Whether it's the rubber costumes and visible zippers in the good ol' days of ""Godzilla"" and ""Creature from the Black Lagoon,"" the cartoonish, computer-generated imagery of modern horror films like ""The Relic"" and ""Anaconda"" or the cliched casts of dashing heroes, brilliant scientists and savvy female reporters, it's hard to take a monster movie seriously. But with his latest romp, acclaimed Korean writer/director Joon-ho Bong doesn't ask us to do so. Instead, he embraces the slapstick action and absurd heroism that most moviemakers try to disguise, resulting in what might be the most fun - and most honest - monster movie ever made.
To give the creature feature a fresh angle, Bong replaces the undefeatable monster with a clumsy animal and the dashing heroes with a family of buffoons. His clear affection for the genre spills into his work, adding an unabashed sincerity and that helps him bridge moments of terrible tragedy with campy comedy - a pairing that has rarely, if ever, been executed so successfully. But the emotional grip of the story never eases either, as one of the monster's victims, a young girl named Hyun-Seo, struggles to survive in the sewers while her family desperately tries to find and rescue her.
The family of half-witted protagonists is comprised of the genial grandfather, who runs a convenience store; his daughter, the bronze-medal-winning Olympic archer; his son, the unemployed grad student; and his other son, the half-retarded father of Hyun-Seo. When she's abducted by the beast, the government is too inept and the community too paranoid to do anything to help, so the endearingly flawed family of underachievers sets out to rescue her themselves.
Bong provides the film with an unflappable sense of humor, even amid the story's most grim moments. Soon after the monster emerges from the Han River and abducts Hyun-Seo, a mass funeral is held. While her family is sprawled on the ground in wailing grief, crying her name to the heavens, wallowing in abject misery and surrounded by the grieving families of countless other victims, the mourning is interrupted by a loudspeaker announcement asking the driver of an illegally parked car to please come to the parking lot. Then, a government official wearing a yellow hazmat suit steps in to announce the quarantine of everyone at the scene - as if things couldn't get any worse. But before the official goes in another word, he slips and falls - probably in a puddle of the tears from the bereaved - right on his ass. It's a strangely comfortable mix of sweltering pity and Marx Brothers humor.
Even the monster slips and stumbles in its pursuit of prey. And as the SUV-sized creature trips over its own feet, onlookers throw beer cans and government soldiers scramble to secure the quarantine, more concerned with containing any potential diseases the monster might carry than capturing or killing the ravaging beast.
There are only three Americans in ""The Host,"" all of whom are quite blunder-prone: the environmentally callous mortician in the opening scene (who creates the beast by dumping hundreds of bottles of formaldehyde into the drain simply because the bottles were dusty), an American sightseer (one of only two people ever to confront the monster) and a cross-eyed U.S. official who wants to perform brain surgery on Hyun-Seo's mentally deficient father because ""maybe that's where the virus is.""
Bong's film is more than a monster flick. It's a spoof on global hysteria and our relentless fear of an ever-approaching apocalypse in one form or another. As the four pathetic protagonists struggle to find the missing girl, they pass through a crazy world of frightened citizens clinging to surgical masks and bumbling government officials more frightened of pathogens than of the monster itself. Every character, flawed to the core, seems to fail in everything they do, but it's impossible to stop rooting for them. At times unbearably heavy - yet incredibly light-hearted too - Bong's satirical monster action/horror/comedy is a rare treat.
This year's A.S. Council deserves credit for taking a cue from the Undergraduate Student Experience and Satisfaction report and making an effort to revive beer gardens. And the accompanying advertising campaign hasn't been too shabby either, with plenty of high-visibility posters and even a Facebook group to get the word out.
The price of success: a 20-minute wait at the door of the last Bear Garden, followed by an hour-long wait in line for your plastic cup of booze. With such a wait, students might as well pick up a minimum-wage job for an hour and spend the money they earn on a pair of pints at Porter's Pub, which has a far wider selection of brews, far fewer rent-a-cops and practically no line.
But the popularity of this year's beer gardens - and the lack of disturbances at them - drives home two important points. For one, including booze at on-campus events actually does encourage participation. Administrators should consider this when they decide whether to allow alcohol sales at the RIMAC Annex.
