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in my opinion, best day of the week

Archive for the ‘Grab Bag’ Category

Grab Bag 2: Electric Boogaloo

Posted by finedaysunday on July 7, 2013

Thanks for sticking with me through last week’s entry, folks. Let’s dial it back for the time being with something a bit lighter. It’s back to the grab bag!

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Mike Modano spent over 20 years in the NHL, and is the league leader in both goals and points among American-born players. He spent virtually his entire career with one franchise (more on that later), after being drafted first overall by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988, and remained the face of the franchise after its relocation to Dallas. He led the team to their only Stanley Cup championship in 1999. He was active in local charities, and is one of the biggest ambassadors for making the sport of hockey relevant in the South. He piled up more goodwill in the state of Texas than can be quantified, and he played his final home game as a Dallas Star towards the end of the 2009-2010 season.

I am not a Dallas Stars fan by any stretch, and this is still one of the most emotional hockey moments I’ve seen in recent years. No one could have scripted the way this game would turn out. After assisting on the Stars’ first goal, Modano deflected a second one into the net to force overtime. The game ultimately went to a shootout, and Modano capped off a storybook ending with a quick wrist shot to seal the deal. Incredible stuff.

This game was all his. I especially loved seeing the Anaheim Ducks on the other bench paying their respects. This was certainly the end of an era, and no, I don’t think signing a one year contract with the Detroit Red Wings the following off-season diminishes the effect of that night or Modano’s career at all. It was a deal meant to be a punctuation mark to cap off a Hall of Fame career for the Michigan native, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That said, it was nice to see him retire as a Dallas Star after the fact.

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So hey, how about the long overdue official announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3? It didn’t really hit me until that moment at E3 that I am definitely ready to dive into another mainline game in this series after a plethora of decent spinoffs. Is it weird to have nostalgia for a series that has only been around since the mid-2000’s? I have mostly good memories of the first two big entries, both simple, somewhat repetitive spectacles with a slightly inconsistent tone and camera control issues that are anything but slight. Man, that comes across as more negative than I’d like it to be. In my defense, the mark of a truly worthwhile game is one that you can enjoy in spite of its flaws, and Kingdom Hearts is certainly a case of the good outweighing the bad.

That being said, are we running out of Disney locales to draw inspiration from? The movie universes that have already been present in the first two games are starting to run the risk of being overused and rehashed, but there are still plenty of untapped worlds out there to sustain another full game. The dreamscape wilderness of Pocahontas? Kuzco’s palace? Chasing Ratigan’s blimp across the nighttime skies of London, supported by that terrific musical score? The entire Pixar universe? Make it happen, Square Enix.

KH

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My fellow Whedonites, we need to talk. It has been over ten years since Firefly was cancelled, and it’s beyond time to let it go. The show was mishandled right out of the gate, and never got anywhere close to the support it has today until long after it was gone. I’m one of you, guys and girls. If you asked me who my favourite character is, my answer would be some variation of “all of them”, a distinction only Scrubs has come close to matching. I love the setting, the writing, and the atmosphere. I love the theme song. I would wear Jayne’s hat and I would mean it.

That said, I am no longer able to work up any flavour of frothing outrage at the injustice that the show seemed to have everything working against it, and that it didn’t last beyond one season and a pretty damn good movie. I still go back and watch the show from time to time, but in the bigger scheme of things, I’ve moved on. An Arrested Development-style revival is not in the cards, thanks to something called a “budget.” The cast and crew have long since moved on to bigger and better things and, personally, I’d rather see Joss Whedon’s time and attention be given to new material, not the least of which would be the eventual sequel to The Avengers. I can’t be alone in that.

Mal

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This has been another Mail-it-in Sunday.

“Your water’s from a bottle, mine’s from a canteen.”

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Mail-it-in Sunday: Riz’s Grab Bag

Posted by finedaysunday on April 21, 2013

Hey, guys. I’ve got a few topics here on the back burner that, on their own, don’t seem to be meaty enough to fill out an entire post. Consider this the inaugural Mail-it-in Sunday, where I’ll collect a few of these subjects together, then throw them out there and see what sticks. Some of them may blossom into full-blown topics in a future post, but for now, here’s what I’ve got.

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Anyone who knows me will tell you that Dead Poets Society is my favourite movie. The writing, the characters, the cinematography, the heartbreakingly beautiful ending… I’ll be a lucky man if I ever see a film to top this one.

