Monday, December 31, 2012

Superheroes vs. Khaki Scouts vs. Leonardo DiCaprio: The Top 10 Movies of 2012

   When I watch movies, I look for the moment. For the short time that I have been doing my “Movie of the Year” articles for this blog, the winner has been determined each time by the flick’s ability to take a scene and burn it into my brain. It could be the scene’s emotional power (like 2010’s winner: Toy Story 3) or its raw ambience, shock value, and brutality (in 2011’s winner: Drive—which in hindsight has at least three of four scenes that I will remember for the rest of my life). Whatever the kind of movie, it needs to have the moment, and if a movie wants to be great, it needs memorability through this moment.
   Now, 2012 had a lot of really solid movies, enough to make an honest-to-God Top 10 list (the most Dazz has ever done is three). All of these movies are great, and a few of them have the moment, but as you will see, one has more moments than the rest.

**Minor Spoiler Alert—the following contains a few giveaways, but do not worry, Dazz will never ruin the ending of any flick, because only supreme douchebags do that, like the people on SNL who ruined Sixth Sense, and Andrew from high school who ruined Fight Club, and no, I am not still bitter about it**

10. The Avengers
   Oh, but I did. A lot of folks might have The Avengers higher, and I think a lot of this might be a result of the hype surrounding it, and how it miraculously managed to meet its lofty expectations. Only problem is, with its steep competition this year, this is merely a great superhero movie, and little more. It featured some good action and quality banter between the costumed heroes, but all in all the success of the super-team was never really in doubt, and Loki as a villain never seemed like a serious threat. It was just a bunch of cool people blowing stuff up and looking good while they did it. It may have been fun, but it was lacking in impact. Great superhero movie, but not much else.

9. Life of Pi
   A review of this one in short: the first 25 minutes are a huge collective yawner, but everything afterwards is really darn good. The cinematography and directing is some of the best of the year, and the visuals are second-to-none. This movie, at parts, is an absolute spectacle to watch. It is all made even more impressive by Suraj Sharma’s performance as a first-time actor. You may remember the sheer beauty of this flick, but the lasting impact that it ultimately hopes to achieve might not quite stick the way it wants. Moments that are nice to look at do not a moment make.

8. Looper
   A lot of people called this one “mind-blowing”. It was not mind-blowing. It was inventive, original, suspenseful, and intriguing, but the ending did little to blow my mind. What may have been a moment for a lot of people was thus not a moment for me. Looper was still great because it had solid performances and a unique, exciting plot, not because the ending left my brain looking like a gray milkshake. Sorry. The ending is a good one, and it does well to define the character of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but my mind was still unsatisfied in the blow department (thinking, thinking . . . eh, keep it).

7. The Dark Knight Rises
   Glimpses of a moment start to emerge, but unfortunately for Batman, they are merely glimpses. You loved Tom Hardy as Bane, you loved Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, you loved a heck of a lot of things about Chris Nolan’s last Batman movie. If you ask me, it was the best of the three. The problem was, the one time in the movie that begged for a moment did not deliver. (Minor spoiler!) The dismantling of Batman was extremely well-done, but the dismantling of another key character seemed half-assed. It still pisses me off. This is one of the greatest superhero movies of all time, but it falls just short of absolute movie greatness. Almost a moment, but not quite.

6. Cabin in the Woods
   The lack of any significant star-power (except for Chris Hemsworth, but seriously, the only reason he is there is so he can have sort-of-sex with the blonde chick and then die, so he does not count) might seem to hinder this one from having a moment, but in reality, Cabin in the Woods does not need a moment to be great. This movie’s inventiveness, originality, and successful inclusion of some of the best black humor to ever grace the big screen is what makes it so awesome. If you have not seen this movie yet, it positively demands a viewing. Do not read up on it, do not watch the trailers, just go in with no expectations and watch it. It will be like absolutely nothing you think it to be.

5. Lincoln
   Two of the best performances by arguably the two best actors of our generation simply cannot be overlooked. Daniel Day-Lewis as President Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens both propel this movie to greatness through their killer performances. You might very well have a one-two punch for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor right here. Not to turn this into a two-part man-crush, though, because the ending of this one still pisses me off (Spoiler alert! Go to number four!). Seriously, you would think after showing hundreds of people dying in the battle scene at the beginning, Steven “DGAF” Spielberg would have the decency to let us see Lincoln get shot. You could tell Spielberg was sitting there with two weeks to go on their deadline, and thinking, “Well goddammit, I have to put a little more Steven in it, so let me just take a big, fat, Stevie-steamer on the ending.” This movie could have been number freaking one on this list. But no, Spielberg shot us the finger.
4. Argo
   The first hour is a well-done movie. You are sitting there, feeling alright about everything, but part of you still worries that Ben Affleck is still destined to just botch this one. Then, the last half-hour arrives and the suspense builds and you can taste the moment. It is coming. Right now. But then, it just does not quite make it. Rats. Argo tells the best story of the year, hands down. It is the best historical picture of the year, and as the whole plan is carried out, the suspense build extremely successfully, even though everyone knows what is going to happen. That is excellent filmmaking. Props to Benny. He surprised us all. Argo might not quite reach its moment, but the quality of its performances, the excellent story, and the exceptional suspense make it well worth a viewing. Fantastic.

3. Moonrise Kingdom
   I am suckered into emotional viewing experiences really easily. Toy Story 3 was my 2010 Movie of the Year because it reminded me of all of my childhood toys and instilled an amazing sense of nostalgia. Last year, The Muppets almost stole the show from Drive (wow, is that embarrassing to write) because it was so darn funny and charming and 80s-esque that I could not help but absolutely love it. This year, Moonrise Kingdom was that flick. From the opening scenes of Edward Norton walking through the Khaki Scout camp, I was smiling. The story of the two young kids in love was the most charming cinematic adventure of the year. Our hero in Sam Shakusky brought the whole audience back to a time when love was about hand-written notes and the thrill of sharing an adventure. I might not remember a specific performance or a specific scene, but I will remember the atmosphere. If I was not an even bigger sucker for crazy action, suspense, and "wow moments" than I was for all of the personality this movie has, Moonrise could take the top spot easily. You walked out feeling good, thinking hard, and looking up. If there was a way I could write out a sigh, I would. Man, guys, this movie just . . . just . . . excuse me for a second. That was this movie’s moment: the way it left you after it was over. 