More importantly, the gardens show that with careful planning, UCSD can host wet events and still ensure student safety, assuaging the administration's long-standing and completely understandable concern.
With a year of positive experiences, the door should be open to slowly expand the Bear Gardens, maybe through finding a new venue or streamlining the current one. It wouldn't hurt to bring in bands, either, like at the Thank God It's Fridays of yore. With a little compromise and responsibility on both sides, the UCSD experience can be made far more memorable and special than it is now.
Two Arrested for Body Part Trading at UCLA
The UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine has suspended its program for accepting donated human bodies in the wake of a discovery of illicit body-part trading. An employee of the school and an independent tissue broker are alleged to have used UCLA resources in order to supply body parts for various biotechnology firms and research institutions.
Henry Reid, director of the program, was arrested on March 6 on charges of grand theft.
He is suspected of allowing tissue broker Ernest Nelson to remove and trade the body parts of nearly 500 cadavers from the university over a period of six years, generating a profit of over $700,000.
Reid was coincidentally hired by UCLA in 1997 to correct such problems in handling cadavers. University officials say they are now deciding how to compensate for the university's loss of access to human specimens.
Biotechnology companies and academic institutes use body parts for medical research and training purposes. Though the sale of human body parts is illegal in the United States, firms profit by charging to cover the costs of supplying specimens, which can run up to thousands of dollars for a single human body.
Similar instances have occurred in the past decades at medical facilities at UC Irvine and UCSD.
Attempts to enact stronger state and federal regulation are often hindered by institutions lobbying for ready access to tissue.
UC Irvine Opens Hydrogen Fuel Station
On Feb. 27, UC Irvine celebrated the grand opening of its automobile hydrogen fueling station.
The station is the first in California capable of dispensing hydrogen at 700 bar, or the equivalent of 10,000 pounds per square inch.
In some cases, this nearly doubles a vehicle's driving range.
The station provides the latest in fueling technology, meeting the demands of vehicle development programs directed by automakers Toyota, Nissan, Honda, General Motors and Daimler Chrysler.
""The world looks to California as the testing ground for next-generation automobile technologies,"" UC Irvine's National Fuel Cell Research Center Director Scott Samuelsen said in a press release. ""The shift to a hydrogen economy is … a dramatic and fundamental shift in the way that individuals will operate their vehicles in the future.""
The emissions from a hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle contain only water vapor.
Today, hydrogen can be produced from nonpetroleum gas sources, potentially reducing our current reliance on petroleum for the future.
The facility looks similar to a gas station, with stand-alone dispensers delivering pure gaseous hydrogen. According to the California Fuel Cell Partnership, 23 hydrogen stations exist in California, with 14 more planned. Automakers say that they may begin selling fuel cell vehicles by the year 2010.
In the shortest meeting of the year, which lasted just 29 minutes, the A.S. Council moved to Porter's Pub to allow ""Lunafest"" to occupy Price Center Ballroom. Eleanor Roosevelt College Senior Senator Erik Rodriguez-Palacios was the speaker of the council for the meeting, substituting for Earl Warren College Senior Senator and Speaker Michelle Yetter, who opted out of the session because she was sick.
A.S. President Harry Khanna announced he was working with university officials to extend the hours of CLICS. He also proposed that the library be open 24 hours all of 10th week and during finals. Khanna is coordinating with the UCSD Police Department to ensure enough Residential Security Officers are present to accommodate the expected influx of students.
Assistant Vice President of Programming Di Lam announced Head Automatica will perform at this quarter's Thank God It's Over concert. In her report, Lam said the last Bear Garden was a success, despite the ""foamy beer situation.""
Two more Bear Gardens are scheduled for April 13 and June 1.
Assistant Vice President Local Affairs Aida Kuzucan, shouting over noisy diners in the pub, reported that she is working with other organizations in San Diego to pass resolutions against the construction of the Foothill-South Toll Road through San Onofre State Park.
Next, Thurgood Marshall College Junior Senator Kyle Samia said he wrote a letter to the Marshall writing program, Dimensions of Culture, to disapprove of the direction in which DOC is headed.
""They responded negatively and a little abrasively,"" Samia said.
He announced that DOC administrators are going to be present at the next Marshall College Council meeting to discuss the issue. Samia advised students not to attend, although the council meeting is open to the public.
