“The Body in Question”- Northern Exposure S03E06

Quickly becoming addicted to Northern Exposure, I am thrown back to a time when things could be done on TV that seemed important. Music videos were dark and made intelligent social commentaries (think of Alice in Chains’ “Rooster”, or Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy”). TV shows could be weird, and people would still watch them (think Twin Peaks). And as I mentioned in a previous post, Northern Exposure could brilliantly break the fourth wall between characters and audience in order to allow us to step back and take a look at the issues of the day.

I wonder if things like this could still work?

Sure, I believe that we are in some sort of new Golden Age of television, where the quality of the product is at an all-time high. Cable shows are racking up the awards, and you don’t need to look too far to find a deep, intelligent drama on the air. There are just so many good shows right now, that it is difficult to complain. But these shows tend to exist in their own worlds (as brilliant as Game of Thrones is, it really isn’t saying tons about the way we live our lives in 2014. But, I absolutely adore the show).

I thought of this while watching Season 3, Episode 6 of Northern Exposure, entitled “The Body in Question.” In the episode, the gang from Cicely discover a frozen body and diary, indicating that the mysterious person was someone close to Napoleon, and it is revealed through his writing that Napoleon was not actually at the Battle of Waterloo.

Simple enough, right? Another quirky adventure for the Alaskans to solve before going on with their lives.

But, as this show tends to do, it took it far further than I would have expected for a 90’s network show. It had a debate. And it was amazing to watch.

The conflict centered around whether or not the town should reveal Pierre (their body) to the world, and take advantage of the tourist influx it could cause. They debated if they should reveal that history may be false, in that Napoleon was not even present for his greatest and most famous defeat. This would literally change history.

Of course, it was Chris, the existential radio DJ, that brought up the idea of the metaphysical debate on the validity of what Pierre could reveal. Do we want to change our past, the stories that have developed over the years and have truly defined who we are, as individuals, and as a nation? He states that his life would be no different if Napoleon wasn’t at the battle. But it would change things for so many people, because that is what we know, and a part of who we are. He discusses the comfort we get from our stories, such as George Washington cutting down the cherry tree. If that never happened, our lives would be the same. Or would they?

It was great to see characters discuss these types of things in the middle of a show that is mainly lighthearted. And the audiences responded, I assume, since the show continued on for years after its third season.

I miss that. That there can be a moment on TV that goes beyond entertaining you. That there is a part of it that can make you think, and make you wonder. That maybe you watched that episode and debated with your friends the importance of our history, of our stories, in shaping our lives.

chrisA great episode from a great series. Added on to the great debate that transpires at a town hall meeting, the episode ends with Chris reading Proust on air.

How can it get any better than that?

New Trailer: Game of Thrones Season 4

Finally! A trailer for the newest season of Game of Thrones, the best show on television, which will start up again at the beginning of April.

And upon first look, it is everything I could have hoped for. The action looks amazing, all the characters are there, of course. For those who have read this far in the series, we know that there will definitely be something massive that happens over the course of this season, and we eagerly await what will be included, and what will be excluded from the original texts.

We see Daenerys continuing to rise to power, the Starks on the run, the general arrogance of King Joffrey…

I cannot wait.

Now that was a game…

After so much buildup for the final BCS Championship Game in history, with the long-awaited four team playoff coming next year, we were treated to a classic finish that gave the Florida State Seminoles the National Championship.

Despite so much anger always being levied towards the BCS as a broken and unfair system, even the most jaded fan has to agree that there have been some amazing games under the formula. Miami-Ohio State. Texas-USC. Auburn-Oregon. And now FSU-Auburn. This was a fun one, with a great finish.

bcsThe game seemed finished once Florida State returned a kickoff for a go-ahead 100 yard touchdown. But it wasn’t. Auburn methodically marched down the field, not afraid to run the ball right up the gut to take the lead once again. But there was still too much time left, so FSU came back with an impressive drive of their own, and the Heisman Trophy winner threw the game winning touchdown with 13 seconds left.