2. Django Unchained
   Guys, I wanted this to be number one really darn badly. It has everything you want: stellar performances (especially from Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L), high comedy, fantastic action, wonderful characters, a neat story, an interesting setting; it even has a moment. Finally, a moment. Without giving away too much, there is a scene in this movie that sees Leo single-handedly go from giving a solid performance to a downright terrifying, captivating, cannot-look-away, award-seizing performance. It will go down as one of his best scenes ever, period. When you look back on Django, there is a heck of a lot to remember, and the only thing holding it back from being the best movie of the year is the last twenty minutes. Basically, the movie ends but Tarantino decided to dick around for a little while longer (both literally and figuratively—in short, Jamie Foxx’s wang did not need to be in this one, guys). Even so, take the first two and a half hours or so and you have some of the best film out there this year. Absolutely phenomenal. I would see it again in a second.

1. The Raid: Redemption
   One movie this year did it all. One movie kept a consistent tone throughout. One movie alone lacked an extraneous twenty minutes or a botched ending. One movie this year does not just have a moment, but is rife with moments. The Raid: Redemption is the best movie of 2012.
   The plot is simple, a SWAT team has to go into this apartment complex to extract a drug lord. That is it. Things take turns for the worse, of course, but as our particular SWAT member rises closer and closer to the mark, things become much more complicated. The Raid is a fantastic combination between simplicity and unexpectedness. The thing is though, you are not there for the story, you are there to watch some of the best action to come along in years. This is where you find your moments: the scenes that are so badass, violent, or tense that they might go down as some of the best action scenes ever. The first Mad Dog fight, the second Mad Dog fight, the machete scene, the execution scene, the door frame kill, the refrigerator kill, the ambush in the central stairway—The Raid has not just one, but numerous scenes that I will remember for years and years. It is a martial arts movie mixed with a cop movie with a bunch of gunplay thrown in for good measure. A great soundtrack, solid performances, quality twists and turns along the whole way, and straight-up memorability make this the best movie of the past 12 months. Absolute adrenaline. Action fans have to see The Raid—it is one of the greatest fighting flicks of our time.

          What happens next might not be for everyone, but it sure is awesome to me.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Great To Be Back Again--The Hobbit Review

   Do not fear, everyone. The Hobbit is awesome.
   I grew up a huge Lord of the Rings fan. When I was a kid I had all of the movies, of course, but I also had numerous action figures, several special editions, and even a LOTR version or the board game Risk, which I kicked total ass at, by the way. So needless to say, I was pumped for The Hobbit.  My roommate and I went at midnight on Thursday, and I woke up four and a half hours later to fly home and write this review, so buckle up, we are breaking down An Unexpected Journey.
   I think that the main thing I was looking for in the Hobbit was a recapturing of the total buy-in I felt when I watched the original trilogy. That is to say, when I watched the Lord of the Rings movies, everything was so well-done and so fantastic that I was absolutely invested in everything that was going on. All of the lands and peoples and races of Middle Earth had been brought to life in ways that many of us had never seen or experienced before, and the result was a sense of scope and wonder that brought the fantasy world to life. The Hobbit needed to do just that all over again; I wanted to feel like I had returned to Middle Earth. By and large, it succeeds triumphantly.
   The movie opens in the Shire, home of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who is unknowingly about to embark on, well, an unexpected journey. Most of us know the story. He is swept up alongside Gandalf the Grey and 12 dwarves to reclaim a lost dwarven treasure from Smaug the dragon. This movie serves as the first part of three in that fantastic tale, and it kicks things off spectacularly.
   It would not be possible without a great Bilbo, and Martin Freeman is wonderfully likeable and hobbit-ish as our hero. He may not win an award, but his work here may make him one of the most well-loved characters of the year by movie-goers. If there ever was a perfect Bilbo, it is Freeman. The dwarves are serviceable in their roles, perhaps a little more cartoonish than necessary, but as they are here largely for comic-relief (save two of them), it does not matter. Sir Ian McKellen is his usual extraordinary Gandalf, and as a whole, one has an easy time rooting for the ragtag, bumbling gang of treasure-seekers. The moments when the whole party is onscreen at once are some of the highlights of the film.
   Speaking of highlights, it would not be The Hobbit without some battles, and this is sadly where the movie falls just short. There is plenty of action to be had, certainly, but CGI is used rather heavily in this flick, much more heavily than in the Rings trilogy, and the result can be quite distracting at times. Orcs and goblins, once done with makeup and costumes, are largely computer-generated this time around, and there was the rare moment when I missed the authenticity of old. The larger foes, like trolls, even at times looked less real than in the older movies; it was a little disappointing.
   Also, by nature, the movie lacks a big, impact battle scene. Fellowship had the uruk-hai chase in the hills beyond Rivendell, Towers had the fight for Helm’s Deep, and King had Minas Tirith and the Battle at the Black Gate. With The Hobbit divided like it is, this particular portion was just missing that moment. There is still quite a suitable climax, and fans of the book will know that those moments will expect to come, but it never had that woah moment I was looking for.
   However, I said this movie was a triumph, and a few CGI issues fail to hold it back from being great. The expansion of the movie into three parts now looks like a spectacular move, with all of the additional Middle Earth lore that the writers are adding in (and have set up for the next two movies), this adventure is so meaty that Rings fans will find themselves scouring all of Tolkien’s unpublished works for hint of what is to come. This is The Hobbit you knew, but made better by a bunch of kick-ass stuff mixed in from other legends of Middle Earth. These are blended extraordinarily well into the main storyline, and I was stunned at how seamless it all seemed in the end.
   From the hills of the Shire to the falls of Rivendell, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an absolute treat. Casual fans of the Rings movies will love the numerous appearances by characters from the originals (our theater cheered when a certain hobbit dropped by), and die-hard readers and watchers will go crazy over the sheer amount of Middle Earth lore packed into this one. An overabundance of CGI does little to detract from the experience, and while Fellowship-esque set-piece sacrifices are made, you know it is all for the greater good of the next two movies (and either way, the riddle scene more than makes up for the lack of a huge battle—guys, it is absolutely perfect). The Hobbit has me excited to return to Middle Earth, and a more charming film experience will be tough to find this year.

   It has been a long wait to see Bilbo rush out his door, but it was sure worth it. An Unexpected Journey earns an 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dazz's Ten Unwritten Rules for the Gym: Keeping it Classy When You're Working Out

   I have a job now, guys. I work at the gym here at Northwestern, and I must say it is not the worst gig in the world. I change towels, I do the rounds, I keep everything spic and span up on the second floor—that is my domain. Unfortunately, there are a few things that simply do not belong in the gym, things that are considered universal party fouls by everyone in attendance. There are also things that are universal party-makers, if you are into that kind of thing. Lots of things can make or break a workout experience, and as a proud floor monitor at Northwestern University’s finest gym, I have the know-how about all of them.

