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Hey there! It's Ben

What a Month! It’s Ben (January 2024) — Go Blue!

Published about 1 month ago • 3 min read

Over the years, my dad and I have been to some incredible Michigan football games.

In 2005, we watched Chad Henne throw a last-second game-winning touchdown pass to Mario Manningham to vault the Wolverines over Penn State.

We saw Denard Robinson orchestrate what we thought was a game-winning comeback over Notre Dame with 90 seconds left in the first-ever night game at The Big House back in 2011. And when Notre Dame scored with 30 seconds remaining, we witnessed the stadium erupt as he led the Wolverines into the endzone again.

We’ve been to the Rose Bowl (an unfortunate 28-14 defeat to the Matt Leinart-led USC Trojans in 2004) and countless other games in Ann Arbor, through sunshine and snowfall.

My dad passed his love for Michigan football onto me as if it were a genetically heritable trait. And this deep-rooted passion ultimately led me on a decade-long journey of working in college football and creating Zcruit.

So when Michigan Football had a chance to win its first National Championship since 1997, my dad bought tickets to the game in Houston and I snagged a bus pass to meet him out there.

But then, weather struck.

My dad’s flight, set for the day of the game, was delayed and delayed and delayed and then routed to San Antonio where it sat on the tarmac. He finally landed in Houston at 8pm. The game started at 6:30pm.

In the meantime, I sat by myself in the stands in a black hoodie (as I had planned to borrow a shirt from my dad’s maize and blue stockpile). Michigan scored the first two touchdowns of the game. Then the teams swapped field goals before Washington cut the lead to seven going into the half. Fans from each team celebrated scores by deliriously high-fiving every matchingly dressed stranger in sight. Yet in my black hoodie, no one quite knew what to do with me; I might as well have been wearing an invisibility cloak.

Shortly after the second half started, my dad arrived — slightly out of breath from his sprint up the stadium ramp. I put on the maize shirt he handed me and we settled in to watch the remainder of the game.

It was a slow third quarter, with the teams trading field goals again.

Then in the fourth, Michigan broke the game open with a touchdown followed by an 81-yard interception return.

As Mike Sainristil weaved his way toward the opposite endzone, it sank in: Michigan was going to win. The maize and blue majority exploded in exuberance.

Next thing we knew, the vanquished purple and gold had quietly exited the stadium and the Wolverine faithful were enveloped in confetti. We watched the trophy presentation and took in the speeches and then drudged a mile through puddles to our hotel so my dad could get some rest before his 6am flight that would get him back to work by the morning.

Go Blue 〽️

Houston

I wanted to give a shout-out to Houston, as my 24-hour trip left me impressed!

My bus from Austin dropped me off in Houston at noon before the game. A friend recommended I hit a Mexican restaurant (El Tiempo Cantina) for lunch and with time to kill, I decided to walk the four miles back to my hotel.

That four-mile walk turned into a leisurely four-hour stroll that took me through two college campuses (Rice and St. Thomas), the museum district, the botanical garden, the Japanese garden, the zoo, a beautiful fountain, an old school record store, and gaudy public art displays. It was one of the most pleasant walks I’ve taken through a city, with impressive sites that seemed to pop up at every turn.

Houston, I just want to say — you have me as a fan 👏

Life in Austin

Outside of 24 hours in Houston, I spent the entirety of my month back home in Austin. Some notable tidbits:

  • I survived the annual Texas freeze. It was a fairly cold and gloomy month out here, with five sub-30-degree days that required dripping the sinks to prevent the pipes from bursting (good lord the Chicagoan in me is shaking my head at how soft I've become...).
  • I went to a Shabbat dinner with 20+ 20/30-something Jews in Austin which was quite lovely.
  • The Meat Mafia has a logo and brand! This was a fun project to spearhead and I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Monthly Favorites

🎵 Song: Something in the Orange by Zach Bryan — I know I’m late to the party on this one, but dang is it good.

🎵 Song: Harrison Ave by Lil Dicky — Lil Dicky weaves his way with wit through a relatably personal story about growing up. Reminiscent of Wet Dreamz by J. Cole, but with more layers of color to the story (and without the catchy hook).

🎥 Movie: Bottoms — Two unpopular queer high school girls set up a fight club as a way to hook up with cheerleaders, featuring Marshawn Lynch as their teacher and club advisor. A wonderfully fun movie directed by the 28-year-old Emma Seligman.

🎙️ Podcast: Exponential Athlete — My friend Ken Jee launched his newest podcast, Exponential Athlete...today! With Exponential Athlete, Ken explores what separates the greatest athletes, coaches, and teams from their competitors, and shares tidbits on what we can learn from these legends that can be applied to our own lives. The show kicks off with an exploration of all things Kobe Bryant. And I am absolutely stoked to dive in!


Thanks for reading! As always, if anything I shared resonated with you, I’d love for you to shoot me a reply 😊

Til next month,

Ben

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