Here and There: A Random Assortment of Thoughts - 2/6/12

1. I watched the Super Bowl yesterday, because that is what you do on the evening of Super Bowl Sunday. Unless of course, that isn't what you do, then you are busy doing something else (maybe watching a Bridget Jones marathon on W or arm wrestling a sea turtle -- I don't judge). I like my football, and so it makes the most sense to watch the biggest football game of the year. Unlike in the United States, Canadians actually watch the Super Bowl for the football because we don't have the same smorgasbord of exclusive big budget commercials. We probably get about half of the American Super Bowl commercials, but I'm not sure if I just wasn't impressed by this year's crop or that we got less than that this year (it seems like we got the shaft on the Ferris Bueller and Seinfeld commercials). In the age of YouTube, it doesn't really matter too much that we miss out on many of the commercials, because you can eventually catch all the good ones anyway. It just means you're more likely to be a football fan to catch the event in Canada or you're going to a Super Bowl party to wolf down chili, nachos and wings.

I had me some of that delicious wings and nachos action, thanks to the most magnificent wife in the world (mine). Our Super Bowl party consisted of me, Emily, Everett, Summit and Crosby, and so we played it a bit more low key this year. This was also the first year that I got the honour of taking "diaper breaks' throughout the game, which I think allowed for a much more interactive feel. Unfortunately, Everett seemed to not be as impressed with the Super Bowl, and decided to make the final diaper spectacular an extended one, so I missed out on the Giant's comeback in the final minutes of the game.

The game was a pretty good one, but unfortunately, the joys of parenting meant I was less engaged than most years. It was kept close the entire game, and the trailing team made the big last minute comeback, which is always exciting (probably more if you get to actually see it). There were pretty big plays, and even a few that will get replayed in highlight reels for years to come. Especially the big jumping catch in the fourth quarter that essentially led the Giants to the run that lead to the championship.

I also need to add that I predicted a Giant Super Bowl win a few weeks back when the playoffs were just starting. It seemed like they had the momentum and they've been that type of team that underachieved in the regular season but got things together when it counted. I was confident they'd get the championship after their trouncing of Green Bay. It is always fun to call a big win, because I'm a Bears fans and what else do I have this year to be happy about in the football world?

2. I have wanted to make a few comments on the Shafia murder trial, which has been pretty big news up here. The convicted are still claiming innocence, but from the information that has been released, it appears to be a pretty clear case that they're guilty of murdering their 3 daughters/sisters and ex-wife (in the case of the husband). They also wouldn't be the first ever guilty parties that have stuck to their innocence for the rest of their lives (or until they have a chance to get a lucrative book deal). Debating their innocence isn't what I want to discuss here.

I've been deeply disturbed by this entire case. I just can't imagine what could drive a person to kill their own children and wife. This is something that becomes even more putrid and sickening to me now that I have my own son. I feel instinctually driven to protect my son at all costs. Preventing harm is one of the biggest emotions I have as a father. I can't imagine that one is so bound to their cultural traditions and beliefs that they'd murder those who they should be instinctually driven to protect.

This case is the perfect example of why someone can't allow their beliefs and cultural traditions to dictate how they live and behave. I am not calling for the death of religion or elimination of following your cultural traditions. You can't allow yourself to be tightly leashed by them either. Your beliefs can't consume you to the point that you forget to love and protect those around you. Your beliefs are not more important than a human life. This is my problem with fundamentalism, and those who are so ingrained in their traditions that they don't allow for any breathing room in their thought process. They allow their doctrines and religious texts (or their interpretations of them) to dictate their actions. These beliefs and cultures should be adding value to your life, but not controlling what you do, especially when those things aren't grounded in love. The Shafia trial sickens me, and I feel horrible for those four poor women who did absolutely nothing wrong.

