Climbing Towards the Summit

Some kids are afraid of the dark. Some are frightened by the monsters beneath their beds. Throughout elementary and middle school, I was afraid of B’s. If I got less than a 90 on a school assignment, I would get in trouble. C’s and D’s were unthinkable results that would have brought my parents’ full rage down upon me. And so I studied, not to learn, but for a high number on a piece of paper. While I succeeded in school according to traditional metrics, I never discovered a passion for any subject at an early age. Continue reading Climbing Towards the Summit

Challenge Thyself

My summer writing class was a joke.I was excited to have a professor and peers critique my essays. but all I heard was, “Excellent work!” And my success was not because I am the greatest writer of all time. My Thai classmate’s inability to speak English did not seem to impact her grades. She “earned” a 98 on her first essay despite asking, “Do we need to use paragraphs?”. And while my grade was two points better, I felt like an adult dunking on the kids’ hoop.

Low standards are a waste of time. Back in high school, I would have loved an easy A, but now I would rather grow by struggling to achieve a C. The least attractive quality a girl can have is being into me; I prefer the chase. Even during my free time, I like to be challenged. Continue reading Challenge Thyself

Crawling Through a River of Shit

The pre-cal textbook says, “The remainder of the proof is trivial and left as an exercise to the reader.” For once, this is not an over-exaggeration, at least for me. As someone who has taken differential equations and linear algebra, all the content in this course is trivial.

Midway through the professor’s explanation of the arcsine function, I want to slam my head against the table. In the words of Dante from Clerks, “I’m not even supposed to be here today.” Low-level math classes are my punishment for failing out of college. Continue reading Crawling Through a River of Shit

A Band from Nevada

Houston is a boring, sprawling suburbia where the heat’s oppression is matched only by the humidity. Throughout high school, I wanted to get far away, hopefully to a college on the coasts.

Yet over time, my disdain for Houston has transformed into love. Even though I only lived in England when I was in diapers, I still tell people I am English but only to seem mysteriously European in order to impress chicks. The truth is I was raised in and love Space City.

Everyone has an attraction to the place they are from, so numerous bands are heavily tied to their city of origin—the Beatles and Liverpool, Nirvana and Seattle, the Clash and London. However, no band’s artistic output is as closely linked to their hometown as the Killers. Their entire discography is about living in the shadow of Las Vegas. Continue reading A Band from Nevada

James Harden Is Second-Rate

There is always a better option than me. The job I wanted went to someone more qualified. Instead of dating me, she picked the better-looking, more-successful guy. My cat ran away, probably to an owner that pets her more.1)Or she got hit by a car.

But you don’t always have to be the best to win. LeBron James has been the best player in the NBA for the last 7 years. He doesn’t have 7 titles. Like the narrator in that Versus commercial said, life, “isn’t a math test. This is a completely different kind of test. One where passion has a funny way of trumping logic.” Anything could happen. Continue reading James Harden Is Second-Rate

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Or she got hit by a car.

Sherlock: The World’s Smartest, Loneliest Man

“You’re really smart,” my coworker said to me, the college dropout. She is wrong about me; smart people don’t flunk out of university. However, I am fine with only having average intelligence. The BBC series Sherlock shows how isolating true intelligence can be.

From the first moment we meet Sherlock in “A Study in Pink”, we and John Watson are in awe of his abilities of deduction1)Technically, induction.. Sherlock quickly recognizes John is a former army doctor who has a strained sibling relationship, is looking for a flatmate, and has a psychosomatic limp. But the abruptness of the conversation shows that Sherlock lacks emotional intelligence. Continue reading Sherlock: The World’s Smartest, Loneliest Man

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Technically, induction.

Kanye & Continuity

Never look back on the things you once loved. Growing up, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was my favorite show, but it does not hold up on more recent viewings. The transitions between the Japanese and English scenes are obvious. The acting is terrible even though the high school students are all played by actors in their twenties or thirties. And even the updated effects of the 2010 re-version are terrible.

But none of those reasons are why I stopped watching Power Rangers in the first place. Maybe I had just outgrown the series by the time Power Rangers Lost Galaxy came around, but I felt the reason I stopped watching was because there was no longer any connection to the previous series. From the first episodes to Power Rangers in Space, there was a central story arc, culminating with Zordon’s death, while the cast of Rangers and villains were replaced only gradually over the years. From Lost Galaxy onwards, there was little continuity between seasons of Power Rangers.

Most art comes in single-serve packages. The most successful sitcoms on TV, like The Big Bang Theory, have few story arcs. Katy Perry’s next album will have little to do with her last. Continue reading Kanye & Continuity

Freedom

My childhood was completely normal. I grew up in a two-story house in the suburbs of Houston. My parents didn’t beat me, nor did I ever go hungry, as evidenced by my obesity. There is nothing I can find in my formative years to complain about, except for the usual lack of control a child has over his own life.

School was fine, even fun sometimes, but I still had to go every morning. Even when I was sick, my mom forced me to sit in science class with snot running down my face. My classmates called me Typhoid Matt. And every time I had to go to the bathroom, I had to ask the teacher; nowadays if my boss made me get a hall pass to go to the bathroom, I’d tell him where to shove it.

The only thing my parents valued were grades. Play time and relationships were frivolities.1)The joke is on my parents though, because they’re never going to have grandkids because of my stunted social skills. Learning didn’t matter unless there was an A to go behind it. Continue reading Freedom

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. The joke is on my parents though, because they’re never going to have grandkids because of my stunted social skills.

Mad Men: Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Spoilers for Mad Men and The Sopranos follow.

“How hard can getting up for an 8 A.M. class be?”

I asked myself that question as a freshman at UT. Like every college student learns, the answer is, “Damn hard.” Your pre-semester optimism gets cut every morning your alarm clock rings.

I asked myself that question before my first year at community college. “This time will be different,” I thought, but now I want to stay in bed every morning. No matter how much I want to change, I keep making the same mistakes. Continue reading Mad Men: Will the Circle Be Unbroken?