2018 CFP National Championship: No Asterisks

I still think about the 2010 BCS National Championship: Texas vs. Alabama. The Longhorns came in as underdogs, but the game started well for them. They held Alabama to a three-and-out, got the ball back, and drove down to Alabama’s red zone. Then UT quarterback Colt McCoy injured his shoulder after a tackle from Marcell Dareus. True freshman Garrett Gilbert took over for McCoy.

The drop-off from McCoy to Gilbert was steep, but Texas was able to stay in the game. With 3:04 left in the fourth quarter, the Longhorns were down only 21-24 with a chance to win it all. I thought the Horns would drive down the field and lift the crystal football. Instead, Gilbert fumbled, and Alabama recovered and scored a touchdown. Continue reading 2018 CFP National Championship: No Asterisks

Dave Chappelle: The Bird Revelation & The System

You can tell them anything if you just make it funny.

–Bo Burnham, Make Happy

The Introduction

Don’t explain the joke. That is the first rule of comedy, but this essay will break that rule by explaining what makes Dave Chappelle’s fourth Netflix special so great.

However, such explanation is fine because The Bird Revelation is not actually meant to be funny. Chappelle starts the special by explaining:

Sometimes the funniest thing you say is mean…I say a lot of mean things, but you guys gotta remember I’m not saying it to be mean. I’m saying it because it’s funny. And everything’s funny ’til it happens to you.

The Bird Revelation has numerous serious rants where the tension builds up, and the audience nervously waits for Dave to throw in a joke to break the gravity of what is being discussed. However although the previous special Equanimity is less serious and more outright funny, TBR still has plenty of laughs. The bit about OJ Simpson trying to kneel during the national anthem is especially memorable.

Yet while the topics discussed are funny to the audience, they are not humorous to Dave because he has experienced them. Jokes about dead babies and AIDS are not as easy to make or hear after you have personally had a miscarriage or an HIV diagnosis. Dark humor is better not when it aims to be controversial for controversy’s own sake but rather when it comes from personal experience. “Offensive” comedians like Anthony Jeselnik are talented and witty, but their work sometimes lacks a sense of authenticity. Continue reading Dave Chappelle: The Bird Revelation & The System

Learning to Hate Jacksonville

In week 10 of the 2010 NFL season, the Houston Texans experienced one of their most ridiculous losses in franchise history. With the game tied in Jacksonville, Jaguars QB David Garrard threw a hail mary from midfield that was deflected by Texans safety Glover Quin. The game should have been over.

Except, the ball got batted into the hands of Jags receiver Mike Thomas. Jags win.

Despite the ridiculousness of the situation, losing to the Jags did not really hurt. This is the sort of loss that is commonplace as a Texans fan. The next week Houston would completely destroy their season by letting Mark Sanchez drive 68 yards with 59 seconds left on the clock to score a game winning touchdown. Distinguishing between all the horrific losses is difficult. Yet it is never easy to lose to a rival in your division.

The intra-divisional hatred in the AFC South does not match up with others like the NFC East. Cowboys and Giants fans will murder one another. But there is still plenty of animosity in the AFC South.

The Tennessee Titans will always be loathed by Houstonians for turning their back on the city. The former Houston Oilers left in 1997, and Bud Adams became a persona non grata inside Texas. Even drafting Houston-born hero and UT legend Vince Young was not enough to lessen my hatred for their franchise.

For years, the Colts have humiliated the Texans. The Texans did not beat the Colts until their 10th meeting, and it was not until 2015 that they finally won in Indianapolis. When the Texans franchise began, the Colts were led by future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. They had one bad season then got to draft another incredible quarterback in Andrew Luck. Life is not fair sometimes.

But then there are the Jags. You never like your division rivals. But I would never have compared my hatred of the Jags to the way Jets fans hate the Patriots. And if someone besides the Texans had to win the AFC South, I would have preferred it to be the Jags.

Until they actually won the division this year. Along the way to their first division title, the Jags stomped the Texans 29-7 and 45-7. And having the less-than-stellar Blake Bortles under center while doing it only makes it hurt more.

I now realize my lack of hatred towards the Jags was just condescension. Although the Texans do not have a great history, at least we were not the Jags. But now that the Jags will be in the playoffs this weekend, that defense no longer works. At least Cleveland is still a worse franchise than Houston.

Nobody likes Patriots fans because they are so condescending. Every time I listen to the Bill Simmons Podcast I have to hear how New England is not a good team this year, and their defense is atrocious even though they finished the regular season with a 13-3 record. When New England beats your team, you will frequently hear how “you guys are going to be scary next year”.

Now I realize though that I have been doing the same to Jacksonville fans. A lack of hatred is a lack of respect. From here on out, all I have to say is fuck the Jags. Good luck this weekend.

The Disaster Artist: The Value of Effort

Growing up, I was constantly told by my teachers and parents that I was smart. School was always easy for me, and my report card was always filled with A’s. When graduating high school, my class rank was #6 out of over 800 students, and I received a full scholarship to the University of Texas as an honors biomedical engineering student. And I barely had to try.

