13 May 2007

Spider-man 3

Today I watched Spider-man 3 starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. I've always been a fan of Spider-man and Peter Parker starting with collecting and reading Spiderman comics (Marvel) in junior high. Peter Parker is my all-time favourite comic book character.

However, years later I eventually made a conscious decision to stop collecting and reading the comics because the stories stopped appealing to me. They were becoming very soap opera-ish and the final straw was when Peter and MJ's daughter was kidnapped immediately after birth but presumed dead. Oh yeah, and that whole "Peter is a clone oops Ben is really the clone" plot was a whole bunch of stupid, too. Perhaps it's just the nature of a long running comic. The writers need to continually come up with ways to bump up sales and keep the drama going, but the result was my increasing frustration with tired, overdone stories, and the emotional roller coaster the writer's continuously put Peter through.

So when the original Spider-man movie was released I had mixed emotions. I was definitely looking forward to it, but after what happened with the latter Batman movies (after Tim Burton and Michael Keaton left) I was worried that justice wouldn't be done to Peter Parker/Spider-man. Happily, my worries were unfounded. Spider-man met and exceeded all of my hopes and expectations.

With Spider-man 2, again I was looking forward to it though I still worried, but my worry was mitigated by the knowledge that the original cast and Sam Raimi were still involved in the franchise.

So now we're at the 2nd sequel, Spider-man 3. I think this film ranks third among the movies, though it's still good and worth the ticket price. When I first saw/read the previews, I was not happy with it having three villains. I'm more interested in Peter Parker, not the bad guy du jour, so the necessity of introducing two new characters and reminding the audience of Peter-Harry history uses up time I feel could be better spent. But my fears for the most part were unrealized. They didn't spend too much time on the villains--just enough to get an idea of their motivations and how they gained their powers. Nevertheless, I think this movie would have been better served by having fewer antagonists. Save them for future movies!

As I said, I think this latest movie is the lesser of the three. It lacks the emotional punch the original had, and none of the action scenes came close to matching the train fight scene with Dr. Octopus in Spider-man 2.

So what is this movie about? I won't spoil it too much. Peter and Mary Jane's relationship is still maturing and is complicated by, in no particular order, Peter becoming a little too full of himself because of Spider-man's good press, MJ's career troubles, an alien symbiote, an ambitious and not very ethical photographer, Harry's thirst for vengeance for his father's death, and Peter's desire to avenge his Uncle Ben's murder.

You'd think with the success of the first three movies, I'd be happy Sony Pictures is talking about another 3 movies or more in the Spider-man franchise, but I'm not. On the one hand, it would be nice if there was another movie so that the series could end on a higher note. On the other hand, I think the movies have become progressively less entertaining, so if the trend continues further movies will only degrade the quality of the Spider-man franchise. I think any chance of future success for this franchise is dependent upon keeping the original cast and on Sam Raimi directing, or at least having a director with the same vision as Raimi.

3.5 stars out of 5

12 May 2007

Game 2--Senators 4, Sabres 3 (2OT)

Yippeeee! The Ottawa Senators took a 2-0 series lead versus the Buffalo Sabres in the best of seven Eastern Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. :o) The Senators came back from a 2-0 hole to beat the Sabres in Buffalo 4-3 in the 2nd OT.

I was satisfied when the Senators took away home-ice advantage by winning game 1 in Buffalo, but they end up taking both! :o) Game 3 and 4 will be on home ice. Hurrah!

05 May 2007

Intelligent Design is NOT science

One or two years ago I was following with great interest a story about some parents who brought a case against a school district in Dover, PA, opposing the school board mandated teaching of Intelligent Design in science class. The judge ultimately ruled against the school-board:
"A six-week trial over the issue yielded "overwhelming evidence" establishing that intelligent design "is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory," said [U.S. District Judge John E.] Jones, a Republican and a churchgoer appointed to the federal bench three years ago.... In his ruling, Jones said that while intelligent design, or ID, arguments "may be true, a proposition on which the court takes no position, ID is not science." Among other things, he said intelligent design "violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation"; it relies on "flawed and illogical" arguments; and its attacks on evolution "have been refuted by the scientific community."" --CBS News
Why am I mentioning this now? I recently read a blog (Daily Kos) commentating on a recent debate between Republican presidential candidates. Apparently, three of the ten candidates indicated they do not "believe" in evolution: Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas; Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas; and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado. Ugh.

While I think 30% is an embarrassingly high percentage, apparently that's still better than the American public, where according to a CBS poll 51% believe God created humans in our present form.

Personally, I'm a little appalled at such a large number of people rejecting evolution; I'm also dismayed, discouraged, and fearful--fearful because I'm worried this statistic may reflect the influence religion has on politics and the governance of a country, whether you love'm or hate'm, whose actions have such a huge impact internationally, and a country in which I live.

Eastern Conference--Senators 3, Devils 2

Hurrah! The Ottawa Senators defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 to win their Eastern Conference Semifinal 4 games to 1.

This series between New Jersey and Ottawa has been pretty entertaining. It's refreshing to see teams with a PP that isn't painful to watch.