Kind of classic.

There was no magic left for Auburn, even though there was the briefest of seconds when they started to lateral the ball on the final play of the game, when I thought that if anyone was going to be able to pull this off, it would have been this Tigers team. They had won by miracles twice before this season, and maybe…just maybe, they could do it for a third time.

But the Seminoles shut it down pretty quickly.

This was an entertaining game to watch, and as someone who is not particularly a fan of either team, all you can ask for is a game that is fun to watch. And this one delivered.

Now to debate what the final would have looked like if this year, there would have been the four teams in the playoff. Would it have been FSU-Oregon, with an Auburn-Alabama rematch? The winners moving on? Or woudl the dreaded Ohio State have been given another chance against FSU? Or Michigan State? Or a two-loss Stanford team? I guess we’ll never know.

Now that the BCS era is done, it was a good way to say goodbye. With a great game.

Quick Thoughts: Team Canada Olympic Hockey Roster

So it has finally been announced after months of debate, that will surely carry on now that we can debate who made it and who didn’t. In Canada, it is no secret that the majority of us base our Olympic viewing around the hockey team, and so many of our hopes rest on the team assembled for each Games. 

2014_olympics_three_jerseys_640original_127301Here is the list of players that made it:

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getlzaf, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews.

Defense: Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, PK Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Shea Weber.

Goalies: Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Mike Smith

Some of my thoughts on the picks:

  • I feel like Rick Nash is done. He is now dealing with concussion issues, and only has 8 goals this year. He has always been tons of promise, with little follow through. Sure, he has nice hands, skates well, and is a big body, but I would have chosen James Neal over him in a heartbeat.
  • I want Price to be our starting goalie.
  • How amazing is that D? Far and away the deepest group in the tournament.
  • Perplexed by Hamhuis getting named to the team. I may have gone with Seabrook as by defensive D-man instead.
  • Don’t like Marleau on this team. He was solid in Vancouver, but has a history of not showing up in the biggest games, and I feel like his time is done.
  • One of the more controversial picks, Kunitz, is fine by me. Anyone who keeps Sid going is fine. 
  • Glad that Jamie Benn, one of the biggest camp snubs, made the team. Big, can skate, can finish.
  • Same for Sharp. He has been way too hot lately to ignore. Throw him with anyone and he’ll score.
  • Jeff Carter? I never actually thought of him in the discussion for the team. Would rather have Martin St. Louis on there. Or Claude Giroux. Not nearly the same size as Carter, but it wouldn’t matter on the large ice.
  • There are two Canadian players who are 5’11”. And they are the smallest, with everybody else over 6′. That is a big team.
  • Smart moves: leaving Taylor Hall, Joe Thornton, and Dan Boyle at home. Hall can’t play in his own end and is very poor without the puck, Thornton is too slow for the big ice, despite being a generationaly good setup man, and Boyle is over-the-hill, having a poor year, and I was surprised he was being considered. 
  • Shocked Logan Couture didn’t make it, even with his recently injured hand. He will be on the next team, for sure. 
  • I think there is a good combination of finesse, scoring, and grit on this team to rightfully be a favorite for the Gold. Canada, Sweden, Russia and a darkhorse Finland (I just love those goalies) are my Top 4 teams. The US isn’t far behind.
  • Weakest area is in net. I’ve never been sold on Luongo, as we won last time in spite of him, not because of him. Price has been big before, but has also gone through major slumps. I think Smith is a systems goalie, and kind of surprised he is on there ahead of Corey Crawford.
  • Too bad those uniforms are just so ugly. I thought for a moment that they were growing on me. But then they weren’t. Will probably still buy one, thought. Sadly.

