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Mailbag 5/4

What’s your favorite Star Wars TV show and movie?

Emmy FYC Event For Andor Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Educational Engineer: The Southern Company Peach Bowl Challenge released the official pairings for its annual charity golf tournament this week and some of the pairings include:

  • CPJ & Dabo
  • Spurrier & Kirby Smart
  • Chan Gailey & Pat Narduzzi
  • Urban Meyer & Dan Mullen
  • Shane Beamer & Tom O’Brien

Please rank these pairings in terms of “most trusted to run a football program towards success” to “least trusted to run a football program towards success”

Ben: My list changes based on how much money is being dumped into Dabo’s program. Assuming it’s not much, my order is as such:

  1. Spurrier & Kirby
  2. Urban & Mullen
  3. CPJ & Dabo
  4. Gailey & Narduzzi
  5. Beamer & O’Brien

I know I might get some hate on this, but the program that Kirby has built is no joke. You don’t win two national championships in a row by pure luck. Although they also have a ton of money being dumped into the program, I actually would still have more faith in him building a program (especially with Hatin’ Ass Spurrier) than Dabo. I think Urban and Mullen are an easy No. 2, but they were almost my No. 1. They work well together, ickiness aside. I think CPJ and Dabo would probably kill each other, but if Dabo can attract a good DC or bring some money, that could be a solid team. Gailey & Narduzzi’s team would have a really good defense. I have nothing else to say about that team. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m struggling to remember who Tom O’Brien is (I’m pretty sure he used to be the coach at NC State, but I don’t care to Google it), and I couldn’t tell you a single thing he’s well-known for. As for Shane, I think he’s done a good job at South Carolina, but it’s a very small sample size thus far.

Jake: CPJ and Dabo are my top pick. CPJ did more with less and won with every level, and Dabo is elite at being a Build a Program and Hire the Guys-type coach. Spurrier won at a pre-Spurrier Florida, along with traditional backwater Duke, to say nothing of general success at South Carolina, independent of the whole Athens-based death star Kirby has. After those two, I’d probably go Urban and Mullen, given Urban’s pedigree in the college ranks, then Narduzzi and Gailey. It’s still too early to say Beamer has come close to doing enough to move up and displace Pat and Chan, especially with O’Brien being, well, okay.

CTJacket: What is your favorite Star Wars tv show? Favorite movie?

Ben: Well, this is another question I’m gonna get some hate for, so let’s get that out of the way. My favorite Star Wars movie is The Last Jedi (ducks). I really appreciate the nuance with which Rian Johnson tells that story, and I think it’s just beautiful. I hear and understand the arguments about the treatment of Luke, but I really love how TLJ tells his story. I also firmly believe that there is not a bad Star Wars movie, which is something I didn’t always believe.

As for Star Wars TV, I would almost say you can’t go wrong with it. My least-favorite is Book of Boba Fett, but that’s only because it mostly isn’t about Boba Fett. I was a big fan of Obi-Wan Kenobi. It was such a joy to see Ewan MacGregor and Hayden Christiansen share the screen again, and that finale was some of the best Star Wars I’ve seen. I particularly loved how that show played with colors. The lightsabers in particular were so strong and vibrant, and it was really amazing. I’m a big fan of the Mandalorian, even S3 which a lot of folks didn’t like. If nothing else, we got Jack Black to canonically exist in the Star Wars universe, which I think is awesome. As far as live action, the creme of the crop is Andor. Serving as a prequel to Rogue One, Andor shows the roots of the Rebellion, following Cassian Andor. Diego Luna freaking shined in that show, and I cannot tell you how excited I am for S2 of that. Rogue One is one of my favorite SW movies, so it’s great to be with Cassian for a little while longer. Also, we got Andy Serkis in Star Wars again, and he’s absolutely one of my favorite actors.

Moving over to the animated shows, Rebels is probably my favorite. As was mentioned in the comments, Season 1 is a little slow, but it really finds its footing by the end of Season 1 going into Season 2. By the end of the show, it’s an absolute masterpiece. I appreciate how it deepens the lore of the Force. It also just has some of the greatest moments in Star Wars in my opinion, including Darth Vader being so extra, he drops into a battle floating on his TIE fighter. It’s wonderful. The Clone Wars is every bit as good as Rebels at times, but I think it has some lower lows and takes a little longer to find its footing. The Siege of Mandalore is easily some of the greatest Star Wars to exist. I have not watched Resistance, so I can’t speak to it. Tales of the Jedi was interesting, if nothing else. I was a big fan of the episodes involving Count Dooku. I loved being able to watch his descent into darkness. The Ahsoka episodes were good, but they fell behind the Dooku episodes. The darkhorse here is Star Wars Visions. It’s completely non-canon, but Lucasfilm let a whole bunch of Anime Studios try their hand at Star Wars, and the results are phenomenal. I was a big fan of The Duel, The Ninth Jedi, and The Elder. Those are probably the most varied, though, since different studios created each one.

My answer almost certainly doesn’t actually answer your question, but I made the cover art for the Questions post intentionally Star Wars-related hoping someone would ask about Star Wars so I could just gush about it.

Jack: The original movie still holds as my favorite. There isn’t a moment I don’t love in that movie. Perfect from start to finish. All of the shows I have lots of affinity for. I think Rebels would be my favorite of the animated stuff. Mandalorian wins for me of the live action, but Ashoka could win that very easily this year.

A bonus answer: there’s a supercut out there of Revenge of the Sith and the Seige of Mandalore episodes from The Clone Wars stitched together, and it’s of the best storytelling I’ve seen. I don’t know if Filoni intended for it to work so well while making the final season of Clone Wars, but the first time I saw that cut, which was after I had seen the episodes when they came out, it felt like I had seen a new Star Wars movie. If you can get your hands on it, watch it.

