NIRCA Nationals Reflection

This weekend, I got to be apart of a National Championship team. The fact that the previous sentence is entirely true is quite remarkable, especially considering where I was at with sports after I left high school. The Michigan Running Club men’s team finished first at NIRCA Nationals and I could not be more proud. I am so happy of my team for their incredible performances this weekend, and it is truly insane to be a small part of it.

The girls team also came in a heartbreaking second place finish. It was tough, as they were tied going into the last event only to come out in second place. They had an incredible weekend, and it was unfortunate to come up just a bit short. However, I am excited to see what they can do in the future, and I know we can come back even stronger.

In terms of my personal performance, I felt as though there was plenty left on the table. I got a huge personal best in the 200, breaking my best by over a second with a time of 24.64. I then ran a 54.99 in the 400, which was a season best but not a personal best. I was fairly disappointed with that time, but I was happy to at least get back to where I was at the end of last season. I am hopeful that next season I will get back to improving in the 400. While the 200 was exciting, the 400 is the race I care about the most. While it is disappointing to not run my best race at Nationals, I am hopeful that I can run like that in two weeks. If not in two weeks, then there is always next season.

I also had a personal best in the Long Jump, but frankly I should have jumped better. It was only my second time ever participating, so perhaps I have plenty to look forward to. It was still frustrating to feel so behind the rest of the competition, but I was happy to continue to improve. My 4×400 split was bad and that left me feeling pretty upset. I felt my legs completely give but I should have run better on the back stretch. I think I am being a bit hard on myself but I know I could have been mentally tougher. Not seeing that through was fairly disappointing as well.

However, my complaints pale in comparison to how proud I am of everyone who competed this weekend. For me, the best part of the weekend was nothing I did, but watching all of the incredible performances from my team. From throws to jumps, and even in Steeplechase, there were so many amazing performances to watch. It was truly awe-inspiring watching how some people fought and worked. I am so proud to be apart of an amazing Michigan team, and am so glad I get to spend my weekends this semester competing with them. This is the beginning of a club track dynasty. Until next year!

Captain Marvel & Ip Man

Captain Marvel – This movie is annoyingly mediocre. It takes no risks. It does nothing new. It is just there to fill in the gaps for those interested in Avengers: Endgame. I am not apart of the Marvel target audience so perhaps I am just missing something. Maybe it is a good thing a film with a female lead is just as mediocre as the male superheroes. Regardless, it is still disappointing to watch Brie Larson and others muddle in a film with so little to add. This movie also has clunky dialogue which is a problem for most superhero movies, but this one in particular. Lines like “it is sad to see you go” and “what can I do when I am set free” are unnecessary and should have been removed. Many characters also serve the purpose of delivering these nothing lines, or delivering lines of dialogue that tell you exactly where the plot intends to go. This also leads to an ending that is boring and anti-climatic.

With all of that in mind, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson are the best parts of the film. I loved Larson in Short Term 12 and she shows why she is so highly sought after. Unfortunately she is given little to work with. This is really disappointing, especially from a film so set on bringing about a new era for Marvel. 5/10

Ip Man – Donnie Yen is terrific as Ip Man. He finds a way to breathe life into the character while making the action and fight scenes exciting. The story can at times be fairly generalized and melodramatic, but the stakes are always there. The film never becomes self-obsessed with its action and always leaves room for the characters to develop. The story is also uniquely nationalist, which at times makes it easy to question the narrative itself. That being said, this film is plenty of fun and is a good movie outside of its fun action scenes. 7.5/10 

Jaws & The Best Article on the College Admissions Scandal

You’re going to need a bigger boat

Jaws– I have a lot of odd hot takes from this movie, but I really enjoyed it. My biggest problem with this movie is that characters often say lines that are so on the nose, it is hard to understand why they bothered. Certain things are implied, and do not need to be repeated. The continuous repetition of the amount of money will be lost is absurd. Also, lines about the shark being dangerous are at times brilliant and at times unneeded. Also, most of what Quint says are the same types of lines said in slightly different ways. This movie could have been cut by a half-an-hour. If it is not needed, there is not point in having it.

