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Simone Biles is the best athlete of all time.

Simone Biles on her best night is better than any athlete has ever been at any sport. Ever. Simone Biles on her worst night, like she had at Day One of Nationals this year after putting up three subpar routines for her standards, still ended up in first place by more than two points.

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This is a great article from Slate about the Queen of Athleticism, Simone Biles.

Over the weekend she debuted two new skills at Nationals. On the first night, she landed a double twisting double somersault off the beam, but she flubbed her landing on floor exercise — a triple twisting double somersault that no woman has ever attempted and very few men (zero in the US) can even land.

She stuck it on night two.

Ladies, gentlemen, and friends beyond the binary, allow me to introduce you to the tripledouble: a double back somersault with three twists spread out over the two flips. In men’s gymnastics, it’s called the Ri Jong Song, after the North Korean who debuted it at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Among the few male elites who can land this monster is none other than legendary Japanese twister Kenzo Shirai (who can also, impossibly, do it in the layout position). It’s also been competed by gymnastics’ king, 21-time world medalist Kohei Uchimura—who a few weeks ago gushed in Japanese on Twitter about Biles’ technique. Since Biles already has a floor element named in her honor, when she completes the triple double in Stuttgart, in the Women’s Code of Points it will be christened the Biles II. (If you are eager for it, and why wouldn’t you be, there’s a super-slo-mo video.)

(cont. Slate)

Last year I read something from ESPN calling Simone Biles the most dominant athlete in *any* sport (x), and you can’t really argue with that. Simone has won Gold at Nationals six times, and the only reason it wasn’t 7 in a row is because she took a year — an entire year! — off after the Olympics and didn’t compete at all.

For every person who says Roger Federer is the best tennis player, there’s another who says it’s Rafa Nadal (even Novak Djokovic has his supporters).

For every person who says Lebron James is the best player in the NBA right now, there’s another who will say it’s Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, or James Harden.

Serena Williams is the closest to Simone’s level, but as she’s shown time and time again, she’s beatable. Even if Serena is playing her best tennis, there are players that can keep up with her.

Simone Biles fell (she almost fell on her face) and still beat the next competitor by over four points. She could have fallen four more times and still won. That’s how dominant Simone Biles is. If she is at the meet, everyone else is aiming for second place. Her competitors say that openly — their goal is second place, because beating Simone Biles is almost inconceivable.

Simone Biles on her best night is better than any athlete has ever been at any sport. Ever. Simone Biles on her worst night, like she had at Day One of Nationals this year after putting up three subpar routines for her standards, still ended up in first place by more than two points.

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Movies

Hot Takes: Crack (Netflix 2021)

Imagine if we had treated Black people on crack the way we’re treating white people on opioids. 

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1. America owes Black people everything. If you can watch Crack and not be completely disgusted with every politician who made this happen, from Reagan to Clinton, Biden to Rangel, Bush to O’Neill, we don’t have anything to talk about politically. Your fundamental understanding of America’s relationship to Black people is fatally flawed and there’s no middle ground for us to come to.

2. There’s no understanding of mass incarceration, the militarization of local law enforcement, cash bail, asset forfeiture, police brutality, or any other reform of the justice system without an understanding of how crack is the foundation for all of it. Every problem we recognize today that relates to the justice system was either created or hugely exacerbated by the crack epidemic.

3. I went into Crack with a basic understanding of the big building blocks of the epidemic. Cocaine was expensive. Crack (which is just cocaine without the salt, and that makes it able to be smoked) was cheaper and could be sold more easily. Crack was more addictive because the high was immediate. Cocaine made its way to the US from Central America. The system overpoliced crack because it was Black people doing it and left cocaine alone because it was white people doing it. I didn’t know the details. 80s US History isn’t my area, so I was honestly shocked that the United States government let cocaine into the country because they were more concerned with making sure Nicaragua had a government they liked than they were with Black and Latino families ripped apart by crack cocaine. Just when you thought you couldn’t loathe this country more, you find another piece of the puzzle.