1. Sweatbands are always in style.
   A little retro throwback to the 70s and 80s never hurt anyone. You can go classic white Nike swoosh like some washed-up tennis player, or you could go neon and be all-out. This is like the gym’s version of the tie (Does that comparison work? . . . Sure). Plus, the alternative is having to look at waterfalls of sweat cascading down someone’s forehead. No thank you. Go with the flow and show off your flow; sweatbands are in.
   Guys, I should actively market this stuff.

2. The guy who suggests “shirts vs. skins” in your pick-up basketball game is a guaranteed douchebag.
   Scenario for you: you are starting your game of hoops, when some snapback-toting bro-monster on your team peels off his tank, “Ok, we’ll be skins!”
   The other team does not care, because they are actually allowed to keep their clothes on. You look to your teammates for help. Everyone is kind of staring at each other, giving the old “Did you bring that guy? No? He came by himself? Well, dammit” look before taking off their shirts. Coincidentally, you notice that the monstrous tool now dribbling the ball successively through his legs, like an asshole, seems to be in decent shape. Surprise, surprise. Because one person cannot stop thinking about themselves long enough to memorize the general appearance of four people, your pick-up game turns into half a strip show for everyone in attendance. Thanks, douche.

3. For the love of God, keep your freaking shoes on.
   There was one day at work when I had to tell someone repeatedly to keep their shoes on while doing squats. Contrary to what you would probably think, the guy was 22, and not five years old. I told him it was a safety issue and the policy of the gym, but in reality it is more along the lines of, “No one wants to smell your stale foot-sweat, amigo, so put the shoes/deflector shields back on and spare the rest of us.”

4. It is acceptable to pretend to like something so as to spark conversation with the opposite sex.
   Another scenario: You are on the elliptical, working hard, because you go for it. That is right, you are standing there, chugging along, going for it, when out of the corner of your eye, you see that the girl next to you has her iPad up on the stand, and she is watching Breaking Bad. She seems nice, looks pretty, you want to chat.
   Then BAM! Problem. You do not watch Breaking Bad, how do you strike up a conversation? You start out slow, like dipping your foot in to test the water. “Hey, is that Breaking Bad?”
   She takes out an earphone, “Yeah! I use my gym time to catch up on it!”
   You, not wanting to blow it, “That’s a great show!”
   Seeing your interest, she gets into the conversation, “Oh my gosh, I know! It’s crazy, right?”
   Magic. You just spouted nothing for fifteen seconds and had a good chat with a nice girl. You know how to follow up? Go home and Wikipedia the crap out of Breaking Bad, that is how. Come back, you are in the know, maybe started the pilot on Netflix because you are savvy like that, and you can keep chatting the next time you run into each other.
   The initial teeny tiny fib? Totally acceptable, with girls or guys. Not the best thing to pretend to like something at all venues, but at the gym, it is totally cool.  

5. Keep your body off of the drinking fountain.
   It still seems that some people, even in their post-adolescent state, still fail to grasp basic water fountain etiquette. Generally, this means keeping your mouth and other body parts off of the water fountain while it is in use. No one wants to be drinking contaminated spit/sweat/water, so can we all do our best to keep hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times? This also means no leaning on the thing while other people are drinking, because then your arm-sweat is on there somewhere, and who knows what else has touched that. It is practically a public restroom on those fountains, anyway.

6. Wipe down your machine like they tell you, for Chrissake.
           Seems dumb, but think about it: you take a spin on the bike, huffing and puffing, doing your thing. After climbing that last metaphorical hill and coasting to the bottom, you call it a night. You leave feeling good that you worked out. You know who does not leave feeling good? The person who used the bike after you and had the pleasant sensation of your freaking butt-sweat soaking through their shorts. Idiot. Wipe off the seat.

7.  Between sets, move away from the machine. 
           Again, we are just talking general gym etiquette here. After you max out on the tricep curls, instead of standing there like a farthead rubbing your “exhausted” muscles, clear out for the next guy. No one wants to see you draping yourself over the bars because your set was so challenging you just cannot muster the strength to pull yourself out of there. People are waiting, dude. And no one thinks you are strong . . . just saying (silence for a moment, looking down at the ground . . . so . . . moving on?).

8.  Yelling is only appropriate in tennis, not squash or racquetball.
   There have been numerous occasions in my place of employment when some patrons on the racquetball and squash courts have suddenly thrust themselves into insane shouting matches as they hit the ball. Since the physical competition is not enough, both persons yell louder and louder, both to showcase their level of effort in making the return and to seemingly attract some mates in the gorilla community. Fun fact, folks: those courts echo really badly, so what seems to you like a private showcase is now a full-on imitation of a haunted choir for the rest of the gym-goers. Tone it down. It is okay on tennis courts because those do not echo nearly as badly, and everyone has sort of accepted the shouting as part of the tennis culture. Squash/racquetball culture is sweatbands (yes) and goggles (no); that is all you are allowed to have.

9.  Everyone can see your “effort face”, so rep it out and deal with it.
           One of the best parts about working at the gym is seeing the crazy faces everyone makes when they go for the maximum for whatever doing. A lot of guys look like they are being force-fed lemons and a lot of girls look like they are doing their best not to grunt, which is probably one of the least-feminine sounds (and words) ever. The best you can do is to just swing for the fences and not try to hide it. We see you working, so we know you do not make that face normally. No one judges you (mostly).

