Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bullies Be Gone

I was watching Aziz Ansari’s “Buried Alive” stand up for the third time the other day (once live and twice on Netflix) and found myself laughing again at his bullying jokes. Ansari takes the topic seriously as he recalls how horrendous the documentary on bullying was. 
            The documentary entitled “Bully” is in fact pretty terrifying. The audience watches as several bullied children tell their parents who proceed to tell administrators what is happening only to have their fears unanswered and their children’s problems unresolved.
            The bullies proceed to be physically violent, which I thought all of America was zero tolerant of and say the most disturbing things. The children of the corn say less terrifying things and that’s from Steven King’s mind.
            I’ll admit while Ansari’s account of the film had me in tears of the hilarious variety the documentary had me in tears of the forlorn variety. 
            Unless you are Marcia Brady, you have also probably been teased or bullied at some point in life. People are always going to talk, so give them something good to talk about I always say. However I never found the things those bullying losers said to be so despicable that I would commit suicide.
Let the records show that the only time a bully got physical with me I was physical in return and was never picked on again. There was also an interesting time in high school when the majority of the JV football team decided it would be funny to roll houses, mine being one of them, and I decided to get more than even in ways I will refrain from mentioning here out of respect for my parents and law enforcement officials.
Basically we all get bullied because “haters gunna hate” but my fellow shot callers of the Island University more than likely know how to handle things from there.
            What is probably more disturbing than child bullies choking out their victims, is the fact that grown men making bank in the NFL are also bullies. How do you fight against a 300 plus pound bully who claims to be on your team and represents your colors and all the while is breaking you down and throwing your game off?
 For Miami Dolphins player Jonathan Martin the answer was a complete mental breakdown.  The saddest part about the whole debacle is that Richie Incognito aka Dolphins bully is finding himself with supporters on and off his team. Those unaware of Incognito’s bully style should know he was ranting off racial slurs to Martin via voicemail. Take it from a scientist Incognito- evolve or die.
The NFL is trying to claim this sort of thing rarely, if ever, occurs amongst its teams but something tells me very few big burly football players have the courage to come out and be honest about it.
How sad that someone with so much talent (which is an oxymoron when referring to the Dolphins) money and impressionable fans would bully a teammate on something as ridiculous as race. Last I checked the year was 2013 and our Commanding Officer and Chief is a man of color and culture.
Perhaps if we paid NFL players based on their final fantasy stats they would not have enough time to worry about hating and in turn would focus on their own game. To all the bullies out there I have but two words- bye Felicia.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Potato Skins vs. Pigs-in-a-Blanket

With the weather finally cooling down, I have been more inclined to do what the good lord intended on football Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (and occasionally Monday), which is bake, finger foods. What is football season without snacks and refreshments- just a bunch of dudes sweating and shouting in clothing that is often too tight.

            However my finger food anecdote is what leads me, interestingly enough, to an age-old debate on which is better, NCAA football or the NFL. For the sake of time I will simply tell you I concluded that the NCAA was like fully loaded potato skins. There is just so much going on what with the sour cream, chives, bacon bits and cheese all mashed into a salty wedge of potato; so many individual talents trying to stand out and yet all playing on the same team.

While on the other hand there is the NFL much like a traditional pig-in-a-blanket. The recipe has remained unchanged for as long as the Americas have been around and while the ingredients are simple enough no one turns down the master craftsmanship of a mini sausage in flaky crescent bread.

Let’s break it down by what we know- football is the greatest sport known to man. It’s a sport that rings in a season. It unites a city, and galvanizes a fan base. It warrants multitudes of parties a year and dominates the water cooler conversation on Mondays and just about every other day if given the chance.

Football season consists of fewer games than any other major sport, yet it has become a year round obsession by fans nationwide, and a year-round job for its players, coaches, beat sports writers and Campbell’s soup.

Just the thought of the season gives goose bumps to even the most hardened of men and well-rounded women.

So with that said let us stack the facts for what we know about potato skins aka NCAA football and pigs-in-a-blanket aka the NFL.

The NFL has the Green Bay Packers, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Chicago Bears. There is plenty of history here for some very marketable names. The League dates back to 1920 when it was first known as the American Professional Football Association.

