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Leicester City — how the mighty have fallen

The fairytale is over

Leicester City — how the mighty have fallen

Last February, Leicester City sat atop the Premier League table. Fast forward a little over a year, and the club currently sits in fifteenth place, only three points above the relegation zone, struggling to capture last season’s incredible run of form.

Leicester City’s title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri, was sacked from a team that looks absolutely bereft of confidence. The Premier League’s greatest fairytale story seems to be just a one season wonder.

Following their unprecedented Premier League triumph in 2016, the immediate concern that worried Leicester fans was whether they could ward off interest from the rest of Europe in order to protect their key players. Despite interest from major clubs around Europe throughout the summer, Leicester City managed to retain the services of star players Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.

The club, however, was unable to keep midfielder N’golo Kanté, who transferred to Chelsea FC for £32 million. Kanté’s primary duty is closing down the opposition in order to grant attack-minded teammates more freedom and mobility, and he has helped Chelsea to 69 points and a spot atop the table this season.

By the end of the 2015–2016 season, Kanté led the league in 175 successful tackles and 156 interceptions. Leicester City have been lacklustre defensively this season, as they’ve  already managed to concede 47 goals, compared to last season’s final tally of 36 — and there are still 10 games left to play.

The loss of Kanté has clearly hurt Leicester City, as the talismanic Frenchman was responsible for anchoring the midfield and linking the play between the defence and midfield. The protection he provided his defenders proved to be invaluable and it does not seem as if any players in the current Leicester squad can offer anything similar.

In addition to Leicester City’s shaky defence, their offensive quality has declined and become inefficient. So far they’ve only managed to score 30 goals, less than what they had at this point last season.

Vardy has only managed to produce seven goals this season, three of which were scored against Manchester City in December. Vardy’s offensive productivity is nowhere near last season’s output, as he’s been struggling to get off shots and complete his dribbles.

Vardy cannot bear responsibility for Leicester City’s offensive woes, as he relies heavily on service from his fellow teammates.

Mahrez, Leicester City’s main creative outlet, has struggled to generate any meaningful chances this season, scoring only five times and assisting twice. Last season he totalled 17 goals and 11 assists. Mahrez’s inability to recapture last season’s form has left Leicester City strikers feeding off scraps because they simply do not possess the technical ability to create chances for themselves.

Leicester City’s success last year was not solely due to their players consistently putting in world class performances nor was it due to Ranieri’s tactical prowess. In fact, some of the credit goes to the other nineteen Premier League clubs; the opposition allowed Leicester City to play how they wanted.

Leicester City’s team statistics after week 28 this season seem roughly the same as last season: 46 per cent possession, 71 per cent accuracy, and 6,867 completed passes this year, compared to 46 per cent possession, 71 per cent accuracy, and 6,469 completed passes this time last year.

The difference lies in the amount of goal-scoring chances they’ve been able to create, which is significantly less and reflected in their assists total.

Premier League teams have adapted their tactics to contain Leicester City’s quick counter-attacking football. Defenders are now playing deeper to neutralize the threat posed by Vardy’s pace and midfielders are closing down Leicester City’s playmakers a lot quicker.

It’s arguable that the mentality of the opposition has also changed. Managers have instructed their players to avoid complacency and not to underestimate Leicester City. They aren’t playing the same team that finished fourteenth at the end of the 2014–2015 season — they are playing the reigning champions of England.

Leicester City are currently embroiled in a relegation battle and might set a new record in the process: the first Premier League champions to get relegated the following season.

Yet another IOC scandal

Kenyan Olympic Committee stripped of IOC funding

Yet another IOC scandal

A whirlwind week of drama at the boardroom level saw the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) reject a political reform proposal from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), lose their IOC funding, and then finally vote to adopt the same rejected policy in a last ditch effort to escape the possibility of a ban. 

While the IOC still hasn’t made a clear decision on how to punish Russia for their state-sponsored doping scandal, they seem to have set their sights on the NOCK.

The IOC’s issues with the NOCK initially began at the Rio Games, where Kenyan officials regularly became a distraction and acted in a detrimental fashion towards the performance of their athletes.

Embarrassment began for Kenya in the lead up to the Rio Olympics, when sprinter Carvin Nkanta was unable to compete in the competition due to not having proper documentation, and fellow athlete Julius Yego nearly missed his chance to compete in the games because his travel arrangements to Rio hadn’t been properly organized.