Marshall Chair Neetu Balram clarified the council's position.
""The concern is that [DOC administrators aren't] expecting such a huge turnout,"" Balram said. ""Things could get very intense and messy.""
She added that the situation could then become counter-productive.
A.S. President Chief of Staff Emma Sandoe announced that a research group of San Diego State University students will survey UCSD student leaders in the coming weeks. The group is working on a project to determine the reasons student leaders choose to take their positions.
She also announced that Revelle College senior Robby Peters was going to declare that he was entering the NBA draft. He recently became the NCAA season leader for the most three-pointers in one game.
On a final note, Khanna described a run-in he had with Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. Fox reportedly called Khanna asking for a five-seat cart, however the council only owns a two-seater.
""We let her down,"" Khanna said in his report to the council.
However, A.S. Executive Assistant Christopher Terry redeemed the council when he borrowed a five-seater for the chancellor from a college resident life office.
Asian Americans are less likely to seek out social support than their European American counterparts, according to a new study conducted by researchers from UC Santa Barbara.
According to assistant professor of psychology and study co-author Heejung S. Kim, Asian Americans do not seek support because of concerns that it affects relationships negatively. Disclosing occurrences like stressful events can make others worry, or even cause the support-seeker appear weak. In contrast, the study found that European Americans view requests for support as a proactive and beneficial method to solve problems.
""Asian Americans seem to be particularly aware and concerned about these implications and therefore are more hesitant to seek social support,"" Kim said in an e-mail.
The research found that Asian Americans still seek implicit help, spending time with family or friends without discussing problems, while still receiving some indirect support from the interactions. European Americans, on the other hand, explicitly deal with emotional issues, and are more likely to talk them over. The emphasis on collectivism in Asian cultures, Kim said, influences Asian Americans to value harmony more than individuals in Western cultures.
Kim stressed that the study's findings are not to be overgeneralized as a complete and total picture of all Asian Americans' relationships.
""Our goal is to identify behaviors that tend to vary systematically across cultures, and bring forward cultural biases that implicitly exist,"" Kim said.
Many UCSD Asian-American students said they saw the findings as representative of their experiences.
""I agree most with the idea of implicit support, that we use our social networks differently just by spending time with our families,"" Revelle College junior Malou Amparo said. ""We have different ways of coping and seeking help; maybe seeing a counselor or something isn't very appealing for some reason. It wouldn't be my first choice.""
Many students hesitate when turning to family for emotional support, some students said, and older generations expect a level of personal control.
""I almost feel as if it would be a sign of weakness if I were to not be self-dependent and be able to deal with things myself,"" Revelle College junior Kimberly Yu said. ""I don't think this was explicitly said to me ever in my life, but I've always felt that way, especially about my academics and my career. I almost don't want to fall into the stereotype, but those are the values that I've gained from my family.""
Sixth College junior Jennifer Wong said that if she were experiencing problems, she would not seek out help from a mental health professional.
""While some of my friends might go to a therapist, my first instinct would not be to go talk to someone about it,"" Wong said.
According to Kim, the study suggests that groups using the culturally appropriate support system had lower stress levels than when they used a support system that didn't match their cultural background. While many students express reservations about talking to older generations, students have an easier time connecting to peers with similar backgrounds.
According to Amparo, she finds support in Kamalayan Kollective, a Filipino organization.
""A lot of the support I feel that I need relates to my Filipino and Asian identity,"" Amparo said.
UCSD Asian Pacific Islander Student Alliance President Brian Kang also said that he finds support among his peers.
""I know that when I was first starting college, I wouldn't ask for help a lot because I didn't really feel comfortable talking to anyone, but in my experiences with APSA, it really brought that out of me,"" Kang said. ""I do try and stress that APSA is family to us. It's like a second home for a lot of the members.""
Skyrocketing health care costs and longer lines at the doctor's office are met with harried physicians more concerned with trying to meet their quota for the day than listening to health problems: This is the future of U.S. health care, according to UC health policy expert Thomas Bodenheimer.
Medical school student Sasan Massachi (right), wants to pursue a career in oncology, while Kevin Burnham is undecided. Students are increasingly choosing specialized fields over primary care.
