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Tag Archives: celebrities

What attracted me to Vox Lux was the cast (Jude Law, Natalie Portman), given their track record and the non-blockbuster nature of this film; I thought there was a decent chance that this would be good even if the description didn’t sound like something I would enjoy much.

The film was broken into 2 parts. The first tells the story of how “Celeste” went from a 14 y/o high school student to a pop star via a school shooting. That was moderately interesting because it showed how the music entertainment process worked (most likely sanitized already). The second part jumped 15 years later when Celeste is now in her 30s (still a pop star) and honestly the movie got lost there. In the first half, there was a direction to the film, but the second half follows Celeste around for an afternoon. Was the point to see her reaction (or non-reaction) to a shooting much like the one that launched her career? Was it a social commentary on how stardom can change an individual? Was it a behind-the-scenes look at what super stardom is like? I couldn’t tell because whatever it was trying to do wasn’t conveyed.

Even the final little nugget of narration doesn’t really explain why or what is happening. Because the movie left its rails, this only gets two out of five stars.

Now that it’s been quite a few years since I started listening to Top40 music, it’s a good time to reflect on how fleeting some musicians careers are. I don’t mean the one-hit wonders who are popular for two months, but the artists that were on top of the world for an extended period of time. Back in the late ’90s, some of those artists were Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore.

I envision that those artists were hoping to follow in the footsteps of Madonna and have a career that stretches 30+ years, but that never happened. I would say that none of them are known for their music anymore – Christina Aguilera is doing reality TV (albeit of the music variety), Jessica Simpson is promoting diet programs, Mandy Moore is out of the limelight and while Britney is still releasing albums, she’s not really successful and more of a robot than anything else now.

It’s likely that most artists just have a shelf life of 5 years, unless you are a generational talent like Madonna – but then there are artists like Mariah Carey, Kylie Minogue, and Jennifer Lopez who have had longer careers and weren’t as successful as Madonna. While Lopez peaked a bit later, she’s still going strong (although you might say she’s a generational talent for the Latino community).

It’s interesting to wonder who of the current crop of stars will fade into obscurity and who will still be popular? I’d think that Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo, Bruno Mars, Rhianna, Katy Perry will not last; but I’m not sure who will – it’s probably someone you don’t expect.

  • The Cold Hard Facts Of Freezing To Death

    You’ve now crossed the boundary into profound hypothermia. By the time your core temperature has fallen to 88 degrees, your body has abandoned the urge to warm itself by shivering. Your blood is thickening like crankcase oil in a cold engine. Your oxygen consumption, a measure of your metabolic rate, has fallen by more than a quarter. Your kidneys, however, work overtime to process the fluid overload that occurred when the blood vessels in your extremities constricted and squeezed fluids toward your center. You feel a powerful urge to urinate, the only thing you feel at all.

  • For Amusement Only: the life and death of the American arcade

    In March of 1991, Capcom released Street Fighter II into arcades, setting off a renaissance in the business. A massive success, Street Fighter II sold more than 60,000 cabinets worldwide, which was unheard of by the early ‘90s. Japanese fighting games weren’t new, but its combination of novel characters, hand-to-hand combat, and secret moves formed the foundation of fighting games as we still know them. It also brought a new wave of enthusiastic players out of their houses and into arcades. It was important that, while home versions were typically available the next year, they were simplified: arcade technology was simply better than what the SNES or home computer versions could offer.

  • What is Actually Going On In Iceland
    Some ramblings on why the Iceland economy is still messed up. I learned that loans in Iceland are really weird – you could pay for years on your mortgage and then suddenly your amount owning is greater than your original principal!

    In normal economies, 4% inflation underlying 2.6% growth doesn’t result in everybody’s loan principal increasing 4% over the year. But that’s exactly what happens in Iceland. So you have to bring inflation into every discussion on growth in Iceland.

  • Meet Amancio Ortega: The third-richest man in the world
    If you haven’t heard his name before (not surprisingly), he is the founder of….Zara
  • The Rules of the Game
    A look at the history and evolution of Hollywood’s publicity game, from when there was none to today’s social, organic approach.