New Trailer: Veronica Mars

I am unabashedly a huge fan of Veronica Mars. A great, fun, smart, and intriguing TV show when it was on, I have definitely poured through the three seasons of the show more than once. It was one of the shows that ended at the right time, before he storylines were too stretched out or the characters became caricatures of themselves.

Veronica_mars_introAnd Veronica herself, played incredibly by Kristen Bell, is one of the great female TV characters of all time. Sure, seems like high praise, but she is really that good. She is witty and tough, but held a deep vulnerability that made her irresistible as a character. Because of being Veronica Mars, I will watch pretty much anything that Kristen Bell is in, and am a huge fan of hers (she is currently excellent on House of Lies).

The big news for Veronica Mars nerds was the impressive Kickstarter project, where fans donated enough money to raise a budget to make a movie of the show they so dearly loved. This will be the first big-name project to be done in this way, which makes the movie a true labour of love. Fans wanted it so badly that they actually paid to have it made. That is an impressive following.

There has been significant buzz about the movie, obviously, and now there is an official trailer out. The movie will debut in March, and the trailer looks…awesome.

All of the characters are back. Veronica has left the life of being a PI, and is now a lawyer, but she is pulled back to Neptune when her old flame Logan is accused of murder. The events are centered on a reunion at Neptune High, which is an awesome way to get everybody back together and have Veronica hash it out with all the people (good and bad) from her past.

The trailer has everything you could expect and hope for. It looks dark, it looks funny, Kristen Bell appears to be in fine form. And despite not having the backing money of a huge studio, it looks like a very high end production. No cheesy look to this film.

I will confidently say that this movie looks like an absolute winner, and even though I rarely go to the theater to see movies any more, I will definitely make an exception for VM. I am excited.

Here is another link to the trailer.

http://theveronicamarsmovie.com/

Eating Edmonton: MKT Beer Market

I’ve been to MKT (Gateway Blvd and Whyte Ave) several times since it has opened up, and I’ve decided to do a little review of it.

Firstly, being in the old train station that once housed the Iron Horse (there’s a good throwback bar from the late 90’s and early 2000s!), you know that this is going to be a big, and cool, space. They have appointed it really nicely inside, and it looks great as soon as you walk in. Big picnic tables, some regular high table, booths, and comfy seats along the massive bar make MKT one of the more attractive pub/restaurants in Edmonton.

mktSecondly, this place is one of the best on Whyte in the summer, specifically because of their massive outdoor patio. We crave our outdoor time in this city, and MKT must have one of the biggest patios in the area. This can cause some serious wait times in the summer, mainly because nobody wants to be stuck inside when it is nice and sunny out there. I feel like with their enormous lot (I have no idea if they own it all the way to the sidewalk or not), they should expand their patio even further towards Whyte. And perhaps make use of some of the ample space along the side of the building, leading up to the main entrance.

Next, it is nice for a place along Whyte Avenue to actually have its own parking lot. This is the rarest of the rare in the popular part of Edmonton nightlife, and this is a benefit of the location. If the lot is full, there is also some street parking nearby that is free.

As for the food and drink. It is a mixed bag. The beer menu is very impressive, with long lists of beers from all over the planet. The best idea is to come on a Thursday, when it is $4 for any of their pints. I feel better about trying a new beer when I don’t have to pay $8 or more for it. Gives a chance to see what you might like, and not have to pay through the nose for it. In my visits, I have found the beer good, not flat, and the staff is generally fairly knowledgeable about their alcohol products. Meaning, they at least know what type of beer each one is, which can’t be said for every staff in the city. There are some weird things with the sizes of the beers, as sometimes you are ordering something smaller than you expected. I don’t usually pay attention to the size of the pint when I order a pint. I thought a pint was a size. But that confusion can be avoided by being a customer who actually reads the menu fully, unlike myself on many occasions.

