Stanford DailyStanford Daily 8/26/2016 Fri, 26 Aug 2016 22:14:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Glam Grads Q&A: Nika Soon-Shiong on working at the intersection of international studies, creative writing Fri, 26 Aug 2016 08:00:36 +0000  

Courtesy of Nika Soon-Shiong

Courtesy of Nika Soon-Shiong

Nika Soon-Shiong B.A. ’15 M.A. ’16 is a passionate storyteller who led a “photovoice” project on youth unemployment in Nyanga, Cape Town and Gaborone, Botswana as part of her African Studies research. Through her photovoice project, Soon-Shiong sought to help members of the communities she visited be heard by giving them cameras and asking them to document their experiences. In this edition of Glam Grads, The Daily talked with Soon-Shiong about her project and her other work at the intersection of her two passions, international studies and creative writing.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): Can you tell me about yourself and your journey to Stanford?

Nika Soon-Shiong (NS): I grew up in LA and was always interested in international development. I did Model United Nations in high school, and I knew that coming to Stanford, I wanted to explore creative writing and how that could intertwine with international studies.

TSD: What about international studies and writing do you find interesting?

NS: I have always been passionate about telling stories and advocating for others who do not have the opportunity to tell their own stories. I have always been trying to marry those two interests, whether that has meant delving into journalism or highlighting views or parts of the world that need to be highlighted. And that can mean amplifying voices on the global stage that need to be amplified … in order to increase situations of justice on a national scale.

TSD: How did you realize you wanted to combine your interests in international studies and writing?

NS: I used to think of my interest in writing and interest in international studies as two interests that lived in silence. But when I read Samantha Power’s “Problems from Hell,” that was a big moment for me where I just put the book down and realized that her interest in journalism and storytelling had very much informed her in her actions as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. And that was a crystallizing moment for me in terms of how I could marry my two interests.

TSD: What have you been doing so far to pursue your passions?

NS: I did a photovoice project the summer of my junior and senior year. Basically, it is a community-based participatory research method where you give members of a community a camera and ask them to document and explore their experience with a particular issue.

I was in Nyanga, a township outside of Cape Town, when I made a photovoice project that explored unemployment amongst township youth. I asked them on one hand, to capture the aspects of the community that inspire them, and on the other hand, [to capture] the aspects of the community that make it hard to find a job.

The photovoice project really grew out of my feeling and my sense that the best way I could serve the beneficiaries of the life skills and job training program in Nyanga was to listen, and to create spaces for them to share their stories in public and private settings. It wasn’t an exhibition that showcased all that is negative in Nyanga, but rather something that tried to do justice to the beauty as well — and create a more well rounded picture of the participants’ experiences.

Then, I continued this project in Gaborone, Botswana last summer at the Baylor Pediatric Aids Initiative.

TSD: What are some prior jobs you’ve had related to your interests?

NS: I was an intern at TeachAIDS, a nonprofit Piya Sorcar runs out of Palo Alto. I got to do some writing for grants, awards application writing, and the company won one of the awards that I wrote the application for, which was really exciting for me. I got to do some blog writing for them which was really fantastic. I got to explore the work they were doing via writing their blog, and reading their blog, over and over again and making notes and edits wherever I saw necessary. And it is such a small company, so I also got to see how hectic it can be sometimes.

TSD: What is an interesting fact about yourself?

NS: I am learning to speak five languages: English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Xhosa.

TSD: What are your future plans?

NS: In terms of future plans, I want a career where I can use my writing, research and analysis skills to contribute to the international development space. As of now, I’m not sure if this will be in an academic, government or nonprofit setting.


Contact Meghna Gaddam at meghna.gaddam ‘at’

]]> 0 image00 Courtesy of Nika Soon-Shiong
Football preview: Quarterback Fri, 26 Aug 2016 06:06:44 +0000 This is the fifth of a 12-part preview of the 2016 football season.Part 1 focused on the running backs and fullbacks. Part 2 featured a roundtable on the offense. Part 3 focused on the tight ends and receivers. Part 4 focused on the offensive line.

In a nutshell

In David Shaw’s words, “the quarterback’s job is to deal the cards.” With a pro-style offense like Stanford’s, the quarterback needs to make good decisions and think quick, but at the end of the day, as Shaw sees it, his most important duty is to put the ball in the hands of his playmakers and lead the team down the field.

Granted, that’s an easy statement to make when you have the dealers that Shaw has had over his tenure at Stanford. After long reigns at the helm from both Andrew Luck and Kevin Hogan, the next Stanford quarterback will look to make his mark in Cardinal lore as the season begins in just a week.

For the time being, that quarterback will be senior Ryan Burns. Shaw made the announcement just yesterday, saying that while Burns and junior Keller Chryst have been “mostly neck-and-neck the whole way,” Burns has been “just a little bit ahead.” Burns will get the start against Kansas State, marking Stanford’s first game without Kevin Hogan under center in three and a half years.

But the battle is far from over. As opposed to the start of the 2012 season, when Josh Nunes was named the outright starter over Brett Nottingham, the opener will see both Burns and Chryst taking snaps. Even as Burns has started to take a majority of reps in practices, Chryst will be involved to some capacity. Given how late into camp the announcement came, it’s certainly possible that Shaw may change his mind as the season goes on, but for the time being, Burns will be leading Stanford’s first drive of the year.

Having questions at the quarterback position is an unfamiliar spot for Stanford, and given the player Hogan became last season, the comparisons are surely forthcoming. But to Shaw, such comparisons aren’t worth making.

“We only gave Kevin what he was ready for, and it’s the same thing here, we’ll give these guys what they’re ready for,” Shaw said about his two quarterbacks. “Thankfully they’re ready for quite a bit. You’re talking about a fourth-year senior and a third-year junior. Both these guys have been around this offense for quite some time now.”

For both Burns and Chryst, as well as freshman phenom and third-string quarterback K.J. Costello, the pieces surrounding them are plentiful. Whether it’s a pitch to junior Christian McCaffrey or sophomore Bryce Love, or a deep throw to fifth-year senior Michael Rector, there are a lot of ways that the Cardinal offense can dazzle. But it starts with a capable quarterback who can deal the cards. But with an offense like Stanford’s, it’s easier said than done.

“I’m three years in and and I’m just getting comfortable,” Burns said. “That’s the kind of offense we’re in.”


Junior Keller Chryst will see action in the season opener against Kansas State on Sept. 2, head coach David Shaw said. (BOB DREBIN/

Who’s returning?

Ryan Burns — Burns’ starting nod is a meaningful one, and it certainly demonstrates the improvements he’s made since arriving to The Farm. Since his days of running the triple option at Stone Bridge High School in Virginia, Burns has learned a lot in the shadow of Kevin Hogan. He’s completed just one pass in his Stanford career, against UC Davis in 2014. Last year, he came in in four games, rushing 4 times for 13 yards. But if the touchdown pass he threw to sophomore Trent Irwin in this year’s Spring Game is any indication, Burns has quite some talent as a pure passer, and he’ll certainly have chances to get his arsenal of wideouts involved.

Keller Chryst — Chryst is, in a lot of ways, pretty similar to Burns, both in terms of skill set and build (both are listed at 6-foot-5, while Chryst is listed at 236 pounds, compared to Burns’ 232). Last year, he came in just a bit more than Burns, and certainly got to pass more as he completed 5-of-9 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. He also delivered a pretty memorable block in Stanford’s game against Arizona, highlighting his tenacity and reputation as a pretty physical player. And while he isn’t starting against Kansas State, Shaw knows he’ll do what it takes to make the Cardinal better.

“He’s a great teammate,” Shaw said of Chryst. “He understands the coaching decision, but he also knows he’ll have a chance to influence the game, and he’s excited about it. He should be—he’s earned it.”


Newcomers to watch for

K.J. Costello — The jewel of the 2016 recruiting class and perhaps the quarterback of the future for Stanford, Costello will get to watch from the bench for at least one year. The high school standout set 19 school records at Santa Margarita Catholic. He was one of the Cardinal’s earliest commits, which is certainly a sign of his excitement for the organization. The excitement definitely goes both ways, as Costello’s size, accuracy, strength and quickness make him a sensational player to keep an eye out for.


After a rocky start to the 2015 campaign, Kevin Hogan (middle) led the Cardinal to the No. 3 spot in the final AP poll. (KEVIN HSU/The Stanford Daily)

After a rocky start to the 2015 campaign, Kevin Hogan (middle) led the Cardinal to the No. 3 spot in the final AP poll. (KEVIN HSU/The Stanford Daily)

Key departures

Kevin Hogan — Hogan played himself into Stanford history over the last few years, gaining a reputation for tremendous leadership and big plays. It worked out well for Hogan, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs and remains in the mix for backup quarterback. But it certainly leaves a void for Stanford. The memories of Kevin Hogan will remain with Stanford fans for a long time: the perfect record against UCLA, the drive against Notre Dame last season. And Burns, Chryst and Costello will look to continue the lineage of strong Stanford quarterbacks this year.


Projected depth chart

  1. Ryan Burns
  2. Keller Chryst
  3. K.J. Costello

Others: Brent Peus, Jack Richardson


Contact Sandip Srinivas at sandip ‘at’

]]> 0 Keller Chryst Sophomore quarterback Keller Chryst may see playing time this Saturday against Oregon State due to senior quarterback Kevin Hogan's ankle injury. (BOB DREBIN/ SPO.100715.fb After a rocky start to the 2015 campaign, Kevin Hogan (middle) led the Cardinal to the No. 3 spot in the final AP poll. (KEVIN HSU/The Stanford Daily)
Football preview: Offensive line Thu, 25 Aug 2016 11:19:16 +0000 This is the fourth of a 12-part preview of the 2016 football season.Part 1 focused on the running backs and fullbacks. Part 2 featured a roundtable on the offense. Part 3 focused on the tight ends and receivers.

In a nutshell

Christian McCaffrey gets all the headlines and magazine covers, and Ryan Burns gets all the media buzz as Stanford’s newly minted starting quarterback, but everyone around The Farm knows the universal truth that football games are, first and foremost, won and lost in the trenches.

Blue-chip dominance on the offensive line was a huge part of what spurred Stanford’s rise to national dominance in the last decade, and we saw in 2014 just how badly things could go wrong with shaky offensive line play from the Cardinal. It’s no coincidence that Stanford’s surge back to the Rose Bowl last season and one of the best offensive seasons in school history coincided with the maturation of the program’s best offensive line recruiting class ever.

With that in mind, the major “if” that could trip up a Stanford offense returning most of its skill players from last year’s legendary campaign concerns the fact that the Cardinal will have to replace three of their offensive linemen from last season. And those are pretty significant losses: Along with two-year starting center Graham Shuler, they lose Josh Garnett — the winner of the Outland Trophy (awarded to the nation’s best interior lineman) — and Kyle Murphy, who should make the Green Bay Packers’ roster this season.

In their absence, the Cardinal will ask junior center Jesse Burkett to assume a starting role after seeing limited action last season in garbage time, while versatile veteran David “Salty Dave” Bright isn’t yet locked into a position but appears locked into a starting role. Bright’s position will likely depend on the outcome of the battle between juniors Brandon Fanaika and A.T. Hall for the final vacancy.

That trio will join fifth-year senior Johnny Caspers, a team captain that will start for a third straight season at right guard, and junior Casey Tucker, who will flip to protect Burns’ blind side at left tackle after steadily maturing at right tackle for the Cardinal last season.

It’s unfair to immediately expect the new-look 2016 offensive line to have growing pains before they’ve even had a chance to prove themselves on the field, but Stanford fans should absolutely be prepared for the possibility that a brutal gauntlet of Kansas State, USC, UCLA and Washington to open the season could result in another shaky transition for Stanford’s new starters up front.

Of course, there’s also the chance that they might hit the ground running and not struggle at all — they’re certainly talented enough for that — but it’s impossible to tell what the strengths and weaknesses of the new-look Tunnel Workers’ Union will be until they’ve had a chance to step onto a real football field and face real opponents. Until then, we can only speculate.

What’s not speculation, though, is that the success of Stanford’s offensive line will be one of the most pivotal factors in determining whether the Cardinal will knock on the door of the College Football Playoff or limp into another Foster Farms Bowl this season.

Junior Casey Tucker (right) will flip from right tackle to left tackle as one of two returning starters on the Cardinal's offensive line. (BOB DREBIN/

Junior Casey Tucker (right) will flip from right tackle to left tackle as one of two returning starters on the Cardinal’s offensive line. (BOB DREBIN/

Who’s returning?

Casey Tucker (LT) — The former four-star recruit out of Arizona was the youngest of Stanford’s starting offensive linemen last season, and that certainly showed at times over the course of 14 starts at right tackle. But by the end of the year, Tucker had developed into a experienced, well-rounded tackle that formed the final piece of Stanford’s clockwork offensive line, and Stanford will ask him to take the next step by moving him across the line to defend the blind side of the team’s shiny new starting quarterback. Kyle Murphy made a similar transition from 2014 to 2015 and didn’t miss a beat, and Tucker, who played primarily left tackle in high school, reportedly didn’t take long to adjust back to the left side over the course of the offseason. He’s focused his work on pass protection this offseason and, as a true junior, he’s ready to anchor the left side of the line in 2016 and could continue to develop into one of the best in the conference in his senior season.

Johnny Caspers (RG) — Voted a team captain by his peers a week ago, Caspers was part of the last offensive line facelift in 2014 and will be tasked with leading his position group through another such transition in 2016. Although he was overshadowed by left guard Josh Garnett last season, who was quite literally the best in the nation at his job, David Shaw would always remind the media that Caspers was quietly developing into a stellar offensive lineman and a respected leader on the roster — not quite as vocal as Shuler and Garnett, but impactful nonetheless. He was named to both Phil Steele’s and Athlon’s All-Pac-12 preseason second teams for the 2016 season and should provide a welcome oasis of consistency amidst a (literal) ton of moving pieces, though it remains to be seen if he will reprise his role as the short-yardage center. By the way, ask him about his research with worms.

David Bright (LG/RT) — “Salty Dave” is bigger than you, he’s stronger than you, he’s angrier than you, and he’s smarter than you. The biomechanical engineering major was Stanford’s go-to extra offensive lineman last season and saw significant action in the Cardinal’s heavy sets and goal-line packages playing both on the line and in a sort of H-back blocker position. He has the technique and the know-how to start (and excel) at both guard and tackle, and he’ll likely start at left guard if junior tackle A.T. Hall wins a starting job, or at right tackle if junior guard Brandon Fanaika instead comes out on top. If you need a reminder of what he’s capable of, just remember last season’s Oregon State game, when he entered at left tackle to replace an injured Kyle Murphy, and played well enough that a large chunk of Stanford fans didn’t even realize a change had occurred.

Junior tackle A.T. Hall (above) is in the competition for the final starting spot on Stanford's offensive line. He would start at right tackle. (JIM SHORIN/

Junior tackle A.T. Hall (above) is in the competition for the final starting spot on Stanford’s offensive line. He would start at right tackle. (JIM SHORIN/

Newcomers to watch for

Jesse Burkett (C) — Burkett will be pressed into action one year earlier than expected after Graham Shuler decided to forgo his fifth year and retire from football, but he appears ready for the spotlight after beating out sophomore Brian Chaffin for the starting job early in an impressive training camp. Burkett is a naturally quiet guy, but his keen intellect has reportedly helped him grasp the cerebral center position quickly, in which he will be responsible for not just blocking, but also reading opposing defenses and making pre-snap calls on the line. As has been tradition with previous Stanford backup centers, Burkett developed the mental part of his game in high-pressure situations with the “whiteboard” role on the sideline during game days, in which he helped diagram what was going on the field to aid the Cardinal’s coaches in making quick in-game adjustments as games unfolded.

A.T. Hall (RT) — Hall appears to be the favorite in the competition for the final starting spot on the offensive line after taking the majority of the snaps with the first-team line in the last few practices. The former three-star recruit out of Arizona primarily saw action last season in Stanford’s field goal packages (and would often be the first one off the sideline to jump into celebrations on the field after touchdowns, since he’d be needed for extra points) and played with the second-team line during the Cardinal and White Spring Game before making a strong progression over the course of the offseason to push guard Brandon Fanaika into a competition for the starting role. Even if he doesn’t win the starting job, he’s sure to see a huge workload this season given Stanford’s propensity to use extra linemen early and often — and offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren has said that Hall is among the six linemen that have stood head and shoulders above the rest of the pack in fall camp.

Brandon Fanaika (LG) — Fanaika seems to be on the cusp of losing his grasp on a starting role that appeared to be his after the end of last season, but as is the case with Hall, he is one of Bloomgren’s six preferred linemen, and so will see lots of action regardless of whether he ends up starting or not. If he earns the starting job, it would likely be as Garnett’s replacement at left guard, where he played in the Cardinal and White Spring Game with the first-team line and also saw game action in garbage time situations last year, though he was primarily used as an extra fullback in Stanford’s short-yardage “hippo” package. He is a former four-star recruit and was the ninth-best offensive guard in the nation as a high school senior in 2011 before he took a two-year mission prior to his Stanford enrollment.

Nick Wilson (G) — Although Bloomgren says there’s a significant gap between the Cardinal’s top six linemen and everyone else, he also says that Wilson, a sophomore, is the first man out and could factor into the playing time discussion this season. He redshirted last season but played right guard with the second-team line during the Cardinal and White Spring Game. He is likely a year away from seeing significant snaps, but could eventually be a candidate to hit the field as Stanford’s “ogre” lineman.

Nate Herbig (G) — The final lineman that Bloomgren pointed out as having impressed during fall camp has been true freshman Nate Herbig, who lives up to the “big” in his name by being listed at a whopping 350 pounds (that’s not a typo) on the Cardinal’s official roster. The Hawaiian has reportedly proven adept at moving other large human beings out of his way (really, no surprises there) and might see some time on the field as early as this year if Bloomgren can find situations to work him in.

Guard Joshua Garnett (left) won the Outland Trophy last season, awarded to the nation's best interior lineman, before being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Guard Joshua Garnett (left) won the Outland Trophy last season, awarded to the nation’s best interior lineman, before being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Key departures

Joshua Garnett (LG) — Stanford will sorely miss heavy Josh Garnett, a five-star recruit who struggled with his technique when he first broke through as a starter in 2014 but quickly developed into the best guard in the nation as a senior in 2015 and being awarded an Outland Trophy for his troubles. Garnett got some time in the spotlight last season when he launched Washington safety JoJo McIntosh into low-earth orbit with a hellacious block in space, and though most of his plays weren’t so flashy, his elite blocking helped make McCaffrey’s historic season possible. Not only was he a great lineman, but Garnett was also one of the most vocal presences in Stanford’s locker room and a team captain before Chip Kelly’s San Francisco 49ers wisely snatched him up in the first round of the NFL Draft. He’s actually in the race for the Niners’ starting left guard spot, so keep an eye on that as the season draws closer. His true finest hour in a Stanford uniform was undoubtedly in the 2012 Lawry’s Beef Bowl, when he ate upwards of 10 pounds of beef in one sitting.