    In today’s terms, media outlets report that George Clooney, whose picture personality is that of a handsome, charismatic, yet hesitant to commit man-about-town, replicates those characteristics in his “real” life, gallivanting about Lake Como, switching beautiful girlfriends every few years. The extra-textual information ratifies and authenticates his overarching image; the “real” Clooney is in fact all of the things he is in, say, Ocean’s Eleven. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, that coherency is at once pleasurable and reassuring.

  • On Tipping in Cuba
    This writer waxes on about how memorable his trip into rural Cuba (i.e., outside of the resorts) is and how the insignificant amount of currency that he tips is embarrassing given the cultural value it is buying him. Of course, I’d imagine that the hard currency (even though it’s a small number) would buy the Cuban citizens a great deal.

    He served us a variation on the mojito, using basil leaves instead of mint. He called it an alto del mar — “above the sea,” also the name of his paladar — and it was the best drink I had in Cuba. Dinner was whole fried fish garnished with the only red pepper we saw in Santiago, and a delicate creole sauce that was several steps above the licensed paladares’ offerings in its refinement. When I asked for the bill, he brought me a scrap of paper with “$14.00” written on it. I gave him CUC $20, under-tipping for one of the most memorable meals I’ve eaten anywhere.

  • The Forty-Year Itch
    This article posits that “retro” is a 40-year cycle by cherry picking some examples from the last century. I don’t buy the argument, because we’ve seen a 20-year “retro” cycle in the last few years (i.e., Transformers, GI Joe, etc).
  • An American (working) in Paris
    I’ve been reading this writer since he started writing on The Morning News. I like his writing as his style is interesting and fun to read and this article is a great example of his writing. Apparently he has now written a book about a period where he stayed and worked in Paris – it seems interesting, maybe I’ll read the book.

    Honestly, I had no idea how it worked. There was one woman, an Italian down the hall, who visited us at ten-fifteen each morning, making loud smooching sounds even before she entered the room; then she’d deliver long-drawn, suction-fueled bises all around: on Julie’s cheeks, Françoise’s cheeks, Tomaso’s cheeks, Olivier’s cheeks. Even my cheeks, once we were introduced. But it wasn’t always done. Maybe four days out of five, but that fifth day . . .

    September found me frequently biseing inappropriately. Male clients, IT support workers, freelance temps. Any female who came within ten feet. They’d return my weird kisses reluctantly, or else back away and attempt to ignore the gaffe. I asked Pierre how he knew whom to kiss, whom not. Pierre said there was no way of knowing this unless you’d grown up in France, then you just knew. He himself preferred to shake hands.

    André overheard Pierre saying this and suggested, in that case, Pierre should move “the fuck” back to New York.

  • The Man Who Hacked Hollywood
    This article is the story of the guy who hacked into a bunch of celebrities emails and sold their photos off to the internet, and you know the rest of that story.

    One night, he finally gave in to the temptation to talk. “I let my curiosity—and I think my marijuana—get the best of me,” he recalls. A well-known actor had sent a wish-you-were-here photo of a European mountainside to an actress. Stoned and feeling uninhibited, Chaney logged in to the actress’s e-mail against his better judgment and sent a reply saying how fantastic the view looked. He shuddered the moment he hit send. “I was like, ‘You’re a fucking idiot for doing this,’ ” he says.

  • Can an Algorithm Write a Better News Story Than a Reporter?
    The article title promises the rise of the machines, but the reality is that the state of the art can only translate statistics into more interesting words. It will be quite a long time before AI can do the indepth reporting that a feature article contains.

When I get lazy with blogging, I just post links to some neat stuff around the web:

Previous cheap thrills: 1

In continuing this year’s trend of dying celebrities, Walter Cronkite died this weekend of causes related to dementia.

I was never alive or old enough to watch his newcast, so all I know about him before this event was that he was a very well respected anchorman (kind of like CTV’s Lloyd Robertson. Today, I watched a tribute to his legacy on CBS (he was the anchor on CBS Evening News) and learned about his history. He presided over many important events in the preceding decades, like the Vietnam War, Woodstock, the death of JFK and LBJ, Watergate and through this became the trusted voice of news. They even asked him to run for president after he retired!