During the Olympics, the ridiculousness continued as uniforms were taken by officials and never provided to athletes. Two Kenyan coaches were sent home from Rio, one for posing as an athlete in order to give a urine sample and the other for requesting money from undercover journalists who were posing as athlete representatives to obtain information about the schedules of doping tests.

The nation’s Olympic program is in crisis; it has seen a wave of Kenyan track athletes abandon their native land to compete for other nations, like the US, Turkey, and Bahrain. At the 2016 Olympics alone, 20 Kenyan-born athletes competed for a different country.

A total ban is unlikely, but the IOC’s decision to cut off funding and demand reform was made with the athlete’s best interests in mind.

The onus is now on the NOCK, who must make fundamental changes to improve their organization or they’ll likely see more of their athletes leave to compete for better equipped nations.

The IOC is facing one of the most difficult challenges in the history of its organization in Russia and continuing to have to deal with the NOCK’s incompetence of can be seen as an absolute waste of their time.

Big-league hockey comes to Sin City

New NHL franchise Vegas Golden Knights latest to roost in the Sun Belt

Big-league hockey comes to Sin City

When the newest National Hockey League (NHL) franchise was officially announced in June 2016 as part of the league’s expansion to 31 teams, responses were mixed. Canadians’ hopes for the return of a team to Quebéc City or a new arrival to the Greater Toronto Area were dashed when the NHL announced the Vegas Golden Knights as the league’s newcomer.

But in the Sun Belt of the US, excitement abounded.

Slowly but surely, ice hockey is migrating south. While this is not a new development — the first major NHL expansion brought two teams to sunny California 50 years ago — the meteoric rise in hockey’s popularity down south is becoming increasingly hard to ignore, even as Canadians insist that hockey’s true place remains in the frigid north.

Recent changes in the 100-year-old league exhibit a noticeable trend as the moving front of the hockey market extends toward sunnier climes. Of the 15 expansions and relocations since 1991, 10 are located in cities south of the fortieth parallel — stretching from roughly northern California to Maryland.

As with any other region, the ultimate metric of success down south is wins — specifically, Stanley Cup wins. The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars have each had multiple successful runs and claimed a Stanley Cup apiece in the last 26 years.

California’s three NHL teams have consistently tallied impressive season records and have been playoff mainstays each year, collectively winning three Stanley Cups — the Anaheim Ducks in 2007; the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014.

It is a well-known fact in the league that the road swing through California is, for most visiting teams, a trip through hell; at a critical time in their season as they chase for a playoff spot, the Toronto Maple Leafs recently went 0–3 in their annual Golden State trip.

With the early advent of artificial ice and the continued improvements in arena technology today, hockey has shifted from an outdoor winter pastime to a sport that can be played anywhere at any time of year. A 2015 outdoor game in San Jose between the Kings and San Jose Sharks was played at a balmy 14 °C, nearly twice the average temperature for the league’s previous 14 outdoor games.

While the ice surface was a little choppier than usual, the game passed without incident and was played in front of more than 70,000 fans, underscoring hockey’s surge in popularity in the Sun Belt in recent years.

But is Sin City the right place for a hockey team?

Ice hockey has, in fact, been around for decades in Las Vegas. The city has been home to semi-professional teams since the 1960s, starting with the Gamblers and Wranglers of the ECHL and the Thunder of the International Hockey League, who reached the Conference Finals in both the 1995 and the 1996 seasons. In 1991, Las Vegas hosted an outdoor exhibition game between the NHL’s New York Rangers and the Kings before a crowd of over 13,000.

But the Golden Knights will be Vegas’ first major-league sports team, and the viability of hockey in the desert is about to undergo a second trial, as the on- and off-ice struggles of the Arizona, formerly Phoenix, Coyotes continue. With a population of 2 million and a dearth of any other major sports franchise, Las Vegas is being touted as a fertile hockey market. Early results are promising as the Knights hit their mark of selling 13,800 season tickets for their inaugural 2017–2018 campaign.

Importantly, the team also has a brand new home arena: the $500 million T-Mobile Arena om the vegas strip which opened for events last year.

The United States hockey program has been challenging Canada’s hockey supremacy for years. Their gold medal win against Team Canada at the 2016 World Junior Championships was a shot heard around the world — the Americans have arrived. Leafs prodigy Auston Matthews grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is thus a product of the desert. He is heralded as a future NHL superstar and is currently on track to break the Leafs rookie single-season points record set by Wendel Clark in the 1985–1986 season.