3. I finally caught the premier of Alcatraz. It was a pretty fun start, and definitely shows a lot of promise. It also has the chance to be a cavalcade of plot hole and dropped storylines. I'm all for twists and mysteries, but the key is for the writers to have a clear direction of where they want to go. The current premise has me intrigued, and I do want to know why these ex-convicts are suddenly popping back into existence. The crucial thing is that there really does need to be a reason why they're coming back. It should probably be a pretty big reason, because I can't see someone going through this much trouble to just rob a bank or something. It also isn't going to make sense for every single criminal to just pop back in the modern times to stir up trouble, and so I hope that not every episode is going to be a "new criminal of the week" kind of thing (unless the plan is so huge it does need all 63 convicts). It has been established that there is some kind of goal even if the criminals themselves don't know what it is, but each perp should have a task that builds towards this greater purpose rather just causing random chaos and crimes. In the coming weeks we'll see if the writers can remain focused and avoid this show getting tangled in it plots or attempts at serving up red herrings. I liked what I've seen so far, and I'm interested enough to try to catch up on all the episodes.

4. I saw the Brisk iced tea Super Bowl commercial that starred Yoda and Darth Maul. It was mildly entertaining. The thing that stuck out to me was the small little ad for the 3D Star Wars movies that will get trotted out starting this month. I don't have any intention of going to see these movies, because I have the collection at home and enjoy them just fine in the 2D variety. This ad has reminded me of the latest onslaught of verbiage being unleashed by fan boys against George Lucas. I admit I've been a part of that war, but by this point, I really don't see the point anymore. Yes, the man likes to tinker with his films. Yes, the prequels were a giant let down. Yes, he is likely to remaster the films a dozen more times and eventually, the bartender will be the one to shoot first. I really don't see the point in being outraged anymore. It is the guy's films, and he owns the right to play with them in any form he chooses. I would wish he would allow the release of Blu-Rays of the original films without any Special Edition or tinkering. Other than that pipe dream, I just don't have the energy to get frustrated over George Lucas anymore. The reality is the man played a huge part in defining my childhood and created a set of films that allowed my imagination to soar to far off worlds. I'll always be thankful for that.

I also think the venom over the 3D remastering is totally unwarranted. Star Wars is not the only films that are being remastered for 3D. Disney is turning most of their classics into 3D versions, and James Cameron is rereleasing Titanic as a 3D version as well. If these films make back a decent chunk of change, then I promise you several more major blockbusters will be 3Dified. Hollywood likes their easy money, and this is the easiest of cash grabs. This is definitely more of o Hollywood shift rather than any major decision made by George Lucas (other than the man likes his money, but I also don't think that is necessarily a fault either).

5. The Hunger Games film trailer has definitely wet my appetite for that movie. It has also made me intrigued in the novels, which I've heard many good things about. It has also made me nostalgic about Battle Royale, which is a Japanese film (based off a manga comic that was based off a novel) that must be the inspiration for this series. I'm also sure there are some that complain that The Hunger Games is nothing more than a knock off (because both use the concept of students having to compete in a deadly competition with the last person standing rules). I can't really contribute to the conversation since I've only ever seen Battle Royale. I also know that a competition where the losers die was not invented by the writer of Battle Royale (Stephen King's The Long Walk has a similar concept and was published in the '70s).

The reality is writers are going to stumble upon similar concepts and ideas as other writers. You're going to get works that seem similar on the surface. I think, as long as the work isn't a blatant rip off then eventually they will start drifting away from each other and become very different creatures. I've got a strong feeling that since The Hunger Games is a YA novel that it is different from Battle Royale. I think, any need to call the former a rip off is probably unwarranted (and I'm not even sure if the novel gives an "inspired by" acknowledgement at the start -- which completely kills any need for the "rip off" arguments).

6. I'm going to talk about midwives more this week in my "Dad's Eye View" column, but I just wanted to say how much I loved our experience with our midwives. We didn't get our home birth dream, but our Boxing Day went by a thousand times easier thanks to the compassion and professionalism of our midwives. We meet our midwife for the final time tomorrow. It is absolutely wonderful we were able to get their one-on-one attention for six weeks after the birth. Any time we had a concern, we were able to page them, which have been a huge gift for first time parents. We've also been able to build a real relationship with them and gain a huge amount of trust, which is pretty important when it comes to care for our son. I definitely want to pass on my biggest recommendation for a midwife if you're in the market for some baby delivering. I'm not saying everyone will want or even can have a midwife, but I know the experience for us has been as magnificent as a talking caribou that shoots Skittle from its eyes (except with far less candy).