Walter Cronkite, like Christopher Columbus is one of those people who I don’t we will ever see again. Back in the 60s and 70s, it was a simpler and more straightforward time where people were able to believe in someone else telling them what the truth should be. The nature of society has become more cognitively complex and I can’t imagine a de-evolution to provide the conditions necessary for another Walter Cronkite to emerge. This weekend then, we did see a legend pass.

I’ll remember June for all the events in the news. The biggest news was probably the (most likely) fraudulent Iranian general election. There were many civilian protests and some deaths, ironically reminiscent of Tiananmen Square (which occurred 20 years ago on the 5th). This event was noteworthy because the Iranian government suppressed the media and Internet, but they failed to stop Twitter. Twitter even delayed its maintenance at the request of the US government (who may have other nefarious reasons for doing so)!

In addition to that, there were four celebrity deaths: David Carradine, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. The MJ saga will stay in the news for quite a long time though.

Aside from that, my life has been pretty normal. I started 12 months of Xbox Live Gold so I’ve been trying to complete online challenges in Burnout Paradise, and I’ve been working on my resume and my work contacts through LinkedIn.

Update: Wow, I totally forgot the Toronto garbage strike and how New York’s Senate flipped over to the Republicans after a couple of Democrats were convinced to flip sides.

Here are some more of my celebrity rock band characters, except this is the black people edition. When I created my fun characters, I liked the big afro hairstyle, so I made one character with that. After fooling around some more, I found some badass clothing and accessories and so he became my Samuel L. Jackson:

His face is off because when I originally created this character, I didn’t expect him to become a celebrity! There are only a couple of face shapes so it’s pretty hard to make them look identical. It’s more of the recognition of their dress and accessories.

Oprah was a bit difficult to make because while there was a lot of cool clothing, there weren’t a lot of serious business-wear. But Oprah the brand is so big that everyone knows who she is and what she somewhat looks like.

I’m pretty happy with how Michael Jackson turned out. I wanted to have him his military-type suit, but this punk version is a close replacement. Characters with accessories over their eyes are also much easier to make.

Justin Timberlake is my latest creation, I had difficulty even making his name because Rock Band puts a limit on the characters! He did not turn out as well as I wanted because I wanted to dress him in a vest and shirt, but the only version of that was in a gothic style.

Rock Band has this cool feature where you can create your own character to rock the guitar, drums or vox too. It was neat to design a rock star in my image (or not really my image but whatever) the first couple of times, but then I got a bit bored and decided to have some fun. I started making characters from some unique celebrities. Here’s my first attempt, in making Avril Lavigne.

I thought it turned out pretty well so I had some confidence and decided to try my hand controller at some others. Here’s John Lennon

I thought Lennon was a bit iconic with his hippie hair and glasses. But in actuality, it was pretty difficult since he doesn’t have any iconic clothes. Here’s Bono of U2 fame. He was pretty easy to create with his greasy hair and stylish clothing. The only problem was that Rock Band didn’t have glasses like the normal ones he wears.

Another easy one I thought was Elvis Presley, except that I hit another road block because they didn’t have his unique jumpsuit. But I think Elvis turned out pretty well!

Even though Rock Band has numerous tops, bottoms, and shoes; but even then I couldn’t find a lot of the clothing I needed! Too bad I couldn’t download them.

Lady GaGa’s a Nikon user! We share so much in common…err wait no, I don’t write shitty pop music. [from Superficial]

I was all ready to write a whole long fist-shaking post about how I agree that Twitter kids should stay off my lawn, but then I realized that I pretty much said the same thing just a couple of months ago.

You know, my opinions haven’t changed and I still find it a bit useless. In fact, I find it useless for plain old people like me to have a twitter account. I can understand if some celebrities twitter because it allows them to have controlled interactions with their grassroot fans, but what does it offer me? I still don’t get it!

February started off with the groundhog seeing his shadow and predicting six more weeks of winter. Did you know that the groundhog is only correct 39% of the time? Well he certainly seemed to live up to the trend because immediately afterwards, we had a week of above 0°C temperatures. The groundhog’s prediction was vindicated near the end of the month however, as we’re mired in -15°C weather again.

The Oscars and Grammys were also cold, at least to me. I still have no idea who won what at the Grammys and I didn’t watch any of the movies that won Oscars. The most entertaining news out of the Grammys was Chris Brown’s assault of Rihanna though. Other black people having a bad month was Obama, as he had to visit Canada during winter and actually try and get things done with his new government. The various stimulus bills have ended his honeymoon period and now we can actually see if he can bring change® to the USA.