For food, there is good and there is mediocre. It really is just pub grub, but with fancier names and higher price tags. I’m not really picky about the food I eat, but it is just okay here. The nachos are really tasty, especially when covered in pulled pork, and they are of a significant portion size. The burgers are decent, but nothing really makes them stand out. The burger you will have at MKT is essentially the same burger you will have at any other bar in the city. I really didn’t like the soft pretzels, and found the dipping sauces to be quite contrary to what my palate would ever like to try again (my opinion, of course). When I go to MKT, I will typically go after eating, maybe only getting a small snack or appetizer item to tide me over through a few beers.

I’ve read quite a few negative reviews about the service online, but I haven’t found it to be that bad. Of course, like most places, it could always be faster, but for a large and generally busy place, I have found it to be pretty good. I am not typically going there during the most peak times, and have never had to wait too long for a server to show up. When it gets busy and there is a wait for tables, they will take your phone number and call you when a table is ready, which is a little different, but they follow through, and if the wait seems long (like for a patio spot during the summer), it gives you a chance to check around to see if there is somewhere else you would like to go.

Overall, MKT isn’t a major dining experience by any stretch of the imagination. But if you are just going for drinks (especially on a Thursday!), it is a nice place to enjoy a few beers with friends. Just be careful going up the spiral staircase to the washrooms!

A Love Letter to Daenerys Targaryan

dany3Dear Daenerys,

I’m not really sure if I love you because of your character, or because of Emilia Clarke playing you on TV in Game of Thrones, but I will count these two separate entities as one and the same.

First off all, I am impressed with how you have overcome being a girl simply used for the gains of men. You have gone from being the demure, fragile, person that your brother sold into marriage, to a scared and unsure woman married to a terrifying Dothraki warlord. But you gained confidence, you began to assert yourself, and you finally used your voice. You found love where there was initially only fear, and you discovered that there was something powerful inside you that could get out, and could help others. Granted, many of these learned things came from your sexual awakening with Khal Drogo. But this further demonstrated your assertion of who you really had become.

dany2The dragons may be the source of your power, but you have nurtured and cared for them, in order to become a more powerful person. You understand their abilities, and what having them means to you and your future in Westeros. You have harnessed their strength, and along the way, have become the mighty Mother of Dragons.

There is much power in your tiny frame. There is a lot of rage. You make promises to burn cities to the ground, no longer the weak girl you were when we first met you. You have sought what is yours, and you are willing to pay whatever price to get it. As you grow in your power, you have become a good leader. You are freeing the slaves along your journey, and this is commendable, not only because it makes you a better person and more respected among your followers, but because it is a shrewd move, both in the military and political sense. You know that by promising these people something- their freedom- they will follow you to the ends of the earth. Where, one would imagine, is where you will ask them to go at some point.

You have been able to play your beauty and innocence as a strength, using it against your enemies. They see a young girl who is nothing but afraid of the things she has already done. We know that you are willing to go further, and are not afraid to spill a little blood along the way. This, coupled with your cunning (upon learning of Old Valerian as your mother tongue, that warlord probably still hasn’t removed his jaw from the ground- that was seriously badass), has created a force to be reckoned with in Daenerys Stormborn.

The game of thrones is something that is being played by the women of the story. It is becoming more evident that the men are merely their pawns in their deadly game, and I cheer for you, to take back the Iron Throne that is rightfully yours to begin with. These women already have varying degrees of power, but no one has risen from the ashes (literally), as you have. From weak to strong, you are perhaps destined to become the one true leader. For that, we will have to wait and see and continue to cheer along when you are on the screen.

Red Waste- Rakharo is ahead of the gameSure, I understand that you are not a real person, that you are a character in a story. But you are the best character, because you have undergone the most thorough change. While time passes and other people remain the same, you have become a true force to be reckoned with in the development of these novels and TV show. You are learning along the way, becoming a true player in the game of thrones. A player that many people in Westeros do not even understand or realize yet. But they will, when their castles burn from the fire of the dragons.

This may be the nerdiest thing I have ever written.