The evolution of the NHL to warmer climes is unstoppable, even if potential northern markets continue to go untapped. The powerhouse of American ice hockey talent may be in large part originating in the growing fan market of the Sun Belt, where the league’s foray into the desert is creating a new generation of hockey players and fans.

In conversation with Nam Nguyen, writer of A Perfect Bowl of Phở

An award-winning production returns for a remount at the Cat’s Eye

In conversation with Nam Nguyen, writer of <em loading=A Perfect Bowl of Phở"/>

A Perfect Bowl of Phở, winner of the U of T Drama Festival’s Best Production Award, staged a remount last Saturday at Victoria College’s Cat’s Eye Pub. The musical comedy tells the story of Nam, a young first generation Vietnamese-Canadian, and focuses on phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup.

In the show, phở is the vehicle through which a story of colonialism, cultural differences, and the struggles of immigrant families is told.

The production’s main character also happens to be a version of the writer himself, Nam Nguyen.

“Something I didn’t know I wanted to talk about was being an Asian-Canadian,” Nguyen said. He thought that he could attempt to incorporate Vietnamese history into the story.

“I found a convenient way to do that when I read this article online, it was called ‘The History of Phở’… it was a lot of stuff that I already knew… how phở was invented under French colonialism, but then it just had a bunch of historical tidbits in it. It was just an engaging enough piece that I found this was something that you could stage and people, probably they won’t fall asleep,” he said.

Nguyen explained that his thought process behind writing himself into A Perfect Bowl of Phở was that it was “definitely very much from my perspective and my experiences growing up as a Vietnamese-Canadian kid. It would be somewhat dishonest to portray my experience as everyone’s, so I decided to be entirely straight and upfront about it.”

As a musical, Phở stood out at the Drama Festival. It was the only show to feature an original score, including a rap song titled “Medium Phở,” which described a 15-year-old Nguyen on a date during which he takes his partner to a phở restaurant. Hilarity ensues.

A Perfect Bowl of Phở received universal praise at the Drama Festival and won the President’s Award for Best Production.

“The thing I like about [winning Best Production] is that it is a ‘Best Production’ award, it’s not just like ‘Nam, you were great,’ but it really, I think, recognizes everyone for their accomplishments. Just like, altogether we may not have had the best script, or the best direction, or the best acting, but… altogether we were the best product,” he said.

In a media and cultural landscape that often leaves Asian-Canadians out of the picture, Nguyen believes it is important to tell stories that are especially relevant today, such as how phở came to Canada. In telling that story, he had to explore refugee crises and the experience of immigrant parents. “The importance is in all things that come along with [phở],” he said, “and I don’t think that’s ever going to stop being relevant.”

A preview of this year’s Trinity Art Show

Upcoming exhibition to focus on minimalism across a variety of mediums

A preview of this year’s Trinity Art Show

Beginning on March 24, the Trinity Art Show will once again open its doors to the campus artistic community and beyond for an exhibition in the beautiful Seeley Hall at Trinity College.

The annual show is run exclusively by students and aims to facilitate the presentation of student artwork that relates to a unique chosen theme. This year’s show will feature a variety of mediums, including sculptures, photographs, prints, sound installations, and video projections.

The theme of this year’s show is minimalism, with the goal of creating an aesthetic space that showcases simple artistic processes and students’ individual interpretations of minimal and reductive visual forms.

The theme is a continuation of last year’s show, which transformed Seeley Hall into a space dominated by shades of white, grey, and black, with flashes of colour dispersed throughout.

Each year, the Trinity Art Show gives emerging student artists the opportunity to display their work in an inclusive setting. All potential artists go through a process of submission and review. The lineup is then finalized, with particular attention paid to selecting a diverse collection of works from across the spectrum of different mediums.

The curators of this year’s event are Eleanor Laffling and Elisa Natarelli. The Varsity spoke to Laffling, who commented on the theme of the show and the process of curating an entirely student-run exhibition.

“This year’s show is a continuation from last year’s theme,” said Laffling. “We attempted to curate a collection of works that visually interpreted our theme but also touch on other subjects, themes, and experiences. Minimalism as an art movement provides a formal basis for how to express other conceptual matter. The Trinity Art Show provides a space for individual artists to show their work, of which each piece has personal and independent meaning.”