In the first round the Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games, and now they move on to the winner of the Buffalo Sabres-New York Rangers series, which is currently at 3-2 in the best-of-seven. I'm hoping this series goes seven, but I'm pulling for the Sabres. Besides the Rangers irritating me, I think an Ottawa-Buffalo series would be pretty exciting.

04 May 2007

Canucks lose series 4-1

Well, that’s it. The Vancouver Canucks are done for this season. The Annaheim Ducks defeated the Canucks 2-1 (2OT) in their Western Conference Semifinal, taking the best-of-seven series 4-1.

Heart-breaking and frustrating.

Frustrating because the Canucks could just not CLEAR THE ZONE. The result: 58 shots on Roberto Luongo, 27 shots on Giguere. An imbalance like that is just asking for trouble. It’s remarkable that Luongo was even able to keep the game close, let alone in to the 2nd OT.

The Canucks lost this series because our defense couldn’t handle the Ducks’ fore-checking. Every time the Canucks gained possession we could not clear the zone, whether due to intercepted passes, turn-overs or what have you. Canucks COULD NOT CLEAR THE ZONE. In contrast, for the vast majority of time the Ducks’ defense was able to skate the puck out of their zone at will.

The Canucks lost this series because our top scorers did not score. Canucks that were supposed to score, didn’t. For all the positive press the Sedin twins received for their performance in the regular season, the Ducks (and the Dallas Stars) for the most part shut them down in the playoffs. Contrast this with the Ottawa Senators, where Spezza, Alfreddson, and Heatley are expected to get points, and they do.

I’m not placing blame for the loss on individuals--I’m just mentioning areas where I think the Canucks need to improve if we’re to do better in 2008.

Hockey is a team game, and our team lost.

03 May 2007

Ain't karma grand?

This evening during the commute home I had to slam on my brakes when a black Lexus in the right lane jerked his wheel to the left, cutting me off. It was rush hour and practically bumper to bumper traffic. To make matters worse, I hadn't the slightest inkling he wanted to change lanes since the Lexus failed to use his turn signal, which being a pet peeve of mine only served to aggravate me even more.

Luckily, I didn't stay annoyed very long. As I glared at the offending Lexus now directly in front, a car in the right lane turned on his left signal. The Lexus immediately accelerated to block the lane change--unsuccessfully. :o) The Lexus had to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting the other car's driver door.

I don't condone aggressive driving behavior, for whatever reason. I admit I think about it occasionally, imagining how satisfying it might be to respond in kind to stupid driving--but acting out while operating a 3-ton machine is not the safest way to pass the time. Right of way is not something you take; it's something you give. Ideally, anyway.

Nonetheless, I couldn't help but smile at what happened to the Lexus. Poetic justice. I hope he recognized the irony and modifies his driving habits.

What goes around, comes around. :o)

02 May 2007

Site visitors in April 2007

The top 5 visitors in April 2007, listed by country, were:

1) United States,
2) Canada,
3) European Union,
4) Australia,
5) Great Britain.

Full list of visitors for April 2007. Data for previous months can be found by following this link.

Game 4-- Ducks 3 , Canucks 2 (OT)

The Vancouver Canucks blew a 2 goal lead to lose to the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in OT. The Ducks now have a 3-1 series lead in their Western Conference Semifinal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ugh.

What I find so frustrating, ignoring the Canucks' so-terrible-it's-not-funny PP, is how difficult it is for them to get the puck out of our zone. I guess some credit has to go to the Ducks' fore-checkers, because there has to be some reason the Canucks keep giving them puck in the defensive zone. The game commentators frequently mentioned how great the Canucks defense was because they blocked a lot of shots. True. But perhaps they wouldn't have to block so many if they were able to clear the zone.

While the Ducks were able to maintain constant, sustained pressure in our zone, the Canucks were only able to manage brief periods of pressure in the opposite end. The Sedins were pretty silent, and have been quiet for most of the playoffs, in my opinion. Plus, I think they're kind of pitiful defensively. Naslund has finally stepped up the past couple games, and Linden had another impressive performance. Linden has a history of playing his best hockey in the playoffs. Morrison scored his first(!) goal of the playoffs, and generated a few scoring chances.

I had hopes that Vancouver finally had the final piece required to make a serious run for the Stanley Cup when we acquired Luongo. But from watching this series it's obvious the Canucks need more experience on defense in addition to Mitchell. It's probably a combination of lack of experience and/or skill overall in our defense. I may be wrong, but I seem to remember hearing that Bieska is one of the better Canucks D-men, along with Salo. But Bieska along with Green were two of the worst Canucks at clearing our zone, I thought--too many short chips or short cutesy passes that resulted in turnovers. And a mistake by Salo gave Selanne the tieing goal.

Another thing that needs to be fixed, in my opinion, is that Vancouver is pretty much a one offensive line team, with the Sedin brothers. In the playoffs they've been mostly shut down, and while some players like Linden have actually stepped up their play, we still need more offense. I'm getting flashbacks to when the Morrison-Naslund-Bertuzzi line was one of, if not the best, scoring lines in the league, but were also shut down in the playoffs and Vancouver bowed out early.

If it sounds like I'm writing off the Canucks, well... I won't say never, and teams have come back down 3-1 before, and the Canucks have done it before (as well as having it done to them), but I think it looks pretty grim.