A drastic decrease in the number of primary care physicians over the past decade prompted the attention of Bodenheimer, a UC San Francisco professor of family and community medicine whose background includes not only an M.D. but also a master's degree in public health.
In a perspective piece published last month in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Bodenheimer and two other doctors blamed the income gap between specialty and primary care physicians for the decline. While the incomes of primary care physicians are by no means meager, the discrepancy in comparison to specialists has become large enough to ""discourage medical school graduates from choosing primary care careers,"" Bodenheimer wrote in the article.
The article said that the percentage of medical school graduates in the United States choosing primary care has dropped from 14 percent in 2000 to 8 percent in 2005, a figure that has been dwindling since the mid-1990s. Studies have indicated that patients under consistent primary care have lower health care costs, making the decline a serious situation, especially with the number of people affected by chronic diseases on the rise. The American College of Physicians has expressed a need to take action to prevent what they call an ""impending collapse"" of primary care.
At UCSD alone, the number of students choosing primary care as a career has dropped to roughly 10 percent of the graduating class over the past 20 years, according to Rusty Kallenberg, head of the division of family medicine at UCSD. Kallenberg said he believes one of the main factors fueling students' decisions to specialize is the looming debt, averaging $130,000 to $200,000, after leaving medical school.
However, patients put themselves in potential danger when they see several specialists but no primary care physician, because the specialists often lack knowledge of the patient's overall health, he said.
""[If it is] no one's job to coordinate everything, [it is] not good news for patients,"" Kallenberg said.
The Resource-Based Relative Value Scale, implemented by Medicare in 1992 with the intent of reducing the disparity costs between office visits and procedures, has become the mechanism fueling the income divide, according to Bodenheimer. Instead of paying for face time with the doctor, the difference in the relative value unit, or RVU, of a visit is based on the work that is done.
A colonoscopy costs more than a normal office visit because the intensity of the work - mitigated by factors of skill, effort, judgment and stress - is seen as greater for p rocedures, as opposed to doctors' cognitive efforts. Over the years, the volume of procedures performed by specialists has increased more rapidly than office visits, contributing to the higher salaries of specialists.
In addition, several studies have shown that private insurers favor specialist procedures over primary care. A 2002 study revealed that, on average, private insurers pay 120 percent of Medicare's fee for procedures over 104 percent for office visits, allowing specialists to negotiate higher rates than primary care physicians.
Bodenheimer's report also highlighted the somewhat biased process of updating RVU values. The American Medical Association and other specialist societies created the Relative Value Scale Update Committee, which is designed to recommend RVU updates every five years. Of the 29 members of the committee, 23 are from specialist societies, and only 15 percent of the voting members represent primary care.
The paper alleges that specialist-heavy membership, along with specialist society influence in the committee, has led to the avoidance of increasing evaluation and management RVUs - the meat and potatoes of primary care physician income.
Revelle College junior Matt Wiepking is one of many premed students on campus. Originally, Wiepking had his sights set on being a general practitioner or pediatrician, but has since been considering specialist fields like radiology.
""There is obviously a financial factor, but a lot of it is lifestyle, patients and decisions you get to make,"" Weipking said.
He said he believes that more than the money, students may be more interested in the immediate, tangible benefits from specialty fields. In being able to see a change in the patient's condition, Weipking said students may feel more useful.
After watching doctors and spending many volunteer hours in hospitals, Weipking said he does not necessarily agree with current method of charging patients.
""I think there is a definite lean on doing the tests, but that stems from fear of malpractice,"" Weipking said. ""A lot of unnecessary procedures done [are] not a good way to practice medicine. [It's] not helping patients.""
Bodenheimer suggested in his report that experts seek out alternate payment models that work to suit each area's approach to treating patients. In the short term, he recommended that Medicare and private insurers identify ways to modify their reimbursement approaches while primary care tries to bolster its ranks.
""Do we need surgeons if you get hit by a bus?"" Kallenberg said. ""Of course, but we also need vibrant primary care to prevent disease from unhelpful behavior.""
The level of narcissism and self-entitlement has reached an all-time high in Generation Y college students, according to a recent study conducted by five nationwide university researchers.
The study was the largest of its type ever conducted, and was spearheaded by Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor and the author of a leading book on narcissism in young people.
""Far from being civically oriented, young people born after 1982 are the most narcissistic generation in recent history,"" Twenge said in a press release.