The NCAA has the Michigan Wolverines, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and the University of Texas Longhorns. Even more history here as the first documented game of “football” was played in 1869 pitting Rutgers against Princeton.

In addition to the history advantage, there are over 100 teams in the NCAA compared to only 32 in the NFL. Think shopping at an HEB compared to a Piggly Wiggly. As far as teams go the advantage goes to NCAA.

The NCAA has crazy shirtless youngsters with chests painted their team colors as they chant in unison to their fight song, hold up signature hand signs and do just about anything to be put on the big screen. They scream that their team is number one when in actuality they have yet to make the Top 25. They pack into stadiums like sardines, and in some cases can cause small towns to become the most populated in the state on game day. Sometimes the only reason anyone visits that town is to catch the football game.

The NFL has scary-intense, creative fans that often drop everything to be at their team’s game. They take pride in having traveled hundreds of miles, camped out for days and wearing something ridiculous all for the love of their team. They also dominate the apparel industry as players’ names are allowed to be on jerseys.

Bottom line though- even with the NCAA having almost four times as many teams as the NFL, we never see over 100,000 pack in for an NFL game as we do commonly in college games. As far as fans go I’m going to say the advantage here is NCAA.

The NCAA has some of the most talented athletes in the country fighting for the glory and their future every week. They have blue chip prospects and five star recruits. They have college visits, and National Signing Day, but they don’t have the best, and they are only there for a handful of years.

The NFL on the other hand does have the best. They have the draft, free agency and trades. You can have a star play 10-15 years for your team or you can bring in a player you have hated on for years.
Being able to follow special players for a career rather than a four-year period makes the players in the NFL household names. Whether loving them, or loving to hate them, you are able to form a stronger bond in the NFL. As far as players go I’d say advantage NFL.

The NCAA has the rich history of its bowl games. Every year college football teams fight for the possibility of going to a bowl. The National Championship is decided by the winner of the BCS Championship, which I don’t always agree with. Its participants are tabulated by a formula factoring in polls and rankings.

The NFL has a true playoff system. Basically, the top six teams from each conference battle in a single elimination tournament that culminates in the mother of all bowls, the Super Bowl.

The NCAA appears to still have difficulty deciding its champion. The Super Bowl accounts for nine of the top ten most watched shows in the history of television. The championship advantage clearly goes to NFL.

So here we stand with no tie-breaking advantage. I suppose in the end the great debate continues but what’ll it be: pigs-in-a-blanket or potato skins.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Social Suicide and Other Sacrifices

As students who all hope to someday make enough money to support ourselves, and our future endeavors, we often find ourselves extremely busy. Often I find myself torn between going out and staying in.  However when the opportunity is too great to pass up, sacrifices must be made in order to move my academic/professional life forward.

I was recently sent to San Diego, California to attend a conference hosted by the Marine Technology Society. It was incredible to say the least. However having to miss three days of labs, classes and extracurricular activities is certainly not incredible.

I began the search to see just how far someone would go to advance his or her career.

No one sacrifices more than Olympians. Their time, bodies and social life all must be sacrificed for the greater good. Three years ago, at the age of 14, Gabby “flying squirrel” Douglas left her mom, her three siblings and her two dogs and moved from Virginia to Iowa to work with an Olympic caliber coach, Liang Chow, who coached Shawn Johnson to Olympic gold and silver in 2008.

When Abby Johnston's diving coach moved from Columbus, Ohio to Charlotte, North Carolina to coach at Duke University, Johnston went with him. The Olympic silver medalist in synchronized diving got an apartment and took online courses, missing all of the awesomeness of her senior year. The pursuit of an Olympic dream also impacted the family and Johnston's two sisters, with vacations planned around diving meets - sometimes-even holidays played second fiddle to diving.

Beach volleyball player Jennifer Kressy is now well into her thirties and still sacrificing for her Olympic team. After missing the 2008 games by 50 points, Kressy spent the next set of four years living out of her suitcase and training pretty much every day. Rarely seeing her family except for special events and having to Skype date her boyfriend who is a French volleyball player are some of the sacrifices Kressy has made for her career.