10. In the locker room, use the five-second rule.
   Arguably the most important gym rule of them all. We all know it, but only a sacred few choose to obey. Yes, we are talking about locker rooms, and we are talking about the . . . more experienced among us showing off their . . . stuff, in said locker rooms. It needs to stop. Obviously, I only know what it is like for guys, so maybe girls have it way different, but I can tell that there is nothing beneficiary to anyone about a gentleman walking around the locker room with everything hanging out.
   I understand that in the locker room, everyone is a guy, and we can all be mature adults, but for the love of Christ, do we really need to shower, shave, comb our hair, stand in front of the mirror, put on lotion, and work our way back to the lockers completely naked? Really? I do not need to be taking coat off after a long walk to the gym only to see some middle-aged man-of-confidence stroll around the corner, hands on hips, displaying the pride of the land for all to see. No one needs that. Five-second rule, man. You have five seconds of nudity, the time it takes you to change your pants. Boom. Done. Out of there. Everyone can breathe easy and not stand around ignoring the . . . elephant in the room (. . . ?) while they take care of business. No one has ever understood this habit, and no one ever will. Locker rooms right now have more frontal nudity than 99% of movies out there. Our lives should not be worse than movies.
   Call it the Golden Rule of the Gym. The Five-Second Rule. It needed to be said. At the very least: man-law, and woman-law. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Election One Week Later: Why We Are Forgetting What We Must Remember

   A few weekends ago, a good friend of mine came home one evening to find signs in his yard. He moved them. The next night, his bushes were covered with toilet paper, his house was egged, and someone had thrown a smashed, rotting pumpkin onto his lawn.
   It was not Halloween. It was November 6, election night. The signs he had moved from his yard were signs supporting the Obama campaign. His family being conservative, he had taken them out. The next day at school, following Barack Obama’s victory, he reports of being talked down to, made fun of, and being grouped with people who are uneducated.
   If it sounds like kid stuff, it is far from it. The friend in question is in college.
   After the post-election Wednesday had run its course, and the insufferable Facebook posts had stopped, things went right back to normal. Obama won, few things changed, and that was that; life continued as usual. My friend went back to that same school, and things were quiet once again. Now, a full week later, all of the coverage and arguing and debating seems forever ago. We continue on like nothing happened, and whether you supported Obama or Romney or some other guy, it is important to look back on our national behavior, our national division, and know that it was dead wrong.
   The day of the election, I was sitting in one of my classes here at Northwestern University, and the topic of discussion turned to Fox News. The professor flashed a statistic that indicated that Fox News was the most trusted news source in America. People howled their disbelief. The professor asked why everyone found this odd. One girl began to say something along the lines of, “Well, when you have a news outlet that is so . . .” but I could not hear the rest of her sentence, because the student next to me blurted out “Wrong!” to punctuate it themselves. Hold up. Fox News is not wrong. It does not lie to people or make things up; it is biased, and there is a difference between the two. I was almost speechless. The next slide came up, and it showed a statistic indicating that Fox News was the most untrusted news source in the country. The majority of the class laughed.
   This small story can be translated onto a larger scale. So often during this election process, we were quick to point to the other party and say that they were wrong. Then, not only are they wrong, they are stupid! They are stupid for thinking differently! It is not one party’s fault or the other’s, either. This is something brought on by everyone. Both sides, whether it was attack ads or obnoxious radio hosts or smear campaigns, presented ideals that focused on an “Us vs. Them” agenda. In something that decides and shapes the next four years of our country, there has to be an alternative.
   This election, more than any before it, showed the rift in our country. Republicans and Democrats alike began to see themselves as soldiers on a battleground, fighting each other over what was the proper way to steer our nation, and in the meantime they lost sight of their true identity: Americans. Democratic, indivisible Americans. In the weeks and months leading up to this past election, our country was so at odds that people resorted to vandalism, mockery, and hate in order to make their point. Just to say that they were better. Just to say that they were right and that you were wrong.
    Obama won. There is no changing that, so the only thing left to do is to hope that the guy does a good job. There are people who trust that he will, and people who trust that he will not, but everyone should hope. For months now we have put our parties first, and our peers, communities, and country have come second. It is time to end it all. Democrats need to stop gloating, and Republicans need to stop the pessimism and just hope for the best. As a country, we have been almost silent about the animosity that we experienced these past few months, and now it is our responsibility to remember it so it can never happen again.
   For a long time leading up to November 6, everyone was begging for silence. No more ads, no more coverage, no more arguing. Now, everything is over. The results are in, and we seem to find ourselves either in quiet relief or quiet apprehension. Not all silence is golden, however. The rift in the middle of our country remains, and we cannot be silent about that.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A2D Official Statement: Why There Is No Halloween Dev Diary

   Over the year or so that I have had this blog, I have taken immense pride in my ability to put out stories that are relevant and timely. When Harry Potter 7.2 came out, I was up until 4:30 in the morning with my review for you guys. When the final Dark Knight movie came out, I went again into the hours of the morning so you guys could have the review the next day. I went to football games across Arizona, and for the love of Jesus, I freaking watched Human Centipede when you guys asked for it. My point is, I work pretty hard to back up my brand with quality material.
   I joke a lot about the “staff” here at According to Dazz. In case you have not picked up on this, it is really just a staff of one—me. Everything is on me. This blog is cool because I can set my own parameters, but I still enforce a certain level of discipline on myself, especially when it comes to the readers. After all, you guys make this whole thing possible.
   If you have not seen the apology I threw up on the Facebook page earlier, the Halloween Dev Diary did not happen. Phi Delta had buses ready to ship a thousand people to the Phright Night barn in Indiana, and after waiting for three different vehicles with my (totally legitmate) wristband and (totally legitimate) identification ready to go, I was not let on a single one. It was awful. The crowd was so aggressive that at one point I was literally suspended off the ground between two people. I am honestly surprised no one was hurt.
   What I want you guys to know is this: I really wanted to do this dev diary for you. It was going to be insane. Partying, dancing, alcohol, a cage (!), and one sober Peter Parker-costumed guy in the middle of it all, giving you coverage of the chaos bound to ensue. I was excited, and I figure some of you guys were pretty excited too.
   I want to apologize to everyone for not closing the deal. I could not make it happen this time. I did the best I could, but the stars were not aligned for this night, I guess. Just know this: I am going to keep working to find that money story for all of you. I am going to make up for this. This has been the first time I have not been able to back something up, and you bet that I do not want it to happen again.
   So keep looking to According to Dazz for everything movies, sports, and Northwestern. I promise to keep working to put out the best brand possible for all of you. Thanks for sticking with it everyone. Happy Halloween.
   Oh, and Phi Delta can suck one.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Glint: Finding Hope Amid the Story of Harsha Maddula

