Melissa King’s Dominance on Top Chef

After another amazing season of Top Chef, a new King has been crowned. Melissa King is your Top Chef!

Not only did she win Top Chef she also won fan favorite, because of course she did. Melissa absolutely dominated the competition winning seven elimination challenges, the most ever for a Top Chef contestant. She did this during an All-Stars season! She also managed to make an Italian butcher cry after eating her dessert in the finale.

She was so calm, confident, and brilliant throughout the season, she quickly became undeniable. She took over the competition towards the end, running away with it challenge after challenge. She managed to combine Chinese and Italian cooking in ways that made sense. She cooked her food in ways that pushed th envelope. She is easily one of the most talented chefs to ever compete on the show.

I have never seen a performance quite as phenomenal as Melissa’s. Just an unreal season from her. This was such a fantastic season but it is fitting that the Melissa King is the new Queen of Top Chef. Congratulations!

Contagion & The Magic of Better Call Saul

Contagion – A movie rarely gets better with age. When Contagion, first came out, it was easy to dismiss. This could not happen here, right? I mean Steven Soderbergh is off his rocker.

I finally got around to watching Contagion and not only it is excellent, it is extremely harrowing. The movie does give the worst version of this virus and the worst version of people’s reactions to the virus. IT is certainly not as bad as COVID-19. It is the similarities and the understanding of how globalization can make this disease possible that help this movie shine.

Contagion Trailer

The first twenty minutes are some of the best and most moving film I have seen this year. Soderbergh does such a good job of showing and cutting. He manages to tell a story of the outbreak and the players involved without it feeling overwhelming. He assumes his viewers are smart but not in need of a lecture. Soderbergh also fills his world with fascinating characters who respond differently to the situation. One reporter who lies about a cure and profits off of people’s pity. Another government official breaks protocol to keep his family safe. These are all very human and understandable, and makes you think about what is important in a crisis.

Many will want to avoid this movie as much as possible. If you can stomach it, this is a must watch. Even if you are unsure, there is something to be gained for everyone. Sometimes we watch things like Top Chef that make us feel comfortable and easy. Sometimes we have to watch things that force us to expand our comfort zone. This is one of those movies, and I am imploring you now to watch it. A

You’ve heard of the Cayman Islands right? Jesus!

Kim Wexler, S5 E9

I did not start watching Breaking Bad until this year. I loved the show, but something felt a bit off. It was just more basic than I was expecting. I expected the show to be exceptionally subversive, instead what I got was bringing the anti-hero to its logical conclusion. It is an excellent show, but I left wanting more.

Spoiler Alert! Do not watch the video if you do not want to have spoilers.

As a result, I went into Better Call Saul with low expectations. Breaking Bad left me a bit unsatisfied, so I did not that a prequel would be any better. I had heard good things, but just did not think the show could be any different or any better than Breaking Bad. As a character, I was not that attached to Saul Goodman to begin with. I just found him to be lacking at times, especially for a comic relief character. I assumed the prequel would be a bad attempt at a spinoff at best. By some miracle, Better Call Saul managed to not just avoid that, but become one of the best TV shows ever. It turned Jimmy/Saul/Gene into one of the most tragic figures on Television. It created new characters that are more captivating than some of the best from the original show, and added depth to characters from the old show in ways that help you understand them better. The show is a miracle, and in its fifth season, it became better than its predecessor.

The show has to not only defy expectations but truly revolutionize the idea of the antihero. Walter White became incredibly hard to root for, especially after the second season. The other characters were excellent, but Walter was never hard for me to root against. Jimmy/Saul is so much harder to root against. He is so charming and funny, and his anger become understandable early on. It also becomes hard to root against other characters. The show suggests that everyone in Walter’s orbit breaks bad, and it makes their fate that much harder to watch.

It also manages to weave in new characters who are just as if not more compelling than there older counterparts. Lalo, Nacho, and Kim Wexler add new twists and excitement to a show that should be spoiler-proof. What happens to these characters become a reason to watch and become the most thrilling parts of the show. Kim especially, as she becomes Jimmy/Saul’s equal. I have never cared for a fictional character more than I care for Kim. It is easy to understand why she acts the way she does, and the inevitable downfall that is coming makes it all the more painful.