However, the suspense and drama are all there and still effective. Not showing the shark for most of the movie is an incredibly smart decision by Spielberg. It allows us to envision the shark in our heads rather than see the shark and not be scared. This creates for an incredibly shocking and fun finale, which makes up for the at times crawling pace. I think it is a very good movie, but overrated. Roy Schneider as Chief Brody is easily my favorite character, but not enough to bring up Quint in my view.  7/10

Biggest Hot Take: Can we please get Mayor Vaughn a normal looking Jacket? Those sport coats are terrible. Also, can Quint please not say another line referring to “his day” or “kids these days”? We got it the first time.

The collapse of manufacturing jobs has been to poor whites what the elite college-admissions crunch has been to wealthy ones: a smaller and smaller slice of pie for people who were used to having the fattest piece of all.

Caitlin Flanagan is one of my favorite writers today. Her content at the Atlantic is always well-written, and unique. She generally brings out the take that I could not quite say, and says it much better than I ever could. Here is a great example, using her time as a College Counselor and High School teacher, she analyzes exactly how and why many parents resorted to this lowly behavior in order to get their children in to good schools.

Growing up in a more well off area, all of this behavior makes sense. People forget that college educations are often not about the kids themselves, but about the status of the parents. Plenty of parents who went to traditionally great schools, are increasingly angry that it is no longer a guarantee their kid will be able to attend as well. Many parents feel it is a reflection upon themselves.

While this is not the case, and I would argue having hundreds of thousands of dollars in your pocket is a better investment, this is not the last time we will here of scandals like this. As college admissions get more difficult, the population of entitled parents will only continue to grow.

Ross Douthat’s Article & “The Problem with Frats”

But will Mueller prove it? While retaining an official agnosticism, my sense after Cohen’s testimony is that the odds are as low as they’ve been since this whole affair started, and the increasing likelihood is that the Steele dossier was, in fact, as Trump’s defenders have long described it — a narrative primarily grounded in Russian disinformation.

In light of the recent revelations regarding the Mueller probe, this column from Ross Douthat looks particularly wise. The burden of proof was very high which makes it all the more reasonable that Mueller would be unable to prove collusion or obstruction of justice. While I would love to see President Trump leave office, it is also important that the burden of proof for these kinds of accusations is still high. While I can understand the anger over the result of the report, I am glad that our institutions held firm.

The Mueller investigation was still incredibly important. It also brought numerous indictments and guilty pleas from many inside the Trump organization and administration, all of which are valuable to helping keep our institutions afloat. Ultimately, the burden of proof was too high, and that is more than okay.  It helped lead to other investigations and brought to light how willing Trump was to collude. Ultimately, the burden of proof was too high to charge Trump, and that is more than okay. 

Because what happens in Phi Rho Kappa, stays in Phi Rho Kappa, except for naked pictures of our exes, that’s allowed, cuz it’s funny!

CollegeHumor has long been my favorite YouTube Channel, and I recently discovered a video called “The Problem with Frats.” It is pure gold. While I know it is not a good representation of all fraternities it does hit the nail on the head in terms of why it is a troubling institution. If you would like to read more of what I wrote about Greek Life, you can read through my Michigan Review Article that came out earlier in the year here.

Two Michigan Review Articles

YouTube has given into randomly demonetizing videos at their discretion, and other sites have randomly deleted content and pages without an explanation. It is absurd behavior from companies that are now some of the biggest publications in the world.

These past couple of weeks have been insanely busy, so it is only normal that two Michigan Review Articles under my name! My first is on Facebook, in which I am critical of their approach to allowing publications to become authorized. I had a fun time writing it, and I hope you check it out!

The major theme for their campaign focuses on accessibility and making life “easier for students to navigate” at Michigan. “We have students from all kinds of backgrounds” Brian explained and it is their job to make the university more open and transparent for everyone involved.

I also got a chance to interview an write on two candidates who were running for LSA Student Government. Mary McKillop and Brian Wang are both good friends of mine and I had a great time talking to them about their platform and many other issues effecting Michigan’s campus. They both won today, which was very exciting for both of them. If you want to read what they are all about, definitely read it over.