Kyle Murphy (LT) — There were concerns that Kevin Hogan’s blind side would be more vulnerable after Andrus Peat declared for the NFL Draft following his junior season, but those concerns were quickly put to rest last season when Murphy flipped from right to left tackle and made a seamless transition from being a second-team All-Pac-12 selection as a junior to being a first-team All-Pac-12 selection as a senior playing a tougher position. The discipline and consistency he brought to Hogan’s blind side were second to none, and the Green Bay Packers, who snagged him in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, saw Murphy make a solid preseason debut after having been sidelined with a concussion for a few weeks.

Graham Shuler (C) — Shuler never really got showered with the accolades that his teammates on the line received last season, but he was a solid center and just about the best teammate anybody on the squad could ask for. The candid, outspoken Tennessee native became almost an unofficial spokesman for his teammates (there was no such thing as a bad Graham Shuler quote) and was particularly close with Christian McCaffrey. He elected to step away from football after the 2015 season in order to have time to pursue his passions off the field.


Projected depth chart

Casey Tucker
David Bright

David Bright
Brandon Fanaika

Jesse Burkett
Brian Chaffin

Johnny Caspers
Nick Wilson

A.T. Hall
David Bright

Others: Dylan Powell, Matthew Gutwald, Austin Maihen, Nate Herbig, Lucas Hinds, Clark Yarbrough, Devery Hamilton, Jack Dreyer, Henry Hattis


Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’

]]> 0 Casey Tucker Junior Casey Tucker (right) will flip from right tackle to left tackle as one of two returning starters on the Cardinal's offensive line. (BOB DREBIN/ A.T Hall Junior tackle A.T. Hall (above) is in the competition for the final starting spot on Stanford's offensive line. He would start at right tackle. (JIM SHORIN/ Sr. offensive guard Joshua Garnett (51) Guard Joshua Garnett (left) won the Outland Trophy last season, awarded to the nation's best interior lineman, before being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)
The Charged Particles, Paul McCandless perform together at Stanford Jazz Festival Thu, 25 Aug 2016 08:00:23 +0000 Grammy-winner Paul McCandless and Charged Particles, a jazz band trio that includes two Stanford faculty members, performed together for the first time at the Stanford Jazz Festival in a debut for their summer tour, which will continue through August and September.

(Stanford News)

(Stanford News)

Charged Particles features jazz piano lecturer Murray Low on the keyboard and Frederic O. Glover Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences Jon Krosnick on the drums, in addition to local musician Aaron Germaine playing the bass. The band’s summer collaborator, McCandless, is known for his work on the saxophone, oboe and English clarinet.

The band has collaborated with numerous artists in the past, such as Vietnamese-French guitarist Nguyen Le and Los Angeles drummer Peter Erskine. However, the group’s latest collaboration is different because McCandless has ties to the Bay Area, having lived there in the past. According to Krosnick, the group’s proximity to McCandless allows for a closer partnership.

“We actually had spent time together as a group,” Krosnick said. “Paul is actually staying at my home while he’s here, so that gives us an opportunity to let our families get to know each other. When we finally walk up on stage, we just start off the show with a smile.”

For their summer show, Charged Particles performs many pieces, most of them written by McCandless. The collaboration allowed McCandless to be not just a performer, but also a leader, McCandless said in a Q&A with the audience before the show.

“I’m honored to be playing with such high [quality] musicians,” McCandless said. “[Charged Particles] perform compositions quite seriously and play them with real artistry and style and creativity.”

Krosnick, who was a fan of McCandless’ music before meeting him, hopes that the collaboration will continue after the tour ends.

“[McCandless’ music is] complex and orchestrated in a way that requires a lot [of] rehearsal time and a lot of individual practice time,” Krosnick said. “We love to do performances that show our audience that we’ve [done] our homework for them.”

Charged Particles began 25 years ago with Krosnick and two other former members. The band’s current lineup is the group’s third generation and formed in 2011 after Krosnick moved to California.

Krosnick says performing at Stanford is a significant accomplishment, since, according to him, the Stanford Jazz Festival is one of the premiere jazz events in the world. It features big-name jazz artists like Ambrose Akinmusire, winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. Krosnick and Low have never performed in the festival before, despite both teaching at Stanford for several years. And now, Charged Particles didn’t just perform at the festival: It headlined on a Saturday night.

Krosnick called the honor a “huge treat.”

“Many, many musicians hope for that kind of thing, and I feel very, very lucky because there are plenty of players out there who are as talented or more talented than we are, but we are just lucky enough to get the spot to play on our home turf under a spotlight that is meaningful,” Krosnick said.


Contact Hannan Waliullah at htwaliullah ‘at’

]]> 0 Charged-Particles-Stanford News (Stanford News)
Men’s soccer set to continue dominance in home opener against Penn State Thu, 25 Aug 2016 05:56:21 +0000 The Stanford Men’s soccer team is off to a promising start for the 2016 season. The reigning National Champions, who beat Clemson 4-0 in the College Cup Final in Kansas City last December, have begun their preseason with the same drive and determination that got them back-to-back Pac-12 titles, and a 31-5-6 record over the last two seasons. Their 18 wins for the 2015 season were the second-most successful in school history, and they set a Stanford record for league wins.

Recent polling from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America ranks Stanford No. 1 in the 2016 Preseason Top 25. The Stanford Men’s soccer team received 20 first place votes and 579 points. The 2016 Pac-12 Preseason Coaches poll places the team second behind UCLA with 21 points and 2 first place votes.

Even though the team is replacing five starters, including MAC Hermann Trophy winner Jordan Morris, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year for Pac-12 Brandon Vincent, there remains a strong, talented nucleus of players, including a defensive unit which ranked sixth in the country on goals-against average in 2015.

That strength continues with the recent announcement that junior midfielder Corey Baird, senior goalkeeper Andrew Epstein and junior defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce were named to the 2016 Preseason Men’s Soccer All-Pac 12 Team by a vote of the league’s coaches.

In 2015, Baird started all 23 matches and was named to the College Cup All-Tournament Team, in addition to the All-Pac-12 second team. Baird tied for second in the country with 13 assists – the fifth-highest mark for a single season in Stanford history.

Epstein was a CoSIDA Third Team Academic All-American and NSCAA Scholar All-West Region pick in 2015. He was also selected to the College Cup All-Tournament Team. He stands at 11th in Stanford history in saves (114) and has been selected to the All-Pac-12 second team twice.

In 2015, Hilliard-Arce started at center back in all 23 of Stanford’s games. He was voted to the Top Drawer Soccer Best XI second team and the All-Pac-12 second team. In addition, on August 23, Hilliard-Arce was named to the Top Drawers Soccer 2016 Men’s Division I Preseason Best XI First Team.

This season the Cardinal will host 10 regular-season games at Cagan Stadium, where the team was undefeated in 2015. In fact, since 2014, Stanford’s goals-against average at home is a negligible 0.54.

In their opening exhibition match against Sacramento State on August 13, the Cardinal continued where they left off last season at home. Stanford dominated with a 5-0 victory. Junior Foster Langsdorf tallied a pair of goals, as did Baird, senior midfielder Trevor Hyman and freshman midfielder Jared Gilbey.

The Cardinal racked up a second exhibition win at their first preseason away game against Cal Poly on August 17. After both teams scored less than three minutes apart midway through the second half, Langsdorf scored at 89:51, joining redshirt freshman defender Tanner Beason’s initial goal and breaking the tie to give Stanford a 2-1 win.

The Cardinal will open their season against Penn State at home on Friday, Aug. 26, at 5:00 p.m.


Contact Matthew Bernstein at mbernste ‘at’

]]> 0
Office of Alcohol Policy and Education changes website in response to victim-blaming accusations Thu, 25 Aug 2016 05:51:28 +0000 After significant student and media criticism, the University issued several statements clarifying that the hard alcohol limits announced Monday were not intended as a response to sexual assault problems on campus.

However, after an initial change on Monday night, the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education fully replaced the page “Female Bodies and Alcohol” with one called “Alcohol Metabolism” and an apologetic disclaimer on Wednesday evening. In light of the recent change, many students drew negative connections between the “Female Bodies” page and the heavily publicized Brock Turner case.


University argues alcohol policy not intended as sexual assault response

According to Ralph Castro, director of the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE), the hard liquor limits stem from previous actions and not the recent focus on sexual assault issues on campus.

“This has been part of a cascade effect started in 2011 with the creation of the OAPE,” Castro said. “That’s been from the original alcohol policy to launching Cardinal Nights, 5-SURE and education in freshman dorms.”

However, Castro also acknowledged that OAPE thinks the liquor limits may affect campus culture, not just preventing alcohol-induced vomiting.

“All campus student issues are ecological, where things impact everything else,” he said.

Many students have been skeptical of these claims, however.

“Even if the University refrains from explicitly stating anything regarding sexual assault…it is unrealistic to think that in the wake of the high level publicity from Brock Turner’s case and Turner’s comments and efforts regarding alcohol consumption and promiscuity that such lines will not be drawn by the student body,” said Maya Burke ’18.

The comments and efforts referred to by Burke are well documented, including Turner’s deposition blaming his actions on Stanford’s “party culture.” Before his sentencing, Turner also presented at schools on the dangers of alcohol.

Matthew Baiza ’18, co-founder of Stanford Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), also found it likely that Stanford at least accounted for the idea that the hard liquor prohibitions would curb sexual assault, although he believes that the University did initially just intend for the limits to curb the number of alcohol-induced medical transports.

“Perception is everything,” Baiza said. “For Stanford’s first big announcement to be a change in alcohol policy after the attention on the Brock Turner case was an ill-advised move… However, I am glad that it has people talking now on the issue of victim blaming and how alcohol can play a role in that. These are the types of conversations we need to have.”

OAPE material changes

Burke and Baiza both suggested that much of the conversation was prompted by the now-removed “Female Bodies and Alcohol” page. The page garnered attention after the announcement of the new alcohol policy, though it had been on the website previously. Student criticism focused on whether the article victim-blamed by focusing exclusively on female’s choices, as well as the binary nature of the language.

After initial attention, the page appeared to be removed on Monday, but later reappeared on a less-direct part of the OAPE’s website. According to Castro, the removal and new placement of the page was merely a part of a greater web overhaul.

“The page was created after the creation of an alcohol and women task force that was put together in the 2012-2013 school year,” Castro told The Daily on Tuesday. “Most of the material is taken from Cornell’s Smart Women Campaign, and we didn’t mean it as some be-all, end-all piece…I will agree that some of this needs updating, and it’s something we’ll consider in our web review.”

The reposted page on Monday, however, appeared to have edits as pointed out by media. Of particular note, the section on “Sexual Intent and Aggression” had been removed.

As of Monday, the page argued that women get drunker faster than men with the same amount of alcohol and that this puts women at greater risk for harm, “including hangovers, nausea and vomiting, memory loss and blackouts, and other regretted behavior.” Further, the page maintained an instruction for women to “make a decision about sex that night before you go out.”

Baiza said he was upset about the “cherry-picking” of scientific evidence about female anatomy to make the claim that females shouldn’t drink or else will be sexually assaulted.

“If Stanford is to address alcohol use and the differences between genders, they should have at least had a section on male use, too,” Baiza said.

In the Tuesday conversation, Castro added that the intention was not to victim-blame, and that OAPE considers themselves to be strong allies of the Title IX and Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse (SARA) offices on campus.

The page was taken down entirely on Wednesday evening and replaced with the article on alcohol metabolism, citing research from National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). According to Castro, the alcohol policy change was inspired by NIAAA research.

At the top of the new page reads the following disclaimer:

We would like to apologize for an outdated and insensitive article on women and alcohol that was here.  The content of the article did not reflect the values of our office.  We are sorry for the harm that the article may have caused people who read it.”

The new page describes the chemical processes that alcohol undergoes in the body, but does not devote attention to how this may or may not differ by biological sex.

Contact Ada Statler-Throckmorton at adastat ‘at’

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Ryan Burns named starting quarterback for season opener Wed, 24 Aug 2016 23:51:05 +0000 Head coach David Shaw announced after Wednesday’s practice that senior Ryan Burns will be the starting quarterback for the season opener against Kansas State, beating out junior Keller Chryst. Although Burns will play “a good chunk of the game,” Chryst will still receive playing time, according to Shaw.

The announcement comes as a shock to many Cardinal fans, as Chryst seemed the favorite to win the starting job coming into spring training camp. Chryst—a 4-star recruit and the 3rd-ranked pro-style quarterback in the class of 2014 by 247Sports—backed up Kevin Hogan last season, completing 5-of-9 passes for 59 yards in four games last year.

Comparatively, Burns—a 6-foot-5, 232-pound, 4-star recruit and the 12th-best pro-style quarterback in the class of 2013—has played in six games and has thrown only one pass over the past two years.

“There hasn’t been a huge separation between the two. Both guys have played extremely well,” Shaw said. “Ryan’s just been barely enough ahead to get the nod, but I think both guys are going to play and hopefully help us win.”

Stanford, ranked 8th in the preseason AP Poll, kicks off its season against Kansas State on Sept. 2 at Stanford Stadium.


Contact Laura Stickells at lauraczs ‘at’ 

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Football preview: Wide receivers, tight ends Wed, 24 Aug 2016 11:20:55 +0000 This is the third of a 12-part preview of the 2016 football season. Part 1 focused on the running backs and fullbacks. Part 2 featured a roundtable on the offense.

In a nutshell

Let’s face it: Being a wide receiver at Stanford University hasn’t exactly been a glamorous job in the last few years.

Back in the days of yore, when Ryan Whalen, Griff Whalen and Chris Owusu roamed the earth and Andrew Luck was just a college superstar blissfully unaware that he would one day have his internal organs puréed by big, scary NFL men, there was glamor to be had in Stanford’s passing game. But since then, Ty Montgomery has been the only Stanford receiver to have even made a dent in the national consciousness (apart from a brief Francis Owusu cameo), and Cardinal wideouts’ playing time has been dictated by their ability to block on the perimeters of running plays almost as much as it has been by their ability to… you know, receive.

This year’s corps of Stanford wideouts might finally be the long-awaited group that has the potential to change all that.

They have breakneck speed in Michael Rector, Isaiah Brandt-Sims and Jay Tyler; they’ve got bigger guys that can bully defenders and make tough catches in Francis Owusu and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside; and, of course, they’ve got the nation’s next breakout star in Trenton Irwin. This crew might well have the most all-around untapped potential in any receiving corps Stanford has fielded in its recent history.

And of course, the tight ends really need no introduction. Stanford has become a bona fide pipeline for tight ends to reach the NFL, with Zach Ertz and his shiny new $42.5 million contract extension serving as the flag-bearer of the group. Junior Dalton Schultz is set to join the lineage of Ertz, Coby Fleener, Austin Hooper and other alumni as the next elite Stanford tight end, with veteran Greg Taboada and top recruit Kaden Smith (if he’s healthy) providing a talented supporting cast.

All that’s to say: Whoever wins the starting quarterback job will have a wealth of talent to take advantage of in the passing game, which certainly has the potential to shine this season if the conditions are right.

Oh, by the way, that McCaffrey guy catches passes, too. Lots of them.

Fifth-year senior Michael Rector (right) is going to be a focal point of Stanford's passing game and remains one of the conference's most dynamic deep threats after he chose to return for his final season of collegiate eligibility. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Fifth-year senior Michael Rector (right) is going to be a focal point of Stanford’s passing game and remains one of the conference’s most dynamic deep threats after he chose to return for his final season of collegiate eligibility. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Who’s returning?

Michael Rector (WR) — For the longest time, it looked like Rector would forgo his fifth year of eligibility and declare early for the NFL Draft, which wouldn’t have been unreasonable for a guy with NFL speed coming off a 34-catch, 559-yard season. But Rector had a change of heart in the 11th hour and elected to return for his final year at Stanford, and this receiving corps is much better off for it.

For the first few years of his Stanford career, Rector’s job was to just outrun everybody and get open for deep shots (and he was good at that), but in the last two years, he’s really developed as an all-around receiver to become more of a go-to receiver in the intermediate game as well. As evidence of that, he led Stanford in targets last season with 55 but still led the team with 16.4 yards per catch, indicating his ability to get open as one of Kevin Hogan’s top options but also his big-play potential. With Devon Cajuste gone, Rector will be the veteran anchor of this group and remains Stanford’s premier big-play threat over the top — but don’t be surprised if he surprises defenses by occasionally showing off his expanded route tree as well.

Trenton Irwin (WR) — The only reason I didn’t automatically anoint Rector as Stanford’s No. 1 receiver is because this true sophomore might very well challenge him for that title right out of the gate this season. Even as early as Pac-12 Media Days in July, David Shaw has been dropping Irwin’s name as someone to keep an eye on, and Christian McCaffrey boasted that Irwin is going to be “one of the biggest sparks in college football.” That’s not a boast to take lightly.

Irwin was described as the best high-school route-runner that Shaw had ever seen before he arrived at Stanford as the five-star crown jewel of the 2015 recruiting class, and his will to go above and beyond to succeed from the moment he stepped on The Farm was evident. He and quarterback Keller Chryst would stick around for extra reps on their own initiative after practices last season, even though his talent and technique were never in question. Shaw elected to use Irwin in moderation last season, only targeting him 18 times, but he pulled down 12 of those catches for 150 yards — often to move the chains on important situations. Just as the coaching staff took the training wheels off McCaffrey after a limited freshman season and saw the sophomore seize the spotlight, expect the same for Irwin this year.

Francis Owusu (WR) — Best known for his surreal catch on a defender’s back against UCLA last season that earned him an ESPY nomination for “Best Play,” Owusu is a guy that came in as a highly touted four-star prospect but still hasn’t taken the next step to carve out a major role in Stanford’s offense. Entering his final year of eligibility, it’s now or never for the big senior, who caught just 13 passes for 175 yards last season and now has to deal with a talented group of underclassmen chomping at the bit for increased opportunities.

Dalton Schultz (TE) — The junior tight end is on both Phil Steele’s and Athlon’s All-Pac-12 preseason first team, and for good reason: With Austin Hooper gone to the NFL, Schultz becomes the unquestioned No. 1 tight end on Stanford’s roster, which is a position that has traditionally been a very fruitful and central part of the Cardinal’s passing game. Schultz was the former top recruit out of the state of Utah and was known in high school for his pass-catching ability, but Stanford elected to use him primarily as a blocker last season with Hooper as the top pass-catching option among tight ends, only targeting Schultz 13 times, which resulted in 10 catches for 121 yards.