Many will still not want to watch a show about a lawyer, no matter how much they loved Breaking Bad. Regardless of how much you liked Breaking Bad, you owe it to yourself to watch Better Call Saul. It has taken the blueprint of Breaking Bad and turned it into a masterpiece of television.

Top Chef S17 E11 – Champagne Padma and Killer Melissa

This week saw Champagne Padma came out in full force.

Champagne Padma is a queen we do not deserve. When the world is no longer ending, can I fly with you? Please?

Outside of Padma’s drunkenness, In the quickfire challenge, the chef’s had to cook an airplane meal. Melissa won with cold tofu. She’s a wizard. Then in the elimination challenge they had to remake a dish from Michael’s Santa Monica, a famous restaurant known for inventing California Cuisine. Melissa won again with a Quail dish. With that, let’s dive right in!

Knives Packed

Brian Malarkey

Brian Malarkey | Top Chef
Bravo

A wise man once said:

Courtesy of the Biden Campaign

It is sad to see Malarkey go! After landing in the middle of the quickfire, he got screwed. He got a veal loin/sweetbread dish with truffles. It is not a bad draw but he tried to make it two dishes on one plate. On top of that, his servers brought the food to the wrong table. Malarkey, who always seemed perkier than everyone else, was suddenly flustered.

That led to him losing his cool at judges’ table. He nearly volunteered himself out before Gregory talked him out of it. He knew he was going him, as it would have been unfair to eliminate Gregory because of how good he has been this competition. Since both were basically equally bad, they went with the worst chef, not the worst dish. It is unfortunate but he has been the wild card throughout this competition, so it is not surprising to see him go. It is impressive nearly made it to the finale. Bravo Brian Malarkey, thanks for the fun times.

Power Rankings

5. Stephanie Cmar

Stephanie Cmar | Top Chef
Bravo

Stephanie had another good week, finishing in the top 2 in the elimination challenge. So why is she so low? This is an incredibly strong group, truly anyone’s game at this point. I have to believe that although she would be the frontrunner in a different season, she is probably the least likely to win.

That being said DO NOT SLEEP ON MY GIRL. She has shown that she has the chops to win. Her take on the asparagus agnolotti with scallops was delightful. This is coming off of her strong showing last week which won her a trip to the olympics.

She also the Champagne Padma quote. That is killer instinct right there! I love Stephanie and will pull for her for fan favorite if she cannot win the competition.

4. Kevin Gillespie

Top Chef's Kevin Gillespie Had Renal Cancer Before Season 17 ...
Bravo

Kevin was in the top 3 throughout the season before falling on his sword. Getting back through an intense Last Chance Kitchen was impressive. He made a great dish and did what he had to do to move on. I want to put him back a bit just due to his absence from the competition. But again, a strong dish and a strong chef. Should fair well but this is anyone’s ballgame. Even the frontrunners have shown themselves to be vulnerable. This is what Top Chef is all about!

3. Gregory Gourdet

Gregory Gourdet | Top Chef
Bravo

Gregory was the consensus number one for a bit now. Unfortunately he really dropped the ball this week. If he was in Judges’ Table with any other chef, he might have gone home.

He did not have a tough week last week but he struggled to crack the top for the first time in awhile. He finished in the bottom group for the second straight week. For that reason, he is below daddy Bry.

2. Bryan Voltaggio

TOP CHEF -- "It's Like They Never Left!" Episode 1701 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jennifer Carroll, Melissa King, Joe Sasto, Jamie Lynch, Kevin Gillespie, Bryan Voltaggio -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo)
GoldDerby

Daddy Bry has been on a slow roll this season. But he seems to be finding his groove. Three weeks in a row with one elimination challenge win and one finish in the winner’s circle.

The preview for next week’s episode tried to sell the fact that he would probably be the next to go home. However, knowing what I know now without having watched that, he is a strong chef and heating up at the right time. Daddy Bry might just have a few more tricks up his sleeve.

