Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's time for some respect.

My Vancouver Canucks just completed a convincing sweep against the St. Louis Blues. They won using the same recipe they've been using since the beginning February: big production from the Sedins combined with solid secondary scoring, a pinch of points from the defense, a dash of lethal penalty killing, and one whole, ripe Luongo.

And yet, they're still not getting any respect. Here's a quote from a forum I frequent:

I'm still not convinced the Canucks can compete with the Sharks, Red Wings, and Ducks. Especially if Luongo is still hurting. The Blues are not a terribly good team, and the Canucks only beat them 2-1, 3-0, 3-2, and 3-2. That said, a sweep is a sweep and it's still impressive.

Hahahahahaha! I'm sorry, but that's hilarious to me. The Blues were literally the best team in the NHL over the last half of the season. They battled hard and finished in 6th spot in the Western Conference and got outplayed and outgoaltended by the Canucks. Luongo's fine: word is that he was dehydrated and had some major cramps, but nothing more serious than that. Besides, the Canucks swept, so the team has plenty of time to recover from any injuries over the next week or so.

Against Detroit this season, the Canucks were a respectable 2-2-0. Heck, one of their wins came with Curtis Sanford in net. Don't be fooled by Detroit's performance against the Bluejackets: Columbus was good during the regular season, but not great. They were depending too much on a rookie netminder and very shallow depth on both offense and defense. If they face the Canucks, it will be an entirely different story.

The Sharks? Heck, the Sharks might not even make it out of the first round. However, the Canucks weren't great against them during the regular season (but no one really was): 1-2-1. Two of those losses came during their terrible streak in January and they are a much different team now. The emergence of Burrows and Kesler as legitimate top-six forwards changes the dynamic of the team significantly.

The Canucks were 2-0-2 against the Ducks this season. The Ducks have yet to beat them in regulation this year...

So, judging by their regular season records against those teams, they can, at the very least, "compete." It's a ridiculous claim, but not a surprising one. I'm honestly tired of them being so underrated: every single "expert" prior to the beginning of this season predicted that they would miss the playoffs. Almost every single "expert" then predicted that the St. Louis Blues would beat them in the first round of the playoffs. I think it's time that they got some respect as one of the best teams in the NHL. Other teams should be, and likely are, intimidated by them, especially by Luongo.

The Canucks just swept the hottest team in the NHL. Respect.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sometimes I wonder if I'm a racist.

My friend Harrison is an amazing person who I love dearly in an entirely heterosexual way (though he is getting married to a girl who is arguably the female version of me, which is somewhat disturbing). We became friends in our respective first years of university for the same reasons most people become friends: we share various interests and enjoy each other's company. We both were and are writers, though he is certainly my superior in that respect. We both are ardent sports fans, including a devotion to our local Vancouver Canucks that borders on ludicrous. We both grew up on a steady diet of Christian music and have subsequently moved on to secular music, specifically that of the indie variety. Indeed, we have started a band together called Lenin & McCarthy. Quite frankly, I read through the archives of his blog and wonder if we are in some ways sharing a common mind/soul accessed via some hyperdimensional wormhole residing in both of our brains (though we have differing opinions about the quality of Wes Anderson films).

There is one major difference between us, however, and it is the apparent cause of a multitude of minor differences as well. This troubles me in many ways, because that major difference is that Harrison is black. I grew up in a town called Greendale, which should likely give some indication as to the racial diversity present within it. Suffice it to say, I grew up around predominantly white people. My experience of black people was limited to watching "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" on TV and wondering why the first season of said show was so overtly serious at the end of every episode, coming down with a heavy-handed moral lesson about race. I assumed that I was an intelligent and rational person, but there was always a fear in the back of my mind; could I possibly be a racist and not know it? From a removed perspective within a predominantly white community, I had no negative thoughts towards those of different ethnicities, but I wondered what might happen if I spent a considerable amount of time with someone with a different level of melanin. It wasn't a major concern in my mind (why would it be?), but it was a thought that cropped up recurrently.