With an expanded role as a pass-catcher, Schultz could show a versatility in both the running game and passing game unseen for quite some time at the tight end position at Stanford. While Hooper was primarily a pass-catching tight end, Schultz was used last season primarily as a run blocker in Stanford’s heavy packages. Keep in mind that the Cardinal have traditionally used extra offensive linemen in lieu of tight ends in those heavy sets, but Schultz’s run-blocking ability was good enough that Shaw and offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren would not only leave him out there in those situations, but also not hesitate to run behind him when needed. Because of how he excels in both elements of the game, it will be difficult for defenses to know what to expect from Stanford’s next star tight end on any given play — and with Schultz’s route-running ability, that split-second indecision could cost those defenders dearly.

Greg Taboada (TE) — The senior took a step back in Stanford’s offense last season after Hooper’s emergence, notching just five catches for 66 yards after reeling in eight for 136 yards as a sophomore in 2014. The 6-foot-5, 248-pound tight end started to see more action in specialized packages, particularly in goal-line fade situations, in which he and Rollins Stallworth would line up on opposite sides of the formation and exploit mismatches against smaller defensive backs. Taboada isn’t anticipated to be a go-to guy on this offense because of Schultz’s projected emergence, but he can fight for tough catches and will likely continue to have his niche in goal-line and multiple-tight-end looks.

Sophomore Jay Tyler (above) could be used in a number of ways to integrate his blinding speed into Stanford's passing game. (DAVID HICKEY/

Sophomore Jay Tyler (above) could be used in a number of ways to integrate his blinding speed into Stanford’s passing game. (DAVID HICKEY/

Newcomers to watch for

Isaiah Brandt-Sims (WR) — Brandt-Sims is the fastest man on the team and can probably beat any defensive back in the country in a footrace, but his relatively small stature (5-foot-11, 181 pounds) and lack of versatility are factors that could hold back his emergence. When Brandt-Sims is on the field, it will likely be a safe bet that he’s going to be running a deep route to stretch the defense, which means that opposing defenses can just send safety help in his direction and limit the damage he can do. Expect him to see the field in some specialized packages, but because Rector also brings deep-play potential and a more versatile route tree, Brandt-Sims’ opportunities will likely be limited until Rector graduates at the end of this season.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WR) — With Devon Cajuste lost to graduation, Arcega-Whiteside is expected to step up and become Stanford’s next big possession receiver after using his redshirt last season. A three-star recruit out of South Carolina, Arcega-Whiteside has impressed in training camp but could be limited in his playing time with Irwin, Rector, Owusu and Schultz anticipated to be the top targets for Stanford’s quarterback, at least in the early goings. He’ll quickly emerge as one of Stanford’s premier targets in years to come, particularly once Rector and Owusu graduate at the end of the season.

Jay Tyler (WR) — Tyler is one of the most intriguing pieces of the puzzle this season. In years past, Stanford hasn’t really found a place in its offense for players as small as Tyler (5-foot-8, 169 pounds), but the Louisiana native’s speed and elusiveness make him a tough guy to defend for opposing defensive backs. And if he lines up in the slot and gets matched up against a linebacker, watch out. Tyler brings a lot of possibilities: He could be used in a Kelsey Young-like role in sweeps and reverses; he might be used in the slot as a traditional receiver; he could be leaned on in the screen game. Tyler isn’t likely to see a ton of action because his size limits his run-blocking ability, but however Shaw and company do choose to use him, it’ll absolutely make for entertaining football.

Kaden Smith (TE) — A torn ACL and MCL in December has held the nation’s second-best tight end recruit out of football action for fall training camp, but Shaw has stated that he would not be opposed to using Smith as a true freshman if his knee recovery goes according to plan. Smith is one of the most heralded pass-catching tight end recruits in recent memory after he recorded 144 career receptions for 2,260 yards in high school, including 57 catches for 917 yards as a senior — in the unforgiving world of Texas high school football, no less. Stanford will likely ease him into game action due to the nature of his injury and its many other options in the passing game, but if he does play this season, his freak athleticism is sure to demand a good look from the coaches. He also dunked a shot put once, so there’s that.

Wide receiver Devon Cajuste (center) used his size to be a solid possession receiver but also had deceptive speed that allowed him to get behind defenses. Stanford hopes sophomore J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can take Cajuste's place. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Wide receiver Devon Cajuste (center) used his size to be a solid possession receiver but also had deceptive speed that allowed him to get behind defenses. Stanford hopes sophomore J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can take Cajuste’s place. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Key departures

Devon Cajuste (WR) — At the start of his career, Cajuste chose Stanford because it was the only school that would let him play wide receiver, his preferred position, instead of switching to tight end, which other programs thought better suited his body type. Once on The Farm, Cajuste worked hard to combat the perception that his big frame stopped him from being fast and nimble by posting 27 catches for 383 yards (14.2 yards per catch) as a fifth-year senior last season, and then going on to shock the nation by posting the fastest time among all side receivers with a 6.49 in the three-cone drill (an agility test) at the NFL Combine. Once he took over as a starter in 2013, Cajuste was one of Kevin Hogan’s most reliable targets, catching 91 passes for 1,596 yards as part of a stellar Stanford career. He’ll live on in Stanford lore for his legendary Senior Day performance against Notre Dame, in which he caught five passes for 125 yards, including a 27-yard completion with 10 seconds left on the clock that put the Cardinal in range for the game-winning field goal that capped one of the more improbable game-winning drives in recent memory.

(“Ukulele!” – Gus Johnson)

Austin Hooper (TE) — Along with Greg Taboada and Eric Cotton in the 2013 recruiting class, Hooper was expected to be part of the new-age “Tree Amigos” tight end crew when he first arrived on The Farm. That didn’t end up panning out, because Hooper quickly asserted himself as the best of the bunch and exploded one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the nation in two seasons as a starter, in which he combined for 74 catches for 937 yards and eight touchdowns. He tied Christian McCaffrey for second on the team with 53 targets last season before surprising many by forgoing not one, but two remaining years of collegiate eligibility to declare early for the NFL Draft and eventually become a third-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons. His departure opens the door for Schultz to seize the reins and become Stanford’s next impact tight end.

Rollins Stallworth (WR) — He might not have had the flashy stats of the other receivers on the team, but that was never a problem for Stallworth, who put his head down and worked hard for five years to work his way up the ladder from walk-on wide receiver all the way into Stanford’s regular wide receiver rotation as a fifth-year senior in 2015. Stallworth’s contributions on the scout team and, later, as Stanford’s best run-blocking wide receiver, never showed up on box scores and made him easy for casual fans to overlook, but it says a lot that in 2015, when Stanford would send out its more run-heavy personnel packages, Stallworth would be the lone wide receiver out on the field as the wideout most trusted by his coaches to do the unglamorous work and block for his teammates without complaint. He was rewarded for his five years of service to the program when he caught the only touchdown of his career in garbage time against Arizona — and fittingly enough for him, it came on an end-zone fade.


Projected depth chart

Wide receiver:

1a. Michael Rector
1b. Trenton Irwin
2. Francis Owusu
3. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
4. Jay Tyler

Others: Donald Stewart, Taijuan Thomas, Paxton Segina, Isaiah Brandt-Sims, Sidhart Krishnamurthi, Harry Schwartz, Treyvion Foster

Tight end:

1. Dalton Schultz
2. Greg Taboada
3. Kaden Smith
4a. Scooter Harrington
4b. Ben Snyder


Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’

]]> 0 FB-NotreDame-8 Fifth-year senior Michael Rector (right) is going to be a focal point of Stanford's passing game and remains one of the conference's most dynamic deep threats after he chose to return for his final season of collegiate eligibility. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily) Jay Tyler Sophomore Jay Tyler (above) could be used in a number of ways to integrate his blinding speed into Stanford's passing game. (DAVID HICKEY/ DSC_1285-141 Wide receiver Devon Cajuste (center) used his size to be a solid possession receiver but also had deceptive speed that allowed him to get behind defenses. Stanford hopes sophomore J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can take Cajuste's place. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)
Football preview podcast: Examining the offense Wed, 24 Aug 2016 11:05:00 +0000 In the second part of our preview podcast coverage leading up to Stanford’s Sept. 2 opener against Kansas State, KZSU play-by-play broadcaster Nicky Sullivan was joined by Daily football analysts Do-Hyoung Park and Vihan Lakshman to talk about the quarterback battle, the offensive line, Christian McCaffrey’s role and more.

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Newest faces of Stanford basketball prepare for life on the Farm Wed, 24 Aug 2016 06:57:53 +0000 Kodye Pugh, a four-star recruit from Baltimore, Maryland, averaged 14 points and six rebounds during his senior season at Blair Academy in New Jersey. (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

Kodye Pugh, a four-star recruit from Baltimore, Maryland, averaged 14 points and six rebounds during his senior season at Blair Academy in New Jersey. (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

While most students find themselves pursuing opportunities outside of Stanford, the two newest members of Stanford men’s basketball have spent their summer becoming acquainted with the campus they will soon call home.

Trevor Stanback, a 6-foot-10 center from Pasadena, and Kodye Pugh, a four-star recruit from Baltimore, Maryland, are both adjusting to a brand new environment both in and out of basketball.

In their first couple months as Cardinal, Pugh and Stanback have already experienced some adversity during their transition into college athletics. Both freshmen are preparing for their first collegiate basketball season without the coach that recruited them to the program.

Pugh and Stanback committed to Stanford under the direction of former head coach Johnny Dawkins, before learning about the firing of Dawkins in mid-March through social media.

While both were stunned to see the news, Jerod Haase visited them both soon after he filled the vacancy as head coach.

“[Coach Haase] came to visit me at Blair [Academy in New Jersey], and he watched me work out, sat down with me afterwards, and we talked for a while,” said Pugh. “Instantly I knew, this is an amazing guy.

“I did my own research before he had come and found out that his style of play matched mine perfectly. Coach Dawkins is an amazing coach. He’s in a good position right now at UCF, but I was more committed to the school. Coach Haase — he reassured me that I would be a perfect fit at Stanford.”

Coach Haase had been an assistant basketball coach for Kansas University and North Carolina University before earning his first head coaching position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 2012.

At UAB, he led his team to an overall record of 80-53, a conference USA regular season championship and a conference USA Tournament Championship. During his third season at the helm, Haase accomplished his goal of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. He was recognized as the Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2016.

“He’s definitely committed to what he says. Anything he says, he plans on doing and will make sure it happens, regardless,” said Stanback of the traits Haase brings to the Cardinal program.

Pugh also noted that coach Haase has placed immense focus on building relationships and trust throughout the program.

Despite the unfamiliar environment and the coaching change, the pair of freshmen remain optimistic and determined for the upcoming season.

Pugh, a 6-foot-8 forward, looks forward to his time on the Farm. “We’re excited to be here. [It’s] a blessing and a great opportunity to play for this team, play for this school [and] represent this amazing program.”

In his junior season at the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, Pugh averaged 20.2 points and 10.1 rebounds, which earned him offers from 22 major universities.

Pugh’s reasons for choosing Stanford over all of the other schools schools was simple.

“Stanford has the perfect combination of education and basketball. You can’t get a better situation here,” he said. “It’s not just a four-year decision, it’s a lifetime decision; so I decided to set myself up for life.”

Push has completely dedicated himself to summer practices. “I’m continuing to improve my entire, overall game. Just working on tightening my handle, getting faster, getting quicker, working on my jump shot [and] working on being a better defender.”

Trevor Stanback joins Kodye Pugh in Stanford's 2016 recruiting class. The 6-foot-10 center from Pasadena (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

Trevor Stanback joins Kodye Pugh in Stanford’s 2016 recruiting class. The 6-foot-10 center from Pasadena averaged 3.6 blocks during his senior season. (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

Stanback has a similar outlook in regards to the opportunity to play for Stanford. “It’s just such an opportunity that you can’t pass down. As soon as I found out that I had the ability to come here, I hopped on it immediately,” he said.

“I sent my application a week after I got it. I was really excited. It was a really long process, but I’m glad I did it. I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.”

Stanback averaged 14.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.6 blocks as a senior at Maranatha High School. The center believes he can contribute on both ends of the floor effectively for the Cardinal.

“I’m a good defender. I am able to time shots pretty well, so I am either blocking them or altering the shots. That’s probably my main thing,” he said. “I’m also pretty good at the post. I’m able to battle down there with other bigs.”

Stanback also noted his commitment to developing his overall game. He has recently been working to improve his ball handling and perimeter shooting, as he aspires to step away from the post and score more often.

It is evident Pugh and Stanback are putting in the work that comes with being a Cardinal. To Pugh, that work ethic was part of preparing himself for the recruiting process.

“There’s a lot of hard work that leads up to that process. It’s years and years of dedication, blood, sweat and tears,” he said. “To be able to sign that letter of intent is just icing on the cake — the perfect moment, making my family proud. I’m blessed to be able to make it this far in my life and my career.”

Stanback believes the Cardinal will need cohesiveness in order for coach Haase and company to make their own NCAA tournament appearance this season. Stanback is confident the Cardinal have “all of the pieces” and that once they come together and realize their common goals, they’ll achieve them.

Both athletes are also aware of their responsibilities off the court. Pugh and Stanback have shown their commitment to both the community and classroom.

Stanback believes collegiate athletes should reach out to those who are less fortunate in their respective communities.

“Athletes are idolized everywhere,” he said. “People look up to us and to all athletes around the world, so I feel like we have a big influence and a big responsibility to share our voice and share the voice of the community.”

In regards to academics, Pugh intends on exploring majors like art, computer science and graphic design. Stanback is looking into combining psychology, basketball and possibly therapy to assist individuals with disabilities.

In the meantime, Pugh is enjoying his new life on the Farm. “I love it out here — the beautiful weather, the beautiful area, it’s [all] amazing.”

Pugh has already gotten a glimpse of the level of competition he’ll face at Stanford. He was able to work out with Brooklyn Nets guard and Palo Alto native Jeremy Lin, who played college ball at Harvard. The Cardinal are scheduled to play their first game against the Crimson on November 11 in Shanghai.

When asked for predictions regarding the upcoming season, Pugh put it simply: “It’ll be a season to watch.”


Contact Andrew Espinoza at drw23espi ‘at’

]]> 0 Kodye Pugh Kodye Pugh, a four-star recruit from Baltimore, Maryland, averaged 14 points and six rebounds during his senior season at Blair Academy in New Jersey. (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics) Trevor Stanback Trevor Stanback joins Kodye Pugh in Stanford's 2016 recruiting class. The 6-foot-10 center from Pasadena (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)
Football preview: Running backs, fullbacks Tue, 23 Aug 2016 09:12:26 +0000 This is the first of a 12-part preview of the 2016 Stanford football season. Future parts will discuss the quarterback battle, defense, and the tough schedule ahead.

In a nutshell

Head coach David Shaw and company have a lot on their plates these days: finding a new starting quarterback, managing the reloading process on both the offensive and defensive lines and getting their team ready to handle a schedule that promises to hit like a freight train right out of the gate.

But if there’s one position group helping the Stanford coaching staff sleep better at night, it has to be the running backs. The Cardinal have hung their hats on a physical, run-centric brand of football for the better part of a decade now and feature one of the most talented backfields in the entire nation — a Diet Coke-Mentos type of combination that looks poised to erupt in the face of any defense in its path.

Stanford has had no shortage of deep backfields during Shaw’s tenure with the 2011 murderer’s row of Stepfan Taylor, Tyler Gaffney, Anthony Wilkerson and Jeremy Stewart serving as perhaps the best example. However, has any previous Stanford running back stable featured two stallions leading the charge quite like Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love? Both return to action in 2016 after playing key roles for a high-powered 2015 Stanford offense and are reported to be bigger, faster and more explosive this time around.

In addition to the Cardinal’s two leading men in the backfield, the supporting actors have also generated quite a bit of buzz on The Farm, giving Shaw and Lance Taylor, the reigning national running backs coach of the year, plenty of intriguing options.

High expectations abound for the Cardinal in 2016 and if Stanford is to live up to the preseason billing of competing for a conference championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff, the elite talent in the backfield will surely play a major role. Let’s meet the key cogs in the Stanford running game machine below:

(SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Sophomore running back Bryce Love (center) did a lot with a small work load last season and is primed to thrive with a larger role in Stanford’s offense this season. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Who’s returning?

Christian McCaffrey — How about we lead things off with the reigning AP Player of the Year who just put together the most statistically impressive season in the history of college football? In 2015, McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders’ single-season all-purpose yards mark by racking up 3,864 yards in nearly every possible way. Lest you question McCaffrey’s production as a pure runner, the Heisman trophy runner-up also wrested away Stanford’s single-season rushing record from Toby Gerhart after amassing 2,019 yards on the ground, becoming Stanford’s first 2,000-yard rusher in a season.

As the unquestioned alpha dog of this group, McCaffrey will once again be the centerpiece of the Stanford offense and a much-needed dose of stability as the Cardinal break in a new quarterback and three new starters on the offensive line. With the departure of short-yardage specialist Remound Wright, No. 5 might also see added time on the field in goal-line situations and potentially find the end zone more often than this eight trips to the promised land last season. Though he may not match his absurd numbers from a season ago with defenses laser-focused on containing him, McCaffrey will again pace Stanford with his production on the ground. As a team captain and battle-tested veteran, his leadership will also be a valuable asset for the Cardinal, especially at the start of the season.

Bryce Love — After providing a vital spark to the Stanford offense last season, Bryce Lightning looks poised to burst into a full-fledged flame in this upcoming campaign. His 2015 stats, 29 rushes for 226 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 15 receptions and 250 yards and another touchdown, might — in a vacuum — raise concerns about sample size, but it was the manner in which Love tallied those numbers that have fans and coaches alike ecstatic about his future. His shiftiness, ability to break tackles and scorching straight-line speed led to numerous highlight-worthy plays a season ago. Since then, the sophomore has continued to impress with dominant performances during spring practice with McCaffrey held out of action and throughout training camp.

Love’s emergence as a dynamic running and receiving threat could very well be the X-factor that pushes Stanford from “very good” into “elite” territory. It also provides the Cardinal with the ability not only to take some of the load off McCaffrey, but also to pair the two playmakers together in the backfield or as receivers to wreak havoc on the Pac-12. Last year, we saw the massive jump McCaffrey made in year two under Shaw, Taylor and strength and conditioning coach Shannon Turley; Love just might be in line for a similar explosion.

Daniel Marx — Shaw was extremely effusive in his praise for Marx during training camp, telling reporters, “If there’s a better fullback in the country, I haven’t seen him.” Marx, a junior who saw his 2015 season cut short to 11 games following a leg injury, will return to action in the ever-critical starting fullback role for the Cardinal. Once again, Marx will be called on to serve as a battering ram to open up lanes in the power running game and clear bodies out of the way in Stanford’s “jumbo packages.” Despite not receiving any carries last season, Marx might be poised to receive the football more often this time around with Stanford searching for a short-yardage specialist. The Cardinal love throwing to the fullback in their west coast passing attack (Spider 2 Y Banana, anyone?) and Marx could have more receptions in his future after making three grabs for 25 yards last season.