Laffling also said that she felt fortunate not to have encountered any significant obstacles in curating the exhibition. “The most important aspect of a student run is to have a curatorial team that works well together and is able to work towards one objective,” she said. “Our team has been working together for a couple of years, and each of us [understands] the vision of the show.”

This year’s featured artists include Maddy Bailey, Monica Bujas, Carine Chelhot Lemyre, Vivian Cheng, Clara Chung, Benjamin De Boer & Phat Le, Sandy Ma, Jenna Robineau, Malcolm Sanger, Hiba Siddiqui, and Eugenia Wong.

The opening reception of the Trinity Art Show will take place on March 24 from 6:00–9:00 pm at Seeley Hall in Trinity College. General admission will take place on March 25 from 12:00–4:00 pm.

Tabletop gaming convention at U of T provides students with a needed escape

Last weekend’s CritCon was part of a larger resurgence in gaming culture

Tabletop gaming convention at U of T provides students with a needed escape

Tabletop games, in a broad sense, refer to any board game played on a flat surface. But the term has also developed a second, more specific meaning that excludes games like chess and backgammon. It is used to specify role playing board games, distinguishing them from Live Action Role-Play (LARP) and video games that centre on role playing.

Netflix’s hit thriller series Stranger Things heavily highlighted the tabletop gaming trend of the eighties, with best friends Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, Lucas Sinclair, and Will Byers frequenting Mike’s basement to play Dungeons & Dragons; the kids often use the game as a reference point in their sleuthing.

This is one of the most recent shoutouts tabletop gaming has received in mainstream media, but it is not the first. From Leonard Hofstadter hosting a Dungeons & Dragons Christmas game in The Big Bang Theory to the gang from Community dedicating an entire episode to the game, Dungeons & Dragons has become a ubiquitous reference for tabletop gaming in popular culture.

Finding a tabletop community at U of T

Tabletop gaming, and the world of games outside of Dungeons & Dragons, has gained recent popularity, notably at U of T. The University of Toronto Tabletop Gaming Club (UTTGC) was founded two years ago and works to connect those interested in tabletop role playing games, collectible card games, board games, and miniature wargaming.

Spencer Robertson, President of the UTTGC, noted that while role-playing games have reached a new level of popularity, “it is still a challenge to find people to game with on campus, let alone space to do so.”

While tabletop games are still foreign to many, they might be able to provide the average student with an unexplored form of stress relief. Robertson believes that “the escape it offers from the student life” is what draws students to role playing games.

Robertson noted that many students experience stresses of schoolwork and financial obligations. “It’s nice to be able to see yourself as someone different, whether you’re a Paladin crusading against Demons, or a scavenger harvesting archeotech from a forgotten civilization to sell for profit,” he said.

CritCon

Friday marked the first day of the inaugural UTTGC-sponsored CritCon, a three day convention of tabletop gaming, tournaments, and seminars — all with a cash bar.

Designed to bring back the gritty feel of the ’80s university conventions, CritCon was located downtown at U of T’s own Hart House.

Guest of honour and Toronto native Ed Greenwood is the creator of Forgotten Realms and a New York Times bestselling author.

Greenwood brought a charity component to the convention by auctioning off seats to the game he’s running to raise money for The Children’s Book Bank. The message of this charity, which works to promote children’s literacy, resonates with many gamers.

“A lot of people within this hobby started with creating their own adventures as kids. The ability to draw inspiration from history, mythology, and fiction further helps you to tell your own stories,” said Robertson.

CritCon vs. ComiCon

At conventions such as Toronto ComiCon, which feature panels on upcoming mainstream movies and events such as meet and greets with wrestling superstars, gaming sometimes is an afterthought, Robertson said.

While ComiCon moves away from its comic book roots and towards a Hollywood focus, CritCon offers those with a specific interest in gaming a weekend to completely immerse themselves.

One of the trademarks of recent ComiCons attempting to appeal to the masses has been wading through dozens of events on television features and episode screenings to find the few events geared towards your specific interests. By contrast, CritCon focuses solely on gaming, showcasing a board game library, featuring industry professionals as guests, and hosting its own role playing games.

Getting involved

Role playing games may seem a bit daunting with their abundance of terms and rules and the incredible array of games to play. Those who may not be familiar with the hobby might be interested in getting involved through a UTTGC event.

