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Logan’s Travels with Charley (and Wolver-tween): Yes, No, Maybe

(Spoilers? Just some mild ones, bub.)

Yes, it’s good to see Wolverine in action again. Pairing him with a mini-me (or mini-him… er, actually a female mini-him) smelled like a big fat gimmick upon first glance (or whiff) but Wolver-tween is interesting, entertaining… and jarring. Seeing her decapitate an enemy was oddly refreshing. Why?

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The Barbarian Invasions: The Illusions of the Past

Les Invasions Barbares

A few weeks ago, as I was mindlessly journeying  across channels on cable, I run into a film that made quite an impression on me when I first watched it a few years ago. The film in question was The Barbarian Invasions by French Canadian director, Denys Arcand. It earned him an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2004, among many other numerous awards.

The film revolves around Rémy, a former college professor who is confined to a hospital due to liver cancer. Whatever the grim circumstances, he devotes all his energies to maintain his bon vivant approach to life. As nurses, friends and former lovers parade into his hospital room, he maintains the facade almost intact. However, what really brings flavor to the story, as well as conflict and humor to the foreground in equal measures, is Rémy’s son, Sébastien. It’s the initial clash between these two that really puts the whole story into motion. Father and son have been estranged for years as a result of their contrasting philosophies. While Rémy is an old school leftist who flirted with every revolutionary movement since the 1960’s, Sébastien is a successful businessman who has deftly navigated the world of finance. The father thinks of himself as a staunch idealist thus he perceives his sons almost as a traitor, a representative of a coldblooded capitalist world. The son has always resented this prejudice but despite his initial misgivings about reuniting with his father, he soon rushes to his side. It doesn’t take long for us to see that the public hospital where Rémy is staying becomes a symbol of everything that went wrong about the old generation; Sébastien must battle with unions and bureaucrats in a place that overflows with red tape and decay in order to ensure some decent care for his father.

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WWC

The 2015 World Cup Starts Soon: Who Cares?

Certainly not FIFA.  And maybe not even the Canadian Soccer Association.  Probably a few corporate sponsors including the upstart carbonated beverage maker known as the Coca-Cola Company; some plucky airbnb users for sure; and definitely Fox Sports.  But after three decades of international play and an on-again / off-again romance with the beautiful game, is it possible to defend an American cultural interest in soccer as played by the most successful national team in U.S. history (sorry, Dream Team)?
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The 2015 Women’s World Cup Roster (USA)
Here’s how I see it.

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Turf luck

The rest of the world can have the NBA and NHL Finals, because I want to talk turkey (actually, that’s my other blog)–specifically soccer turkey in the form of next year’s world cup. You know: the one played on stadium sized fields, with regulation sized balls, but by humans that aren’t men (read: the ladies). The World Cup that has, for some time, been ticking off a number of highly visible players from around the globe, specifically because of host country Canada’s curiously frugal choice to stick with artificial turf instead of installing real grass.

The advantages of using grass are nearly limitless (safer for players, cool jersey stains), and yet player-advocates seem to be hollering into the middle of a wind tunnel buried somewhere in the center of Earth’s core which can only be accessed by way of Mordor. Particularly disappointing (though not surprising given its “leadership”) has been the lack of pressure from FIFA to upgrade the fields in time for 2015.turf_toe

Despite the popularity of the 2011 WWC, and the crazy addictive games of the 2012 Olympics (the Women’s final was the most-watched event in the history of NBC Sports), the 2015 WWC only attracted two bidders–the aforementioned neighbors to the north, and Zimbabwe. (To compare, the 2011 WWC had six bidders.) Perhaps Canada, who won the bid in March of 2011, thought they were getting a bargain. The 2007 World Cup proved to be significantly less monumental than the ’99 tournament, and 2003 was a bit of an organizational nightmare, as the US scrambled to replaced original host China after that whole SARS scare. But then 2011 happened, and the world watched. And 2012 happened and the world tweeted. And maybe if you’re Canada you’re thinking “We don’t have time to fix our fields any more,” or, more likely “We thought no one would care.”

Look. I get it, Canada. You want to save a few bucks. But there are lots of ways to save money without cutting corners. For example, I buy cheese in blocks instead of pre-sliced (for more info on that, check out my cheese blog).

So, here’s my pitch to FIFA: let Zimbabwe host. Sure, they were never gonna get the bid thanks to corruption allegations, but since when has FIFA been preoccupied with rules or their enforcement? If anything, the signal FIFA is sending is that you’re not legitimate until fraudulent markets decide you’re worth exploiting. Luckily, women are great at being exploited! Players could even get in on the betting. And then maybe they could buy Canada some real grass.