Chris Harrell — Harrell returns to The Farm for his fifth and final season after stepping up to fill Marx’s starting fullback role in Stanford’s critical final three games of last season, including the conference championship and the Rose Bowl Game. He may not see as much action on offense with a healthy Marx back in the fold, but he brings a veteran presence and crucial game experience against strong competition to augment the depth in the backfield.


Sophomore Cameron Scarlett (left) took a redshirt year last year and will likely take a back seat to McCaffrey and Love, but should factor into the running back discussion. (DAVID ELKINSON/

Newcomers to watch for

Cameron Scarlett — At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, Scarlett, a sophomore who redshirted last season, has at least 20 pounds on both McCaffrey and Love and could find a role in the Stanford offense as a more traditional power back. Scarlett could also be a candidate for short-yardage touches given his large build. With McCaffrey and Love both returning, Scarlett likely won’t be in line for many carries a game, but he very well could carve out his niche in specialized packages and be a power running nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. As with all Stanford running backs, his ability to see the field will also hinge on his skills as a blocker in pass protection.

Trevor Speights — One of the jewels in a historically good 2016 recruiting haul, Speights will probably redshirt in his first season at Stanford with a crowded backfield of returning contributors. Nevertheless, the freshman has already generated plenty of excitement about his potential, especially after racking up the fourth most rushing yards in the history of Texas high school football and scoring a surreal 50 touchdowns in his senior year. Though Speights might not play a major role in the running game right away, the future of the Stanford backfield looks awfully bright.

(RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Outgoing running back Remound Wright (above) was Stanford’s short-yardage and goal-line specialist, leaving behind a void likely to be filled by either McCaffrey or Scarlett. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Key departures

Remound Wright — Wright’s name has come up a few times already and for good reason — his role for the Cardinal in 2015 was critical to the team’s offensive success. In the latter part of the 2014 season, Wright found his identity as a short-yardage savant and never looked back; his knack for knowing just how to pick up those needed one or two yards in any given situation — jumping over the top, bulldozing his way down the middle or bouncing to the outside — played a significant role in Stanford reigniting its red zone offense. Wright was also one of Stanford’s most capable pass blockers in the backfield and his 15 total touchdowns from last season leave a gaping hole that needs to be filled. Christian McCaffrey, as one of the most talented football players in the country, seems to be one natural candidate to claim those short-yardage snaps, but Cameron Scarlett and fullback Daniel Marx could also emerge as candidates during training camp.  

Barry Sanders — Sanders, who completed a graduate transfer to Oklahoma State during the offseason, never put up eye-popping numbers during his Stanford career but displayed dazzling evasiveness on multiple occasions and made massive strides as a pass protector. While he likely would have seen his snaps again limited with the presence of McCaffrey and Love, Sanders provided Stanford with an envious amount of depth and his absence will prompt the Cardinal’s younger running backs, particularly Scarlett, to step up and fill the No. 3 slot in the backfield.


Projected Depth Chart

Running back:

  1. Christian McCaffrey
  2. Bryce Love
  3. Cameron Scarlett
  4. Pat McFadden
  5. Trevor Speights
  6. Dorian Maddox


  1. Daniel Marx
  2. Chris Harrell
  3. Reagan Williams


Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’

]]> 0 Bryce Love (20) attempts to thread the needle between two Notre Dame defenders. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily) Cameron Scarlett (DAVID ELKINSON/ Remound Wright 22 (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)
Football preview: Offense roundtable Tue, 23 Aug 2016 09:00:56 +0000 As part of The Daily’s preview coverage of Stanford football’s fast-approaching 2016 campaign, football analysts Vihan Lakshman, Do-Hyoung Park and Michael Peterson sat down to answer questions for the first part of our preview roundtable series, which will focus on the team’s offense. 

This is the second of a 12-part preview of the 2016 football season. Part 1, which focused on the running backs and fullbacks, can be read here.

(RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

The loss of four-year quarterback Kevin Hogan (above) is one of the biggest questions the Cardinal will have to deal with as they begin their 2016 campaign. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford loses a whopping six starters from a 2015 offense that ranked as one of the best in school history and scored 30 points or more in each of its last 13 games. Which player will Stanford miss the most in 2016?

Vihan Lakshman (VL): There are a lot of very good answers to this question, and that speaks to just how special the pieces of the 2015 offense were in revving up the engine to levels not seen since the days of Andrew Luck. With no real incorrect response, I’m going to give the Tunnel Workers Union some love and go with left guard Josh Garnett. The reigning Outland Trophy winner, awarded to the best interior linemen in the nation, was one of the best run blockers in the nation, and Garnett’s ability to open up gaping holes in the running game made Christian McCaffrey even more dangerous. The current San Francisco 49er was also an adept pass protector, and, as a team captain, a very vocal leader in the locker room. The loss of Garnett’s tangible production as the best guard in college football as well as his intangible contributions in pushing that 2015 team to achieve its championship potential will absolutely be missed.

Do-Hyoung Park (DHP): I don’t think I can really go wrong by picking Stanford’s all-time winningest quarterback and the only quarterback in conference history to start three Rose Bowls, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Even putting aside the fact that he won 36 games in three-plus years under center and never finished outside the nation’s top 30 in pass efficiency, Kevin Hogan meant so much more to this team for his evolution from a wide-eyed freshman to another coach on the field by the time his Stanford career wrapped up and his poise and leadership that led to him becoming one of very few two-time captains in Stanford’s recent history. His playbook knowledge was unparalleled, and we’ll probably never know the extent of just how many calls he made in that huddle or how deftly he could adapt the absurdly complicated Stanford offense to meet any changing situation on the field. His complete command of Stanford’s offensive system will be the single biggest blow.

Michael Peterson (MP): Another name not previously mentioned that would be worthy of this honor is All-Pac-12 first team tight end Austin Hooper, who had a phenomenal 2015 season, but I’m going to agree with Do on this one. At times Kevin Hogan almost single-handedly propelled the 2015 Stanford offense with his arm (Notre Dame) and his feet (Washington State), but arguably his most important contribution to the team was his calm leadership, his gutty performances and his heart. He was a two-time captain, an unquestioned leader and a brilliant decision-maker who knew the playbook inside and out. Lost in Christian McCaffrey’s prolific season was also the fact that Hogan set the school record for passing efficiency in a single season. There’s no doubt he will be missed as both as a leader and as a playmaker.

(RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Junior running back Christian McCaffrey (right) had, statistically, the best season in college football history in 2015. Can he even come close to that kind of statistical success again? (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

After a national-record-breaking 3,864 all-purpose yards, school-recording-breaking 2,019 rushing yards and an AP Player of the Year award in 2015, expectations are understandably high for Christian McCaffrey heading into the season. What can the Cardinal expect from McCaffrey after one of the most electrifying seasons in school history?

VL: He’ll be good. Really good. As impressive as McCaffrey’s 2015 was, I’ve been more in awe of how well he has handled the increased attention by remaining laser-focused on his goal of becoming a better player. I doubt heightened outside expectations will faze McCaffrey since his own internal drive probably dwarfs the demands of the average fan. With his workouts under Shannon Turley now the stuff of legend, the WildCaff has continued to bulk up while improving his speed and explosiveness, and all signs point to McCaffrey remaining the centerpiece of the offense. Will he replicate his video game-esque numbers from a season ago? Probably not, as Stanford breaks in a new quarterback and three new starters on the O-line while opposing defenses will come hungrier than ever to slow him down. Nevertheless, I still expect the 2015 Heisman runner-up to contend for the national lead in all-purpose yardage and put together another memorable season.

DHP: The other two guys in this discussion seem to think that there isn’t much of a chance that McCaffrey can replicate his truly incomprehensible numbers from last season, but I’m not sold on that idea. Nobody thought any player could touch Barry Sanders’ all-purpose yards record, and McCaffrey shocked the world last year. I think he’s going to do the unthinkable again and put up similar — if not better — numbers this season.

Remember that he didn’t even fully hit his stride until the fourth game of the season (Oregon State) last year, and by the end of the season, he was running amok against top defenses that were selling out to stop him (cough cough, Iowa). This year, with a new quarterback in town, there’s no question in my mind that McCaffrey is going to have to shoulder an even bigger load than he did last year — at least in the early going — as the only game-proven element this offense has right now. With the toughest stretch of the season presenting itself early on, Stanford will have to lean on its stud back early, often and repeatedly because regardless of how good the quarterback, receivers or (to a lesser extent) offensive line is, David Shaw and company know that all they need to do is get McCaffrey the ball with a little space to work with, and he’ll be outstanding. Bryce Love and Cam Scarlett will definitely get touches, sure, but make no mistake: I expect this to be the Christian McCaffrey 2.0 Show. (They say he’s somehow gotten better over the offseason.)

MP: In 2004 as a true sophomore, Reggie Bush finished the season with 908 rushing yards, 509 receiving yards, 2,330 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns, finishing fifth in Heisman voting. In 2015 as a true sophomore, Christian McCaffrey finished the season with 2,019 rushing yards, 645 receiving yards, 3,864 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns, finishing second in Heisman voting. Bush is remembered as one of the greatest and most electrifying college football players of all-time, and it’s not at all counted against him that the Pac-10 in 2004 and 2005 was mostly garbage — only 3 teams finished with more than seven wins in 2004. McCaffrey to this point in his career has played better than Bush.

It’s ridiculous that McCaffrey didn’t win the Heisman and it’s even more ridiculous that some people still value backs like Dalvin Cook or Royce Freeman more than McCaffrey. Though McCaffrey is a Swiss army knife, an invaluable all-purpose weapon who can beat you in so many ways, I’m also tired of hearing no one acknowledge that he’s also the best running back in college football. We are watching an all-time great college football player, as special as the Reggie Bush’s and Tim Tebow’s of the world. I for one expect McCaffrey to continue to dazzle and establish himself as a great in 2016, even if it’s near impossible to replicate 2015 from a pure numbers perspective.

For the record, following his sophomore campaign, Reggie Bush won the Heisman in 2005. Finally with the attention of the nation, McCaffrey has a chance to do the same.


Whoever inherits the quarterback job between senior Ryan Burns (above) and junior Keller Chryst will have a stacked array of skill position players to hand and throw the ball to, from McCaffrey and Love to fifth-year senior receiver Michael Rector and junior tight end Dalton Schultz. (DAVID HICKEY/

Other than McCaffrey, which player’s performance will be most pivotal to the success of the offense?

VL: Stanford brings back a scary amount of talent at the skill positions. In addition to McCaffrey, the Cardinal boast the blazing Bryce Love in the backfield, talented receivers Michael Rector, Trent Irwin and Francis Owusu and a new crop of tight ends headlined by Dalton Schultz and Greg Taboada. However, the heroic recruiting efforts it took to accumulate all of this talent on The Farm will be for naught if the Cardinal fail to get the ball into the hands of these playmakers in the first place, and that responsibility falls on whoever is named the starting quarterback. At this point, the competition between senior Ryan Burns and junior Keller Chryst probably remains too close to call, but the high level of play both quarterbacks displayed during spring ball and during training camp open practices has many optimistic that whoever is handed the keys will have a lot of success behind the wheel. With the Cardinal facing four of its five highest ranked opponents on the road, the ability of the starting quarterback to handle the pressure and maintain control of the offseason will be critical in determining whether this team sinks or swims, especially in the first half of the season.

DHP: The quarterback is the difference between a good Stanford offense and a great Stanford offense, but the offensive line is the difference between a bad Stanford offense and a good Stanford offense. Bottom line, nothing happens on offense for Stanford unless the offensive line is good — and with that in mind, I’m going to go with center Jesse Burkett. Burkett is the only member of this line without significant in-game experience, and as the center, he’ll need to get used to reading opposing defenses and making important calls for the line while under time and game pressure, the importance of which can’t be understated. Fortunately for the Cardinal, Burkett is a smart guy that shouldn’t be daunted by that task at all, especially after a season’s worth of doing whiteboard work on the sideline (as is Stanford backup center tradition). Reports out of camp are that Burkett has been really impressive physically as well — but his adjustment to full-time play (along with left guard Brandon Fanaika) will dictate how well the new-look Tunnel Workers’ Union gels, especially with the importance of the interior linemen in Stanford’s scheme. And we saw in 2014 just how shaky things can get if the O-line play is rough.

MP: Again, I’m going to follow the lead of one of my colleagues and say that the starting quarterback will be the most important player other than McCaffrey. Though Alabama won the national championship without an elite quarterback, a quick look at the other contenders shows you that great quarterback play is usually a prerequisite to being a playoff team, or even a conference-winning team. Clemson had Deshaun Watson, Oklahoma had Baker Mayfield and Michigan State had Connor Cook — only Alabama and its five-star-recruit-at-every-single-position lineup could pull off the feat without such play. For Stanford to continue to remain as both a conference and national contender, either Burns or Chryst must play at a high level, though it doesn’t need to be as high as Watson or Mayfield. Stanford has the tools on offense to succeed, but it’ll be up to the quarterback to make it happen and help the team deliver in close games.


The new Stanford offensive line will break in three new starters, and the new-look Tunnel Workers Union’s ability to adjust to full-time play will be critical for the continued success and efficiency of Stanford’s vaunted offense. (KAREN AMBROSE HICKEY/

After losing three starters from last season’s offensive line, what can the Cardinal expect of a largely new Tunnel Workers Union and how crucial will the line’s performance be to the success of the new quarterback and McCaffrey?

VL: It’s hard to gauge just what to expect out of such a retooled offensive line. The last time Stanford underwent such a massive facelift up front, in 2014, we learned that the whole isn’t always equal to the sum of its parts — at least not right away — as Andrus Peat, Josh Garnett, Graham Shuler, Johnny Caspers and Kyle Murphy struggled to gel immediately. However, flash forward one season later and that very same line — minus Peat — became one of the best units in the country.

Along similar lines, I could see the 2016 edition of the Tunnel Workers Union experiencing some growing pains early on, especially with the big, bad USC Trojans defensive line coming to town for the second game of the season. The deafening atmospheres in Husky Stadium and Autzen Stadium probably won’t do this young line any favors either as the 2014 group struggled mightily with penalties, especially early on. Ultimately, though, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren has proven to be one of the best offensive line developers in the game and the initial reviews on Jesse Burkett and Dave Bright have been very positive while Johnny Caspers and Casey Tucker bring valuable starting experience. The fifth spot remains largely up for grabs, but both Brandon Fanaika and AT Hall saw the field in 2015 on either jumbo packages or special teams. It might not be very pretty at the outset, but I expect this unit to be where they want by the home stretch of the season.

DHP: Honestly, I have no idea what to expect from the offensive line. Not having been in on the discussions behind closed doors in 2014 and not knowing the details of offensive line technique, I’m not the best person to evaluate what exactly went wrong with the 2014 line, so I’m not going to try. These new linemen are very different from the new linemen Stanford was breaking in back then, and so I’m not sure if we can draw too many corollaries between the two situations. That said, 2014 did show us just how badly things can go wrong for Stanford if the offensive line is shaky. I honestly think it’s impossible to tell how things will turn out until they actually happen — so we’ll just have to deal with the uncertainty and wait. Usually, I’d say that the running back’s success correlates directly with the offensive line’s success, but in this case, I think McCaffrey is the ultimate safety valve in that his improvisational skills and his maneuverability are unparalleled — even when plays break down or the run blocking isn’t stellar, he’ll make the most of any play.

MP: Like Vihan said, this unit has a lot of similarity to the 2014 offensive line, which broke in four new starters, albeit very talented ones. This time around the Cardinal have a little more experience if maybe a little less talent than 2014. However, as Vihan alluded to, the 2014 unit struggled early on, contributing to the Cardinal’s 8-5 campaign. There is zero margin for error early on in the 2016 season with USC, UCLA, Washington and Notre Dame waiting, to say nothing of upset-minded Washington State and Bill Snyder-led Kansas State. A similar poor early-season performance could spell another 8-5 campaign. While I’m optimistic like Vihan, I’m also more tentative and cautious. The Tunnel Workers Union has always been a key to Stanford’s success and it has to be again in 2016 if Stanford is to contend. The return of fifth-year senior and team captain Johnny Caspers is a huge plus to the unit and a big reason why I ultimately believe the offensive line will do just fine. If there’s one position group that has to do well though, it’s the offensive line.


Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’, Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’ and Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’

]]> 0 Kevin Hogan 8 (QB) (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily) So. running back Christian McCaffrey (5) (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily) Ryan Burns and offense (DAVID HICKEY/ Mike Tyler_040916_KAH_093 (KAREN AMBROSE HICKEY/
New policy restricts hard alcohol Mon, 22 Aug 2016 22:17:12 +0000 Starting this fall, hard alcohol will be prohibited at “all categories of undergraduate student parties,” the University announced on Monday. According to an email from Vice Provost for Student Affairs Greg Boardman, the University is tightening is alcohol policy to decrease the consumption of hard alcohol. The updated policy also prohibits “high-volume distilled liquor containers” for undergraduate students.

While the change falls short of a full ban on hard alcohol, Boardman’s email said that the University finalized the changes in order to limit the availability and accessibility of hard alcohol. Hard alcohol — defined as more than 20 percent alcohol by volume or more than 40 proof — will be limited to bottles smaller than 750 mL (also known as a fifth) in residences and public spaces.

Undergraduate parties will be limited to serving beer and wine only. Any group or residence that has undergraduate members is subject to the new policy. Additionally, graduate groups that host parties may only have hard alcohol in mixed drinks (rather than shots, which have long been prohibited at parties) and must register their “Members” parties.

The policy change follows rumors of a ban spurred by a University meeting with resident fellows (RFs) last March, which was met by campus wide opposition. In a campus-wide referendum in April, 91.46 percent of voters opted against a hard alcohol ban, and approximately 1,720 people signed a petition against the proposal.

“We’re not necessarily looking at popularity, but rather functionality,” said Ralph Castro, director of the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE), in an interview with The Daily.

According to Boardman, the new policy is the brainchild of a working group composed of administrators from the OAPE, Vaden Health Center and Residential Education (ResEd). The group convened early last school year to find potential solutions for binge drinking and what it identified as a social culture centered on alcohol consumption. Boardman said the group consulted with multiple voices, including undergraduates, RFs and resident assistants (RAs), while crafting the policy. Not all of them agreed with it — some RFs did not support a ban of any sort — but the administration decided to move forward.

Dean of ResEd Deborah Golder said the new alcohol policy will help to combat an alienating culture that excludes many students who choose not to drink.

“Bottom line, there needs to be a change,” Golder said. “We tend to talk about what we’re losing rather than what we’re gaining.”

According to the University’s frequently-asked-questions page, the policy will reduce the availability of hard alcohol since most retailers only sell large volumes of hard alcohol. The website explains that limits were chosen over a complete ban because the focus is on “not a total prohibition of a substance, but rather a targeted approach that limits high-risk behavior and has the backing of empirical studies on restricting the availability of and access to alcohol.”

The repercussions for policy violations remain unchanged; students failing to comply with the new changes will be referred to Residence Deans and the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE). Multiple violations or “concerning behavior” could also result in removal from university housing or a referral to the Office of Community Standards.