4. I had no idea crack was that profitable!!! I knew a lot of people made a lot of money, but I didn’t know there were regular guys out here buying motels and movie theaters with their crack profits. How did they pay for it? With a bag of cash? When you hit millions of dollars a day, don’t you have to launder that cash? How is that much cash changing hands and no federal agency blinks?

5. I highly recommend listening to the episode of You’re Wrong About on crack babies either before or immediately after you watch Crack. Full Disclosure: You’re Wrong About is currently my favorite podcast because the topics are immaculately researched. The one on gangs also ties in well with this documentary, because “gang warfare” really exploded with the rise of crack in the inner cities. In case you couldn’t tell from the title, everything you think you understand about crack babies (or how gangs operate) is completely wrong, and the narrative you’ve been fed is based on racist white people using crack and guns to justify their irrational fears of Black people.

6. Black people have every reason to mistrust the healthcare industry in this country. We talk about the history of gynecology and the Tuskegee Experiment, but I didn’t know doctors and nurses were turning in mothers addicted to crack who were asking for help!! They really went baiting Black women into telling them they were on crack so they could lock them up for getting their babies hooked on crack in the womb (spoiler alert: those babies weren’t even addicted to anything).

7. There’s no smoking gun, and therefore, the US government doesn’t feel they owe us anything. This country refuses to take responsibility for anything, but we should add crack to the list of ills because America created the circumstances that led to crack destroying a generation of Black families. The Reagan administration concentrated wealth into the hands of few while unemployment soared (and Black unemployment was double the national rate). There were no jobs and no money in the inner cities, and then crack showed up. It was a fast way to make money so you could feed your family and keep a roof over your head. More crack showed up because the CIA either assisted or ignored the planes and planes of cocaine being brought up from Nicaragua, planes that had been full of guns and supplies we supplied to the Contras to take back the Nicaraguan government. More crack meant more money which meant more dealers which meant turf wars. Turf wars meant shootouts and deaths of innocent bystanders just going to the grocery store, all of which the police ignored because they were stealing from the dealers and selling crack themselves or taking payoffs from the kingpins…until a cop died and then it was war on our communities for an epidemic the US Government created.

8. Imagine if we had treated Black people on crack the way we’re treating white people on opioids.

9. It’s a short, brisk, 90-minuted documentary, but it could’ve used another 90, or perhaps a series to really dig into the chapters it sets up. The documentary doesn’t do enough to debunk the myths of crack babies who grow up to be superpredators. I want to hear more from the reformed addicts and dealers — how did they escape crack while so many others didn’t? How did that one guy make it out of the hood and become a neuroscientist while his friends were selling crack? The Iran-Contra Affair gets more detail than I expected and I can’t believe I learned that whole story in school without the added detail that we let drug dealers send planes full of cocaine here — I want more about that. I want more detail about how the media helped create this and I want more attention to the politicians who destroyed our community because they were trying to one-up each other to be toughest guy on the block. It’s a heavy documentary, but it’s a good overview of crack and how we’re still feeling the repercussions of America’s costliest war ($1 trillion and counting).

Score: 8/10

 

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The Real Housewives of New Jersey trailer is out.

Will this be the first Housewives franchise to actually produce a successful COVID Season?

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Let’s just suspend belief for a moment and pretend half this cast isn’t Trump Trash because it’s 2021 and if I wanna be a hypocrite and watch rich white Republican ladies on television that’s what I’m gonna do. The new trailer for season 11 is here and y’all. I’m sold! Will this be the first Housewives franchise to actually produce a successful COVID Season?