No Olympian has sacrificed quite as much as weightlifter Sarah Robles. Though Robles is the highest ranked weightlifter in the United States, she was living off of $400 a month, from weightlifting, up until 2012. Robles would live off food stamps and anonymous donations to make ends meet all so that she could continue training for the Olympics.

Even our athletes here at the Island University make sacrifices in order to be better. They often begin their workouts before the sun rises and end their days well after the sun has set. That schedule sounds a lot like the life of a STEM student and so we are all brought together by the need to sacrifice the frivolous for the unforgettable.

While students and athletes alike are out on the hunt for a better future they should always keep in mind that compromise and sacrifice can be a helpful tool to reaching goals but one should never sacrifice who they are for what they think they should be.

On behalf of the entertainment you take for granted...

With the new Drake CD being released I took the time to listen to a few of his earlier classics. “Thank Me Now” really struck me when Drake says “I swear sports and music are so synonomous, ’cause we wanna be them and they wanna be us”

The parallels between music and sports are quite interesting. Both bring people together. People from all walks of life can agree that music and sports are two things everyone (typically) is willing to talk about in some way or form. They are also conversation topics that even if the conversers don’t agree that there never seems to be a draw-your-weapons finish.

So then I had to wonder, do we take in actuality take entertainment and sports for granted? I often hear, “I really don’t care for sports,” or “Sports are so boring, I have no idea what’s going on.” To address the former statement I have to say that sports cares about you. What would sports be with out adoring fans. Likewise a musician without fans would just be a bum on a microphone.

To those who feel lost when watching a sport, perhaps that sport just isn’t your cup of tea. I too feel lost when attending the “Sounds of the Underground” show hosted annually in Corpus. Mainly because death metal or hard rock is not a music I prefer to listen to, always found it too hard to study with in the background.

Try out a different sport just as you would try listening to a new band. I often feel that students who dabble in playing instruments better appreciate certain music. Taking that into consideration it would seem if you went and played a little five-on-five half court with some friends you’d be more inclined to understand basketball unless you’re playing prison rules.

It seems that, especially today, everyone constantly wants more, more, more. They want a faster runner, the newest single, a newer arena. Very few stop to look back and appreciate the first runners, the breakthrough album or the stadium that started it all.

So maybe this year we take a new approach to life on the island. Maybe this year we stop fussing about no football team and become really psyched over out futbol team. Maybe we take the time to notice our fast runners and our tough tennis players and the baseball field in our backyards.

I notice with the lack of parking I no longer take any parking spot for granted, maybe that’s how we should see our sports on the island. Must we wait until things get bad before we appreciate what we had? I say this year we open our eyes and our hearts and clap hard for our entertaining athletes. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Rival That

Monday marked the 37th time tennis pros Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal played each other in a championship. In the 45 years since tennis went professional, no two players have faced each other this many times, though John McEnroe and Ivan Lendle came close some decades back.

The U.S. Open had me thinking about several things, mostly rivalries and second chances. Do rivalries make us stronger or does the constant reminder that someone out there is capable of exploiting our weaknesses only add to the anxiety?

Growing up the youngest and the only girl amongst two older brothers meant a constant battle to prove I could be one of the boys. Every week it was some new challenge of who could bike the furthest, skate the hardest or defeat the most villains on Contra.

To this day I still get anxiety around Easter time because the family Easter egg hunt always consisted of my brothers watching me collect the eggs and then the worst of atomic wedgies until I surrendered my basket.

Things calmed down a little once we all grew older, gained unique interests and out grew Easter egg hunts. However the need to compete always stayed with us. I believe it was that early rivalry that truly helped me succeed in high school and become such a driven student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Now I enjoy surrounding myself with intelligent and driven individuals because I believe it challenges me to compete, for lack of a better word, and to also push myself to higher standards.
Interestingly enough I read The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey a few years back to help me compete in UIL guitar competitions and learned a few valuable tips for competition in everyday life.

I gave up long ago playing the number game. I’m sure you’re familiar with the game. The person sitting next to you asking how the exam went for you, while explaining what a hard time they had in order to illicit a response about your grade so that they can then proceed to boast about how their grade was higher. That game.