 

Michigan Review Article & Russian Doll

She started out jovially, joking about how she gets recognized in the strangest places. She then delved into a more serious discussion of contemporary geopolitics as well as the importance of diplomacy. “Diplomacy is one of our arms for negotiation.”

This is from my latest article with the Michigan Review. I covered a talk from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in which she joked and warned of threats to democracy. It was a fascinating discussion, and one I encourage you to read about.

Russian Doll – I am bad about watching shows, but I was simply too intrigued to avoid watching Netflix’s latest series, Russian Doll. It is absolutely tremendous, a groundhog day scenario imbued with pain and satire. The story consistently finds ways to surprise and enlighten while staying true to its comedic routes. Natasha Lyonne is great as Nadia, and her initial discoveries and plot points are fascinating and hysterical.

However, the series really becomes special when Alan played by Charlie Barnett is discovered to be going through something similar, which causes the show to go on many fascinating twists and turns. Their dynamic is terrific, where their pain and denial stem from different things and are expressed in different ways, but are ultimately one in the same. It is a brilliant show and at just eight 20 minute episodes, it takes almost no time. 9.3/10 

Movie Etiquette

While seeing Apollo 11, I noticed plenty of bad movie etiquette. I feel that I should write about it rather than assume people understand how to behave, since clearly full grown adults have no idea.

Two couples in front of me were pointing at the screen and loudly describing their thoughts about the film, making sure that everyone understood how smart they were. Loudly pointing and talking at the screen to prove how much you know about the film is disrespectful, rude, and unnecessary. While you may think people genuinely care about your thoughts on the movie’s tonal direction most people are concerned with the movie itself. We all have emotional reactions. Laughing, a sudden gasp are more than reasonable. However, actively taking away attention from the film and attempting to put it on yourself is never okay. If you think people care more about you than the film they are trying to watch you have other issues. You have plenty of time after the movie is over to discuss your thoughts.

An adult next to me was checking Instagram while the movie was playing. Playing on your phone is something I would have expected from a child who is bored at his sister’s piano recital. Who knew grown-ups were capable of the same selfishness. Movies are roughly two hours long. If you cannot go two hours without checking your phone, then stay at home and twiddle your thumbs to your heart’s content. Emergencies are emergencies, and if you have one you should absolutely use your phone, just make sure to walk out of the theater. The bright light is incredibly distracting while trying to watch a film, and it is important to show consideration towards those who want to be in the movie theater. If you would rather check Instagram and Twitter, stay home.

Am I being mean, snobby, blunt, harsh, or all of the above? Yes. Do I care if I hurt your feelings? Not particularly. Being considerate in today’s world is a lost commodity, and a movie theater may seem like small potatoes. It is, but we have to start somewhere. Show some consideration towards others when enjoying yourself, and the experience will be better for you and everyone else around you.

Apollo 11 & Daredevil Season 3 Review

Apollo 11 – This documentary does a great job of paying attention to detail. Each moment of the moon landing is painstakingly realized, from time to sound and communication. What is slightly off-putting is that this films opts for no “talking heads” and operates completely within the context of the events themselves. The goal is to create a “you are there” sensation, which at times adds to the film but also takes away from it. If you already know plenty about the mission than I suspect you probably prefer it this way, but for those who have little background in science and were not alive for the moon landing are left slightly confused. I love documentaries, and what makes them great are often the interesting subjects who help put things into context. I would have loved to hear historians discussing the implications of this event, or scientists describing exactly how the ship works. Instead I am left with plenty of interesting and cool footage, but no message from the directors. That is disappointing, especially considering how much terrific footage there is in this film. 7/10

This season was easily the best of Daredevil’s run, with smartly paced storytelling finally catching up to the already brilliant action scenes. For the first time in the show’s run, every episode felt purposeful, every move felt necessary, and nothing felt like filler. This makes it that much more disappointing that Netflix cancelled the show, as there was so much more left to offer.

Regardless, I think it is more important to look at the product of the third season as a whole before getting sad about the show’s cancellation. The newcomers in particular were great, as they added many new dimensions to the show. Jay Ali as Special Agent Ray Nadeem stands out in particular. His struggle and ultimate send-off are all incredibly powerful to watch. Overall I would give it a 8.5/10, a must watch for any Marvel fan.