New Jersey has had highs and lows but I am genuinely excited for this new season so let’s just run it down real quick in order of Cast Importance (To Me):

6) Jackie

I like Jackie, so she’s not bottom of the barrel because she’s awful, but she’s still relatively new and I don’t know exactly what she’s bringing to this new season other than tears and (more?) lip fillers. Are we to believe that her husband is hooking up behind her back at the gym? I don’t believe it for one second, but I do believe someone like Teresa might hear that rumor somewhere and then bring it to the show because she hates Jackie. And Teresa is by far the dumbest Housewife ever cast on any franchise. She can barely tell the difference between a rock and a potato, so I know she’s not smart enough to separate fact from fiction.

5) Margaret

What ingredients does Marge bring to the New Jersey casserole without Danielle as her arch nemesis? I’m intrigued by this fight in the trailer where she’s yelling at her husband, but I can’t imagine what actual sin would be committed by Marge’s Joe (not to be confused with Teresa’s Ex Joe, or Melissa’s Joe — dear god can we get some new names on The Joe Show?). From what I can tell, and admittedly I do not pay super close attention to anything in New Jersey, Joe seems to be the Holy Trinity of Boring Husbands — no personality, no job, and no sneaking around behind Marge’s back — so I’m almost positive that scene is just a blip in the context of the rest of the season.

4) Dolores

New Jersey’s Favorite Undercover Mulattress is back because Teresa has to have a ride or die in the cast or the show won’t work. Thankfully, that means her ex-husband Frank is back, who I love and adore and would let [censored for family audiences]. Dolores has recently been pretending she has value to the cast outside of Teresa, so I’m mildly interested to find out why she’s throwing everybody out of her house. However, I’m still more interested in her Ancestry Dot Com results than anything else because that lady has a Black grandparent I swear to god.

3) Melissa

Speaking of Househusbands I would let [censored again stop judging me], my favorite Meatball Guido is as juiced up as ever, and if I wasn’t so concerned about my health and well-being, I would run headfirst into that sexy ball of roid rage. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it forever until Andy listens to me, Joe Gorga is the best Real Housewife who’s never been given a contract, closely followed by Marlo and Sutton. Props to Melissa for being just interesting enough to stay on the screen and build enough notoriety for herself to be slightly independent, but if she wasn’t married to Joe, she would’ve been on for two-seasons at best. Joe would still film because Teresa is his sister, and that drama is what made New Jersey great to me back in the day. Family drama always has a lil more seasoning than drama manufactured by rich white women loosely connected through social circles and a television contract. Joe Gorga is as much of a crook as Joe Giudice and I’m ready to watch that play out with the two wheels spinning in Teresa’s empty head before one falls off the axle and rattles around while she tries to find a coherent argument. Also, does it need to be said that I am very much here for Frank kissing Joe’s ass? [The next five sentences are censored, but may appear on Nifty Dot Com] Joe, if you get sent to prison and Melissa leaves you, I’m available for conjugal visits.

2) Teresa

Teresa is an idiot, but the show doesn’t work without her. No cast is as tied to one cast member as New Jersey is tied to Teresa. They stopped production for a whole year because they couldn’t film without her while she was in jail. That is the only reason she’s number two for me. Thankfully, Teresa is single and ready to mingle. She’s rich, she’s toned, and she’s pushed her hairline back over the years, so the men she is bringing around to mingle with are a welcome distraction from her limited grasp of the English language. I’m still voting for the poolboy with diamond cutters for nipples, but literally anybody is a step up from the Koopa Troopa she was previously married to.

1) Jennifer

Oh Jennifer. What an iconic Housewife very much in danger of flaming out too soon. Mrs. Aydin is flying very close to the sun, but Jennifer is what happens when a fan gets cast and fulfills the assignment correctly as opposed to whatever Drew and Latoya are doing in Atlanta. Jennifer is juuuusssst delusional enough to blow a fight out of proportion, but not so out of touch that she’s hard to watch. She’s an instigator with a touching family storyline, a fresh new face, and an even fresher drinking problem…that may damage her new mug because mama was face down on the concrete! What’s the story?! I need to know where this booze spiral is coming from! We already know her husband can’t hold his liquor, so do we have two slushbags stumbling around that big ugly mansion (that they bought just for the show because they thought their old house was too small and that’s why she couldn’t get cast initially)?