The study asked its subjects for yes or no responses to statements such as, ""If I ruled the world, it would be a better place"" and ""I think I am a special person."" The responses were alarming, the authors said. Two-thirds of all subjects answered ""yes"" to over half the statements, which is 30 percent more than when the test was first introduced in 1982.
""Narcissism feels good and might be useful for meeting new people or auditioning on 'American Idol,'"" said W. Keith Campbell, co-author of the study and a psychology professor at the University of Georgia. ""Unfortunately, narcissism can also have very negative consequences for society, including the breakdown of close relationships with others.""
Campbell's arguments are supported explicitly in the study, which states that narcissists ""are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty and over-controlling and violent behaviors.""
The question now is, can anything be done to stem the self-centered tendencies of today's students? As far as Twenge is concerned, possible tactics include sterner parenting.
""We need to stop endlessly repeating, 'You're special' and having children repeat that back,"" Twenge said. ""Plus, current technology fuels the increase in narcissism.""
Campbell, however, suggested that the study's results may show that a simple solution is impossible.
""Permissiveness seems to be a component,"" he said. ""A potential antidote would be more authoritative parenting.""
UCSD students had mixed reactions about the findings of the study.
""I've noticed that students tend to refuse to accept responsibility for doing poorly in class, as if they think it's not possible that they themselves are to blame for a bad grade,"" Revelle College sophomore Elizabeth McDevitt said.
But Eleanor Roosevelt College sophomore Virginia Cheng disagreed.
""Students today seem to have more of a grasp today on worldly events and issues that don't pertain to them personally,"" she said. ""We seem to care more about everyone else.""
The Student Center expansion promises to offer future space for new resources and services. Currently, however, the infrastructural mess of machinery and metal offers little more than frustration to many of the center's stores. For Food Co-op employees, is not merely an inconvenience, but also a purported blow to sales and revenue that has allegedly been overlooked by university administrators.
John Muir College senior Adam Calo, an employee of the Food Co-op, stands amid construction areas outside the business. According to Co-op employees, construction has severely impacted revenues and caused intermittent obstructions in water supply.
Employees from the Food Co-op, a student-run organization offering healthy meal alternatives to corporate food chains, have reported that the collective has experienced extensive problems, both financial and logistical, due to the surrounding construction. These difficulties include a significant reduction in space, blocked kitchen access, decreased foot traffic outside the store and, most notably, intermittent lack of basic utilities such as water.
Consequently, Food Co-op employees said their business has seen a significant drop in already minimal profits.
""The construction is the toughest thing facing the co-op right now,"" Food Co-op accountant and Earl Warren College senior Matt Salerno said. ""Our net profits are 60 percent of what they were last year at this time.""
Customers wait in line to make purchases at the Food Co-op. Construction around Student Center has led to reduced foot traffic to the area's businesses.
The employees had expected construction to be finished by Feb. 22 - as promised by administrators - but no longer anticipate its completion in the near future.
According to interim University Centers Director Paul Terzino, the construction was delayed due to unexpected plumbing conditions and underground electrical wiring. He estimated that construction will be finished sometime in late April.
""It's not even close to being finished,"" Salerno said. ""Right now the date of completion is up in the air and it's doing more harm than good.""
The absence of a kitchen has impacted the co-op's ability to produce prepared foods. As a result, its temporary sale of exclusively vendor-provided food has made employees especially resentful of the construction.
""We don't have the means of producing the amount of food that we used to, so the food doesn't look as good and it's not as appealing to people,"" Food Co-op employee and Sixth College junior Rikki Cunningham said. ""Of course, we have a loss of revenue because we normally generate more money from the food that we make than from [that] of our vendors.""
The construction has also resulted in a sporadic interruption of water supply to the Food Co-op, forcing it to utilize the water source from its satellite location in Price Center.
""We have to do dishes in our other location, so oftentimes we can't offer dishes to our customers,"" Food Co-op employee and Thurgood Marshall College senior Ian Morrison said. ""Instead, we offer them disposable products that cost more money and produce more waste.""
Workers at the Food Co-op say the profit loss caused by affected water supply necessitates contractually mandated compensation from the university, but they have been unable to reach a compromise with administrators.