When Harrison and I first became friends, I was almost relieved to find that he did not fit into the various racial stereotypes that I had heard or been exposed to via the media. We spent long periods of time shooting pool, listening to music, working on homework, and sharing poetry with each other; he was, and is, an intelligent, humorous, and engaging person. He introduced me to various musicians that I now adore, including Hawksley Workman, Sarah Slean, Man Man, and Okkervil River. But, he also introduced me to L.A. Symphony. Now, L.A. Symphony is certainly fantastic, kickstarting the careers of such great MCs as Pigeon John, FLYNN, and Cookbook, as well as sparking my love of hip-hop in general. Therein lies the difficulty. As much as Harrison is a racial-stereotype-rejecting, Scrabble-winning, tennis-playing, New-York-Times-Crossword-completing, Vancouver-Canucks-loving Graduate Student in English, he is also a hip-hop-loving, basketball-playing, rap-battle-winning, rhythm-possessing, afro-having black man. And it pains me deeply to think that my mind is capable of making that distinction. 

It makes me profoundly sad to think that at some subconscious level, I have trouble equating some of Harrison's personality traits with the colour of his skin. On another subconscious level, it makes me sad that I find it so easy to equate some of Harrison's other personality traits with the colour of his skin. Why should any of these things be stereotypically connected with a certain melanin-level in someone's body? Am I reacting negatively because I know that Harrison is almost certainly more intelligent than myself and I have been conditioned by society to be surprised by this? Is blaming society a blatant cop-out? Whatever the case, some part of me wanted Harrison to be more stereotypically white as proof for some subconscious thesis statement to a non-existent academic paper: "not all black people are the same."

On the other hand, it could be that I only see these things when I over-analyse myself: I certainly don't have these thoughts when I hang out with Harrison and I'm not even certain if I fully believe everything I have just written down. I'm not even sure if I should post this at all. I guess I should summarise: Harrison is one of my best friends, but reading his thoughts on racism takes my mind down paths that make me wonder if I myself am a racist. Therefore, it's all his fault.

Wait, was that racist?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Brendan Witt is an idiot.

Pardon the language, but what the fuck is Brendan Witt thinking on this play? He should be gone for the season for such blatant disregard of his fellow player's safety and health. It's an obvious headshot on a player who has already had concussion problems. It would be nice if his teammates treated Witt the same way that the Stars treated Avery, but that's doubtful.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Trade Deadline Approacheth!

Ah, the trade deadline. The most over hyped “event” of the NHL season. Yes, even more than the All-Star game. It is a time where more is talked about than done, more speculated than accomplished. Still, there is a certain excitement to the unknown: will your favourite team make that big move and bring in that one golden player that you’ve been dreaming of? Or will they bring in Bryan Smolinksi. No offence to Smolinski, who’s a solid guy and a perfectly serviceable center forward, but there aren’t any fans out there praying, dreaming, wishing, hoping that their team will sign 
Smolinski, like the Canucks did a couple years ago. Fortunately, that won’t be happening as he isn’t signed to any team this season after playing for 8 different teams in his 16 year career.

In any case, it is rare, at least in the last decade, that a big trade at the deadline will propel a team to the Stanley Cup final. Brian Burke (shockingly) acquired Brad May at the deadline in 2007 for the Anaheim Ducks, a move that clearly was the difference maker in the playoffs. The Red Wings made the daring trade that brought Brad Stuart to the team, the player that put Detroit over the top to win the Stanley Cup. On the other hand, the Penguins added Marian Hossa, who was fantastic for the Penguins and a major reason they made it to the cup finals. So, occasionally, a player can make a difference. For the most part, however, your favourite team will not be making a blockbuster move. 

As a fan of the Canucks, I am even more certain that a major move is not forthcoming. Mike Gillis, the rookie GM of the Canucks, has stated as much in this article on “Unless we have an opportunity to do something really big I think we're going to be pretty quiet.” Honestly, this isn’t bad news in the least. The Canucks have received the pleasant surprise of the emergence of Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler as top-six forwards, leaving them with a third-line composed of three borderline top-six forwards in Taylor Pyatt, Steve Bernier, and Kyle Wellwood to fill in if they can't keep up their torrid pace. When it comes to forwards, the Canucks are likely feeling very comfortable at the moment. The Canucks may want to bring in a bottom-six forward to shore up the third or fourth lines, perhaps to play as checking line center in place of Kyle Wellwood; perhaps someone like Bryan Smolinski. Damn.