I started listening to the radio again this month, but it’s not really a pleasant experience. In terms of gaming, I spent this month playing Burnout Paradise, and Rez; with a smattering of Rock Band here and there. I caught up a bit more on my Japan blogging, and moved my blog onto WordPress.

The big change this month is really in terms of my blogging. I’m trying to play nice with the blog ecosystem and evolving my blogging so the content is better.

I have a twitter account, but I don’t get it. I’ve tried using it for a bit but I just don’t buy into this whole microblogging thing; who cares about the minutiae of your daily life? Now I know what old, cranky, anti-blogging grandmothers feel like.

But it’s stories like this one where a pair of Twitterati meet THE_REAL_SHAQ that intrigues me enough to give it more mind share:

Today Sean and I were discussing rumored trade situations over IM, and the possibility of Shaq being traded to Cleveland.

“Well, I just got a twitter from The Real Shaq, and he’s at 5 & Diner right now,” Sean informed me.

“Let’s go then” I said, assuming that I’d finally put this “Real Shaq” crap to rest.

Twenty minutes later we were pulling up to the restaurant and looking for the big black truck that he’s rumored to drive around town. “Maybe that’s it” Sean said, pointing at an older, but nice Van and laughing. As we pulled up I saw the Superman symbol on the grill.

Now if only Toronto had some interesting celebrities on Twitter. No Adam Giambrone and Michael Ignatieff don’t count. I wouldn’t mind running into Nelly Furtado at Just Desserts.

Yesterday I went to the Toronto Auto Show, although unlike last year, I was not looking to purchase a car; so this trip was a pure photography expedition. A bunch of us met up at my place around noon, grabbed some lunch at Ajisen Ramen, and after some deliberations decided to drive down instead of taking The Better Way. But Joe, Ida, Pauline and I decided to grab some BBT before going, and then decided to park at City Hall; so by the time we actually made it into the show, we were a full building behind the other group.

The show itself was as expected. Lots of people, many of whom were lining up to sit in fancy cars and the other half were taking pictures. Taking pictures of the cars is a lot like taking pictures at a tourist attraction, there are always idiots that stand beside whatever you’re trying to take a picture of, or people walking in front of you. I ahd better luck this year because I brought my 10-20mm lens and was able to stand Right Against™ the cars and prevent this from happening. But overall, the day was a lot of walking around and taking pictures. I didn’t actually sit in many cars this year.

The concept cars this year were not as cool as last, although I was liked the Kia Kue and Soul (coming out in January 2009!) as well as the Toyota hybrid. Toyota also had a separate display for their i-Real which Pauline really liked, but I thought was only the 3rd coolest thing in the show. I think of it as a Segway for people who get tired of standing out all the time.

What were the cooler things? I’m glad you asked. The 2nd coolest thing I saw was the Speed Racer car, the Mach 5. It was there to promote the movie (there was also Will Smith’s Shelby in I Am Legend) and I doubt it would actually drive; but still very cool to see in real life.

The coolest thing from the Auto Show was not even a car! We were browsing around the Ford display around 4:30, when by chance they announced that special guest would be signing autographs. It turned out to be Wayne Gretzky’s dad, Walter Gretzky, and we were fortunately in the right place at the right time. After waiting 5-10 minutes, we each got a quick autograph and photo op. Gretzky was there along with a special #99 Ford GT so I guess it was somewhat car related. His handlers also told us to speak slowly and loudly, and so I was panicking with deciding what to say. I knew a bit of his story of how he lost his memory of his son’s greatest accomplishments, but it seemed tragic and common to say something to that respect. In the end, it was very assembly line-ish as he just asked us for our names and took a picture quickly.

Afterwards, we headed to Lone Star for dinner and back uptown to the same tea shop where we bought BBT in the afternoon for, well, BBT.

In Western culture, we are used to and desensitized to the scandel and train wreck in the lives of celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears, Jamie Lynn Spears, Tara Reid, well I could go on and on — you get the picture. I have my feet in both Western and Chinese cultures (although my weight is balanced on the Western side) so it is interesting to see how Chinese celebs never end up in these type of situations, or at least so far down the dark alley.