As for next steps, Robertson recommended Geek and Sundry’s Critical Role, a group of “high end” voice actors who play Dungeons & Dragons on Thursdays on Twitch. “[They] can really show you how fun and thought provoking the game can be,” said Robertson.

A celebrity endorsement doesn’t hurt — Robertson also recommended D&Diesel, a special edition of Critical Role run for Vin Diesel, who happens to be a huge fan.

Correction: an earlier version of this article did not identify Spencer Robertson as the President of the University of Toronto Tabletop Gaming Club. 

Does hard work pay off?

Reflections on mental health and barriers to achievement

Does hard work pay off?

University students often find themselves in positions where downtime is scarce and sleep is merely a myth. With full-time classes, part-time jobs, and extracurriculars designed to make résumés pop, life often feels like a train careening down stretch after stretch of track, as far as the eye can see. Often, we might wonder if any of it is really worth it — if our exhausting routines will pay off in the end.

In the real world — a world not modelled by academia and APA citations — rewards are not given simply because you are the hardest working or the most qualified. In Forbes magazine, Cindy Wahler writes about how she was always an exemplary student and advocate of hard work, shaped by her parents’ efforts. However, she also discusses how in the workplace, those who did not go above and beyond in their efforts were promoted before she was, and how this was incongruent with her previous conceptions of what it meant to succeed.

What we find when escaping the university atmosphere is that success is not necessarily directly connected to work ethic. One cannot assume that perfectionism, integrity, and perseverance will inherently result in reward. There are a number of factors upon which success hinges: workplace politics, sexism, and racism must be taken into account. There are also times when hard work just goes unnoticed.

These barriers undoubtedly take a toll on individuals in the workforce, and it can be frustrating to feel as if they cannot be broken down. This does not require an abandonment of our goals, but a shift in perspective with respect to the things we cannot change.

In Psychology Today, Diane Barth discusses how hard work is not enough to overcome issues such as mental health concerns. There are many situations that are so beyond an individual’s control that they simply cannot be worked out. The difficulty is when these instances come into conflict with the workaholic mentality that any obstacle can be thwarted, any mountain climbed.

I know from experience how much my mental illness has acted as a detriment within my daily life. Not only has it put me into difficult situations, it has aggravated feelings of failure when I could not resolve the issues I was faced with. Never mind the fact that expecting an individual to thwart forces beyond their control is like swimming upstream — the mental battles I fight with myself are draining and often difficult to win.

This does not mean that hard work has no merit. The issue lies not in effort itself, but in our attempts to go beyond what we are physically capable of until we make ourselves sick with anxiety. Obsession with being the perfect version of ourselves means that we often forget to treat ourselves as humans, and it is widely acknowledged that a lack of self-care only makes stress worse.

It can be tempting to pick up that extra shift at work or volunteer for an extra commitment. It can be tempting — as I’ve learned this year — to write a column, choreograph a musical, and work three jobs. But it is not sustainable, and if your schedule does not crumble in on itself, your body or your mind will.

To be hardworking is arguably one of the noblest traits a person can possess, but there comes a point at which it threatens to destroy you. Personal achievement should not come at the expense of your welfare, and self-created stresses only hinder your progress. Sometimes the real work lies in respecting your limitations.

Jenisse Minott is a second-year student at UTM studying Communications, Culture, Information and Technology.

Podcast recommendations for every kind of commute

From conspiracy thrillers to comedians on comedians, these picks are sure to help ease the pain of travel by TTC

Podcast recommendations for every kind of commute

Every commuter knows the feeling of dismay that comes with forgetting your earphones at home. Our earphones are a security blanket, a flimsy yet significant barrier between us and the everyday horrors of the public transit system.

With your eyes closed and music blasting, you can block out all distractions, such as those high schoolers discussing the intricacies of pubescent relationships or that man taking up three seats to cut his toenails.

Lately I’ve taken to podcasts as a way to multitask on my commute; it’s an attempt to learn something or entertain myself while I ignore the world around me. Below are a few recommendations to pass the time, sorted by length of commute and area of interest.


My commute is…

Half an hour, and I like mysteries:

Homecoming

Recommended episode: “Mandatory”

Artwork via player.fm

homecoming-show-art-3000px

This narrative offering from Gimlet Media is both a psychological and conspiracy thriller. Set at a rehabilitation facility in Florida for soldiers returning from deployments overseas, the unanswered questions mount with each new instalment. Episodes are stitched together through conversations between the characters, phone calls, and interviews, causing the listener to feel as though they’ve discovered an archive of evidence in a top-secret investigation.