""[UCSD administrators] try to work with us a little bit, but they look at us as a student organization,"" Cunningham said. ""They don't look at us like we know what we're doing. We do - we've read the space agreement and we have a lawyer.""
Section 7 of the Retail Cooperative Space Agreement requires rent relief if ""interruption in utility services"" occurs due to renovation. Terzino said the university provided 30 days notice of these interruptions, as mandated by the RCSA. Furthermore, despite the inability to access food production areas, Terzino maintained that the Food Co-op's sales floor and offices have remained operational during renovation.
""A rent reduction of 50 percent has been given to the Food Co-op while the production area is closed for renovation,"" Terzino said in an e-mail.
Salerno disputed the rent reduction, and said that the offer, which was made approximately a month after construction began, has not yet been accepted by the Food Co-op.
""We talked to them about a variety of different offers concerning rent, and we, as a group, have not decided on the one that we will pursue,"" Salerno said.
Regardless of whether these offers are accepted by the Food Co-op, Terzino said that Section 7 of the RCSA only pertains to rent relief when utility interruption forces a store to close.
""The intent of Section 7 of the space agreement concerning utility interruption is if utility interruption forces a co-op to close,"" Terzino said. ""The partial utility interruption at the Food Co-op did not force them to close.""
However, the text of Section 7 does not explicitly dictate that the university will provide rent relief only when a store is forced to close. It states that if utility interruption takes place over a period of four hours, the ""monthly rent … shall be reduced by one-thirtieth,"" and one additional thirtieth for each day the interruption persists.
Despite difficulties caused by lack of essential utilities, crucial details - specifically, those concerning the number of days that the Food Co-op has operated without utilities - have not yet been presented to the administration, Terzino said.
Although employees are upset by difficulties they associate with construction, their negotiations with administrators have not become truculent.
""At the end of the day, the administration has been helpful and responsible in working with us,"" Morrison said. ""We're not trying to be antagonistic with the university, but our goals and their goals in the way we operate sometimes conflict. We like to solve these conflicts as peacefully as possible.""
While the construction is potentially responsible for a significant impact on Food Co-op earnings, the slumping sales have also been affected by the recent opening of the store's offshoot Price Center location. Apart from raising the prices of sold goods to offset lost revenue, workers reported forfeiting personal gains in an attempt to alleviate the store's mounting debt.
""We're careful in writing down our hours - sometimes I'd rather volunteer the shift I'm supposed to be working than pay myself for the shift because we're barely scraping by,"" Cunningham said. ""The co-op is our main priority at this point.""
Food Co-op employees described their organization as one of many that have been negatively affected by construction.
""Every student organization in the old Student Center is experiencing these conflicts,"" Cunningham said. ""The General Store Co-op is losing money because of loss of foot traffic. The Bike Shop got moved.""
However, workers from other Student Center businesses have not reported the same extent of losses due to renovation.
""There hasn't been a big dip in terms of customers, although the outdoor seating area has less people because of the noise,"" Grove Caffe employee and John Muir College senior Jason Grishkoff said. ""We have the same customer base. Not many new people come along because not many people have heard about the Grove in the first place.""
While other stores may face impending losses, they have not described the same degree of fiscal decline as those suffered by the Food Co-op. Additionally, the student-run General Store Co-op is more hesitant in linking profit loss solely to construction difficulties.
""I don't think we are [losing profit] as of yet,"" General Store Co-op employee and Muir junior Lindsey Tan said. ""We wouldn't be sure whether we were losing revenue because of the construction, because we just hired new people or because minimum wage just increased.""
Construction problems aside, student-run organizations agree that their overarching problem stems from a general lack of campus awareness. The Food Co-op asserted that, because construction physically complicates entrance to their store, the lack of interest or knowledge regarding student-run organizations within the student body is intensified.
""One of the struggles is getting students involved - we exist to offer alternatives to students,"" Morrison said. ""[Collectives] foster interaction between people beyond buying and selling, beyond teacher and student - it's an interaction gained when people are cooperating for a common cause.""
I've never been a sports fanatic like my roommates. They can rattle off any sports stat, from baseball to tennis, citing almost any game in history while monitoring every minute detail of the players, coaches and commentators. Needless to say, when they got into the fantasy sports drafts, it was far out of my league.