Golder also sent out an email to incoming RAs asking for their cooperation in helping to enforce the new policy. While the email acknowledged some RAs may view this as a shift in their role, Golder wrote that the role of an RA “first and foremost is still to develop rapport and relationship” with residents.

“We don’t see this as policing,” Golder told The Daily. “We see it as promoting a set of norms in the house.”


Contact Ada Statler-Throckmorton at adastat ‘at’ or Victor Xu at vxu ‘at’

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Stanford Olympians bring home a record 27 medals Mon, 22 Aug 2016 12:00:56 +0000 The 2016 Summer Olympics officially came to a close on Sunday, and with it, 39 past, present and incoming Stanford athletes will return from Rio de Janeiro after having represented 10 countries in the games. Sixteen Stanford athletes earned a school-record 27 medals across 20 Olympic events, ranging from swimming relays to the pole vault.

Women’s swimming:

Stanford’s contingent in women’s swimming dominated the Rio Games. Incoming freshman Katie Ledecky captured national attention as she became the second woman ever to sweep the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle events in the same Olympics. After anchoring the silver-medal earning 400-meter freestyle relay team — which also boasted Stanford teammates junior Simone Manuel and senior Lia Neal — Ledecky’s first individual medal came in her record-breaking 400 free. She followed that up with a victory in the 200 free and then another gold and world record in the 800 free, in which she jumped out to a huge lead and beat the silver medalist by 11 seconds. Ledecky’s quintet of medals, a record for a Stanford affiliate in the Olympics, also included a gold in the 800 free relay.

Ledecky wasn’t the only Cardinal swimmer to make headlines. Participating in her first and only Olympics, Maya DiRado ’14 came away from Rio with four medals, including three individual medals. DiRado’s first gold came from the 800 free relay, but her other gold, in the 200 meter backstroke, came with extra meaning: She earned it in what will likely be the final race of her career, beating the favorite, Katinka Hosszu from Hungary, by six hundredths of a second. Her other two medals came from the 400-meter IM (silver) and 200-meter IM (bronze).

After helping Team USA win the 400 medley relay, Simone Manuel made history when she became the first African American to receive an individual medal in swimming with her first-place finish in the 100-meter free. She capped off her Olympic moment with two silvers in the 50-meter free and the 400 free relay.

Women’s water polo:

Coming off of a gold medal win in the London Olympics, people had high expectations for the U.S. women’s water polo team going into Rio — expectations that the squad met if not surpassed. Across their fives games of competition, the women outscored opponents by a 73-31 margin, including a 12-5 onslaught against Italy in the gold medal match.

Captain Maggie Steffens ‘17 led all scorers in the tournament, totalling 17 goals, and was named MVP for the second Olympics in a row. Kiley Neushul ‘15 added 10 goals, including three in the final, while incoming freshman Makenzie Fischer scored seven and Melissa Seidemann ‘13 notched three. The quartet was responsible for 50 percent of Team USA’s goals during the tournament.


One of the most celebrated Olympians of our time and the most decorated beach volleyball player ever, Kerri Walsh Jennings ‘00 paired up with April Ross for the Rio Games after the retirement of Walsh Jennings’s former partner, Misty May Treanor. Walsh Jennings, a three-time gold medalist, lost the first Olympic match of her career in the semifinals against Brazil’s second-seeded pair, but she and Ross bounced back to secure a bronze medal. The bronze marked Walsh Jenning’s fourth consecutive Olympic medal.

On the indoor volleyball court, Foluke Akinradewo ‘09 helped lead Team USA to its third consecutive medaling in volleyball, as the team won bronze after finishing 7-1 in the tournament. It was the second Olympics for Akinradewo, a middle blocker, who, after suffering from an injury during the semifinals, returned for the bronze-medal match and contributed 13 kills, 2 blocks and an ace.

Brothers Erik and Kawika Shoji (‘12 and ‘10, respectively) were part of the U.S.’s medal-earning squad that came back from a 0-2 set deficit against Russia to win bronze, only the second time the U.S. men have medaled since 1992. Erik started the entire tournament as the team’s libero.


No American fencer had medaled in Olympics for 32 years prior to Rio. And for foil, it had been even longer (56 years). But Alex Massialas ‘16 made sure to change that. After advancing to the finals with a 15-9 semifinal victory over Great Britain’s Richard Kruse, Massialas fell to Italy’s Daniele Garozzo, 15-11. But his defeat in the finals still earned him a historic silver medal. The success kept on coming for the two-time Olympian; he was also part of the U.S. trio who won bronze in team foil, the first time the U.S. had won a medal in the event in 84 years.


Elle Logan ‘11 rowed in the seven seat on her way towards helping Team USA’s women’s eight win the eight A Final. With the team’s first-place finish, Logan became the first female rower to win three Olympic golds. The U.S. women’s eight has been utterly dominant, in fact unbeatable, over the last 10 years, with Logan being part of the senior team since 2008.

Track and field:

Katerina Stefanidi ‘12 beat out Team USA’s Sandi Morris in the pole vault after clearing 4.85 meters. Her victory made her the first Cardinal woman to win an Olympic track and field event in Stanford history. She was also the only Cardinal to medal for a country other than America, as she represented Greece during the games. She earned Greece’s first medal in track and field since the country hosted the Games in 2004.


While equestrian is not a varsity sport at Stanford, the school can now say it is home to an Olympic medalist in the sport: Lucy Davis ‘15. Davis and her three teammates earned the U.S. a silver medal in team show jumping, sandwiched by gold-medalist France and bronze-medalist Canada. Davis and her horse, Barron, performed particularly well leading up to the final round, earning zero penalty points.


Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’

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Cardinal ranks No. 8 in preseason AP Top 25 poll Sun, 21 Aug 2016 19:48:05 +0000 After closing out the 2015-16 season with a No. 3 ranking in the final AP Top 25 poll, the highest in school history, the Stanford Cardinal maintained a top-10 ranking to start the next chapter in the college football saga, coming in at No. 8 in the preseason AP rankings.

The Cardinal, receiving their highest preseason ranking since debuting at No. 4 in the 2013 poll, also checked in as the top rated team in the Pac-12 for the first time in the David Shaw era. Stanford has now earned a spot in the initial AP poll for six consecutive seasons, coinciding with each of Shaw’s years at the helm.

Defending national champion Alabama grabbed the top spot in the poll for the third time this decade while 2015 runner-up Clemson opened at No. 2.

In total, the Pac-12 saw five of its representatives claim a spot in the initial rankings, the second-most among all conferences behind only the SEC’s six teams and one clear of the four teams from both the ACC and Big 10.

After starting last season unranked, the Washington Huskies, the top-rated Pac-12 team after Stanford, debuted at No. 14 while preseason Pac-12 South favorite UCLA checked in at No. 16. USC, in their first full season under new head coach Clay Helton debuted at No. 20. Meanwhile, the Oregon Ducks received their lowest preseason ranking since the 2007 season, coming in at No. 24.

In addition to the five Pac-12 schools receiving a ranking–three from the North division and two from the South–Utah and Washington State also received votes.

Stanford will face five teams ranked in the AP preseason poll this season, with four of those matchups coming in a grueling five-week stretch beginning with a September 17 showdown at The Farm against USC, followed by road trips to Washington and UCLA, and culminating with a trek to South Bend, Indiana, to face No. 10 Notre Dame on October 15.

The preseason speculation will give way to tangible results in less than two weeks as the Cardinal kick off their 2016 season at home against Kansas State on September 2 at 6 p.m. in a Friday night game that will be televised on Fox Sports 1.


Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’

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The Birds, the Tweets, the Monks: Werner Herzog documentary “Lo and Behold” investigates the Internet Sun, 21 Aug 2016 00:45:45 +0000 “Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World” is just the latest entry in the bold and bizarre film genre called “Herzog.” The genre’s namesake is Werner Herzog, the kooky German director who’s become meme-ified in the Age of the Internet, for his oddball profundity (analyzing Yeezy’s “Famous” video and Pokemon Go) and scary-flat voice. His new film takes an impossible tall-order as its subject: the Internet. There’s no way “Lo and Behold” will ever hold up to the Herzogs where he tackles a much smaller, termite-sized subject: a German Helen Keller and a deaf-and-blind hospital in “Land of Silence and Darkness,” a mad yet gutsy bear enthusiast in “Grizzly Man.” But there’s no denying it’s pure Herzog: a erratic, irregularly beautiful weirdie that introduces us to some of the most exciting people we’ve ever met.

With “Lo and Behold,” Herzog the Hunter aims his incisive sights, shotgun-style, at the World Wide Web. The buckshot he uses is his own, raw experience: as a guerilla filmmaker, as a self-proclaimed un-user of the Internet (he only keeps a simple cell-phone that’s turned off most of the time) and as a soldier in the fight against corrupt consumerism. (“We need real war against commercials, against Bonanza and Rawhide,” he once proclaimed.) The game he ends up netting is a carnivalesque parade of people from the most remote corners of the Earth. Ted Nelson, one of the original Internet pioneers, shares his ambitious ideas for an alternate Internet based upon an impossibly convoluted system of hyperlinks. (Nelson was dismissed as a madman; he thinks of himself as an abstract computer artist; Herzog thinks so, too.) The Internet-hating Catsouras family grieves for the loss of their daughter Nikki in a car-crash, the grief magnified when her death-photos go viral on the Internet — before they even know she’s dead. Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars (and, of course, Herzog volunteers to go). And a separate colony on Earth has formed, populated by radiation-allergic folks who can’t live wherever WiFi signals are transmitted. (Quite an eclectic bunch, isn’t it?) The goal is to crowd “Lo and Behold” with as many different, interesting folk as possible, thus replicating the Web’s tentacle-like reach, its glorious randomness.


Before proceeding with the film review, we’ve got to talk a little about the filmmaker. No small feat, since Herzog is a squirrely cat to pin down. The sheer breadth of topics among his 70+ feature films, documentaries and short films defy any logical paths or set formulas by which we can analyze his work. With Herzog, you genuinely can’t tell where he will go next. And yet, his films look and move like no one else’s. They are singularly his. What gives?

The Herzog genre is hard to define, but there’s a few set features to all of them. They take excessively eccentric subjects (the deaf-and-blind, cave paintings, burning oil fields in Kuwait, kid soldiers fighting in the Nicaraguan Civil War) and treat them with the disquieting casualness of an evening walk with your cousin’s cute dog.

They spit in the face of anyone who tries to distinguish between what’s “real” and what’s “fictional” in them. Herzog is notorious for refusing to admit there’s a difference between the two. Indeed, watching his films makes you question your own sense of real and unreal, thus making you question your sanity. Each of Herzog’s fiction films inches one step closer to Jean-Luc Godard’s vision of narrative cinema: “All a movie is, is a documentary of its actors.” In the disorienting and abrasive “Even Dwarfs Start Small” (1970), Herzog asks the question: What would happen if a cast of dwarves and I created our own society away from anything recognizably mainstream? “Aguirre: The Wrath of God” (1972; Herzog’s most famous film) is what happens when you put an insane and megalomaniac asshole (Klaus Kinski basically playing himself) in a jungle, dress him up as a Spanish conquistador and watch heads butt between him and his German lackeys. “Fitzcarraldo” (1982) shows exactly how Herzog and Kinski convince Amazonian natives to transport an entire boat across a mountain. (Presumably, with no union contract.) Reportedly, one of the Amazonian extras came up to Herzog during production and asked for his blessing to kill the mad Kinski, since Kinski’s hot-head behavior incurred the wrath and ire of everyone on the set. And so on, and so forth.

Likewise, Herzog’s “documentaries” veer remarkably away from factual truths, carried away with fantastical imagery often tangential to the main subject. “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” (2010) infamously ends, not by trying to summarize the essence of the cave paintings we’ve been discussing for the past 100 minutes, but by ogling a family of baby crocodiles swimming merrily in a nearby aquarium. “Grizzly Man” (2006) has some odd, stilted interviews with the former girlfriend of the titular Bear Lover, Tim Treadwell. Later, Herzog, the girlfriend, and Treadwell’s mustachioed pilot (the last living person to see him alive) stage an ash-spreading funeral near the campsite where Treadwell was mauled to death by a bear. It’s hard to forget this awkwardly-framed band of outsiders —the laconic German filmmaker, the tree- and hip-hugging hippie and the Ron Swanson outdoorsman — as they spread Treadwell’s ashes in a non-parody of the finale of the Coens’ “Big Lebowski” (1998).

Depending on your sensibility, you’ll either be frustrated or downright elated with Herzog’s loose stance on fiction and reality.

The Herzog film casts a hypnotic spell by using a smorgasbord of unusual techniques. He uses meditative repetition; “Fata Morgana” (1971) opens in scratched-CD time as Herzog makes us watch a plane land ten-plus times in a row — each landing more important and symbolic than the last. (How? Who knows.) He gets super close to his subjects, his camera swimming around them as if it were a baby looking at stubby squids floating in the ocean’s depths. He lets a camera linger for far longer than necessary on images — a nightmare for an editors, but strangely dazzling for the viewer. Of particular note is the heartbreaking final images of “Land of Silence and Darkness,” his 1971 documentary on the deaf-and-blind. (“Of all my films, this is the one I want to be available to audiences the most.”) Here, Herzog films a man born deaf and blind, unable to communicate in any way (unlike Fini Straubinger, the German Helen Keller), nestling up to a tree, caressing it, trying to communicate with the cameraman and Herzog. It’s perhaps the most awe-inspiring and tear-inducing moment in all of Herzog’s cinema. Here’s a person trying to break through an unimaginable darkness in real time.

Above all, Herzog refuses to judge any of the characters in his real-life dramas. If anything, he tries to enter the interiority of his characters’ minds. The most moving example, again, is the ending to “Land of Silence and Darkness,” a film whose veins rush with the lifeblood of an observant human who wishes to know the perspective of someone with neither the privilege of sight nor sound. Is the mind total darkness, Herzog wonders? Or does a light, however dim, manage to shine through? What does it look like to the fortunate, the privileged among us? To us, as to the tree-hugging deaf-blind man, this touching finale is an emotional breakthrough. The breathtakingly simple shots of “Land of Silence and Darkness” — lots of Malick-queasy shots of the camera nuzzling up to the deaf-and-blind subjects — are not exploitative in the slightest, though they may seem so. Rather, it’s Herzog’s unusual way to understanding, grappling, faithfully translating the experience of the amazing people he photographs.

No wonder one of his favorite books is J.A. Baker’s “The Peregrine,” a 1967 “nonfiction” book where the author’s mind seems to become one with the hawks’ he’s tracking. (Herzog recently gave a talk about this book at Stanford.) Baker and Herzog both make the case for a supercharged use of poetic license, far beyond comfortable levels. In this way, the “ecstatic truths of the world” (Herzog’s words) make themselves visible to us. Infamous for his deadpan dismissals of anything that reeks of “accountant’s truth” and “dull imagination,” Herzog is a completely different person behind the camera. An open-hearted man who wishes to share his experiences with the world, Werner Herzog uses the film medium to make us consider the world in a more fantastical, free-jazz fashion.



The family of Nikki Catsouras, as seen in Herzog’s “Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World.” (Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)

All these techniques are employed in the beautiful “Lo and Behold,” a film as batty as its creator. The awkward zooms, lack of a definite documentary goal and relaxed flow lends it its manic soul.

Some of the folks Herzog interviews for “Lo and Behold” recall the endlessly fascinating, non-urban folk in Errol Morris’s early documentaries (“Gates of Heaven,” “Vernon, Florida”). Ted Nelson, a self-proclaimed “computer artist,” works himself up in a frenzy as he explains his complex theories, completely forgetting he’s being interviewed or that there’s a camera in front of him. There’s also the unforgettably stilted straightness of the Catsouras family, whose daughter’s tragic death-photos were sent to the father via email. Herzog’s occasional hatred for humanity is relentless in this segment. He’s always had a repulsed fascination with man’s depravity, and it seethes in every shot of this jaded family. Even when they start stuff like the Internet is “the manifestation of Evil” and “the Antichrist,” we’re too far into their story to really back out. Herzog neither mocks nor glorify this broken family. He simply observes them with a hard-and-soft lens, searching for the human soul that extended use of the Internet threatens to eradicate. It’s a genuine and noble thing to look for.

Despite his fame, Elon Musk gets the common-man treatment, too. Herzog cares quite little about Musk’s reputation and what he can concretely do. He’s more interested in the impossible dreams Musk has. As the Internet grows more sophisticated, Musk is first in Herzog’s mind, a pioneer whose dreams are the kind of late-’60s-era space-race-dreaming he believes makes humans great.

But there’s a special place in Herzog’s heart for the quasi-mountain folk who have been banished by the encroachment of the Internet. There’s something disturbing in hearing their story, people who we forget about in our normalized conception of a Connected World. The radiation-allergic community — sitting around all day playing bluegrass on the banjo, Vera-Lynn-from-the-end-of-“Dr. Strangelove”-style — restores Herzog’s faith in humanity, but also confirms his bemused disgust with it. As we become more attached to the Internet, it becomes almost an addictive high from which we can’t escape. Herzog, a loosey-goosey Luddite, champions a break from the Internet, stepping back to see how far we’ve come but also how much we’ve got to lose.

For its sheer scope (impossible to keep under 100 minutes), Werner Herzog’s soulful investigation of the Internet will obviously be unsatisfying for many. But for what it is (rogue auteur takes on Silicon Valley), it’s damn thought-provoking. Many people will be turned off by its seeming self-parody. Don’t be! It’s very minor Herzog, never reaching the sustained, ecstatic heights of his greatest work (“Land of Silence and Darkness,” “Aguirre”, “Woodcarver Steiner,” “Lessons of Darkness,” “Gesualdo: Death for Five Voices,” “Grizzly Man,” among many others I haven’t seen yet). But the success of a Herzog depends upon how engaging and thought-inspiring it ends up being. In that sense, “Lo and Behold” showcases Herzog at his finest.


“Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World” opens at the following Bay Area locations: the Landmark Clay in San Francisco, the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley, the Camera 3 in San Jose, the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael and Osio Cinemas in Monterey.

Contact Carlos Valladares at cvall96 ‘at’

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Film review: ‘Bad Moms’ = Bad Movie Sat, 20 Aug 2016 07:02:21 +0000 Jon Lucas’s and Scott Moore’s “Bad Moms” is a raunchy comedy that attempts to use humor to portray the problems with traditional gender roles. While there were a few good laughs, the overzealous attempt to portray suburban life and the characterization of each of the “moms” was strained to breaking point.

“Bad Moms” tells the story of three parents who, tired of their thankless jobs, give up and decide to break all the predefined rules of “momhood.” No more PTA meetings, no more bake sales, no more boxed lunches. The underlying commentary on the unreasonable expectations put on parents is overshadowed by suggestive jokes and a see-through plot. The addition of a group of popular moms makes the movie seem like Regina George from “Mean Girls” grew up and created an all-powerful mom clique, rather than three unique moms letting loose and having fun.