The Canucks also have a good core of defensemen. There is a lot of talk of bringing in a puck-moving offensive defensemen, but Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler have stepped up in the latter half of the season to provide some solid point production from the back end. Bieksa is sitting 18th in scoring amongst defensemen, ahead of the much-ballyhooed Jay Bouwmeester, while playing in 9 fewer games.

Speaking of Jay Bouwmeester, he has been the center of oodles of trade rumours leading up to the deadline, but I’m one of the few who doubt 
he will be going anywhere. The Panthers are sitting in a playoff position and Bouwmeester is a vital part of both their offence and defence and they are very unlikely to move him unless a ridiculous deal comes along. So, Canucks fans dreaming of Jay Bouwmeester anchoring the Vancouver power play can stop dreaming and accept the fact that Mike Gillis won’t be making many moves at the trade deadline. Unless it’s to sign Bryan Smolinski as a free agent.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I've got 99 wolves...

Complete the title at your leisure.

I was perusing the various blogs of current and former friends and happened upon Zach Rock's Xanga, which hasn't been updated in 2 years. Once upon a time, I played Dungeons & Dragons with him, which has nothing to do with anything.

In any case, he posted a link to 99 wolves hurling themselves into a glass wall. It's pretty much the greatest thing I have ever seen.

Long Term ADD

While I'm not foolish enough to think that I have readers, anyone who happened to stumble on this website in the last several months has probably noticed that I have not updated it since I first began the website with such blind enthusiasm. I'm beginning to think I have Long-Term Attention Defecit Disorder, or LTADD (Lieutenant Addition). My many interests, hobbies, and obsessions are too varied and dissimilar to allow me to focus on any one of them for extended periods of time. Thus, for two weeks in July 2008, I was obsessed with watching and reviewing movies and sharing the thoughts I had with the general public. 

After those two weeks subsided, my attention wandered, either to my punk rock band The Neverknown or to my poetry (two of my poems are soon to be published in [spaces]) or to the intricacies of the Vancouver Canucks off-season or to some other fleeting interest that will likely turn around and roundkick me in the face like a tired Chuck Norris meme sometime in the near future.

With that said, I was obviously overly ambitious in my plan to make such a tightly-focussed blog. However, I enjoy the name "No Spoiler Warnings" too much to let it simply lapse and fade into internet oblivion. From now on, this blog will focus on whatever catches my fancy at any particular point in time. Thus, you may well see the occassional movie review full of spoilers and devoid of warnings, but you will also see music reviews, thoughts on sports, poems and short fiction, various musings on culture and communication, and a copious amount of superfluous verbiage.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Who Watches the Watchmen Trailer?

I saw the Watchmen trailer as soon as it became available on Trailer Addict and, of course, saw it in front of The Dark Knight. It is now available on in several different versions.

Like most devoted comic book fans, I count "Watchmen" among my favorite comics of all time. Indeed, I wrote a paper on determinism for one of my philosophy classes based on the character of Dr. Manhattan. It is easily the finest super-hero comic series that has ever been created; its influence cannot be overstated.

I am also a devoted movie fan, which puts me in an interesting predicament when it comes to the prospect of the movie. The comic geek in me is instantly cynical; there is no way that a movie version of such a fantastic comic book could possibly live up to the original, especially because "Watchmen" was conceived specifically as a comic book. There are far too many aspects of the original work (such as the "Black Freighter" comics that intertwine with the main storyline, the fictional newspaper, magazine, and novel excerpts at the end of each issue, and the specific elements of the panel layout and pacing) that simply cannot be replicated in a film. The movie is guaranteed to do the original a disservice.