1. Melissa King

Melissa King | Top Chef
Bravo

I called her the Ned Stark of the competition. This week, she was unimpeachable. She absolutely killed it in both challenges. What she lacks in competitive fire, she makes up for with pure talent and ease. The coolest customer is moving onto the finale, and is in a great spot to win it all. Just remember to play the game Melissa and this is your season to win!

Fan Favorite Moment

Champagne Padma – Stephanie gets all the credit for coining this.

It is awesome. WE STAN CHAMPAGNE PADMA!

Until next week!

Why I voted for Joe Biden

Today, I voted for Joe Biden for the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States. While he is not the perfect candidate, he is the best equipped to lead Americans out of the current populist movement, and create an America that is more rewarding and welcoming. He is the best candidate available, even if he is far from perfect.

For one thing, Biden’s position most closely aligns with my own. He is a capitalist who is socially liberal. He acknowledges climate change and has effective plans to stop it. He also understands that the answer to populism is not more populism, it is less. While it is no secret that some of his past political experience is full of missteps, including the 1994 crime bill and his endorsement of segregationist senators among other things. He has evolved and made efforts to change and understand as a person. I do not condone everything he has said and done in his career, but I praise his continued involvement in politics and his willingness to stand up for what he thinks is right.

In addition to my alignment with Biden on political views, I also wanted to stop Bernie Sanders from being nominated and to avoid the normalization of the socialist policies that Bernie Sanders argues for.¬†If I have learned anything from Trump it is that the President controls the views of the party, for better and for worse. Trump’s behavior and his views have become normal within the party, and I do not want that to happen to the democratic party. Trump has changed the Republican party from one of free trade and deficits to one of Trumpian Nationalism. The last thing we need is another one of our parties being led by a Socialist. While all of his policies may not be inherently Socialist, much of what he argues for and stands for is worrisome if he would be able to act on it effectively.

I also find many of his positions outside of economics to be troubling. Part of me is very proud that Sanders is a Jewish American who is running for President and doing well. I am also nervous about Sanders’s¬†anti-Semitic¬†cohort¬†and his lack of support for Israeli funding. I also find his lack of support for¬†AIPAC¬†troubling. So while I can understand potentially voting for him in a general, I will do whatever I can to stop Bernie Sanders from winning a primary.¬†

Regardless of who you vote for, I encourage you to vote. Educating yourself and participating in our democratic process is one of the most important things you can do as an American. If you have not voted yet, there is still time to do so and regardless you should definitely vote in the election in November.

With that, if you have any questions about why I voted the way I did, I would be happy to answer them. Enjoy the weather and REMEMBER TO WASH YOUR HANDS!

 

 

Bojack Horseman’s Phenomenal End, Cheer’s brutal physicality, Joker, and The Farewell

Television is in no position to tell you what to do. What it can do is show you that you‚Äôre not alone‚ÄĒand that there is a way up, if you can find it for yourself.

Bojack Horseman ended a few weeks backs, and it was near perfect. Bojack really solidified in my mind its genius and incredible bravery. To me, “The View from Halfway Down,” and the finale “Nice While it Lasted” captured the need for accountability. Too often, characters are able to be terrible without any real-world consequences. Bojack had to come to terms with that in a biting and brilliant finale. An arrest for breaking and entering is a perfectly weird way for Bojack to finally deal with his actions, and he then has to come to terms with the friends and people he has hurt. I truly loved it, and it is so sad that the show is over. The show ended with the song Mr. Blue, and it broke my heart. Thank you, Bojack Horseman, for being the best show in the past decade.

Another fascinating Netflix series to watch is Cheer. The show follows cheer powerhouse Navarro College as they prepare for their national championship. One thing the show does an excellent job of is showcasing the physicality and danger with cheerleading. Brutal injuries and microphones capture the pain and intensity of the sport. With nothing but bones to catch girls flying up in there, it never occurred to me just how dangerous the sport is. The director, Greg Whiteley (Last Chance U) described the Navarro cheerleaders as the toughest he has ever filmed, and it is easy to see why. They put their bodies and lives on the line every single day.