Like the film, the characters in “Bad Moms” are all hot messes. While the premise of the story is relatable, the execution and sub-par acting results in a chick-flick full of cheap laughs. The plot was jagged and characters fit too well into overdone tropes: The seemingly perfect antagonist with a surprise-tragic-backstory; the slacker husband who counters the overworked, overwhelmed “super mom”; the character with no sexual inhibitions whatsoever; and the naive, hesitant sidekick. Even the love interest is just a  handsome boy-toy who helps rejuvenate Amy’s sex life.  It’s as if the writers took a thick black marker and boxed in each character, rendering the performance and the emotion one-dimensional.

The only redeeming part of “Bad Moms” is the therapist. Wanda Sykes plays the part with a forward sassiness punctuated by one-liners. Yet, even this character fit into yet another of Hollywood’s hackneyed tropes: the sassy black woman.

While the movie occasionally made fun of itself through slow-mo editing and overplayed music, the jokes are crass, the execution extreme and the story — a proposed story of female empowerment — felt forced and cringe-worthy. Perhaps tired, working mothers around the country might enjoy drinking a bottle of wine (as Amy and her friends often do in the movie) and have a quick laugh at “Bad Moms”. Seems to me that Kunis and her two sidekicks should stick to being “good” moms.


Contact Shilpa Sajja at 19ssajja ‘at’ and Sho Sho Ho at 19sho ‘at’

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A Big Hunk o’ Meat: Naomi Wallace’s ‘Slaughter City’ Sat, 20 Aug 2016 07:01:45 +0000 In an ironic way, “Slaughter City” seems to unintentionally embrace the stereotype that theater is the domain of the elite and educated, not the working class. “Slaughter City” is part of Stanford Repertory Theater’s summer festival, Theater Takes a Stand, which celebrates the American labor movement. The story itself takes place inside a meat-packing factory, where blue collar workers spend their days bickering with each other while cutting into slabs of meat. At times, the play is discouraging to watch, and not just because of the injustices that the characters face as part of the struggle for workers’ rights. “Slaughter City” also features surrealist elements that go largely unexplained and a nonlinear narrative that leads to some particularly confusing moments.

Brandon (Louis McWilliams) succeeds in consistently bothering his coworkers, Maggot (Nora Tjossem) and Roach (Leontyne Mbele-Mbong). When the three aren’t pitted against each other, they are harassing the strange new worker, Cod (Fiona Maguire), or being harassed by their boss Baquin (Thomas Freeland).

This play is unapologetically angry. Characters seem to raise their voices at each other in practically every scene. This uniformity dulls the sense of urgency or intense emotion that these moments are clearly intended to convey. In addition to the obvious focus on worker’s rights, racism and sexual assault are both addressed. That’s a huge range of serious issues, and in some moments it feels like the play is trying to do too much. There are very few instances of humor or even lighthearted conversation, which dulls the audience’s response to anger even further.

Scenes are presented as a series of vignettes, with their beginnings and endings punctuated by a sharp whistle. The speed and sheer number of scenes is engaging, but at times they feel more like different variations on a theme than a plot. Particularly confusing is the role that Cod and the charmingly sinister Sausage Man play in the production as a whole. It’s clear that the two of them are able to travel through time, moving from one labor movement conflict to another. This function seems superfluous, however, and results in extraneous confusing details. Cod is always radiating heat, for example, and repeatedly stammers when trying to remember which time period he exists in currently.

That’s not to say that the play was devoid of effective scenes or emotional moments. The friendship between Roach and Maggot seems genuine, and as frustrating as the narrative is to follow, the cast members clearly do their best to support both each other and the audience. Cast members who aren’t in a particular scene are seated on the edge of the stage, responsible for the sound effects. The use of props is minimal, so the audience’s primary focus is on the actors.

Ultimately, “Slaughter City” is telling an important story. Its methods are certainly unconventional, but that perhaps distracts from the central message that it is trying to communicate. All of the actors are earnest in their portrayals of complicated characters. It’s just hard to believe that the characters in “Slaughter City” would have enjoyed this play themselves.


Contact Reed Canaan at rcanaan ‘at’

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Outside Lands 2016: The Full Report Fri, 19 Aug 2016 14:31:23 +0000 This past weekend, Golden Gate Park was once again transformed into an epic showcase of music, art, food and drink as tens of thousands of festival-goers descended onto Outside Lands. If you were one of the lucky fans who was able to snag a ticket to this sold-out festival, you were treated to a jam-packed lineup of artists, ranging from established names (Zedd, Radiohead) to newer arrivals (Oh Wonder, Con Brio). Outside Lands had more than anyone could hope to see in a weekend; the toughest choices were deciding who to see and, by extension, who to miss. That said, here’s a small glimpse on what the festival had to offer.

On Friday we rolled into the park, joined by the fog and over 70,000 fans, ready to be drowned in great music, delicious food and cold beer. After spending the crowded bus ride surrounded by Pokemon Go trainers, navigating through checkpoints and seemingly endless lines, we finally entered the festival grounds.

Our first order of business was to find something to eat; we weren’t disappointed. Food vendors from all corners of San Francisco were stationed throughout the park, offering an overwhelming range of selections from fresh oysters to donut cheeseburgers

(which I wasn’t brave enough to try). We eventually zeroed in on Bacon Bacon, whose name tells you all you need to know.

A classic Bacon Bacon burger. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

A classic Bacon Bacon burger. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

After our quick refuel, we meandered our way across the park trying to find our first performance. We found it at the Heineken House, a giant white bubble tent that resembled two conjoined igloos shaking from the pounding of house music bass. We decided to give it a shot, because who doesn’t want to go clubbing at three in the afternoon?

Again, we weren’t disappointed. After squeezing past a bar with overpriced beer (you guessed it: Heineken), we were spit out onto the center of a dance floor being DJ’ed by FDVM, a French DJ duo who blend music from around the globe in their sets.

After an hour of dancing under the illuminated dome roof and the excruciatingly loud fog machines, we needed a drink. And there’s certainly no shortage of booze at Outside Lands. We made our way to the aptly-named Beer Lands, where dozens of local breweries had countless offerings of beer on tap. For beer aficionados, this oasis was an opportunity to find unique beers and enjoy them outside in the company of friends and live music.

Unfortunately, I am not a beer aficionado and find IPAs kind of gross. (I know — a very unpopular opinion in NorCal). A saison is about as interesting as I get. So I ordered the Outside Lands Saison, an exclusive brew for the festival made by Sierra Nevada.

Beer in hand, we made our way to the Barbary, the festival’s improv and stand-up comedy club, to see one of my favorite comedians: John Mulaney. Unfortunately, upon arriving, we found out that everyone else had the same idea and found ourselves standing in a line three times the capacity of the venue. For reasons still a mystery for me, we waited in this line, somehow hoping the 500 people in front of us would simultaneously realize they had somewhere else to be. They didn’t. We later learned you could reserve tickets in advance, which we’ll definitely do next year.

As the day waned, the crowds grew and grew. Going to the headliners was a skill in weaving through crowds, with a few prone less to weaving than to bulldozing. Since I’m blessed with height, I could still see the stage from my faraway vantage point. Alas, my shorter friends weren’t as lucky. They enjoyed a view of Camelbaks, bucket hats and the occasional elbow. But as the scene progressed, this mattered less and less; the stage’s light shows began to shine over the crowd, aided by the mix of fog and smoke from machine and crowd. LCD Soundsystem took full advantage of this, illuminating a stage-sized disco ball which shone like a miniature sun as the band rocked into the night.

* * *

On Saturday, we staked out a spot to watch the Wombats. This Liverpool rock group’s energetic performance was infectious —

The Wombats, at Outside Lands 2016. Photo by Sam Girvin. (Sam Girvin)

The Wombats had a surprise visitor on stage in Daisy the bulldog. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

just what we needed to prepare us for another event-packed day. After working up an appetite, we once again explored the vast array of mouthwatering food found throughout the park. This time, I landed at 4505 Meats’ stand. This NoPa restaurant is famous for its burgers and ribs and was even featured in Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.” I tried their “Best Damn Grass Fed Cheeseburger” and can confirm it was pretty damn good.

Later that day we visited the StubHub Soundstage. An intimate venue, we joined a ’90s dance party here and, later, were treated to a DJ set by Jauz. Jauz’s set transformed this lowly tent into a Vegas nightclub. Hundreds of dancing bodies packed into it, losing themselves in the unique genre-blending music that defines Jauz’s performances. By the time his set concluded, we were exhausted and our ears were ringing from being so close to the stage.

After stepping out of the tent back into open air, we caught our breath and hurried over to our final show of the night: Zedd. We weaved our way through the ever-growing crowd to get as close as we could. After a seemingly endless slideshow of test screens on the stage’s TVs, the lights went out and Zedd appeared on his elevated platform. What really set Zedd apart from other artists was his production values: putting as much attention into his visuals as his music. His perfectly synchronized visuals — a crafty combination of fireworks-lasers-flamethrowers (yeah, flamethrowers) — were enthralling to watch. They made for a spectacular end to the night. 

Zedd, at Outside Lands 2016. Photo by Sam Girvin. (Sam Girvin)

Zedd puts on a wild light show. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

* * *

By Sunday, we were exhausted but pressed on to see some of our favorite artists perform. The afternoon started with Kamasi Washington, a jazz saxophonist who collaborated with Kendrick Lamar on his 2015 opus “To Pimp a Butterfly.” (Washington’s solo album, “The Epic,” also received immense critical acclaim.) Washington was joined onstage by Miles Mosley, Patrice Quinn and his father, among others. These jazz virtuosos fed off of each other’s energy, seeming to converse on stage as they traded solos back and forth.

Following their performance was Oh Wonder, a London duo whose heartfelt lyrics and joyful sound has propelled their meteoric rise this past year. The positive vibes from their performance were infectious, even helping to bring out the sun.

Oh Wonder, at Outside Lands 2016. Photo by Sam Girvin. (Sam Girvin)

Oh Wonder performs at Outside Lands 2016. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

The sun was a welcome addition to the festival, and we set out our blankets and listened to Jack Garratt perform his one-man show. As we chowed down on our chicken curry burritos from Curry Up Now and chicharrones from Bacon Bacon, Jack Garratt took multitasking to a whole different level — playing every instrument on stage, showcasing his incredible range as a musician.

After enjoying our sun-soaked picnic, we made our way back to the main stage (along with seemingly everyone else) to see Chance the Rapper. Chance put on a crowd-pleasing performance, playing a lot of his recent releases along with songs from his Acid Rap days. Our only complaint was that he didn’t play for longer!

Following Chance’s departure, Major Lazer took the stage. Their high-octane performance turned the entire park into a giant dance party. Led by their on-stage dancers, thousands of fans were jumping in unison, getting down and, to our dismay, even attempting to run, despite being packed like sardines. Maybe it was Diplo crowdsurfing in a human-sized hamster ball or the choreographed dancers, but Major Lazer transported us on this sunny Sunday afternoon to a party to rival any in Vegas. After an hour of dancing nonstop, we realized just how exhausted we were from a weekend of endless entertainment.

at Outside Lands 2016. Photo by Sam Girvin. (Sam Girvin)

The sun sets on Outside Lands one last time. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

In the meantime, here are some Outside Lands artists worth checking out:


Criticize Ned Danyliw for his unimaginative taste in beer at

]]> 0 A classic Bacon Bacon burger. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily) A classic Bacon Bacon burger. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily) Photo By: Sam Girvin Photo By: Sam Girvin Photo By: Sam Girvin Photo By: Sam Girvin
Football preview podcast: Most pressing questions Fri, 19 Aug 2016 06:22:20 +0000 With two weeks to go until Stanford football officially kicks off its 2016-17 campaign with its Sept. 2 opener against Kansas State, the KZSU/Daily football crew got back together after a long offseason and talked about the biggest questions that this Stanford team needs to answer in order to be successful this season.

Does it even matter who plays quarterback for the Cardinal? Can Christian McCaffrey emulate his legendary 2015 campaign? Are the offensive and defensive lines in good shape?

Join KZSU play-by-play announcer Nicky Sullivan, color commentator Michael Peterson and Daily football analysts Vihan Lakshman and Do-Hyoung Park for all that and more in the first episode of our season’s podcast series.

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Stanford scholar reveals complex view of Islam in Iranian poetry Wed, 17 Aug 2016 08:00:01 +0000 In her dissertation about Persian poetry, doctoral student Ahoo Najafian offers a rare glimpse into the poetry of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for the English-speaking world.

While Khomeini is better known as the former supreme leader of Iran, literary critiques of Khomeini’s poetic output are hard to come by since his chosen form, the ghazal, is not widely studied by today’s critics. Najafian, who is completing her Ph.D. in religious studies at Stanford, reveals the subversive flavor of his poetry that often contradicted his political texts.

Complex view of a leader

As a 10-year-old seminary student, Khomeini began to write poems in his diary that drew attention from his peers. Khomeini’s poetry stayed otherwise under wraps until his daughter-in-law published Khomeini’s poems after his death in 1989. Even from this collection, however, 55 years worth of Khomeini’s poems are missing from the period in which Khomeini was exiled from Iran.

“We have his poems as a young man,” Najafian said. “We have his poems as the leader of a nation. But we don’t have the [poems] in between to see [his] development.”

Khomeini mostly wrote love poems in his earlier years, but his later poetry showed a growing fascination with mystical themes. His political supporters and critics alike were most shocked by the iconoclastic themes of these later poems, which challenged his legacy as Iran’s dogmatic religious and political leader.

“The interesting thing about Khomeini is that he is using these themes: writing against established religion [and] established political positions, saying we should all be beyond that,” Najafian said.

According to Najafian, the opposition between Khomeini’s theocratic politics and more mystical poetry is part of what makes his poetry so unique.

His choice of a poetic form called the “ghazal” also signals his rebellious spirit, Najafian argues.

Though ghazals are traditionally love poems, the poets of Iran’s constitutional revolution (1906-1911) imbued their poems with political fervor by casting the independent Iranian nation as the beloved in their passionate ghazals. Khomeini was inspired by these unconventional political ghazals and chose to write most of his poems in that style, even though the restrictive form had fallen out of favor by his time.

Najafian, long interested in literature, became intrigued by contemporary ghazal poetry because the form has many critics and receives little attention.

“The fact that there are still people writing ghazals and they have readership is what fascinated me,” Najafian said. “If we want to [understand] these people, maybe we should read what they are reading.”

Complex view of Islam

To Najafian, Khomeini’s poetry is especially significant today because it defies a simplistic binary of “bad Islam” and “good Islam” in the popular imagination. As the leader of the Iranian Revolution, Khomeini is closely associated with political Islam, which some people today view negatively due to the rise of extremist militant groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hamas. Yet Khomeini’s poetry is imbued with the mysticism and sufism that have gained the popular label “good Islam” due to their nonviolent character, Najafian said.

“We see all the terrorists and say that’s bad Islam without bringing into conversation the inner life of these Muslims,” Najafian said. “Why is it that religion becomes a defining characteristic of any person with such a background?”

Najafian pointed out that the dichotomy supposes that a “real Islam” exists, which some people have achieved more completely than others. She believes that poetry is a natural way of exploring the ambiguities and complexities of Muslim identity.

“And maybe in order to show the complexity, we should start to show the complexity of the term Islam itself,” Najafian said. “What is the best way to convey this complication to people? Maybe literature is a good starting point.”


Contact Aditi Chatradhi at aditichatradhi19 ‘at’

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Film review: A conversation on ‘Jason Bourne’ Wed, 17 Aug 2016 00:11:53 +0000 A conversation between two critics, from the perspective of a die-hard Bourne fan, and a person who has not seen the previous Bourne films. Spoilers below.

Citlalli: What did you think of the movie?

Grace: I was Bourne ready for it!

Citlalli: Cheeky. Puns aside, what are your thoughts?

Grace: I thought the beginning was too fast paced in terms of action, but the fighting and car scenes did not disappoint. The opening with the violent riot was a lot to follow: The camera movement was intense and a lot was going on — it felt as if viewers were present at the scene. What did you think of it?

Citlalli: To be honest I think that the beginning and ending of “Jason Bourne” were the best parts of the film. The Greek demonstration was realistic and the quick camera movement created a feeling of chaos. I think that this was meant to simulate what a real demonstration would be like. I do agree that at times the camera movement went a little overboard. What did you think of the action overall in the movie?

Grace: The fighting scenes were fantastic. Well-choreographed, and Bourne (Matt Damon) was very resourceful with the weapons he chose to use. The sound effects were well-timed as well and added another dimension of realism to the fights.

Citlalli: What did you think of the characters? I thought that the CIA agent character, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), was a little subdued and could have benefitted from more character development. However, I did like the Mark Zuckerberg CEO-type character Aaron Kaloor (Riz Ahmed). His presence made the situation more believable. As the CEO of the mega social networking site Deep Dream, he struggled to balance privacy and public security for his clients.

Grace: Unlike the previous films in the trilogy, “Jason Bourne” focuses more on a story arc that confronts the issues of privacy and government surveillance, as well as following up with Bourne’s continual search to uncover the secrets of his past. This aspect was important because it bridged the gap between the previous movies and brought back fans to the first movie. However, the flashbacks that Bourne had were too frequent, and although it adds an element of mystery and provides context for plot development, it was repetitive and excessive at times.

Citlalli: I thought what made this movie boring for me was the lack of meaningful dialogue. No substantial interactions between the characters prevented me from growing attached to any of them as people. That’s mainly why the end fight between Jason Bourne and Asset (Vincent Cassel) was so underwhelming. They probably exchanged two words to each other before Bourne choked Asset to death. Their history and deep-rooted hate towards each other didn’t lead to a dramatic confrontation, which I found pretty disappointing. However, their epic car chase before their fight made up for it!

Grace: A lot of police cars were sacrificed in the process but that scene was entertaining and even overshadowed the final fighting scene. The last fight scene was highly anticipated but anti-climactic. Usually when it is between two equally matched opponents, it drags on forever with the two matching each other blow for blow. This one did not do the characters justice. Although well-choreographed, there was not much of a confrontation with Bourne’s past, and was not enough after the impressive car chase.

Citlalli: Surprisingly, I found the car chase hilarious. The absolute absurdity of it totally made the movie worth watching, even though I had to wait until the end. For the most part, it was pretty boring, but the action scenes at least partially salvaged it.

Grace: Perhaps we can look forward to a sequel that continues to delve further into the issues of privacy and government spying in the future?

Contact Grace Lam at gracelam95122 ‘at’, and Citlalli Contreras at 17ccontreras ‘at’

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Glam Grads Q&A: Dana Chadwick on landscape biogeochemistry Tue, 16 Aug 2016 08:00:30 +0000 In this edition of Glam Grads, The Daily reached out to environmental earth system science Ph.D. candidate Dana Chadwick about her research interests in landscape biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology. Chadwick earned her undergraduate degrees in environmental economics and policy as well as molecular and cell biology before arriving at Stanford for her Ph.D. Chadwick’s current research, conducted under Gregory Asner, principal investigator in the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science, involves the role of hillslope processes in controlling nutrient distributions within lowland Amazonian ecosystems.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): Can you tell me a bit about yourself and how you arrived at Stanford?