At the same time, the movie geek in me reacts with unbridled excitement. The potential for fantastic visuals, intriguing performances, and for the story to reach a wider audience makes me giddy with excitement. A look at the cast list reveals a bevy of talent without any big stars; I cannot fault the casting of any of the characters except, unfortunately, with Matthew Goode as Ozymandius. With the small caveat that I have never seen him in any of his films, I think that he is simply the wrong man for the role.

I am basing this opinion entirely on superficial grounds; visually, he doesn't work as Ozymandius. In the comic, he is friendly-looking, always cheerful, an all-American hero kind of guy. Goode, in the promotional shot that was released (as seen on the left) and in the trailer looks brooding, mysterious, and imposing. Rather than appearing as the affable businessman with some peculiar habits, he comes across as a scheming, well...supervillain. And that's the main issue; Ozymandius must be likeable and trustworthy for the story to work.

I'm also surprised and annoyed that they chose to include the infamous bat-nipples on his costume. The fake muscles are also an annoyance; I understand that tights don't work on-screen, but surely they don't need fake muscles. Also, and I assure you this is the last comment on his costume, I am dismayed that they went with a dark colour-scheme for Ozymandius. We're talking about someone who markets his own image to children in the form of toys and an animated series. There's a reason his costume is bright and cheerful looking in the comic.

The trailer itself is a hodge-podge of scenes in the infuriating slow-motion style that destroyed 300 for me; I'm hoping that Zach Snyder does not consider this his signature style and that those shots were slow-motion only for the trailer. If not, it will show that he has no understanding of pacing and how panels control pacing within a comic book. The most egregious example is the opening scene of the trailer showing the death of Dr. Osterman in the intrinsic field generator. In the comic, this moment when Osterman is torn apart is shown in one splash page. When reading the comic, the eye absorbs the scene in an instant; it's a sudden jump, which means that the action on the page is instantaneous. Snyder, on the other hand, drags the action out in slow-motion, showing every detail.

Snyder seems to think that when he is making a movie based on a comic book, he should do his very best to imitate the still-images on the page, right down to the "still." With 300, he could essentially get away with it because the source material was short enough. Watchmen won't let him get away with that. There is simply too much material to cover; at least, that's my hope. I'm praying that he's using the slow-motion specifically for the trailer.

In regards to the trailer, Snyder did an interview with Wizard Magazine exactly one year ago and had this to say: "With 'Watchmen,' from a marketing standpoint and as a filmmaker - the movie and the marketing are the same thing to me - I think, 'Okay, what shots are going to be in the trailer?What images can tell people to come see the movie? If you don't look at your movie that way, you're naive to the process." It's clear to see why the trailer looks the way it does: there's little in terms of actual story being shared, simply a series of random images that are meant to be compelling.

Unfortunately, this strategy likely will not work for Watchmen the same way that it did for 300. The latter has a simple, easy-to-grasp premise that is easy to communicate: any one of a dozen shots of badass Spartan soldiers will solidify the concept in the mind of the audience. Watchmen, on the other hand, has a complex storyline that isn't even remotely hinted at in the trailer. Those unfamiliar with the storyline will be unlikely to understand any of the images shown in the trailer and will be confused rather than intrigued. The disingenuous "In 2009, everything we know will change" near the beginning doesn't help matters either.

On the plus side, the attention to detail is impressive and Snyder certainly delivers the pretty visuals and it's clear that he is remaining very close to the comics for many of the shots. There's an extensive comparison of the scenes in the trailer to their corresponding scenes in the comic over at Rope of Silicon. I love how Rorschach looks and the rest of the characters look about right as well, excepting, of course, Ozymandius. I can't get over how menacing he looks against his bank of TV screens; I really think they made a mistake with his character and it concerns me.

As a final note, I did think that the use of "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning" by The Smashing Pumpkins was a solid choice. The song, of course, was on the Batman and Robin soundtrack, so it's a subtle comic book movie reference. If Watchmen pulls references from comic book movies in the same way that the comic referenced classic comic book archetypes and tropes, I will be very excited. For the moment, I am still skeptical; I will undoubtedly see Watchmen when it comes out, but I am entirely uncertain whether I will enjoy it or not.