Another reason why this is a fascinating watch is the discussion around this series. Much of it centers around the coach of Navarro College cheer, Monica Aldama. Aldama is a mother to many of these athletes but also puts her athletes in danger. An article from Amanda Mull does an excellent job of placing Cheer into a wider context.

It’s true that she is hardly singular in the way she interacts with her college students, but in refusing to cast a critical eye at the way this approach to power has always endangered athletes, the docuseries bows out of a crucial component of Navarro’s story, and of the story of sports in America.

I think I take a less harsh stance on Monica, but I agree that Monica is incredibly similar to coaches I have had in the past. That you have to go past your limits and that we should be thankful for the opportunity. I also loved Monica at certain points. When one of her athletes got threatening messages and revenge nude photos posted of them online, she immediately took the athlete to the police station to get it sorted out. When all of her athletes talk about Monica it is very clear they admire her.

However, in one scene she makes an athlete with an injured back practice until he is crying on the mat. That scene and others made me shudder. I think Monica should not have that power over her athletes. But I can understand and appreciate the admiration and love she gives her athletes. Nevertheless, Cheer is a must-watch. It is a fascinating study of athletics in America, and incredibly binge-able.

Joker – I am watching the Oscars as I write this, and I know that¬†Joker¬†could win big. I am not a huge fan. I think I will write more about this in the future, so I will keep this short. I do think a big part of the movie is dumb. I found the connections to the Wayne family fascinating and Phoenix’s performance riveting if not great throughout. I find the ideas in this movie to be pho-intellectual, and while I commend Todd Philips for taking a risk, I think more sincerity should have been taken with this film.¬†C+

The Farewell –¬†The Farewell is an excellent examination of family dynamics and cultural differences. The movie is about a family who has to lie to their Grandmother about her Cancer diagnosis when they all visit her. Billi, the main character, finds it hard to believe they should lie. The rest of her family does so because they think it is best for their Grandma.

It manages to examine family dynamics and troubles, while also creating plenty of interesting drama. It is not perfect, but I really enjoyed plenty of it. I also thought Awkwafina was fantastic. A great watch if you are interested. B+

The Noah Garf Awards!

While the year and decade may be over, the best of lists have only just begun. Here are my awards for the past year and decade. Enjoy! If I left something out that you think should be included, let me know! I am a mere mortal and can only watch and read so much. I would love suggestions and recommendations!

Best Movies

2019 – Uncut Gems

I saw this movie very recently, and while I have yet to do an official review,¬†Uncut Gems¬†is the perfect movie for me. It’s almost as if this movie existed in some fever dream of mine somewhere. The Jewish references, the basketball, the gambling, the blistering pace; it is all incredible. The performances are also terrific as well. Adam Sandler is perfect. Julia Fox is great and a complete newcomer to acting. Kevin Garnett’s energy is terrific. The Weeknd is even in this and does really well. This movie even has tense Passover scenes! If this movie was not made for me I do not know which movie is. This is not just my favorite movie of the year but one of my favorite movies of all time. A+ (If I see it again I will write a long post about it).

Honorable Mentions: Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Knives Out, Us, The Irishman, and The Laundromat

Decade РArrival 

There have been plenty of great movies in this decade but none are as impactful to me as Arrival. I saw this movie as a Senior in High School, I had heard good things about it but had no idea what to expect. It was so good it shocked me. The structure of the movie is still one of the smartest set-ups ever. I will not spoil it, but Arrival has so much to say about how we communicate and how we perceive the world. I thought this movie would be some strange alien invasion story. It is so much more.

The basic story is that alien-like structures have arrived around the world, and no one knows what to do. A linguist is sent to try and communicate with these foreigners. What happens next is truly terrific. I leave you to watch.

Honorable Mentions: The Social Network, Whiplash, First Reformed, Minding The Gap, Annihilation, Drive, and OJ: Made in America

Television

2019 – Watchmen

I wrote about this show plenty so I will not say too much about it. The show found a way to take the original comic material and write a new story in 2019. It is not just thrilling, but important. It changes superhero narratives and weaves it into the American experience as well. Damon Lindelof’s show is a masterpiece.