   The line between knowledge and ignorance is a dangerous one. After all, it is said that with knowledge comes power, and with great power, great responsibility comes as well. It is also said, on the reverse side of things, that ignorance is bliss.
   Everyone in attendance at Harsha Maddula’s vigil Thursday evening expected an event surrounding the message of “come home safely”. It would be a night to think optimistically, to come together, to hope. No one was ready.
   When the news was released of the discovery of the young man’s body in Wilmette Harbor, you could feel the shock travel through the crowd. For three seconds, you could see everyone processing, frozen. Then hugs, and sobs, and prayers, and reality. This time, knowledge was crippling, breaking. There was no power to be seen. Knowledge brought with it the real world, and the real world can be extraordinarily unfair. It suggests that all of the things we were taught before, about the idea of knowing, and wanting to know, maybe were not so true. Knowing does not always make things better. Sometimes, knowing something is really, really hard.
   It is strange, considering that one of the things most often heard on our Northwestern campus during the investigation had to do with the knowledge of what had happened. If we just knew if Harsha was alright. If we just knew where he went. What made the whole situation so difficult was being ignorant, and this was so because we all felt limited in what we could do to help. There are only so many hours in a day. There are only so many people in the world. There is only so far that you can look.
   We know now of what happened to Harsha. We do not know everything, but we know the important things. But do we feel any better? Is there consolation to be found amid such a horrible tragedy? Maybe. Maybe it is better to go through life knowing something was as you feared, rather than going through life being afraid of the worst-case scenario. At least this way, you know how to start moving past what you were afraid of in the first place.
   I will not pretend to have known Harsha—I did not. After the vigil, however, I had a sense of the kind of person he was. The stories told Thursday evening painted the picture of someone who was soft-spoken, selfless, and incredibly bright. Harsha seemed a young man who touched people’s lives in subtle ways. He gave without asking for anything in return. He always kept the well-being of his family and friends in the forefront of his mind. He was firm and solid in his values. He was someone who, whether we knew him or not, we can all learn from right now.
   At the vigil, one of the first people to speak was a young woman who had previously prepared a speech that, she told us, had centered around hope. The breaking news, of course, had forced her to make some changes to what she said. There was no hope to be seen, just pain. The final glimmer seemed extinguished.
   However, as people kept coming up and sharing their experiences about the young man, it became more and more obvious that Harsha was really all about the opposite of what we were feeling. He was optimistic, bright, positive. He would find something good in this. It is our turn now. We need to find something good.
   Through the sadness and loss, peeks a small glint. Small, yet telling to be sure. In the first week of student activity here at Northwestern, the community had still managed to unite. Hardly anyone knew anyone else, and yet we came together under the goal to bring Harsha home safely. Search parties ran around the clock. People made flyers and passed them out in Evanston. The sophomore was in constant thoughts, considerations, and prayers. As the vigil continued, I thought about this, and I was thankful that while Harsha was alive, he had this community around him. He had this community supporting him. He had this community doing everything it could for him. We can take that with us, because Harsha will undoubtedly take it with him.
   I believe that if you look hard enough, you can always find blessings in your life. So in the wake of this terrible time for our university, remember the important things. Smile. Call home. Go out of your way to help someone. Take that small glint we have and tear it open. To those who remember him well, Harsha was someone who bettered those around him simply by letting them know that he cared about them. It does not take much. We can do the same.
   We are faced with a choice. We can see this situation as a dead end: nothing ahead but road blocks and difficulty, or we can see it as a lesson. Harsha brought us together as one school, one university, One Northwestern. It is a message to us all that even in times when the world is dark, light and hope can be found. We can pick each other up. We can look out for each other. We can keep this sense of community going and going and going. We can be exactly like Harsha: encouraging, positive, and if we can manage it, maybe a little hopeful too.
   Maybe in this case, knowledge really is power after all.
   Rest in peace, Harsha.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Call Me a Witness: A Review of Chet Haze Rocking the Frosh at Deering Meadow

   To give the understatement of the year, there was some hype going in Wednesday about Chet Haze. There were some haters. There were some doubters. There was a lot of YouTube research to be had. I had none of it. I wanted my first impression of the famous Chet Haze to be an in-the-flesh experience, so of course I went out of my way to see him live at Deering.
   I think going into the show, I expected it to be something like wannabe-Eminem meets Vanilla Ice. So pretty much the equivalent of the crowd being pooped on. That is what I expected. Poop.
   Maybe it is because my expectations were so low, but I ended up thinking a little differently after the show. We are going to break this down piece-by-piece, point-by-point. What worked, and what did not work. By the end, we hopefully will have the real Chet Haze.  

1.       Style
   To someone who is new to the rap game (Is that even appropriate for me to say? Rap game? That just looks wrong, sitting there like a couple of poser-words. Who am I to say rap game? Ugh, we’re leaving it anyway), I think I pretty much found what I was expecting. Jeans, Kinetik shirt, chain necklace, and classic briefs (Is it weird for a guy to critique another guy’s underwear? . . . Nah). Simple, sure, but I feel like Chet Haze would rather we focus on his beats and rhymes than anything else, so it was not a big deal, and perhaps a relief, that he did not come out in huge shades or NYC cap. Thank God.
   Mr. Haze scores a 5/10. It would be a six, but honestly it would have been a huge kick if he was the spitting image of his father (Tom Hanks, to everyone who was unfortunate enough to not pick up on that), so I missed that. Admit it, you wondered it too the first time you saw him.

2.      Lyrics
   Standard club-style. Most of his tracks followed the same story of “Hey, you’re hot, so let me take you home, and after we intoxicate ourselves, I’ll show you a good time.” Nothing really profound coming from Chet Haze, but at the end of the day, it is all good. After all, what is he supposed to talk about up there? His tough, inner-city upbringing? His life on the streets? The time he capped some fool? No. Mr. Haze just wants to tell us about his good times. That is cool. I feel that (another crowd of poser-words right there). He does not need to be profound, he does not need to be raw and real, he just needs to be fun. Mission accomplished, Mr. Haze (spawn idea #1: spin-off web series in which Chet Haze becomes Agent Haze and beats the shit out of terrorists or something. I’d watch. You’d watch. It’s an instant smash).

3.      Entourage
   Everyone needs their bros or bro-ettes (coined that on the spot) to back them up when they are doing a live show. I guess that is just a rule. Maybe it is a security thing, in case he needs to be hustled off the stage and away from some crazed female fan. Maybe it is a status thing. Whatever. I liked the Kinetik entourage. The DJ (Mena Abebe) let him have his spotlight, and whoever the dude was in the white tee and the Redwings cap gave him a nice intro (I guess it is also a rule that at least one person in an entourage has to sport something Detroit-affiliated—it provides legitimacy). They were a good support group to the main event, and they deserve props.
   8/10—my one gripe with Kinetik is that they need a slogan. Spawn idea #2: a contest, put on by Kinetik to create this tagline. It is chosen by their fans, and the winner would receive a boatload of Kinetik swag—they already have all of those shirts and hats, why not have a giveaway? It would promote Chet Haze, it would promote the company, someone would get a bunch of free stuff, and if the apparel was re-released with the new slogan, more people might be interested in buying the product. Win win win win.