Which is why I find the current HK scandel so immensely fascinating. Late last month, photos of several HK stars (Cecilia Cheung, Gillian Chung, Bobo Chan) in compromising positions started appearing on the net. Of the three, I’m only familiar with Cecilia Cheung who I thought was cute and have a few movies of (of the PG kind of course). Apparently Gillian is one-half of the Canto-pop group Twins who herself was the victim of a pinhole camera back in 2006, did a Hillary and caused an event.

What seems to have happened in this case is that Edison Chen, another HK celeb, took his computer with these illicit pictures in for servicing, and the servicing staff copied off the incriminating photos. The photos have been released gradually over the last week until the cops triumphantly announced that they had arrested the individuals involved several days ago.

But new photos have continued to appear and this saga appears to be ongoing and not resolved. I won’t link or post any of the pictures, but they are fairly easy to find on the net and are most certainly not safe for work. I would say this scandel is on the level of the Paris Hilton sex tape, if not bigger because these type of scandels are unheard of!

On Saturday, Alex x 2, Andrew, Keith and I went down to the Metro Convention Centre for the annual Fan Expo. The Fan Expo is how do I put this mildly, a geek show. It was a comic/sci-fi/horror/gaming/anime convention all put into one; and I should also add that it should have been a Nintendo DS convention as well since it seemed like everyone there had one (I guess they knew they had to wait in line). This was my first time at one of these things, and it was an interesting look at this sub-culture, as well as a role-reversal since we would be the “cool kids” (i.e., jocks and the like) in the social hierarchy (or are we the losers since we didn’t dress up in costume?).

We showed up at 11 and started lining up with a lot of cosplay and NDS players. Alex was in a rush because the Tricia Helfer (of Battlestar Galactica and Canada’s Next Top Model fame) had her autograph session at noon. We finally were able to buy our $25 ticket at 12:30 and make it in. I have diverging thoughts about the price of the ticket. On the one hand, it’s a cheap ticket compared to other experience events (i.e., concerts), but OTOH it’s a hella expensive general convention ticket considering I thought $12 for the Auto Show was not really worth it. Although, before going in, I was tempted to get the $45 Deluxe pass which would have enabled me to go on Sunday as well, and to enter some of the premium events. But in the end, it wouldn’t have been worth it as I pretty much saw what I wanted to in one day.

Once we got our ticket, our plan was to hurry to the autograph booths, but of course we were delayed and sidetracked to take pictures of people in costumes. It’s like Hallowe’en for adults! Eventually we did get to the autograph session in time. The organizers had conveniently placed Six’s booth so that you couldn’t really get a good view of her unless you paid your extra money. This was tall Alex’s highlight of the show, so he paid his $10 for the photo, $2 for the photo protector and $25 for the autograph and got in line (and if you wanted a photo with her, it would cost you another $40!). Having different priorities; Alex, Andrew and I decided to get some lunch instead. We lined for Pizza Pizza, and ironically it turned out that the line was longer and we were served slower than Tricia Helfer! But the pizza was fresh and at only $20 wasn’t too much of a rip.

The cellphone service was horrible (i.e., non-existent; thank you 850MHz), so we had some difficulty meeting up with Keith. Eventually once we were all together we walked around the merchant area and display booths. There were a lot of people selling comics, figurines (i.e., toys) and other anime knicknacks. The horror section was basically filled with marketing campaigns for upcoming horror movie and DVDs. The gaming area was split into two halves, one featured competitions as part of the World Series of Video Games, and the other was a free area sponsored by Intel where you could play a variety of games. Surprisingly, there was little lineup in that area! Oh right, because everyone was playing their DSes.

The coolest area by far (well aside from all the cosplay) was the Artist Alley. Here, various well-known and not so well-known artists peddled their art. I bought a couple of limited prints by Peter Repovski of Daredevil, Spider-man and Batman, but there was a lot of other stuff that I wanted to buy (but where would I put them?). Another cool thing was that you could commission artists to draw someone for you, and it wasn’t too expensive. But in general, it was neat seeing how people would draw characters so that they were catchy and sellable (one way is nudity).