We are for the most part, what we claim to be. Those who practice positive self-talk tend to perform better, work harder and achieve more than those who criticize themselves on mistakes. 

Maintaining relaxed focus is something Gallwey explains beautifully in his book. Think of it like riding a bike- something you never forget. While riding a bike the cyclist rarely thinks about how poorly they are peddling or how they could improve their posture. During the ride the cyclist simply lets their body carry out the task it has done so many times before while letting their mind wander.

Next time the competition gets stiff and the rivalry has your anxiety level at record highs, keep calm and ride your metaphorical bike it will be all right.  

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

With football season well underway I have been giving quite a bit of thought to the Aaron Hernandez case (anyone as tired hearing about it as I am?). Whether he killed a man or not is not what I have been giving any thought to, though the thought of such a crime for a star athlete to commit is heinous. However I have been questioning the implications Hernandez’s crime has placed on the NFL.

For my readers who have paid no mind to the case here is the twenty-second spiel. New England Patriots’ tight end, Aaron Hernandez was arrested and convicted for first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd in late June. This came as a shock to fans nation wide considering Hernandez had just signed a $40-million contract with the Patriots only months before his arrest.
Since Hernandez’s arrest rumors have been flying that the NFL is talking about hiring police experts to analyze players’ tattoos to determine whether or not they are affiliated with gangs, murderous cults or the like.

Apparently it is not illegal to discriminate against someone for certain tattoos and piercings in the NFL, however it maybe an overreach. The ridiculousness of these rumors is that they are not rumors at all. Whether or not the NFL will actually implement this plan is another story.
Imagine being discriminated against for your tattoos, piercings, manner of dress or even unnatural hair color. That is what I think when I hear the NFL’s plan. Sounds like the days of parochial grade schools.
Suppose the NFL implements this plan and things coincidentally shape up in the athletic world. What would stop other institutions from implementing the same strategy? What if students were suddenly discriminated against for the same reasons keeping them from attending institutions of higher education?

This thought of legally being able to be discriminated on for tattoos and piercings disturbs me greatly because I have several piercings and tattoos that could be seen as questionable especially for an emerging scientist and woman non the less.

What if someone had the right to suddenly deny me my marine biology degree because I have a tattoo on the inside of my lip that could be construed as anti-establishment?

For someone to suddenly decide that something seen externally is enough grounds to revoke someone’s dreams and hard work is the most frightening thought. Have we not learned that discrimination on the physical level never turns out well for either party? If we allow this sort of thing to occur in the media and in our entertainment we may very well find it creeping into our actual lives. Creeping into our schools and our work places.

The point is, don’t let anyone in a perceived place of power make you feel inferior or embarrassed for the way you choose to look. So you look like a Shadowhunter from the Mortal Instruments series, so what. As long as you are proving people wrong that tattoos and piercings do not affiliate you with a gang, low intelligence or drug use there will be no room for discrimination. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The O.C.- an ode to pop culture

It has been 10 years since a little show known as The O.C. aired changing adolescent lives around America forever. Maybe the show did not affect others quite the same way, but it’s hard to recall another show that crammed more amazing music, delightful drama and brooding babes in only four seasons.

Until The O.C. introduced me to indie rock artists like Death Cab for Cutie, the Shins and Imogen Heap I found myself mindlessly lost in a sea of horrible radio music. With MTV’s music already giving way to reality TV The O.C. quickly became my music guide.

The O.C. was the best thing to happen to teen angst since Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic introduced the world to Nirvana. Finally there were characters we could all relate to. Idealistic upper-middle class high school social outcasts lost among the rich kids who “only worry about how much money is in their trust fund or getting a new beamer each year.”

Never had a show matched my need for nerdy quips and couture fashion. Regardless of how many broke fathers Marissa Cooper had she some how managed to keep her closet stocked with Chanel purses. A great wardrobe will transcend social status. The Coopers changed the way society viewed trailer house living.