Clippers vs. Lakers Reaction

When the season began, the Clippers merely moved forward once again in the shadows of the nearby circus, far under radar and beyond the glare, sharing the same arena as the Lakers but not the same platform. This is why today feels so … what’s the word … gratifying? … for the L.A. Team Not Fit For A King.

Oh if only you could know how much joy I am taking out of the Clippers win over the Lakers last night. They showed the toughness and grit that defines Clippers, whilst the Lakers looked sluggish and unable to respond.

As a lifelong Clippers fan it has always been frustrating playing second fiddle to the team in purple and gold. Even during the Lob City era, The LA Clippers still took backseat to the Lakers. Now with LeBron, it seemed that they would be back from their slump, ready to challenge for the title they have desperately coveted. Now that appears to be out of reach, as the Lakers will almost definitely not make the playoffs.

Last night’s beatdown represented more than a win and a loss, it showed to two teams trending in opposite directions. This is a huge step forward for the Clippers, as the Clippers are poised to make the playoffs without an NBA superstar and plenty of cap space to work with this offseason. Meanwhile the Lakers are broken physically and spiritually, with LeBron unable to muster the same tenacity he had while in Cleveland. Now with playoff hopes diminishing rapidly, the Lakers are in free fall.

Last night, The Clippers put nails into the coffin of the team that has overshadowed us for so long and showed why they are a deserving playoff team. Jerry West, Doc Rivers, and Steve Ballmer are ready to take this team even further, and I cannot wait to see the end product. I wish I could explain exactly how happy I am am, but I know I cannot. All I can tell you is it feels very good. Clipper Nation, this is just beginning.

Annie Hall, Michael Cohen, & A Storm of Swords Reflection

Annie Hall – Woody Allen is a fascinating character and a joy to watch in Annie Hall. His constant neuroticism, as well as his openness towards his contradictions make him troubled but likable. It is still hard not to think of the recent allegations against him, and wonder how honest he is being when describing his love life. Regardless that should not take away from the merits of this work, as it is still an incredibly smart and clever piece of work. That said, it does drag and tries too hard to subvert itself. Some of the gimmicks are strange and unneeded. Also watching him embrace every Jewish stereotype imaginable at times made me laugh but at times made me wonder if he approached the subject with any seriousness. My negative thoughts aside, this film is a fascinating watch, even if some of its tricks work against it. 8/10

There is none of the purgation of self and transformation of spirit that happens among people who have truly been altered. He’s just switched teams and concluded that the Democrats can now give him what he wants, so he says what appeals to them. That may be progress, but it is not moral renewal.

How should we view Michael Cohen in light of damning testimony? On one side there seemed to be more of an embrace, while on the other side there seemed to be complete skepticism of him. I think it is important to be very clear on who this man is but also understand that he is being candid in his testimony.

As David Brooks notes, he worked for Trump and branded himself as a “fixer” in order to gain respect in Trump’s orbit. He did horrible things in order to protect a man he admired and get recognition from him as well. Now he has looked back and decided he was wrong. Regardless, he has not given us enough of a turnaround to make him a new person. However, I do believe he showed candor, and as LawFare notes, plenty of his evidence is damning. While we can still rightfully question what kind of person Michael Cohen is, it is important that we treat his testimony as credible. If we do not, we are enabling a president who does not care about anyone but himself. That should be something we should all fear, regardless of political allegiance.

For the most part there was one perspective character per location. A Storm of Swords changes that by moving characters around and sometimes showing the same events from different perspectives.

I finally finished A Storm of Swords, and it is probably the best piece of fiction I have ever read. It never slows down, and keeps the pace going in such a smooth way it was easy to forget just how much happened in one book.

Every character changed and grew so much in this story that it is hard to view them the same way than at the beginning of A Game of Thrones. Sansa and Arya in particular, both young girls, have now become strong women in their own right. While their transformation is rewarding in many ways, it is also brutal to see them begin to lose hope in the world around them. Who can blame these characters? Often times they are isolated and tested just to survive.

My hope for the next book is to see how these characters become major players in the war itself and watch their characters grow and develop. I am really looking forward to A Feast for Crows, and have already begun reading. I will let you know of some of my favorite quotes when I get the chance.