Being told you are smart is an addiction, and there are only two ways to get your next hit. The first option is to keep doing smart things, but that takes hard work and skill. The second, easier option is to do mediocre things with minimal effort. You get a B on the history test, but it’s OK because you did not try. You tell yourself, “If only I put in the effort, I would easily succeed.” You run away from the fact that sometimes you try your hardest and still screw up. Continue reading The Disaster Artist: The Value of Effort

The End of Evangelion: When Motivation Fades

Self-help is a huge industry. People get motivated to turn around their lives through books, motivational speakers, and even YouTube clips. But if their advice and motivation is helpful, then why is there so much of it? If a single piece of media could help you reach your goal to lose weight, get rich, or just be happy, there would be no need for so many works on self-improvement.

The truth is change is never as easy as we expect it to be. And that is the core idea of The End of Evangelion.

Released in 1997, The End of Evangelion wraps up Hideaki Anno’s mecha anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. The final two episodes of the original series are, to say the least, strange. Supposedly, the Gainax team ran out of money and had to wrap up the series with limited animation. The climactic and foreshadowed Human Instrumentality Project begins but rather than seeing what actually happens, the last two episodes dive into the psyches of the main characters, so the audience can see the mental battles they face. The End of Evangelion shows what actually happened in the narrative. Kind of. Therefore, both the film and the original two final episodes must be analyzed together. The movie is even broken up into two distinct parts to further strengthen this link. Continue reading The End of Evangelion: When Motivation Fades

Why I No Longer Watch the Texans

Deshaun Watson’s injury is my fault. After not having a franchise quarterback since Matt Schaub, the Texans had finally found the future of the franchise. The phenom from Clemson gave this franchise hope and went toe to toe against Tom Brady and Russell Wilson.

But, unfortunately, I had tickets to the Week 9 game versus the Colts. My friends and I were excited to watch our new quarterback in person. Then one of my buddies texted me in the middle of the week, “Watson’s injured.” The universe will not let me get what I want. Continue reading Why I No Longer Watch the Texans

Talent Is Overrated

I screwed up my life.

At the beginning, I had so much talent. I skipped kindergarten and dominated my classes. In high school, I was a straight A student who graduated sixth in my class of over eight hundred. My parents and teachers told me I was so smart. I was easily accepted to the University of Texas as an honors biomedical engineering student with a full scholarship. My first semester GPA was a 4.0.

Then everything went to hell. I failed some classes and lost my scholarship. Engineering turned into philosophy, bringing constant questions of, “Philosophy? What on earth are you going to do with that?” After five unsuccessful years in college, I dropped out and moved back in with my parents. I started cashiering again at the same grocery store I worked at in high school. Even four years after dropping out, I have barely gotten my life on track. At age 26, still having a roommate begins to look a little pathetic. Continue reading Talent Is Overrated

Whatever Happened to the Games We Loved?

I have murdered countless innocents, even children. Armies have bowed before me. I have sown genocide across worlds. Worst of all, my atrocities entertained me. Growing up, I would play video games for hours at a time, living out my crazy power fantasies.

But as the years have gone by, video games no longer enrapture me. Super Smash Bros. is the clearest example of this. While Brawl was an all-around disappointment, the recent 3DS and Wii U versions feel like Melee, one of my favorite games of all time.

But it is not Melee, and nothing ever will be. On Christmas Day 2001, I opened up a brand new GameCube and a copy of that game. I would play it with friends every afternoon during sixth grade. We heard unbelievable rumors around school about unlockable characters like Mewtwo and Ganondorf. Each of us would brag about how we were the best, and the only way to settle the debate was by throwing down on Final Destination with no items.

Continue reading Whatever Happened to the Games We Loved?

Me Fail English

Like many twentysomethings, I am writing a novel because it has never been done before. My book is filled with big themes and motifs:

  1. The declining privilege of young, white men in the modern economy
  2. The mind-body problem, particularly in regards to human extensibility with mechanical tools
  3. Sexual frustration and its relationship to power dynamics

But, mainly, what the book is about is giant robots fighting each other. Bottom line, it is an Americanized version of mecha anime. Granted, Guillermo del Toro beat me to it with Pacific Rim, but this is still a Harry Potter-level book idea. Continue reading Me Fail English

Halt and Catch Fire: It Won’t Leave Us in the End So Totally Alone

Full spoilers for Halt and Catch Fire follow.

In the sixth episode of Halt and Catch Fire‘s final season, “A Connection is Made”, most of the gang goes out to shoot off model rockets for Haley’s birthday. The scene is a beautiful moment of fan service. After four seasons of rocky interpersonal relationships, seeing Joe, Cameron, and Gordon (plus Haley and Katey) experience a happy moment is treasured by the audience because they have seen these characters go through so much.

At that moment, a happy, conflict-free ending for the series was all I wanted. Joe and Cameron would live happily ever after. Gordon would have a great relationship with his daughters with his new romance beginning to blossom. Donna would return to the group. But with almost half a season still to go, things were inevitably going to fall apart.

Despite the obvious comparisons, Halt and Catch Fire‘s first season was not like Mad Men. That season was driven too much by the narrative of “build a revolutionary product and beat evil IBM” to let the show become a brooding character piece like Mad Men. We all thought this was an knockoff story of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, and Steve Wozniak in the fictional form of Cardiff Electric, Joe MacMillan, and Gordon Clark. Continue reading Halt and Catch Fire: It Won’t Leave Us in the End So Totally Alone