather nervous about it. I have so many things to get done before I go. I hope I don't miss out anything. I think I will not have enough time to write again before I go and also because I'm lazy, so I just want to wish you a Happy Chinese New year and happy holidays :D

:) eKa @ 8:36:00 PM •

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