The most popular area was the autograph area. There were a couple of well-known people there: various Star Trek and Star Wars people, George Romeo, Malcolm McDowell and Adam West. The cool people to see for me were the Star Trek people. Robert Beltram, who played Commander Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager now had longer, shaggier hair. Dwight Schultz, who played Lt Barclay on Star Trek: TNG and Voyager looked much, much older. Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander Riker on Star Trek: TNG looked a little older but much the same as he did in the movies. Andrew and Alex (he likes his autographs!) paid to get a sign picture with Frakes, and I was tempted to as well, but $25 doesn’t seem worth it. The last celebrity of note was Charisma Carpenter who appeared on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Playboy. However, because I was taking pictures of Frakes I wasn’t able to be at her booth when she arrived and couldn’t get any good shots. By the time I arrived, they had placed a fat guy (must have been hard to find someone to fill that role at the convention) in the way to block the view.

On (short) Alex’s recommendation, we left the show area and headed to some sessions. Alex recommended the Sketch Offs where two artists are given a random artist to sketch while answering questions. At the end of the Sketch Off, each drawing was raffled off to a lucky audience member. The first one we saw was between Michael Turner and Oliver Coipel. I actually knew who Turner was because I collected Fathom way back when and apparently he’s been doing a lot of covers of comics that I follow. I don’t know Coipel at all, although he is drawing the current run of Thor (which I never started reading), and he had horrible answers to his questions. Although, I thought his drawing was better (maybe because he spent less time answering questions). The redeeming feature for him was that Andrew was the lucky winner of his Captain America sketch!

The next Sketch Off was not so great. It didn’t help that I didn’t know who any of the people were (nor what they drew). There were 3 anime artists from Japan (the guy who draws Trigun, the guy who draws Chrno Crusade, and someone else) and a local artist swapped and they drew each others’ characters. I suppose due to the difficulties of translating, instead of asking questions to the artists, the MC decided to kill time by selecting random people from the raffle and bringing them up to the front. You either had to say what you liked about the artists’ work (oops I knew no one), or otherwise entertain the audience for a minute or two. I thought this was a horrible idea because it made the audience part of the “show”. It was even worse when the artists weren’t finished on time so people kept getting called up. In the end, none of us got called up nor did we win in the raffle this time. The drawings themselves seemed better than the previous Sketch Off but I can’t really say because I don’t follow any of their shows.

And that was the end of a long but fun day, we went to East Side Mario’s for some dinner and then headed home.

Because this is the new meme going around Facebook, here are my celebrity look-a-likes:

So Mussolini and Jeff Goldblum, I guess the software somewhat works but there are no celebrities that are a great match for me. Plus, aside from those two and Philip Seymour Hoffman, I haven’t even heard of the rest. Although, it seems cool that I look like ROSHAN.

On Saturday, Pauline and I did the PDK Walk for Education. PDK is a professional organization that Pauline is part of, and this walk was to raise awareness and money for local and non-profit educational organizations. Anyways, we were milling around waiting for things to start when someone dressed in a suit walked up from nowhere. I vaguely thought that he looked like David Miller (I recall the hair being more outlandish from the subway ads), and it turns out it was! Cool, can you tell it was election time?

Anyways, everyone was surprised so we gathered around, chatted, and had some photo-ops. That’s me with Mayor David Miller, which Pauline egged me on to have taken. We continued with the walk which was at Queen’s Park, and Mayor Miller accompanied us for the first lap. After he left, we continued for another four laps before we were done. On the last lap, someone in our group stopped or was stopped by a CTV news reporter, and they went with us back to our staging area. They did some interviews for a piece they were working on about cheating in the school system, although only one person made it in. Pauline also apparently made it onto TV with a brief clip, but the video is transient so I won’t link it. The only thing I did was to loudly drop a wooden pole in the middle of the interview which also may have made it into the clip. Oops.

you know apparently there’s a thai model/idol/something-like-that who’s named christina aguilar <– that’s spelled correctly…apparently she’s a rip off of christina aguilera haha she also has some pics dressed up like she was from moulin rouge!…that’s so lame…cuz the funny thing is that she doesn’t even look like the real aguilera…that’s worse tha rip off of songs! you can check her out here. i also heard that some team lost 105-0 in university football…that’s sickkkkkkkkkk!!