That being said, there’s one very ugly bit that, with the benefit of hindsight, has not aged gracefully. One of the subplots deals with Knox Overstreet, the hopeless romantic of the group. Like the rest of his friends, he gets all starry-eyed and inspired by their new English teacher and his mantra of carpe diem, or “seize the day.” In Knox’s case, this manifests when he falls head-over-heels for a pretty girl, and is determined to win her away from her big dumb jock boyfriend. To that end, he attends a party, gets some liquid courage in him, and before he knows it she’s passed out drunk in his lap. He proceeds to kiss this unconscious girl, and the nearby boyfriend rightfully springs into action and beats the hell out of him.

If that were the worst of it, this would be an isolated bit of ugliness in the movie. If the point here were simply that Knox misinterpreted his teacher’s message and distorted it beyond its intended meaning, that would have been fine. There’s established precedent for that, as seen with the character of the class clown.

But, no, that’s not the end of it. Instead, the movie validates Knox in the end. He ultimately gets the girl after assaulting her, and humiliating her in front of her friends and classmates. We’re meant to side with him as if he were some sort of hero. Unlike the class clown, he is rewarded and not punished for his perversion of carpe diem.

Looking back on this in the 21st century with enlightened eyes, that’s pretty screwed up. I guess the only thing you can say in its defense is that the movie is set in a 1950s prep school for boys, so of course these characters are going to lash out in reckless ways as a result of being repressed for so long. That doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable to watch. Did anyone react this way back when the film was new?

Knox

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Don’t you love that feeling you get when you revisit something you have major nostalgia for, and discover that it still holds up? It’s just so… pleasant. For me, that’s Escaflowne. I recently bought the series on DVD, and I’m genuinely impressed that it wasn’t all rose-coloured glasses. You see, this show was part of my Monday night YTV ritual well over a decade ago, and of course this was also right around the time I started to really sink my teeth into Japanese RPGs. Naturally, this sort of high fantasy anime material was right in my wheelhouse.

It even follows the same sort of arc that you still see in a lot of traditional JRPGs. It begins as a pulpy fish-out-of-water action adventure with heroes and villains painted in broad strokes, then somewhat jarringly shifts into introspective meditations on fate and destiny. Before you know it, cosmic forces are weaponized, there’s a bit of bizarre fan service, and the villain is given such a preposterous eleventh hour back story that you start to wonder if you’re still watching the same show that began with a ragtag band of sky pirates. I’m not making excuses for any of these strange indulgences, but looking back on it with fresh eyes, I do think the show’s merits are strong enough to overcome them.

Oh, and the one and only reason I still stand behind the English dub is Andrew Francis’ delivery as the maniacal villain Dilandau. I may have forgotten great chunks of the plot in the years before I revisited this show on DVD, but this guy’s absurd vocal interpretation is the best sort of camp, and it has stuck with me ever since I was a kid. Imagine if Final Fantasy VI‘s Kefka were a spoiled teenager, and that’s pretty much Dilandau. Francis’ work here is so ridiculously over-the-top that it makes the rest of the (occasionally weak) English dub better by association.

Dilandau

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I’ve been piecing together a Harry Potter fan fiction for a while now (no, not like that). This is sort of an ambitious pet project of mine. I think it’s worth telling the story of the ill-fated group of exiles glimpsed only on the borders of the main plot. Specifically: Ted Tonks, Dirk Cresswell, Dean Thomas, and the two goblins, Griphook and Gornuk. We know a bit about how these unlikely allies ended up where they are, and we know that all of them, save Dean, never made it. I’d like to to know a bit more about how they held it together in a world that was hunting them down with extreme prejudice, just as much as I’d like to know about Neville Longbottom leading the underground rebellion at Hogwarts. I know I’m not alone in that regard.

I’d like to discuss the shaky ground of race relations in the Harry Potter universe at some point in the future. This particular story, however, would relate to the uneasy relationship between wizards and goblins, and the consequences of their inability to work together. One of my favourite themes in that regard is given a great deal of focus in Deathly Hallows itself. As admirably well as the book handles that material, I’d like to subvert it to an extent. To be specific, could these characters truly set aside their own prejudices and the ugly histories of their species in order to survive one more night?

If I had my way, this would be a plot structured into six chapters, one told from each character’s perspective as they try to get by on the fringes of a hateful and merciless regime (framed with a bit of back story and flashbacks, naturally), and culminating in a sixth chapter in which everything comes to a head and ultimately falls apart. Think of it as Lost meets Halo 3: ODST, if you will.

Goblins

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Aaaand that’s all I’ve got for today. Let’s see if I can tackle a single topic next week that can justify all this verbosity. See you then.

“I see you galavanting.”

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