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. Continue reading Learning to Hate Jacksonville

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

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

Mediocre Game Dev

In high school, I was a member of the debate team. Debate, especially Lincoln-Douglas debate, teaches you to bullshit well. Even if your opponent has superior logical arguments, better evidence, and is a more talented speaker, you will still normally make an argument against each and every one of their contentions. Those arguments may not be strong enough to win you the debate, but they are enough to usually put up a fight.

Every once in a while though you face an opponent who is vastly better than you are, and you just shut down. This happened to me twice in my high school debate career: once against a debater from the national circuit and another time against the eventual Texas state champion. All of the time for my rebuttal speeches was spent stuttering and stumbling, trying to fight a battle I had no chance of winning. Normally after a debate, even one I thought I might have lost, I normally thought to myself, “I might win if they voted based on this issue or aspect of the debate.” After I got massacred in these two debates though, I knew my only chance of victory was if the judge had a stroke and circled the wrong winner on the paper. Continue reading Mediocre Game Dev