Honorable Mentions: Russian Doll, Bojack Horseman: Part 1, and Chernobyl

Shows I have not seen that might not be left out otherwise: Fleabag, Succession

Decade – Bojack Horseman

A story about a humanoid has-been horse is an odd premise for a show. What makes Bojack¬†so great is its willingness to deal with mental health and its love for the characters. The show is very clear that Bojack and others are not great people. They do bad things. But you still care for them, because you understand their pain. There are plenty of standout episodes, “Escape from L.A.”, “Fish Out of Water”, “Time’s Arrow” and others among them. When an episode of¬†Bojack Horseman is at its best, its emotional impact is unparalleled. No show made me feel more than¬†Bojack, and it is going to be hard to find one that will.

Honorable Mentions: Game of Thrones, The Good Place, Atlanta, Watchmen, Archer, and Rick and Morty

Albums

2019 РNorman Fucking Rockwell by Lana Del Rey

I have never been much of a fan of Lana’s work, but¬†Norman Fucking Rockwell¬†blew me away. It is so heartfelt and sweeping it is hard to keep your breath the whole time. Songs like “The greatest”, “Fuck it I love you”, “Happiness is a butterfly”, and others are all so moody and beautiful it is hard not to get swept away. This is the album she had been building towards, and while I could never have seen this project coming, I am so glad it came. It is truly sensational.

Honorable Mentions: IGOR by Tyler, The Creator, Ginger by Brockhampton, Forever Turned Around by Whitney, When we all fall Asleep, Where do We Go? by Billie Eilish, 

Decade –¬†Flower Boy by Tyler, The Creator¬†

Tyler, The Creator’s metamorphosis from Goblin to IGOR is so fascinating and in many ways reflects so much about the decade. Each project gave us something new from him, and are important to a different stage of his maturity and development. Tyler is my favorite artist of the decade and there are many albums I could put in this slot as my favorite of the decade. The reason I chose Flower Boy is because of what it meant for music and its cultural significance.

What Tyler, The Creator accomplished on Flower Boy is genuinely incredible. He went from being apart of a group accused of pedaling homophobia to a gay rapper and artist the world had to listen to believe. It was a time that was (oh boy here we go) polarized politically for many reasons. He found a way to tell his own story and grow as a person without getting caught up in what others would think. Flower Boy is the most compelling work from Tyler and the one that is the most important for the decade. 

Honorable Mentions: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West, To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, Bad Self Portraits by Lake Street Dive, Light Upon the Lake by Whitney, Norman Fucking Rockwell by Lana Del Rey

Songs

2019  РGONE, GONE/ THANK YOU

The Weatherman told me it wasn’t raining
My stupid ass brought an umbrellas
I got a glimpse of your cloud and feel better
Now it’s ninety degrees, and all the tricks up my sleeve
Is drenched in sweat and illusion because I jet to conclusion

The bars on this track are terrific. It is one of my favorite songs ever. While IGOR is not my album of the year, it was very close. This song though is the best to come out this year.

Honorable Mentions: Happiness is a butterfly by Lana Del Rey, Sugar by Brockhampton, and Used to be Lonely by Whitney

Decade – Devil in a New Dress

Put your hands to the constellations, the way you look should be a sin, you my sensation.

This song is peak Kanye. It is so good, I love every part of it. Please listen to it if you have not.

Honorable Mentions: Solo by Frank Ocean, Alright by Kendrick Lamar, and Rental Love by Lake Street Dive

Books I read (does not necessarily have to come out in the respective years)

2019 – The Great Successor

Anna Fifield’s story of Kim Jong-Un features plenty of original reporting and fascinating tales of palace intrigue. It is a dark story of a ruthless bunch and a fascinating introduction of how leadership works in North Korea. It is genuinely shocking at points and a terrific read. One of 2019’s best.