4.      The Crowd
   I wanted to distinguish this from the final section, because I think it is important to gauge the crowd as a standalone thing. I think that the cool thing about a Chet Haze concert (Is concert the right word? I’ll give it to him.) is that no matter what people think about his music, they support him anyway. People sang along to the songs they knew, especially “Hollywood”, which is a total fan-favorite, and Haze’s personal tribute to Northwestern, “White and Purple”. People were enthusiastic for his new tunes, and respectful of his old tunes. It was hilarious to see a confined fan base like this manage to be enthusiastic all the same. Chet Haze had to feel us for us to feel him, and I think he did that.
   Guys, we get a 9/10.

5.       The Overall Performance
   Here is what sold me on Chet Haze: he does not have the smartest lyrics, he does not have the most talent in the world, and he does not perform in the biggest venues, but goddammit if he does not make it a fun show. He is totally devoted to putting on a  performance for NU. He gets the crowd waving, he holds the girls’ hands (No joke, on the way back from the show, a pack of girls on the stairs asked me if I saw him just so they could tell me that they all touched him. They were gushing. They were all out of breath too, which was weird, but I guess that’s a side effect of making contact with Chet Haze), he has us sing along, he welcomes the freshman (Whataguy), he had the whole “Go U! NU!” going, he busted out an encore presentation and let loose with all of the fan-favorites, and he even had us give him the claw. He was fully invested in making sure everyone was having fun, and I think that is just about all we can ask from the guy.
   The concencus after the show was this: not the greatest music, but definitely entertaining, and if I were being honest, I have to agree. I said before that I expected him to be wannabe-Eminem meets Vanilla Ice. He (thankfully) missed that mark. Now, I see him more as a Mike Posner (singing/rapping combo) meets Jason Derulo (for the way he says his own name before his songs) meets Vanilla Ice (after his hit but before he started trying too hard). There. That seems accurate.
   At the end of it all though, Chet Haze is there for the crowd, and that is what we want from the guy. As a performer, he is a 9/10. That’s the real Chet Haze (plus, the dude’s pretty strong-looking, so a lower score might induce him to beat me up or something, does that happen in college?).

   Post-article spawn idea #3: a campaign to push for Chet Haze to appear onstage with Nas. One song, one showing. That is all.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dazz's 2012 Olympic Power Rankings--Part II

10. Dong Dong
   Aside from being a totally appropriate start to Part II of our Power Rankings, Dong Dong definitely earns his spot in the front half of these rankings. Aside from having the greatest . . . I mean, aside from the obvious, he won the gold for men’s trampoline. Have you seen men’s trampoline? They go fifty feet in the air on that thing! It is totally legit, it—you know what? I do not need to justify this pick anymore. Dong Dong is top tier.

9. Team handball
   The scoring is crazy fast, it is equally exciting to watch both men and women, you do not need to understand it to think it is awesome. All of this comes together to make a sport that is absolutely built for the short attention spans of today’s home viewers. It is an absolute blast to watch—the men score at will, and the slightly slower play of the ladies makes it tactical and strategic with almost as much scoring. Bill Simmons, a sports writer and editor-in-chief of (he is excellent, and probably my biggest writing influence—sorry, felt obligated to share), has wondered openly why this is not more popular in America. I totally agree. Plus, all the women folks involved are tremendously athletic. There are jumping shots, bouncing shots, long-range shots. The sport is YouTube gold.

8. Lebron James’ Reputation
   Sticking Lebron’s rep at this spot means that while it still is not top-notch, it is improving. From London you heard nothing of Lebron being a fantastic teammate and an overall enjoyable guy to be around. He seemed more mature, more relaxed, and less intense. It was nice. People like fantastic teammates, people like enjoyable guys, and people especially like it when guys are not intense. It seems like a new Lebron—and I know that this can be a whole different article—but it is nice to see this new version, at least. His rep is on the rise.

7. London
   As in the city. London was absolutely rocking for these Games. The Brits showed up to play both in the competition and out (from what I understand they absolutely flocked to handball and beach volleyball—coincidentally two of the most revealing sports at the Olympics). They were an excellent, enthusiastic host city, and while the ceremonies were a little lackluster, they brought the excitement for sure. Not to mention they absolutely overachieved in the medal count—they were third in gold count.
   On the other hand, they carried a reputation of being slightly perverted, slightly drunk, and slightly polarized toward certain sports over others (did you see the empty seats ay gymnastics?). They were adequate hosts to be sure, however, so they earn a top-tier spot.

6. Paul McCartney
   He was the best part of the opening ceremonies, and especially after all that cornball crap with the texting couple, we sure needed him. He was replete with all of his na-na-nas and jude-juday-judays that we could ever ask for. He put on an absolute performance. He was vintage Paul. It was the highlight of the opening ceremonies (I did not bother with the closing—it is always music, I was not interested), and even as I was sitting on the couch in a rage about the stupid torch-lighting (Kids?! Really?! People wait four years to see who lights the torch! I am still mad about it!), Paul made me feel better. London was here, and it was loud and proud. Paul brought the whole thing home, and he brought it home for the whole world. It was awesome. He still has it, and I am sticking to that opinion no matter what you say (And really, what could you possibly say? He’s Paul McCartney, for the love of Christ.)

5. Gabby Douglas
   Top 5 material. Here is why, plain and simple.
   1) She is yoked.
   2) She commanded the gym whenever she performed.
   3) She is an immensely successful African-American athlete in a dominantly white sport.
   4) She has the most genuineness of the Fab Five.
   5) She carried the Americans to gold almost singlehandedly.
   6) She is yoked.
   These numbered things are way easier than writing paragraphs, I tell you. It is almost midnight here, I am more than a little done with this blog. Not for real . . . I will probably feel better in the morning. Can you tell I am dgaf-ing this right now?