While I can’t say much more without giving away major plot details, trust that these six episodes will make your commute fly by, if only because of Oscar Isaac’s voice in your ears, sotto voce.

One hour, and I like politics:

FiveThirtyEight Politics

Recommended episode: “Anatomy Of A Scandal”

Artwork via fivethirtyeight.com

open-graph-placeholder-politicsIt’s only a few months into Donald Trump’s presidency, and phrases like ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’ have already become so commonplace so as to lose all meaning. Nate Silver and the rest of the team behind FiveThirtyEight have been addressing the problems associated with mainstream reporting for years, prioritizing a data-driven, evidence-based approach to journalism rather than cultivating sources and access.

All of this is on display in the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast where host Jody Avirgan, political reporter Clare Malone, analyst or ‘whiz kid’ Harry Enten, and Silver himself dive into a week’s worth of news with thoughtful analysis and more than a pinch of skepticism.

Beyond its weekly instalments, the podcast also features miniseries like Party Time, in which Malone and her counterpart Galen Druke speak to representatives and stakeholders from both the Democratic and Republican parties in order to glean insight into what’s next for bipartisan politics in an era of increasingly blurred lines.

An hour and a half, and I like Gilmore Girls and witty banter:

Gilmore Guys

Recommended episode: “They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They?

Artwork  via twitter.com/gilmoreguysshow

QbvnuI3aWhat could be better than listening to grown men passionately discuss a show aimed predominantly at teenage girls? On Gilmore Guys, veteran fan Kevin T. Porter and Gilmore newbie Demi Adejuyigbe dissect every episode of the long-running show that was recently revived on Netflix.

Porter and Adejuyigbe’s backgrounds in comedy — Adejuyigbe currently writes for NBC’s hit sitcom The Good Place — definitely take centre stage in the podcast, resulting in always entertaining extended ramblings and Twitter-celebrity guests such as Megan Amram.

What might be most interesting about the podcast is its development from the guys’ side hobby to something that’s attracted a major fanbase. Many of the show’s original stars have made appearances on the Gilmore Gabs episodes, from Milo Ventimiglia to Liza Weil.

Perhaps it’s not entirely fair for me to include this under the hour and a half heading — analysis of particularly gripping episodes, like the “Fall” instalment of the Netflix revival, have run upwards of five hours, so pencil this one in for a gruelling week of TTC delays.

Two hours, and I like listening to comedians talking about themselves:

You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes

Recommended episode: “Aaron Rodgers”

Artwork via nerdist.com

weirdComedian Pete Holmes recently debuted his new HBO show Crashing, which is about an aspiring standup comic who is shuffled between various friends’ couches in the aftermath of his divorce. Longtime listeners of You Made It Weird will recognize these themes easily, as Holmes has been discussing them with a nearly pedantic level of detail on his podcast for years. Everything is fair game in an episode of You Made It Weird, with topics ranging from the existence of God and life in outer space to the nomadic lifestyle of the comic. More than anything, Holmes is an earnest interviewer, and the listener senses every nuance of his delight and curiosity about the lives of his friends and acquaintances.

Two hours, and I like listening to celebrities talking about themselves:

Anna Faris is Unqualified

Recommended episode: “Mike Birbiglia part one” and “Mike Birbiglia part two”

Artwork  via popsugar.com

Want-listen-Here-detailsYou might know Anna (pronounced “Ah-na,” as she often reminds listeners) Faris from her iconic roles in The House Bunny and the Scary Movie franchise.

On her podcast, cohosted with producing partner Sim Sarna, she proves she’s much more than the ‘dumb blonde’ stereotypes that fill her IMDB page. In fact, Faris becomes someone much more recognizable — your completely unqualified friend routinely providing dubious advice.

Some of the podcast’s best moments include the calls Faris and company receive from fans each week, asking for advice on everything from difficult mother-in-laws to long distance relationships. Other highlights are games like How Do You Proceed?, where guests are presented with a series of surreal scenarios and asked for their reaction — for example, you run into Oprah in the bathroom, smoking a joint. She asks for your urine to pass a drug test. How do you proceed?

Unqualified’s lineup features big names like Seth Rogen and Allison Janney, but knowing that they’re sitting around Faris’ kitchen table, talking to strangers while tipsy, makes them all oh-so-relatable, if only for a few hours.