(Courtesy of Dana Chadwick)

(Courtesy of Dana Chadwick)

Dana Chadwick (KDC): I did my undergrad at Berkeley in environmental economics and genetics. I’ve always been interested in science, including both the social sciences and natural sciences, and I really valued being able to study both during my undergraduate experience.

After my undergrad, I worked at a company that was involved in environmental commodities marketing and got interested in land use tradeoffs for carbon mass production. It eventually led me to applying for grad school, so I could return to environmental science research. I was hoping to stay in the Bay Area and looked into what was then the Department of Environmental Earth System Science. I really liked a lot of the work that was being done here and was especially drawn to the work Greg’s been doing. I really like the larger landscape scale at which we work using airborne remote sensing techniques.

TSD: Between Berkeley and Stanford, which setting would you say you prefer?

KDC: That’s a dangerous one. I’m divided against myself here. The experience of grad school and undergrad are so different that it’s really hard to say. At undergrad, you’re doing so much more coursework, test taking and structured activities that it really is quite a different experience, though I had a variety of research experiences in undergrad as well. The structure of a Ph.D. is just so different in that you are able to more independently explore the topics that are of interest to you. I guess I’ll stay neutral and say that I really enjoyed the Berkeley campus — I love it and it’s beautiful  — but I do like being in graduate school better.

TSD: Is there a lot of pressure? Do you have any advice for undergrad students looking into graduate school?

KDC: Stanford is obviously a great research institution, so there’s definitely pressure to do well and accomplish a lot. I’d say that it’s really important to come in excited about what you’re doing. Be sure that you’ve really thought about why you want to go to grad school and that you’re excited about the research process because at times, it can be slow and very challenging. Make sure you’ve chosen an advisor that is a good fit for you. I get along well with Greg and it’s been a really nice experience for me, so I’d say it’s important to have that kind of relationship. Be sure you are planning to study something you’re willing to spend a lot of time teaching yourself about.

TSD: Have you always been interested in this area?

KDC: Yes, I’ve always been very interested in science. In high school, my interests within science were much more scattered and directed towards molecular-level biology. I was never inclined towards the pre-medical route, but I really enjoyed genetics and more molecular scale biology. Eventually, through research I did in my undergraduate years, I became interested in science at a slightly larger scale. I still really liked molecular level biology, but a lot of the research ends up being very narrow, focusing on important but specific problems. I wanted to scale out a bit in my research.

TSD: What graduate research are you currently working on?

KDC: I’m working in the Southern Peruvian Amazon where I’m looking at landscape scale distribution of nutrients in both the soil and tree canopies. My work involves analyzing how essential nutrients are redistributed within soils along hillslopes: how that can be moderated by different levels of erosion and biotic processes, and… if those nutrient distributions are reflected in the tree canopies. In order to do that, I’ve been using airborne remote sensing data to examine hillslope morphology, model canopy chemistry using imaging spectroscopy data then take that and understand nutrient distribution across the landscape.

TSD: What does your fieldwork and lab work involve?

KCD: Since my work is done in the Southern Peruvian Amazon, I’ve been going there once to twice a year for the past three years. I’ve done fieldwork to gather soil samples and helped with some of the foliar collections. I really love the fieldwork aspect, getting to see the places I’m studying. I had the opportunity to participate in one of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory campaigns, which was an incredibly valuable learning experience. After returning to the lab with samples, I do a lot of lab work to generate the nutrient data, and I also do a lot of analysis using large scale remote sensing data sets.

TSD: Where do you see yourself after graduate school?

KCD: I’m planning to continue working with Greg as a postdoc at the Carnegie Institution for a while, continuing my work in Peru as well as Malaysian Borneo. After that, I’ll look into additional research positions and opportunities. I would like to continue to pursue a career in research science.

This transcript has been lightly condensed and edited.


Contact Michelle Liu at michellemhliu ‘at’



]]> 0 IMG_20160814_174610 (Courtesy of Dana Chadwick)
At archaeology field schools, students excavate Byzantine church, a shipwreck and human bodies Mon, 15 Aug 2016 08:00:51 +0000 Courtesy of Bright Zhou

(Courtesy of Bright Zhou)

Last summer, Claudia McKenzie ’18 uncovered a 10,000 year old painting using just small dental tools.

The find came during McKenzie’s first experience with archaeology, at the Stanford Archaeology Center’s “field school” in Catalhoyuk, Turkey. Every summer, the Stanford Archaeology Center gives dozens of students of all majors hands-on experience on professional archaeology projects all around the world.

This year, participants dove into a shipwreck at the Marzamemi Maritime Heritage Project in Italy, mapped the Chavin de Huantar site dating back to 1200 B.C.E. in Perú and studied the impact of colonialism on Mauritius.

For Madeleine Ota ’18, a double major in archaeology and classics working on the Marzamemi project, the best part about archaeology is seeing how the Classical period remains relevant.

“People are so fascinated by the Classical world,” Ota said. “Even a thousand years later people want to understand how all these different cultures, ideas and concepts have come about, how they relate to the western world today.”

This year at the Marzamemi excavation site, groups alternated between hour-long dives off the coast of Sicily and artifact restoration and conservation at Rudini, a winery-turned-local museum.

According to Ota, teams found chunks of marble while diving that were once part of great columns to build an early Byzantine church. Groups also found skeletons of iron castings that had reacted with the seawater to leave rusted, hollow rock through a process known as concretion.

Meanwhile, students working at Rudini used a variety of computer programs such as Agisoft Photo Scan to recreate what their finds would have looked like in the past. Many artifacts found at sea are broken, worn down or covered in sea life, and programs like Agisoft align photos taken from different angles to bring together a coherent picture.

“To have technology as a different outlet for possibility is really cool,” Ota said. “I love to get in touch with ancient history by looking at something a lot of people traveled with in the past.”

For many students, the ability to balance the ancient and the contemporary in a single space can make a hazy past a more grounded reality worth exploring.

For Bright Zhou ’16, discovering human remains three years ago at Catalhoyuk set the foundation for the rest of his career. Zhou, who came to Stanford to study medicine, ended up majoring in archaeology and basing his senior thesis on his work at Catalhoyuk as well as his independent project at Mauritius.

Zhou believes one of archaeology’s major goals is to connect people with their country’s history. During his fieldwork in Turkey, he, too, found himself steeped in local heritage in a way that informed his present day travels.

“Between those two years I picked up so many words from the Turkish language,” Zhou said. “Then I went to Istanbul, and while admittedly many more people spoke English there, being able to make my way around, being present and being ready to learn, I definitely immersed myself in their modern culture.”

Although Stanford no longer runs the program in Turkey due to safety concerns, Catalhoyuk has already left its mark on many students. For McKenzie, the Catalhoyuk Research Project has made archaeology accessible where once it seemed wildly foreign. Uncovering paintings and thousand-year-old eggshells taught her that history can be found in the smallest things, she said.

“You aren’t just digging mindlessly,” McKenzie said. “Someone opened a burial with the body’s brain matter completely preserved. In the landfill I was digging at, the eggshells we found were the earliest evidence of bird domestication back ten thousand years ago. It shows there is something significant we are searching for.”


Contact Jessica Xing at jessica.xing1998 ‘at’

]]> 0 Catalhoyuk Courtesy of Bright Zhou
Stanford researchers use stem cells to create pure populations of human cell types Fri, 12 Aug 2016 08:00:47 +0000 Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered the combinations of biological and chemical signals needed to rapidly generate human cell types from human embryonic stem cells, according to Stanford Medicine News. Pure populations of up to 12 cell types can now be created in five to nine days, as opposed to the weeks or months previously required.

The senior authors of the study are Irving Weissman, director of Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and its Ludwig Cancer Center, and Lay Teng Ang of the Genome Institute of Singapore. The lead authors of the study are Stanford Ph.D. student Kyle Loh and research assistant Angela Chen. The study was published on July 14 in Cell.

Cell types that can be produced include bone, heart muscle and cartilage. This may allow researchers to create beating heart cells for heart attack patients or cartilage or bone to aid in joint repair.

“Previously, people had some success in turning stem cells into different cell types,” Loh said. “The problem was, it often took a very long time, like weeks or months, and moreover, they generated an impure mixture of cell types.” Researchers might have gotten bone cells, heart cells and pancreatic cells, as opposed to the pure populations generated by the newfound method.

Loh said, “We want to inject these cells into patients one day, with the goal of regenerating specific human tissue.”

The study also demonstrates patterns of gene expression that occur during human embryo segmentation and confirms that human development relies on evolutionary-conserved processes. This provides insight into how congenital defects occur.

Human embryonic development is relatively difficult to study, as the international ethical standard, the “14-day rule” limits laboratories from cultivating human embryos for longer periods of time.

Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, which means they can become any cell type in the body. The human embryo has three germ layers: the ectoderm, the endoderm and the mesoderm. Each germ layer gives rise to certain cell types during embryonic development. Loh and Chen focused their research on the mesodermally derived cell types, which include cardiac and skeletal muscle, connective tissue, bone, blood vessels, blood cells, cartilage and parts of the kidney and skin.

Loh and Chen specialized a human embryonic stem cell line by applying specific combinations of signaling molecules.

Their strategy can be thought of as a “yes-and-no” technique. They apply factors that encourages differentiation into one type but also blocks differentiation to another type.

“Let’s say you’re trying to differentiate bone cells,” Chen said. “We’re adding positive signals so that something promotes bone formation and, at the same time, inhibits the pathway at the very beginning [that goes] towards the heart.”

In another example, cells in the primitive streak, present in the early embryo, become either endoderm or a type of mesoderm. To drive the cells to become mesodermal, researchers inhibit the activity of the signaling molecule transforming growth factor beta (TGF-B). Adding a signaling molecule called WNT and blocking the activity of the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) molecule encourages differentiation into a specific type of mesoderm, and the reversing the function of these molecules drives cells to become the other type of mesoderm.

(Courtesy of Kyle Loh and Angela Chen)

(Courtesy of Kyle Loh and Angela Chen)

Loh and Chen have generated human bone by transplanting bone cell precursors into laboratory mice. They have also generated beating heart muscle cells and 10 more mesodermal-derived cell lineages.

The ability to create pure populations of human cell types from stem cells is a key step in future regenerative medicine treatments.

“I think it will not directly improve any current treatment, but I think it opens the door to many future ones,” Loh said of the discovery. “Our ability to produce these new cells will be kind of the gateway to making a lot of future therapies work.”


Contact Tanushri Sundar at tanushrisundar ‘at’

]]> 0 stem cell graphic (Courtesy of Kyle Loh and Angela Chen)
Photo Gallery: Outside Lands 2016 Fri, 12 Aug 2016 07:11:20 +0000
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Former Stanford football player files lawsuit against University, NCAA, Pac-12 Thu, 11 Aug 2016 08:00:38 +0000 Former Stanford football player David Burns ʼ76 has filed a class action lawsuit seeking damages for the alleged disregard of the health and safety of former Stanford football players.

The suit names the University, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) as defendants and covers Stanford football players active between 1959 and 2010. Stewart Pollock of the law firm Edelson Professional Corporation will be lead-counsel for the suit, which joins 12 others filed by former college football players since mid-May. The suits allege that private universities, the NCAA and regional athletic conferences knew or should have known of the danger concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) pose, but neglected to either inform student-athletes or adopt adequate concussion management protocols.

According to the lawsuit implicating Stanford, some concussed players, such as Burns, were prematurely returned to games or practices and now suffer from chronic injuries ranging from impulse control to early onset Parkinson’s disease.

Burns, who was not available to comment, seeks redress for these injuries, which he alleges Stanford knowingly failed to prevent.

“We talked to a client recently who recalled playing in games where his ears were bleeding,” said Chris Dore, a partner at Edelson. “[Student-athletes] are looking at these [athletic and educational] institutions to protect them.”

In a statement to CBS San Francisco, Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin maintained that the University prioritizes protecting student-athletes.

“Stanford was surprised to see this lawsuit purporting to be a class action on behalf of football players from 1959 to 2010 as Stanford had not previously heard anything from the plaintiff or his counsel about the allegations being made,” the statement read. “Stanford has always acted in the best interests of its student athletes.”

The complaint has been assigned to Judge Kandis Westmore of the U.S. District Court of Northern California, San Francisco Division.

Protecting Students

Edelson’s string of lawsuits followed another settlement between the NCAA and a class of former football players led by Adrian Arrington, wide receiver for the University of Michigan from 2004-07.  The settlement provided for medical monitoring such as doctor’s appointments but not monetary compensation for an injured player, and it stipulated that future class actions against the NCAA, such as Burns’ complaint, must proceed on a college-by-college basis.

“The [NCAA settlement] didn’t account for anything that would occur if the test showed that there was something wrong with you,” Dore said. “You’d have players who were already experiencing injury, and the doctor’s appointment would be useless to them because they had already been to the doctor a thousand times.”

Dore stressed that the neurological injuries Edelson’s clients face have ruined their abilities to hold jobs and maintain social relationships. The former students represented in Burns’ suit, he explained, did not know the long-term dangers of repeated head injuries. College students and their parents now have access to information that was not in the public eye as recently as 10 years ago, according to Dore.

“When people look at these players in a lot of these suits, they are seeing them as men, middle-aged men,” Dore said. “People forget that they were 18 to 22-year-olds who were more or less under the guardianship of these schools and of these programs.”

While football players implicitly agree to take on some risk by participating in games, Osborne argued in one of the earliest law articles on sports-related head injuries that trainers and team physicians have a duty to protect athletes.

“Tremendous pressure may be placed on the athletic trainer to return the athlete to play as soon as possible by the coaching staff, administrators, other team members, alumnae and fans, and the athlete,” the article stated. “The athletic trainer cannot be influenced by the team’s need for the player or even by the athlete’s desire to play.”

According to Burns’ complaint, the NCAA, Pac-12 and Stanford “knew for decades of the harmful effects of TBI on student-athletes, [but] ignored these facts and failed to institute any meaningful method of warning or protecting the student-athletes.”

The NCAA first mandated concussion protocols in 2010. Due to Burns’ pending litigation, Stanford has not disclosed when the Cardinal first adopted a concussion protocol. However, former head coach Jim Harbaugh’s comments to The New York Times indicate Stanford has had a concussion protocol since at least 2007.

Law experts weigh in

Experts unaffiliated with either Burns’ or the defendants’ legal teams said the lawsuit may have a difficult time proving that Stanford and others were negligent.

“Even though [Stanford] has a duty to protect [students], anyone who plays any kind of sport knows that they could get hurt,” said Barbara Osborne, professor of sports medicine and law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). “Failing to adopt a safety standard is not the same thing as active concealment [of information].”

In Osborne’s opinion, the NCAA and athletic conferences do not have a duty to protect students, but rather a duty to not increase risks to the health and safety of student-athletes. Osborne believes that the actions and regulations of the NCAA and the Pac-12 should be evaluated under the norms for football during the time period covered in the suit, not current standards.

Though the suit alleges that “study after study published in medical journals” warned of the dangers of concussions, Osborne noted that there was no strong consensus in the sports medicine community when Burns played for the Cardinal. Medical experts disagreed on the dangers of concussions and other TBIs in football until relatively recently.

“If the standard is to be reasonably prudent, it looks like committees [within the NCAA] had been doing what they were expected to do, and did create policy when there was consensus,” Osborne said.

Though research on head injuries dated back to the 1920s, consensus on concussions specifically within football were not reached until Kevin Guskiewicz, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC and member of the NCAA’s Concussion Safety Protocol Committee,  conducted a series of large-scale epidemiological studies identifying the effects of multiple concussions in the late 1990s. Guskiewicz’s research, which earned him a MacArthur fellowship, helped shift the field of sports medicine away from reliance on athletes’ self-reporting symptoms and towards more objective measures of athletes’ health.

“Coaches and trainers can’t make decisions on someone else’s safety if they are not getting honest information from the person,” Osborne said.

Burns’ recent complaint does not specify whether subjective self-reporting of symptoms was the norm when Burns played football from 1972-74.

According to a survey that then-student Richard Eagleston ʼ71 MA ʼ76 distributed to football players at Stanford and Santa Clara University in the 1975 season, however, players reported only slightly over half of the injuries they sustained, but were most likely to report head injuries. Most of the players surveyed reported receiving encouragement from their coaches or trainers to report injuries.

If evidence at trial demonstrates that Stanford football acted within the accepted coaching standards at the time, Osborne explained, there would be no breach of duty to players on Stanford’s part.

But Dore disagreed. He clarified that, per the conditions of NCAA’s settlement with Arrington, the firm must sue individual colleges even though the negligent behavior alleged in the complaint was typical of most college football programs from 1959-2010.

Burns’ case is “a matter of [the defendant’s] knowledge and their ability to control these players, to control the policies and limit the harm of [head injuries],” Dore said.

Deborah Hensler, Judge John W. Ford Professor of Dispute Resolution at the Stanford Law School, who specializes in class action litigation and procedure, suspects that the plaintiff’s definition of the class may cover too many people, but has withheld definitive judgement on the issue until more facts pertaining to the case are discovered.

“A court, at least at first blush, would think of it as being a very large amorphous class and judges are frequently uncomfortable allowing such class actions,” Hensler said.

A recent settlement with the NFL, Hensler noted, featured a narrower class of retired football players suffering from certain neurological diseases, while Burns’ suit limits the class solely by time period.

However, Hensler agreed with Dore that Stanford could be held responsible even if its practices were similar to peer institutions’.

“If there is some period where the plaintiffs show that Stanford and the other defendants knew and should have been doing other things and weren’t telling the players, then the plaintiffs would still have a strong case in that regard,” she said.


Contact Miguel Samano at msamano ‘at’


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Stanford lecturer teaches at assistive technology workshop Wed, 10 Aug 2016 08:00:03 +0000 In July, young adults joined Stanford lecturer in Mechanical Engineering David L. Jaffe for the Design and Assistive Technology Workshop in downtown San Jose’s Tech Museum. The workshop used hands-on projects to teach participants about assistive technology, or devices and services aimed at helping people with disabilities.

The program, part of the museum’s Social Innovators Workshop Series, was the first workshop of its kind at the Tech. According to Allison Berman, a program specialist at the Tech Museum who coordinated and developed the workshop, it was tailored to an audience with minimal experience in assistive technology and design. The first half of the workshop introduced students to assistive technology with a talk from Jaffe, while the second half centered around brainstorming, designing and fabricating a prototype of a device.
Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 1.18.36 AM

“I wanted to focus both on the general idea of teaching innovation and also to do a specific physical task that people could accomplish during that workshop and take home,” said Berman. “Because as much as we love to teach design, hands-on engineering is a major part of the Tech Studio.”