4. Usain Bolt. The athlete.
   He takes a high spot because the man is a presence. I throw that word around a lot on this blog, but I do not think it applies to anyone on this list more than it does Bolt. Everywhere he competes, all eyes are on him. He may be cocky and he may be brash, but at the end of the day he backs up the talk by being the fastest man who ever lived.
   Some of these events at the Olympics see venues that do not fill up to capacity (like gymnastics and swimming), but the track was absolutely jammed. People showed up hours and hours before his races just to see him run 100 meters. Hundreds of minutes of waiting for ten seconds of entertainment. That indicates someone who commands a space. That indicates someone who is one of the greatest athletes of our time. That indicates someone who competes in an event valued by everyone in the world—and as a result, the whole world sits on the edge of their seats when Bolt steps into the starting blocks.
   A great personality can make an athlete very easy to root for, but in Bolt’s case, he does not need a great personality for people to back him. He does something that is recognizable by every country in the world, and he does it better than anyone else who has ever lived. Credit where credit is due.

3. Bob Costas
   We seem long overdue for a lame movie reference, so here we go. Remember that scene in Return of the King when Aragorn (stationed at Rohan) runs out of his house and sees the burning column and runs over to the throne room hollering, “The beacon is lit! The beacon is lit!”? That is what I pictured in my head every time we saw Bob Costas come onto the television. I shall explain.
   As the land of Middle Earth was in dark times, so was NBC’s coverage of the Olympics (although dark may be an understatement, more like times of hopeless, free-falling despair). During these dark times, an army against the forces of Mordor forms at Minas Tirith, and in order to spread news of the coming battle, a beacon must be lit to begin a chain of hope across the land (of course, it comes only after Denethor is convinced rather forcefully by Gandalf, but we can talk about that total tool later). The beacon symbolizes hope in the valley of darkness, just as Bob Costas is the beacon of hope in the valley of darkness that is NBC.
   It works, admit it.
   As this beacon, Bob offered intelligent reporting in a sea of clich├ęd questions, predictable interviews, and Andrea Kremers. He asked smart questions. He offered clear, classy transitions from sport to sport. He provided outstanding fun facts. Bob Costas saved these Olympics; he saved these Olympics for all of us. The day was won. The ring was destroyed.
   Thanks Bob.

2. Michael Phelps
   I understand that Phelps or Bolt was a huge debate in these Games. Those who side with Phelps typically site the medals and the three-peat and the oh-yeah-I-only-have-more-Olympic-medals-than-anyone-ever. Those who side with Bolt site the universal appeal of his sport, and the two repeats in both the 100 and 200 meter dash. Both of these athletes are incredibly talented, incredibly dedicated, and incredibly memorable. They will both go down in history as two of the greatest athletes in the history of professional sports.
   So the Dazz team chose Phelps. Why? It is difficult to compare track accomplishments to swimming accomplishments. Longevity is measured differently in each sport, there have been more technological advancements in swimming than track, and there are more medal opportunities in swimming as well. So the solution we drew up is to discard athletic feats. Both of these guys are outstanding in what they do, that is clear, but we cannot compare them athletically.
   Phelps wins because we have seen him grow over his career. When we first saw him he was a scared skinny freakish 15 year-old. Now, he is a man who wants to golf the world and make a definitive mark on the sport he has changed forever. We saw him evolve from a prodigy (Sydney) to a force (Athens) to a titan (Beijing) to a mature, reflective man (London). Bolt came onto the scene just before the Beijing Games. He was bold and cocky and confident to the point where you hoped the guy would win just so he did not embarrass himself. Then he absolutely crushed everyone, shattered the world record, and declared it all part of his routine. He came to London the same way. There was no maturity, there was no evolution, there was no change. The biggest difference between the London Bolt and the Beijing Bolt was the quantity of Puma gear that he wore. Phelps realigned his way of thinking and looked to make an impact that was more than “I’m the best, end of story”.
   These Olympics, we saw Phelps change, and that is why he wins the battle over Bolt.
   It also just occurred to me I wrote an entire article on this not even two weeks ago.

1. Oscar Pistorius
   He may not have medaled, but Oscar Pistorius takes the top spot for arguably being the most important person at these entire Olympics. He was more important than Bolt, and more important than Phelps. Inside or outside of competition, Pistorius, who has no legs, carried the most significance by being the first man with prosthetic limbs to compete in the Olympic Games.
   Athletes with prosthetics have long been striving for equality in terms of the opportunities that they have in the world of sports. For years now, the thing holding them back is this so-called “advantage” that they are assumed to have over athletes without disabilities. Through extensive tests and studies, Pistorius was able to show that he in fact did not have an advantage, and that he was able to fairly compete against other “regular” Olympians.
   Doubters exist, as they always do, and some will still say that Pistorius’ prosthetic legs give him an edge over athletes without the mobility aids. What these folks do not understand is that the Olympics take themselves extremely seriously. Pistorius did not sneak his way into the Games. The guys and gals at London but him through test after test after test looking for any possible way his legs would give him an unfair boost. It was like the Catholic church trying to disprove a miracle. If he made it to the Games, that means he has no advantage. If he made it to the Games, that means he passed the test. If he made it to the Games, that means he is on an even field with the rest of the athletes.
   Pistorius, with luck, will be the first of many prosthetic-using athletes in professional competition. He takes the top spot in Dazz’s Power Rankings because while the other folks in this top tier may be looking to make a difference, he already has. He has left his mark on his sport. He has changed the rules. He is what the Olympics are all about. He is what sports are all about. The saga of Pistorius is set to inspire, teach, and shape the world of track and field for years and years to come. It does not get much better than that. Number one, very well deserved.    

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dazz's 2012 Olympic Power Rankings--Part I

   Watching the Olympics at my house sees two kinds of talk. We either collectively moan and groan about how much we do not like this thing or that thing or one person (totally justifiably) thinks differently and then it is Cut the Comments, Smartass and a certain individual spends the rest of the evening in subdued silence.
   Hence these Grand Finale Olympic Power Rankings.
   There were some really great things in these Olympics. There were also some things that made you me scream aloud. Some things kept me glued for hours on end, and other things made me storm off and boycott the evening. To put it all in perspective, According to Dazz put together the conclusive Power Rankings of these 2012 Games. Keep in mind that a low ranking does not make one thing better than something that is not in the rankings at all. Rather, a low ranking indicates that something sucks. Not a tough system here, folks.

20. Andrea Kremer
   A huge pet peeve of mine is stupid questions. You know who asks a lot of stupid questions? Andrea Kremer. Case in point (and this is a paraphrased example), “Michael Phelps, you just won more Olympic medals than any athlete in the history of the world. How do you feel?”
   Answer me this, Andrea. How do you think he feels? You know what, no, he probably feels tired. Oh wait, he is saying he feels great? No way. Thank you for that in-depth, bare-bones, absolutely raw piece of reporting. Sheesh. Bet he feels like punching you in the mouth. Sorry, I had to vent a little.