Not to mention the countless unforgettable scenes and timeless quotes among them: Seth and Summer’s Spider Man kiss, Ryan Atwood taking on the entire water polo team and Chris Brown playing a good boy band geek in season four. The O.C. wasted no time appealing to our need for brazen vocabulary in the pilot when Luke smirks and says, “Welcome to the O.C. bitch. This is how it’s done in Orange County.”

With elements of postmodernism, indie culture and respectable comic book references it is no wonder The O.C. was an instant classic. A pop culture phenomenon if you will.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Oh Waiter, Pour More Class into my Glass Please

The way to my heart is most definitely through my stomach, so I've decided to talk about the classy establishments of Corpus.

First on the must mention list is Water Street Oyster Bar. Classy and yet oh-so-affordable. I think Mad Men every time I'm in there. They also have a happy hour from 4-6 that ain't half bad. I tend to get crazy with their half price oysters and marvelous martinis. If you want to impress a date without breaking the bank, Water Street them.
Oysters from Water Street

Probably one of my favorite fancy food eateries, the 500 Bistro. French cuisine and open fairly late as far as restaurants go in Corpus. There isn't anything under 30$ but I promise your taste buds will taste the difference. The atmosphere is calm and sophisticated and it happens to be attached to a lobby that is attached to my favorite night club Havana. So if you want a special night on the town splurge a little at 500 and then head to Havana for one sexy evening.

Christmas at the Staghound Bar inside 500 Bistro

I have to say Katz21 has to make the list. It is known for its upscale atmosphere and pricing, however I won't claim their food much better than a regular steak house. On the other hand their new location now has a large separate bar area that is just amazing. The outside patio also has a bar and usually live music. The other night I was drinking my usual cucumber martini with my best friends when Suzette Quintanilla asked what we were drinking! (For those who don't know, she is Selena's sister and no I don't mean J-Lo) So there you have it, celebrities party at Katz, so should you!

New Katz location and building

There are still two places left on my list, The Republic of Texas and Yard Arm. Both of which I hear are amazing and will make your credit card weep. However I happen to have friends working at both locations, so let's hope for a real review soon.

As always Corpus, stay classy.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

On to the Next One

I think everyone would agree new is better; fresh is far superior to stale. As students we sometimes fall into a grove, which turns to a rut if we aren’t careful. Taking the same path to each class everyday. Ordering the same items off the limited menu. Attend class, study after, attend class, study after then maybe sleep. It all becomes something of an academic Groundhog’s Day. This repetitious rhythm can occur with athletes as well, often becoming detrimental to keeping their game at its peak performance. The opposite of fresh is burnt out. Contrary to pop culture, cult classic films, burnouts rarely achieve anything of value.
            So first how do you know if you are well on your way to breaking down or simply experiencing a case of the Mondays? Dr. Alan Goldberg, sports psychology expert compiled a simple checklist for warning signs of burnout, which I will run through. First Physical fatigue- daily tasks are carried out in an apathetic manner; you go to sleep exhausted and wake up the same way. Constant illness followed by constant pain or achy muscles. Loss of fun- you just can’t wait for the day to be over. Loss of meaning- constantly asking yourself “why am I doing this?” Experiencing difficulty focusing. Finally displaying behavioral problems- unwarranted outbursts or a consistent negative attitude. To be sure, we all experience these symptoms but we should be aware if it’s an everyday thing or just a today thing.
            Goldberg suggests that there are three main causes to these symptoms and the sooner they are pin pointed and relieved the better. The first cause being, of course, lack of rest. No one should pull all-nighters if it means hating your life in class or even skipping class because you over slept- that defeats the whole purpose. Take a nap, take a walk, meditate or kick the crap out of a ball; it really doesn’t matter how it’s done, just release some steam. Another cause is too much pressure. You shouldn’t be in constant dread of going to school, you chose your major for a reason and hopefully that reason was because you enjoy the material. However I understand, money talks. A little anxiety is fine, it means you actually care about succeeding but if your heartburn is onset by the sight of your syllabus maybe it’s time to reevaluate. The third cause is tying your self-worth to your performance. That is, if you perform well, you’re a worthwhile person and if you fail, then you are worthless. You are not your transcript or the lost championship.
            You are more than the sum of your parts Islanders. Let your light shine not burnout. In the words of Jay-Z, “…I move forward the only direction can’t be scared to fail search and perfection…it’s all about progression, loiterers should be arrested…”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Insane in the Membrane