DressHerInWhiteAndGold: Now that our AI overlords have decreed that Pop Stars are “silicone create-able” how will they change Sports (particularly College Sports) thru AI? And are we on board?

Ben: Interestingly, I actually just wrote a paper about how leaders in higher education need to adapt to using artificial intelligence. The thing with AI, in my opinion, is that it isn’t something we should be worried about replacing us. We need to figure out how best to use it to our advantage. It can do some crazy things. I don’t particularly know what that looks like in sports, but I’m very intrigued to find out what that means.

Jake: AI can do a great job at recycling things that have already been made, so I don’t think they can be the end all, be-all. In the sports realm particularly, I think it can help make certain production parts of the role easier, but they can’t hit baseballs and using them to do robot play-by-play would be off-putting. I think I’d say that it may not be quite as much of a change as some would want you to believe.

Jack: The best part of sports is that it’s an inherently human story. AI has to run on a script, regardless how complex. The human element of sports is what makes it exciting. We’ll be alright.

Partywaggin: Keion White’s DROY odds range from +2500 to +4000. Do these seem reasonable? Do you think he’ll thrive in the Patriots “way” (gag)?

Ben: I could see him performing well and not having the stats to blow people’s minds.

Ben: Absolutely the former. GT Baseball has been far from amazing this year. It would be a miracle for them to get hot enough to host a regional.

Jake: In my advanced metrics, I currently have Tech baseball as the last team in the NCAA tournament, but even that feels lucky, given right now, they’re on the outside looking in of the ACC tournament. If they miss that, well, they’re straight out of luck for trying to make it into the NCAAs. I would firmly say that hosting is entirely infeasible at this point. As much as I try to always be positive, at the best given their current resume, I think they’re a bubble team.

Jack: What Jake said. Can’t host if you don’t even make the ACC tournament. I would be more surprised if they get hot and find a way into a secure at-large bid. They haven’t shown consistency against the best of the ACC at any point this season. They can outhit mid-majors to death, but put any sophisticated pitcher on the mound, and we look like a very different team. Would love to see them make the NCAA tournament of course because it’s never a bad thing to make it to that stage of the season, but they have some work to do.

Ben: I’m just gonna defer to Jake here.

Jake: Ben saved the best for last this week. I want to start off my answer to this by offering one huge caveat to what I’m about to say, and that the latent public will is there inside the Perimeter for MARTA to be expanded. It showed up in the polls when More MARTA was voted on; it is something that more people are talking about openly, advocating for as a matter of public discourse, and something folks are questioning the absence of in their neighborhood. This is a sentiment that seems to have grown, in anecdotal experience.

That said, I think that the long-term public opinion of specifically the More MARTA initiative was kneecapped from the start, given the extensive list of several dozen potential projects presented to voters, and there being essentially no potential that list could have been funded by the tax. That alone sets the program up to be viewed by the general public as a failure regardless, even if building the entire list would have never been the plan, given the expectations the full set of potential projects set in people’s minds. From the original ideation, the list was cut down a few years back to a limited, phased set of projects, and then again more recently, when the shortfall was announced. More than anything, though, is the lack of delivery in the past seven years since the initiative passed that harms More MARTA. Even enhanced bus service, which is being implemented, hardly moves the needle for most, given that it didn’t do much to increase frequency or coverage. This was supposed to be paired with a network redesign, which may have at least have addressed those somewhat, and provided meaningful benefits to perception, given they are the two biggest limiting factors behind people using transit. Essentially, it boils down to questions along the lines of: will the train show up, will the bus take me where I want to go, and how long will I have to wait for the streetcar? If answering those are difficult to ascertain or negative, folks will choose their car, a rideshare, or to walk when they might have otherwise used transit, out of some combination of convenience or necessity. This doesn’t even address the last-mile problem, which is exacerbated by the apparent disappearance of the Relay shared bike system for reasons unknown, not that Relay falls within the purview of MARTA.

Ultimately, any expansion, be it rail, bus rapid transit, or streetcar, is most valuable when it speed travel times and increases frequency and quality of service. I think More MARTA’s impending improved arterial bus routes on Cleveland and Metropolitan will provide both of those corridors with meaningful improvements in speed, frequency, and waiting amenities. Bus rapid transit on Hank Aaron in Summerhill will be a great first implementation of a relatively cost-effective way to provide a higher-order, fast and frequent service. The Streetcar East expansion, especially if paired with reasonably straightforward, yet meaningful improvements like dedicated lanes on streets, can show the potential to be had from reviving the streetcar network that essentially built the intown neighborhoods Atlantans know and enjoy today. That said, other projects, specifically Campbellton Road and Clifton Corridor, may suffer due to the perception of being downgrades from long-promised rail transit, may be perceived as an emotional slight due to value-engineering, which is difficult to overcome. Paired with the even shorter list of projects than many expected, there is real challenge facing the initiative. It doesn’t help that projects like Northside Drive BRT, seemingly a high-potential corridor along with one with high visibility like other segments of Beltline rail, are not close to design or implementation.

But, ultimately, I think MARTA is increasingly seen as a positive neighborhood asset, something to hold officials accountable to provide, and something perceived as a future-proofing requirement given the realities of climate, traffic, and freedom of movement concerns. It just may not be something that More MARTA, as a specific initiative, can deliver as originally laid out, perceived or otherwise, which could potentially harm whatever comes next.

I think there will be a lot more confidence in progress when the shovels hit the ground on Clifton, Campbellton, or, likely soonest, Hank Aaron. From there, we can only hope for positive inertia. In the long term, I remain hopeful.