19. The Dream Team “debate”
   I refuse to sit here and break down the hypothetical time-machine game between the ’92 team and the ’12 team. This is no debate. Sure, the modern “dream” team has two of the best players ever in Lebron and Kobe, and they have two of the best modern players in Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. After that, is there really a stand-out against the likes of MJ, Magic, Bird, David Robinson, Ewing, Stockton and Malone, and Barkley? What do you say there? Russell Westbrook? Melo? Shut up before you look stupid. Let the grown-ups talk in peace.

18. Missy Franklin’s Personality
   I never really bought the whole “I’m smiling all the time! My life is full of rainbows and flowers and it never rains and sun has a face on it and when I walk out my front door to go to swim practice little blue birds follow me!” act. My sister Alexis is a competitive swimmer as well (she is at the junior national meet right now, by the way, if you know her wish her luck), and cannot emphasize enough how fake that whole schpeel is. As someone who goes to swim practice twice a day now, here is what I will tell you: swim practice sucks. You stare at the same line for at least an hour and you do the same motion thousands of times in a row. Nothing changes. You do not race. You look down and breathe when you need to breathe. And it hurts the whole time. And you feel horrible afterward. She seems fake to me, I cannot really explain it. No one likes swimming that much, except for someone who has a really good PR rep, and I promise you her parents would pay for that.
   And did you see her gold medal interview? When things lulled after a question, she held it up for blue-collar America to see and giggled out, “Look at how preeeety it is.” What are you five?

17. Tim Bennett
    He is the gymnastics announcer for NBC, the really eccentric-sounding guy. This is not a total rap on him; he knows a great deal about gymnastics, to be sure, but the problem is he does not communicate any of his knowledge to the home viewer. I do not know about you but I know very little about gymnastics. Tim Bennett could write books about it, so when he is in the background of the broadcast going Ooh! and Eep!, I want to know why. He did improve as the Games went on, particularly with how the judges score landings, so we will cut him some slack. He actually climbed a few rungs on the Power Rankings ladder over the course of the Games.
   Then he totally jinxed McKayla Maroney by overblowing how dominant she would be on the vault. She was not impressed. Neither was the Dazz team.

16. Nastia Liuken
   Not so much her as it is the image NBC painted of her. Did you see the way they totally made her off to be this total prophetic saint of wisdom during the gymnastics competition? It was one of the most blatantly cornball things I have ever seen come out of the Olympics. They kept putting some quotes of her on as voiceovers. It sounded like she wrote them down and recited them. It was really old really fast. It washed her up faster than Leo washed up in limbo during Inception (wondering if that metaphor was a stretch . . . wondering . . . persuading myself . . . nah, no way). All they did was remind me how much more interesting the 2008 team was than this year’s team (save Gabby Douglas, but we will talk about her later). It was like NBC needed someone from the good ol’ days to come and lend credit to this team so that people would care about them. It was not pretty. Speaking of this group of gals . . .

15. The “Fab Five” Nickname
   There needs to be a rule in sports about nicknames. For those who are unfamiliar with the original Fab Five, the nickname comes from a group of freshman on the ’91-‘92 University of Michigan men’s basketball team who took the unimaginably-young team all the way to the NCAA Championship Game. I know I was not around for their primes, but I understand that they were a craze. They brought the swag. They brought the game. They were the cool kids on the block, so to speak.
   The women’s gymnastics squad did not have that same vibe it seemed. The OG Fab Five were actual buddies who goofed around together. Admit it, during these Games you wondered at least once if this whole hug-fest thing was just a big act. The Fab Five did not jive (. . . keep it) with me.
   Anyway, there needs to be an unwritten rule that teams cannot steal nicknames from other teams. Exceptions exist, of course, and one could borrow a nickname if a) the original team was crappy, or b) if 35 years have gone by since the original team. While we are on this topic, there is a nickname Hall of Fame, and if a name is inducted, it is never to be used again. Hint: The Dream Team is in the Nickname Hall of Fame.

14. Ryan Lochte
   Not to say that he did not have a fine Olympics, of course. He had a great Olympics, by most people’s standards. The problem is he had a crap-shoot Olympics by his standards. This was supposed to be his time. He was supposed to take the swimming crown from Michael Phelps and establish his reign as the face of American swimming. Instead, he took home one fewer gold than Phelps, and while he dominated the 400 IM, his comments afterward about being the better swimmer than Phelps failed to hold water after he choked away the last stretch of the 4x100 free relay, and then came second to his rival in the 200 IM.
   Aside from that, he sounds like a caveman, wears a grill, rides a scooter without mirrors (because I guess that’s cool or whatever), and has his own customized designer tennis shoes. He also apparently only has time for one-night stands, and this behavior was further evidenced by his comment that having a girlfriend during the last Olympics was a “big mistake” because he missed out on the Olympic Village . . . shall we say, proceedings.
   Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner for the World’s Biggest Tool Award.

13. Kobe Bryant’s Reputation
   This Olympics he looked to change his ways by pretending to be a good teammate, bombing more shots on London than the whole year of 1940 (bad taste . . . yeah), and making silly accusations about his (team’s) place in history.
   Hey, wait a second . . .
12. Usain Bolt’s Trash-talking
   I will give him this: he backs it up. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest sprinters of all time. He has the hardware, he has the records, and he has his place in history. I do not mind someone declaring that they are looking to go out onto the track and crush everyone—that is a competitor. What I do mind is someone declaring that the other runners in his heat are “running in [his] service” or talking about how honored everyone should be to be in the same race as he is. It is wearing on me a little. He can back up all of his trash, of course, but I just wish he did not have to be a total jerkwad (Man, I cannot wait until I can use profanity on this blog. I feel like I am in third grade here) while he did it.

11. Track Cycling
   Ok, I like the last two-thirds of the deal. It is exciting, it is strategic, it is tactical, breakneck, and seemingly dangerous. But the first lap . . . what the hell is that all about?! They just mope around for a whole lap “working on their positioning” and staring at each other like they are trying to burn holes in each other’s tires. It is the stupidest thing you have ever seen. The announcers tell you that they are trying to take an advantageous position on the track, but it just does not explain why one biker will not just suddenly start sprinting off and catch the other by surprise. I do not understand. At all. They have to have the stamina. I should be a coach of that sport. My biker and I would be undefeated. All that tactical streamlining stuff cannot be that complicated anyway. You can do all that while going fast. Easy.

Look for Part II--coming soon!