Jaffe, who teaches a course at Stanford called “ENGR 110: Perspectives in Assistive Technology,” says assistive technology isn’t limited to tangible devices and commercial products. Assistive technology also includes legislation, institutions and people from a multitude of professions that work to help people with disabilities and older adults.

Elderly people and people with disabilities were also invited to the workshop and interacted directly with the students, who worked on designing devices that could potentially solve an issue that their users struggle with.

“I wanted to have [a workshop] that focused on bringing empathy into the design process,” Berman said. “The goal here is to get people to think at the very beginning of their process about their user and to expand their ideal user into everybody, and not just sort of the middle section, the average user.”

The workshop’s aim: to design a device that anyone can use, whether or not they have disabilities.
Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 1.18.51 AM

The workshop sought to pique students’ interest in the field, encourage teamwork and expose participants to the design process.

“The Social Innovator Workshop Series is really about inspiring teens towards a career track they haven’t considered before,” Berman said.

The workshop emphasized the brainstorming and design concepts of assistive technology. Jaffe brought in a team of facilitators to assist the students with their brainstorming process, encouraging students to contribute any and every idea they had before shortlisting. He said creativity is essential to assistive technology — as is familiarity with the problems that older adults and people with disabilities face.

“If you design for an imaginary user,” Jaffe said, “your product will solve an imaginary problem.”

On a different note, able-bodied customers sometimes look at products designed to accommodate the disabled and think that they are paying for products from which they derive little value. Berman gave the example of pre-peeled oranges; many people tweeted that it was a product designed for lazy people. However, the product was useful to people with mobility issues and poor grip strength, among other disabilities.

“A workshop like this makes you think about that in the context of accessibility and the myriad of things that people around [us] are giving up that you never even think about,” Berman said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article used the terms “disabled and elderly” instead of “people with disabilities and older adults. This has been changed to respect the people-first identification of such groups. The Daily regrets this error.

Contact Aditi Chatradhi at aditichatradhi19 ‘at’

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Stanford collaborates on Adolescent Mental Wellness Conference Tue, 09 Aug 2016 08:00:57 +0000 In light of several suicide clusters and an emerging need to raise awareness of mental health issues, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing cosponsored the 2016 Adolescent Mental Wellness Conference in the South San Francisco Conference Center Aug. 5-6.

The conference featured around 50 speakers and panelists total. Attendees could choose which speeches and forums to attend; the conference also presented “Unmasked,” a short film about suicide created by students from Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School last year.

“In the spring of 2015, after the second cluster of teen suicides, what we kept hearing in the community was everyone talking at each other,” said Sherri Sager, Chief Government and Community Relations Officer at Lucile Packard. “It was all of this noise, and everyone wanted an instant solution.”

Although the Bay Area community has been searching for ways to provide more mental health support clinics and resources, most efforts have been stand-alone. This conference took a more unified approach. Rather than limit the discussion to a panel of policymakers, the conference encouraged discussion among educators, clinicians, family members and youth in the hopes of facilitating further understanding and change through a more diverse range of perspectives.

“By bringing together [multiple parties], part of our hope is that there will be a chance to hear the voice of young people and parents who are particularly concerned about mental health [and] to understand what they see as the key issues,” said Steven Adelsheim, clinical professor at the Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Amidst the chaos of mental health issues in the Bay Area, many people are pointing fingers and targeting criticism at specific groups rather than working together to enact change and think up a concrete solution, according to Sager.

“Let’s bring everyone together; let’s put everyone on the same page,” Sager said. “Let’s provide information that is helpful and useful and gets everyone talking about concrete solutions as opposed to playing the blame game.”

The organizers of this event hope that increased dialogue will gradually encourage stronger systems of support. The conference represents an ongoing effort by Stanford to collaborate with the community on issues of mental health.

Adelsheim initiated the Center three years ago with the goal of providing greater youth access to mental health care. The Center is open to the public, although a large percentage of its clients are Stanford students and other adolescents in the Palo Alto community. However, it is working on expanding its reach by participating in state, national and even global projects.

“[The Center] was basically created to support efforts for connecting adolescents and youth with early medical support,” Center manager Vicki Harrison said. “There’s a real need for that nationally, and [people in general] don’t do a very good job of trying to identify mental conditions early.”

In an attempt to improve its reach, the Center has committed to several key initiatives for the coming years, including the integration of the Headspace program, an early intervention clinic model founded in Australia. These clinics, serving youth from ages 12-25, would provide services ranging from mental health care to physical care to educational support at low costs.

Adelsheim hopes that the Center’s new initiatives and leadership at the conference will contribute to its ability to “create a context for us to bring together supports around early mental health care.”


Contact Emma Cockerell at emma.m.c.2000 ‘at’ and Ethan Teo at ethanteo99 ‘at’

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Young Love: Vincente Minnelli (‘Gigi’, ‘Reluctant Debutante’) at the Stanford Theatre Mon, 08 Aug 2016 20:20:49 +0000 A double-feature of Vincente Minnelli movies, “Gigi” (1958) and “The Reluctant Debutante” (1958), shows tonight (Monday, Aug. 8) and tomorrow night (Tuesday, Aug. 9) at the Stanford Theatre. “Gigi” is a chance to catch up with a man (Minnelli) who was conceivably the greatest musical director of the classic Hollywood era. And “Reluctant Debutante” is a chance to discover an obscurity that shows one of Minnelli’s many strengths as an artist: comic direction.

Though mainly known for his musicals—“Meet Me in St. Louis” with ex-wife Judy Garland, “An American in Paris” with Gene Kelly, “The Band Wagon” with Fred Astaire—Minnelli’s career showcases a consistently tasteful, jaw-dropping command of the cinematic frame in every genre he tackles. From celebrated musicals, to propulsive melodramas (“Some Came Running”), to noir-ish takedowns of the movie biz (“The Bad and the Beautiful”), to comic-book-like satire of the American Dream (“The Long, Long Trailer” — like an episode of “I Love Lucy” gone berserk), Minnelli’s done it all. The two films on display at the Stanford are Minnelli working at full-throttle.

* * *

“Gigi” is a shrewd little musical. It convinces you it’s just pretty fluff. Then it sucks you in, it makes you care, it really swings with emotion and wit.

The plot: the titular Parisian girl (Leslie Caron, channeling Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday”) is being trained by her grandmother (Hermione Gingold) to be a courtesan for handsome bachelor Gaston (Louis Jourdan). Gaston is an easily bored playboy who cares little about women’s feelings: he’ll dump one (Eva Gabor) as an arrogant display of his faux-rebellious nature. Bored of sticking with the traditions and appointments expected of him in French aristocratic society, Gaston likes to ditch his commitments in order to hang out with Gigi and the grandmother (whom he affectionately calls “Mamita”).

Their scenes together (playing cards—this teen girl gulping down champagne under the disapproving hawk-eyes of Mamita) demonstrate what it means to let a movie breathe, and to let actors use their space, naturally, as they would on the stage. It’s no wonder that we fall in love with them—and no wonder that Gaston falls in love with Gigi. The story’s concerned with how she goes from a coarse teen to a proper lady. But as it turns out, this only makes her exactly like the other girls in Paris. Is her Hepburnization a cop-out to the demands of the French high society, or just a necessary part of growing up?

“Gigi” is about two things, generally: what it means to grow up, and what it means to live in a society with rules-traditions-manners. “Gigi” maintains a sad, wistful tone throughout its 117-minute runtime. You’re constantly reminded that the good times (an amazingly mundane dance-number between two could-be-should-be lovers and a Mamita) can’t last. Eventually, people outgrow or outlive their youth, and the myriad of petty arguments along the way get lost in the haze of change. That’s what happens to Gaston’s uncle (played by Maurice Chevalier, cinema’s flesh-and-blood Pepe le Pew). He’s the symbol of everything Gaston hates (and we hate) about this Parisian aristocratic society: a blind comformity, a subtle patriarchal brutality, a fear of discomfort. But, at the same time, we realize (in Chevalier’s show-stopping solo, “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore”) that the Uncle was once, too, as idealistic as the head-strong Gaston and Gigi. What happened? Will this happen to us? “Gigi’s” answer: yes, and though you should live with it, that doesn’t make it any less tragic. As Frank Sinatra said, that’s life.

Of course, this hackneyed theme gets battered into your head about two dozen times throughout the film’s runtime. But it only gains poignancy in its shattering finale: a deceptive, happy ending, where the Hepburnization and “Pretty Woman”-ification of Gigi is complete. Now a high-society lady, Gigi is no longer the manic imp we loved to hang with in the film’s earlier reels. Thus, “Gigi” is on par with Jacques Demy’s soulful musicals (“The Young Girls of Rochefort”) as having the saddest happy-ending in the world. (Or is it the happiest sad-ending?)

The most admirable thing about “Gigi” is its simplicity. Even though one is wont to criticize its lavishness, it’s actually much more low-key than first meets the eye. “Gigi” is a smashing paradox: it’s a peek into a more perfect world than ours, but the world isn’t displayed in the feverish, over-the-top tradition of fantastical dream-worlds like “American in Paris” or “Singin’ in the Rain.” No major dances in “Gigi” — there’s more sing-speaking than actual singing — people rarely move more than three inches while performing. The actors prefer various methods of sit-singing: sitting in a moving coach (“It’s a Bore”), at a café table (“I Remember it Well”), on a park bench (Jordan’s dreamy “Gigi” solo) or a garden patio (“I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore”). The only major dance (“The Night They Invented Champagne” — my favorite number) is a contained jig in Mamita’s blood-red apartment. The number feels totally inconsequential: all they’re celebrating is Gaston losing a game of cards (probably on purpose) and Gigi winning a bet to get Gaston to take her and Mamita to the beach (where they’ll eventually fall in love). It’s a shocking moment, both for its seeming flippancy and organic smoothness.

The greatest thing about the scene is how naturally everything flows. The number marches onward in one shot—without a single cut. Whatever camera flourishes are present (a transcendently random track-in to Mamita and Gigi’s dancing feet) are neither gratuitous or show-offy. They seem to flow from the organic energy of these robust actors, always anchored within Minnelli’s flowery sets. The aim of Minnelli’s camera is half-documentary; that is, he wants to observe actors at work, developing character in one jazzy riff-shot. The best memories in life, as indicated by the “Champagne” number, are the minor ones with family and friends that, in the moment, stretch on for ever and ever. The specifics of the memory may fade (as the cute Chevalier-Gingold duet “I Remember It Well” demonstrates), but the good vibes and fond feelings never do.

Is that enough? “Gigi” doesn’t say.

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Photo courtesy of CARLOS VALLADARES/The Stanford Daily.

The tonal opposite of “Gigi” can be found in “The Reluctant Debutante,” a non-romantic romance about the fall and decline of the British Empire. This fun farce (“a cult favorite at the Stanford”) plays like a perverse parody of “Gigi”. Whereas the surface slickness of the “Gigi” sets and costumes served to enhance that film’s tragic air, in “Reluctant Debutante” that same floweriness is being brashly shown-up, in a sort of neo-Frank Tashlin vein.

Story: A brash American teenager named Broadbent (Sandra Dee) comes to live in England with her English father Jimmy (Rex Harrison) and her dotty stepmother (Kay Kendall). The object: to learn good etiquette, to be “in” with the “In”-glish crowd and to find a man. But when she falls in love with a jazz-musician, the Broadbents hurble and burble (apparently, an MGM British person’s way of objecting). Rex and Kay both hate this kid because of some rumors they heard from their best friend (Angela Lansbury!). They think he’s some sexual deviant who did something to a girl involving a bottle of brandy, a bed, some rope and nuts. They’d rather have their baby girl go out with a “nice,” “decent,” “handsome” British bloke like David Fenner (more on this crazy cat later). Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall spend the entire movie trying to get Sandra Dee to forget the jazz-musician and to hook up with Dave “Not a Sinner” Fenner.

Like Vincente Minnelli’s underrated “I Love Lucy” spinoff (1954’s “The Long, Long Trailer”), “The Reluctant Debutante” is a bold satire about the delightful stupidity of American (and, this time, English) social climbers. Every actor plays up their respective stereotype with relish. Sandra Dee’s brassy American teen reaches the right tones of annoying, clueless and earnest. The always-interesting Dee (her eyes beaming with flash bombs of indifference amid this sad display of late-50s British decadence) is the anti-Gigi: She doesn’t give two Texan damns about the “proper” way a lady must sit, the proper procedure for setting up a phone date, the “correct” way to gossip about a upper-middle neighbor. Rex Harrison becomes funnier with each new reel: his permanent Mr. Magoo squint will suddenly, and without warning, switch on to a big, bug-eyed bombast whenever he hears talk of his teenage daughter romancing the sex fiend. Lansbury (who steals the show, as is typical of a Lansbury performance) monster-trucks her way through each scene with a strong command of scene, body and self-aware flibbertigibbet know-how. It’s the same type of bravado she displayed in her nuttiest, most memorable role: as the megalomaniac, Commie-witch-hunting senator’s wife in “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962).

The actors nail the self-absorbed narcissism demanded of these characters. They seem to only be acting for themselves, talking to dead air, never sharing a warmness with each other. There’s lots of fat, empty, dead space between Rex and Kay as they discuss their daughter’s romantic prospects. Whenever two characters need to be more than chummy with each another, Minnelli separates them even further with a tactfully-placed prop (for instance, the hideous teal lamp-shade that bulges in the middle of Sandra Dee and the jazz musician as they fall in love). There’s enough room in the ginormous CinemaScope frame for each actor to carve out a slice of the screen space for themselves, ensuring they’ll never connect to each other (not even on a landline). Furiously concerned with acting within their own given space, the actors’ self-centered approach enhances the film’s ultimate point about the communication problems between upper-crusts in high society.

The satire is broad, but will get devilishly specific when necessary. In a running joke that reveals the Brits’ and Americans’ unconscious racism, there’s only two reasons why the Brits are so opposed to Dee dating the jazz-musician. They connote jazz music to “savage rhythms”, and to them, savage=sex=no good. Their watered down conception of rock-and-roll music (a big-band rendition of the already watered-down “Rock Around the Clock”) is enough for them to jump out of their colonialist seats in alarm and dissent. The humor of each scene with the jazz-musician comes in his totally unconvincing baby-face: this pop-Meursault doesn’t look like he could screw a light-bulb. (And he sure as hell couldn’t hold a candle to Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley or Fats Domino.)

Added irony comes in the fact that the parents actually approve of a lad who’s the spitting image of rape culture. David Fenner (Sandra Dee’s aggressive, cowardly British suitor) is like the womanizin’ Maurice Chevalier without the charm. Fenner is like Son of Terry-Thomas, that wonderful British character actor with the gap tooth and the smorgasbord of excessively English phrases like “Su-per!”, “Rah-ther touching, really,” and “I should say not!”. Dave “Not Brave” Fenner loves to say these stereotypical phrases, maintaining “Debutante’s” broadly satirical look at British mannerisms. A typical scene with the British boy wonder: standing next to a fully-upright Rex Harrison, the “eleven” he creates with Rex make them both look like bland martini toothpicks (two teas in a pot). His method of “seduction” is to manhandle Dee (who never gives consent, which doesn’t stop Boy George) with aggressive kisses. The parents, in a telling point of irony, think this is fine behavior simply because the boy comes from an okie-doke background. But our jazz musician? Get out of town; he’s one of those common folk, not good enough for the daughter, no sir-ree.

At one point, Boy George, daring to criticize Dee’s nasal American in the misguided hope of winning her over, bluntly tells her, “I say, wotta funneh ack’sant you’ve got!” It’s the classic clashing of two worlds—the hipster American versus the refined English. Only here, it’s been spiced up by three factors:

  1. A  cast of eccentrics who are in no way representative of the general population. Behavior that wouldn’t normally catch your eye in a dead DVD setting becomes even funnier in the grandeur of CinemaScope. (Choice example: the moment when Kay Kendall, thinking she’s calling Dave “Never Been to a Rave” Fenner, accidentally ends up calling the sexed-up jazz musician instead. In a scene that doesn’t last for longer than a minute (i.e., a blink-or-miss moment of pure termite acting), Kay displays a masterful command of voice-arms-eyes as only the best actors can. Playing the coolly confident mom and the white British colonialist who thinks the “savage” world is comfortably away from her (i.e., playing specifically and broadly), Kay elongates her body in a series of wild, passionate poses across her sofa and the living-room. Turning briefly into a knockoff brand of Russian gymnast, Kay lays her British accent on thick to the jazz musician (lots of elongated “rah-thers”), contorting it to ever-greater heights of ridiculousness. She takes command of the CinemaScope space like a mama lion stalking an impala’s body after the sweet hook-bait-and-kill. For the hell of it, she even decides to straighten a Raphaelle Peale-like silhouette of a Greek goddess that’s slightly crooked. Futzing and fussing over the most insignificant details of her overly glamorous house, in this moment, Minnelli hands over solo-privileges to Kay Kendall, who riffs marvelously in the short time she’s given.)
  2. An intelligent use of wide-screen CinemaScope, courtesy of the master Minnelli. From the Greek trinkets (busts, the aforementioned silhouette, mock-Ionic columns), to the rubbery flower bouquets, to the red- and yellow-lamp-shades, decorous chairs, and “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” matching dress and wallpaper: Minnelli’s actors swim around in a stream of cramped, imperialist decadence. They can never seem to escape the strong currents; they can only swim to the bank and wonder, “What if, today…?”
  3. An overall truthfulness to the observations made about British and American culture. From an American perspective, the sound of a Brit giving driving directions (“we took the coast road through Williton and got all the Taunton traffic on the A358 from Crowcombe and Stogumber…”) is nigh incomprehensible. Likewise, the use of Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall (two supreme British actors) adds a believable level of old-English arrogance to the proceedings.

All in all, “Reluctant Debutante” is a masterful tale from Minnelli and company about the highs and lows (mostly lows) of high British culture. It’s so subtle, you wouldn’t even think it was skewering anybody or anything on a first viewing. Along with “Gigi”, “Debutante” takes a long, hard look at the traditions, systems and role-models that limit us, but which (if we recognize them) can also free us. They don’t free the people in “Gigi” or “Debutante,” naturally. There’s an inevitability to the limitation in “Gigi” that isn’t present in “Debutante”, but both of their happy endings say a lot more under the surface than one would think. And they both do so without losing sight of its primary goal: telling a rich, engaging story, filled to the brim with believable actors and scenes that breathe with a naturalistic, Cukor-like earthiness.

* * *

“Gigi” plays tonight and tomorrow night at the Stanford Theatre, at 7:30 p.m. “The Reluctant Debutante” plays at 5:40 p.m. and 9:35 p.m. Both films play in wide-screen CinemaScope and MetroColor.

They are also available on DVD at the Media & Microtext Center in Green Library on Stanford’s campus. “Gigi’s” call number is ZDVD 18860. “The Reluctant Debutante’s” call number is ZDVD 25615.


Contact Carlos Valladares at

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