Honorable Mentions: Speaker for the Dead and A Feast for Crows

Decade РFriday Night Lights 

H.G. Bissinger’s story of Permian High School’s football team and the town of Odessa, Texas changed how I saw the world. It is fascinating from start to finish and is a true non-fiction masterpiece. While the football team is the main catalyst in this story, the true story ultimately revolves around Odessa. It is a crazy, absurd place. It is also a portrait of what America was becoming and has become. When pressure is put on high schoolers to perform and be the lifeblood of a town, it is not dissimilar to the spectacle of college football and athletics in general. It is a circus that can leave the kids behind. It does not have their best interests at heart. It is a terrific story told in a brilliant way. It is a must-read regardless of interest in sports.

Honorable Mentions: A Storm of Swords, Born a Crime, Outliers, The Blind Side 

Podcasts

2019 –¬†¬†30 for 30: The Sterling Affairs

Ramona Shelburne’s profile of the Los Angeles Clippers during the Donald Sterling fiasco is a terrific re-examination of a watershed moment in the NBA. Sterling’s racism and vitriol would eventually get him removed from the NBA, and the response from the Clippers and others would shape the league for years to come. The podcast has plenty for those familiar and unfamiliar with the story. It also is full of great interviews from including from Blake Griffin, Ralph Lawler, and Shelly Sterling. Ramona’s retelling of the story is a great examination of one of the most important cultural moments of the decade. It is an important listen.

Honorable Mentions:¬†Grierson & Leitch, The Big Picture, Binge Mode: Star Wars, Colin’s Last Stand: Fireside Chats, and Planet Money

Decade –¬†Colin’s Last Stand: Fireside Chats

When Colin Moriarty was fired from his own company, I was unaware of the situation. However, the gaming world was up in arms. He made a bad joke on international women’s day, which I would not have made. It did not justify his firing.

He then went and started his own company,¬†Colin’s Last Stand.¬†The best product was his fireside chats, in which he would invite random guests from the audience and talk on random subjects. From a small-town mayor to a full-time chef he finds interesting people to discuss topics not often discussed. Pornography, Judaism, Space Exploration, Governance, Video Games, and so much more are explored by his episodes. Colin announced that the show would be ending, an incredibly sad ending to a great series. I will miss it and hope he continues to do amazing things in the future. It was truly a special show.

Honorable Mentions: S-Town, Believed, The Daily, Planet Money, and Radiolab

Sports Moments

2019 – Lucas Moura sends Tottenham to the Champions League Final

When Tottenham needed it the most, Lucas Moura stepped up. Down 3-0 on aggregate to Ajax, Lucas Moura scored a hattrick including a stoppage-time wonder to send Tottenham to their first-ever Champions League Final. It was a moment of pure brilliance that brought me to my knees.

Honorable Mentions:¬†Kawhi’s Game Winner vs. The 76ers, USWNT winning the World Cup, Alex Morgan’s tea celebration vs. Britain, Toronto Raptors winning the NBA Title, and Liverpool comeback vs. Barcelona

Decade –¬†LeBron blocking Andre Iguodala

This was the single greatest performance in Finals history. This block will live on as one of the greatest plays in this series. From nowhere, LeBron changed the fate of the NBA. He also managed to lead in all major categories and come back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the team that had the best regular-season record ever. It was remarkable and this block was just one moment from an incredible NBA season.

Honorable Mentions: Steph Curry buzzer-beater against the Thunder, Leicester City winning the Premier League, The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, and Nick Foles’s Playoff Run

I hope you enjoyed this! Once again please give me suggestions if you have any!

 

 

Toy Story 4 & A Book Review I wrote

Toy Story 4 –¬†This movie is another great addition into the¬†Pixar canon and for whatever reason I doubted it. The third movie seemed like the perfect conclusion to the series. Making a fourth film just seemed like a money grab.

In spite of my fears, this movie completely justifies its existence and hits every beat. The fact that we have seen these characters and this group so many times, definitely takes away from the wonder and excitement of the first few films. Even with that, the movie glides with such confidence and fun, its hard not to feel yourself falling back into the traps of that world.

