I never really know what my “best” work is, or if any of it is good to anyone other than me. (People keep letting me write things, so I suppose that’s a good sign.) I do, however, tend to like certain things I write more than others. Here’s a list of 10 pieces I wrote in 2017 that I liked the most.
Stranger in a Familiar Land
This is the only piece of fiction I published this year, about the delirious, exhilarating newness of living in a foreign country, and how quickly that feeling can erode. It’s, uh, totally not about my experience living in Korea or anything.
A Meditation on Ethics in MMA
I waxed philosophical on MMA, talking about sportsmanship, the unspoken ethics of trash talking, and how we’re supposed to process it all as fans. Plus, the opening sentence of this piece is probably the best sentence I’ve ever written.
The Other Side of Anything Can Happen
The UFC hit on something deep with their advertising angle that “anything can happen” in a fight; people want to be surprised. But “anything” can mean shitty things, too.
Nostalgia is a Hell of a Drug
There is a vocal, ever-present group of MMA fans bemoaning the state of the sport and how it has fallen from its previous peaks. That’s true in some ways, but the complete opposite is true – MMA is better than it’s ever been – in more significant ways.
The Cost of Combat
The death of Tim Hague brought to surface a number of important questions that we must ask ourselves as fans and patrons of violent entertainment. This was my attempt to reconcile the ethical dilemma of combat sports with their undeniable allure.
Something in the Water: The Past and Present of Hawaii’s Warrior Spirit
Since the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament, fighters from Hawaiʻi have been visible on the biggest stages of the sport. Hawaiʻi has been the most represented state in the history of the UFC, with 15 professional fighters for every one million residents. The next closest state — Iowa — registered about nine and a half per million people.
Why Hawaiʻi? What is it about the “Aloha State” — this small, unassuming archipelago nicknamed after the Hawaiian word for love, compassion and kindness — that lends itself so seamlessly to the most unabashedly violent sport in the world?
Man’s Best Reflection
A personal essay attempting to answer one of the oldest, most important questions known to man: why are dogs so good?
August, Summit Magazine
Seoul, From the Ground Up
It can feel helpless to be a citizen of Seoul. The shadow of international war looms menacingly overhead, yet the everyday stresses of living in a fast-paced, high-tech megacity tend to take precedent. Political tensions rise and fall, but life keeps marching on.
Almost yearly the conflicted nature of the word “violence” becomes a discussion in MMA circles. This year, the sport’s most visible media member, Ariel Helwani, took umbrage with the idea that the UFC promotes itself as violent. Personally, I think they should market the sport for what it is, and it is nakedly violent. It’s honest advertising, but more importantly I think people should be more aware of the violent intersections in all facets of life, and watching MMA might be a good way to do that.
Spooky Spooky: A Definitive Timeline
If you haven’t heard of or watched the Spooky Spooky videos, there’s something wrong with you. If you have watched them and you haven’t read my exhaustive, in-depth analyses of them, you’re missing out on worlds. There’s levels to infectiously catchy, seasonally-themed kids songs.
Much appreciation to everyone who took time to read my work this year. It means everything. Special shoutout to those who contacted me through the site; I’ve enjoyed the correspondences, even the ones heavily laden with curses. Bigger and better things are in store for 2018.