Anyway, I think this season of New Jersey will surprise us. The girls are looking goodt and the boys are looking messy and the stories are looking dramatic and only slightly manufactured so I’m here for it. Bring on the Jersey trash. I love judging people.

 

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Movies

Hot Takes: Soul

Soul made me feel better about my life, and that’s a big task for a kids’ movie.

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*** There are no spoilers about the overall plot of the movie, as in, I’m not giving away what happens to the main characters, but there are spoilers about certain aspects of the movie, because I couldn’t do hot takes without questioning some of the decisions that were made along the way.

1) A lot of Black people worked on this movie. I haven’t looked it up, but I just know they did because the hair in this movie is the best animated depiction of our textures I have ever seen!!! And the conversational beats are right. You cannot get that rhythm of a Black barbershop or that cadence of two old Black women chatting unless you are intimately familiar with the culture. Good job!

2) Props to Pixar for making Dortohea Williams a boss saxophone player as opposed to the usual Black Female Singer fronting a band. I hope more little Black girls pick up the saxophone…as opposed to the clarinet. Also, gotta mention the little girl who was a boss on the trombone. I’ve only met one female trombone player in my entire life, and I love that.

3) While we’re on gender…if you open the door for a conversation, you have to handle that conversation correctly. The world-building sets up the point, very clearly, that these souls have no gender, and yet 22 is “she” when they talk about them. It’s not something to hate the movie for, but it’s something to think about, because we are having these conversations with non-binary people about ways to make the public more receptive to they/them pronouns, and this was one of the only perfect instances I’ve ever seen in media, but Pixar dropped the ball. 22 is explicitly stated to be genderless, so why gender them? You could argue that 22 picked a white woman’s voice so she/her “makes sense” but voices have no gender, 22 can do many voices, and we don’t know who 22 will actually be once they’re born. There are far more reasons to use they/them which outweigh the one debatable reason to use she/her.

4) While we’re on opening the door…I understand the comedic effect of giving 22 a middle-aged white woman voice, a Karen if you will. They went for the slight wink-nudge-takedown because we’re in the middle of the White Women are Annoying zeitgeist and they decided to ride that wave. However, there was literally one moment of payoff, a set up for one joke, but we spend the rest of the movie with that white woman’s voice coming out of a Black man’s mouth. It didn’t make me hate the movie, but it just irked me a little because none of the plot would have been lost by having that voice be a young boy or an old Black woman or simply not pointing out that 22 has the voice of a 40-year-old white woman. It’s like Get Out, the animated version. I don’t really need a white woman riding around inside of a Black man for a whole movie.

5) Nothing I love about the movie is negated by the last two points I made, but they were casting and story decisions I wish hadn’t been made. Those two decisions don’t progress or affect the plot in any way while unnecessarily pulling you out of the movie to wonder why they went the path of least consideration as opposed to taking the more thoughtful, responsible route.

6) The little unborn souls are cute. Pixar never fails to make young tiny things adorable.

7) I love everything about the plot. I absolutely love the double-sided nature of The Zone, where such a thin line separates passion and obsession. I love what Soul has to say about purpose and life. I love the idea that a lot of our personality traits are baked in from birth, because I have literally been grumpy my entire life. I’m always teetering on the edge of Emotional Calamity, and Soul is that rare movie that made me breathe and feel better about everything. The flashbacks Joe saw of his life when we first meet 22 — the mundane, the rejection, the lack of fulfillment — is how I typically see my life.  The flashbacks Joe saw of his life when he was playing piano — the people he touched, the joys he experienced, the lasting impact he made — is how I never look at my life, but how I’m going to try looking at my life going forward.

8) Cast Phylicia Rashad and Angela Bassett in more animated films. I can recognize their respective voices anywhere and they instantly elevate any project.

Score: 8/10 

 

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