I, on the other hand, am a film nut - while they can spout home runs and touchdowns, I speak in purely filmic language: directors and writers, camera angles, artistic design, musical scores, etc. - it's an addiction.
So, naturally, it was a shock to hear from IMDB that a new draft site had opened up: www.fantasymoguls.com, where they ask the billion-dollar question: Can you choose successful films better than the studios can? I wouldn't be ""drafting"" based on free throws or assists; I could draft for my own studio based on the credibility of talent behind each film and the essential ability to discover a great project.
There are two ways of playing Fantasy Moguls: a basic version, where you draft films based on how much cash you expect them to earn or, my personal favorite, the advanced version, which factors in bankability, critical reviews and the amount of people in each theater. The latter proves a true challenge, forcing you to branch out beyond the blockbusters and look at the indies, which are often the big winners among advanced players (during the last draft it was the small foreign flick ""Volver"" which gave some drafters the silver bullet). And the unpredictability of the session adds to the aura of the game - films that appear to be big winners may turn out to be box office duds (that happened to me three times last draft) or vice versa.
The Web site has expanded considerably since it launched last fall, now covering the winter movie season, and is about to head into the long spring/summer haul from March to September. I'll be playing - realizing now that there's no difference between knowing sports or cinema in-depth, or for that matter music, history or architecture. Knowledge is knowledge, only with everyone's personal touch.
The UCSD women's basketball players have already had a stellar season this year: They are the university's first-ever California Collegiate Athletic Association champions in women's basketball, they have a perfect road record, their head coach Janell Jones was recently named CCAA Coach of the Year and they have the two-time CCAA Most Valuable Player in 5 foot, 10 inch star senior guard Leora Juster.
Sophomore forward Michelle Osier earned CCAA First Team honors, along with two other teammates, for her second straight year with an average of 11.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Now, the Tritons are looking to continue their assault on the UCSD athletic record books by traveling deeper into the postseason, which will begin when No. 1 seed UCSD hosts No. 8 seed Western Washington University on March 9 at 8 p.m. in RIMAC Arena at the Division II West Regional Tournament.
The two teams have not met since earlier this season. In that game on Dec. 20, the Tritons took advantage of a 34-point night from Juster to beat Western Washington University 83-64.
""It does help that we've seen them already this season because not only can we watch tape of them playing other teams, we can point out our weaknesses and strengths in our game against them,"" sophomore forward Michelle Osier said.
Jones also believes that the Tritons have an advantage in this game, although for different reasons.
""The biggest advantage for us is that we will hopefully be playing in front of a big home crowd,"" she said.
UCSD will host the regional tournament after going 23-4 in the regular season and winning the CCAA championship with the best record in the division.
Considering their perfect 12-0 away record, playing at home is more of an honor than a necessity for the Tritons.
""Honestly, it doesn't matter where we play because we can win wherever we go,"" Osier said. ""But it is an honor since [UCSD] has never won CCAA and has never been ranked first in the region.""
Western Washington University currently holds an 18-9 record but has only won four out of its 10 away games. Leading the Vikings in points and assists per game is senior guard Mollie Shelmack, with 15.9 points and 3.4 assists.
The Tritons are less concerned about what the Vikings are going to bring to the game and more concerned with their own play.
""This is the time of the year that you go to your strengths,"" Jones said.
This UCSD team has a lot of strengths and contributions from a variety of players. Although MVP Juster and First Team selections Osier and senior forward Hillary Hansen provide most of the points for the Tritons, other players have been key to the success of the team so far. Junior center Jillian Ricks leads the Tritons with 20 blocks and junior forward Meaghan Noud has been an invaluable sixth-woman, averaging 9.2 points per game off the bench.
It also can't hurt that the Tritons have this year's CCAA coach of the year in Jones.
""She runs very intensive practices and that really prepares us for games,"" Osier said. ""At important points in the game, she knows what to do. She really knows how to coach.""
With a lot of the players from last year's squad still on the team, experience will undoubtedly be useful this year as last year's team was the No. 4 seed and suffered a first-round loss to Seattle Pacific University in the postseason.
""It makes a big difference that we are older this year,"" Osier said. ""The experience from last year's playoffs will definitely help. Last year, we were scared and we were drained from the anticipation of playing a playoff game. Now, we know what to expect, and we can prepare.""