Have you ever had a seemingly random idea pop into your head and think, “That’s a great idea.” Did you ever try to follow through with that “great” idea only to end up with a broken spirit, arm or heart? My “great” idea for the semester was taking 18 hours of classes advisors warn never to take together. What’s living without taking risks? Some of the greatest moments in sports’ history started from greatly insane ideas.
Lloyd's of London gave 19-year-old Gertrude Ederle only 7-1 odds that she would become the first woman to complete the 21-mile swim across the English Channel, something no woman and only five men had previously done. During the last few hours, Ederle had to overcome a rough tide running strongly against her, but she finished the swim in 14 hours, 31 minutes - nearly two hours faster than the previous best. When she returned to New York, the city threw its largest ticker-tape parade ever. Ederle’s idea was one small stroke for her and one giant win for women everywhere.
July 1999, Tony Hawk entered the X-Games with one great idea- to land a 900 during competition. After ten failed attempts and long after the allotted competition time had expired, the judges and other skaters allowed Hawk to keep trying. Relentlessly Hawk became the first person to land the two and a half revolution aerial spin. Eleven years later at the age of 43 Hawk can still land the 900 all thanks to one random idea.
            More recently Austrian, Felix Baumgartner became the first person to break the speed of sound without the use of a vehicle reaching speeds of Mach 1.25 (843.6 mph). On October 14, 2012 Baumgartner stepped out of his Red Bull capsule to freefall 127,852.4 feet above New Mexico. The descent took ten minutes but history was changed forever. Innovations that came from that leap of faith were a new parachute system, an innovative treatment for ebullism (formation of gas bubbles in bodily fluids) and new ventilator systems.
So maybe your last idea to jump from the roof of your house into the pool was an epic fail. And yeah taking that eight a.m. class was a theory better left untested but think about everything you learned. Life is about taking chances and seeing where you end up. Sometimes you will end up face down on the ground or up a creek but at least you will have a story to tell. Who knows, maybe your next big idea will take you to a new world, will lead you to be the first or maybe just maybe that idea will put you on the map. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pay to Play? No Way!

First and foremost I am very pro-school spirit. I enjoy staying late, being loud and awkwardly complimenting the players on their wins. However as much as I love college sports I do not love the idea of N.C.A.A. student athletes getting paid to play.
            Joe Nocera of the New York Times even drew up a plan of why and how student athletes should be paid. For the most part he only promotes football and men’s basketball. I thought Misogyny in sports ended with the Hollywood classic ”A league of their own.” The Islanders women’s teams wake up to practice before the sun rises and still manage to look good in class. No one is talking about paying them. I’m sure even if they did end up being paid it would only be 75% of what the male athletes make.
            The whole idea is ridiculous. If a student athlete can’t maintain their grades and play their sport they should never have accepted the responsibility. It is not the responsibility of the university to make sure an athlete can afford to be there. So a university uses their photos as a promotion on a flyer or the school website, so what? You don’t see lab students getting $40,000 a year for helping a professor publish a paper. You don’t see single mothers getting paid to make 4.0s and raise their children right. Life is hard. The athletes get rewarded with the glory of a win and respect and recognition from the student body. What happened to playing for love of the game?
            Athletes are given the same advantages as students, on-campus tutors, scholarships and academic advising. Perhaps student athlete only scholarships should be awarded (if they are not already). Sure there are college coaches who make way too much but that is their career; athletes aren’t born, they are made. When they graduate they can become anything they want, just like everyone else. I believe if you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to get it. There was talk about a health care plan for athletes and frankly I think that America in general is looking for an answer to health care. I just don’t think paying athletes, especially only football and men’s basketball players, will help college athletics. It certainly won’t help school spirit and forget about unifying the student body. The system is garbage, we can all acknowledge that but treating certain students differently is not the way to reform. Throwing money at certain student athletes is just a band-aid for a bullet wound.