Avengers: Endgame

In the first ever piece I wrote for this blog, I was critical of Avengers: Infinity War. My opinion stands firm on that movie, as it was bloated and confusing. The mere fact that they were able to pull it off was impressive, but that does not make it a good film.

Endgame is certainly longer than it needs to be, but it is much better than Infinity War. The cast is much smaller, allowing the plot to be more focused. The movie is slower but really allows each moment to feel earned. It manages to work for fans who may not be as into Marvel (like me) while still giving fan service for those fans who have really invested in these films. It also has (light spoiler alert) fitting ends for both Captain Marvel and Iron Man. Watching both characters get the send off they deserve was certainly thrilling. I also thought Thanos was much more compelling in this film than in Infinity War. In the last film it felt like he was just getting the stones just to say he could. Now, his motivations, or at least his patience and persistence, come to bare more fruitfully. It gives him a better arc, making his quest and (light spoiler alert) failure much more meaningful.

My only regret with this film is that I did not always know enough to understand the reference being made to which precise film. I wish I was more in tune with the rest of Marvel to understand the movie as a whole. That being said the film did a great job of allowing everyone to enjoy the ride. That along with a more intricate plot gave the movie much more backbone than many of the other Marvel movies. While I may personally not connect with Marvel as much as others, this movie is an important feat. It rewarded fans for their patience and dedication, while still blasting records at the box office. That is a true accomplishment and everyone at Marvel should be proud. 8/10

The Clippers Season is Over & The Twilight Zone

After all is said and done, the Clippers 2018-2019 season is over. The defending-champion Warriors finished off the Clippers in 6 games. My beloved Clippers played admirably, winning two games in Oracle Arena and fighting for every point. However, the Warriors proved to be simply too much.

I have watched plenty of Clippers teams, but this team is easily one of my favorites. They fought and clawed. They did not have a superstar, but they did not need one. They played hard and they played for each other. It is hard to remember the last time any NBA team played with such camaraderie and heart. Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harris, and so many others gave it their all for each other. It was exciting to see, and even if we get a star in the offseason, this team made me incredibly proud. It is rare you seem a team with this much heart and character working together. So often we see the stars, the egos, and the fights. To watch a team work together was great, and being a lifelong fan only made it more exciting to watch. I cannot wait to see what this team will do next year.

Barbara Jean Trenton, whose world is a projection room, whose dreams are made out of celluloid. Barbara Jean Trenton, struck down by hit-and-run years and lying on the unhappy pavement, trying desperately to get the license number of fleeting fame.

I have begun watching the original Twilight Zone series. It stands the test of time, each episode being fascinating, thrilling, and thought-provoking in different ways. What happens when we get trapped in our own Nostalgia? What do we owe to each other and to ourselves? Each episode is so inventive and exciting, it still manages to excite and thrill. It still manages to make me wonder.

The above quote is from the brilliant episode “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine”. It brilliantly and creepily brings together themes of nostalgia, success, and failure. While I will not spoil anything, it deals with something incredibly familiar. What happens when we are no longer the person we were? When we are not as good as we once were? Do we trap ourselves in the past or try to move onto the present? Even if you are afraid of this show being “too old”, you should watch it anyways. Every episode is breathtaking and will leave you thinking after the credits roll.

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.

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.