It also finds ways to play with the conventions of good and evil, allowing for empathy and understanding. It gives time for toys to discover themselves, and what brings them together. This movie never treats its audience as stupid, but still gives ample amount of fun for even the smallest of children.

Calling this a kids movie is selling it short. It is a movie appropriate for kids that can be enjoyed by all. The best Pixar movies are more powerful for adults, and Toy Story 4 is no different. While some of the initial charm from the series is taken away, this movie is still a must-see for any Pixar fan. 9/10

The author does a terrific job of simplifying and defining the dilemma, but the rest of the book misses multiple opportunities to address it.

I have been working as an intern for the¬†Washington Examiner¬†and got to write a book review on Tyler Cowen’s book¬†Big Business.¬†Please check it out! I will be trying to see more movies this summer so I will be coming back with more reviews so stay tuned for those as well.

Ken Burns’s The Vietnam War

Sometimes, I think if we thought we weren’t always the good guys, we might actually get into less wars. – Karl Marlantes

The Vietnam War is an incredibly consequential point in our history, and a period I lacked knowledge in. I had been avoiding watching Ken Burns documentary on the period, because of how much time it would take it. 17 hours of rousing and brilliant storytelling later and I regret not watching it earlier.

The Vietnam War captures the instability, the insanity, and the uproar while finding times for stories of smaller scale. The blending of the general plot with little subplots along the way make it feel so much more emotionally rewarding. From Karl Marlantes to Hal Kushner, to big names like Tim O’Brien and smaller but very important ones like John Musgrave, each talking head comes to life.

To me this is an incredibly important series, one that goes beyond politics and delivers a searing account of an important point in our history. If you have never seen this, it is worth every minute of the 17 hour run time. 10/10

 

 

Damian Lillard’s game-winner is beyond words

The NBA Playoffs are always one of my favorite sporting events of the year. The past few years have of playoff basketball have begun to feel less exciting and increasingly predictable. However, this year that has begun to change for the better. These teams are playing with more fire and intensity.

Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers are a big part of this trend. Dame’s game and series winning shot should live on in basketball lore, as its brilliance is hard to overstate. The courage to step back from over 30 feet. The confidence to drill the shot at the most important time. I have watched the video numerous times and it is hard to get over just how insane it is.

These kind of shots are what the NBA Playoffs are all about. Intensity, grit, and determination in its most pure. You  may not be a Portland Trailblazers fan, but it is difficult not to be enthralled by Damian Lillard. I cannot wait to see what he does next.

AEI Conference Reflection & Can You Ever Forgive Me?

The AEI conference was very enlightening, as I got to hear from many fascinating speakers regarding political discourse as well as where much of the best policy research is leaning towards. There was a fascinating dialogue between current AEI President Arthur Brooks and Professor John A. Powell that did a great job of outlining how we can have a political discussion, which is vital for more people to here.

Some panels were better than others but another panel that stood out was a panel on the American World Order and a career panel were both very helpful for young college students. It created for fascinating thought and discussion which I appreciated immensely.

Much of what the conference suffered from was repetition, and in constant mentioning of the ideas that we are “divided” and that we need to find the “humanity” in others. This is not news to people who read this blog and to the people who go these conferences, but I recognize the value of mentioning it and making sure people do not forget it.

Also the timing for this conference could not have been worse. Right in the middle of midterms across the country in Berkeley put unnecessary stress on me and many others, This problem could have been avoided with more conferences or having it earlier in the semester. That aside, it was a great conference and I highly encourage those of you who know nothing about Arthur Brooks or AEI to watch his movie The Pursuit when it comes out on Netflix.

I can’t say that I regret any of my actions. In many ways this has been the best time of my life.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? –¬†Melissa McCarthy has shown a tendency to play one-off comedic characters, which makes her role in this film that much more surprising. She does an amazing job of giving Lee Israel humanity and pain, allowing for us to sympathize with a serial forger. This movie is shockingly melancholic at times, and sometimes that works to its detriment. Regardless, McCarthy is a stand out and this film has a fascinating character for a fascinating story.¬†8.5/10