Friday, December 15, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi...Why I Was Disappointed

It was a good movie.  But I had hopes for even better.  Here's what bothered me...

1. Luke Skywalker.

A.  Luke was always my favorite character as a kid.  Well, until I realized that Wedge was the true hero of the original Star Wars trilogy.  But that's another story for another time.  After getting to see Luke ever so briefly in The Force Awakens, I was eager to see him in action again, green saber blazing, now a master of the Force.  I mean, I really wanted to see him kick some serious butt.  When he faced Kylo Ren on that salty planet, I thought "this is it."  I thought he was going to give his nephew a serious beat down, maybe take a limb as a nod to the original and prequel trilogies, show him who was boss, and then leave him licking his wounds for Episode 9.  NOPE!  He was the equivalent of a hologram...a Force projection.  While his saber was ignited, it never clashed with Kylo's.  So Luke just dodged Kylo's attack, Matrix-style.

B. He died.  Sure, his character will be in Episode IX as a Force ghost, but it won't be the same.  I am fine with the decision for him to pass on but I'll never get to see the lightsaber duel I was hoping for.  I have wanted to see Luke in a lightsaber duel again from the moment it was announced that there would be another trilogy.  Sadly, we will never get the chance.

C. At first I did not understand why he died.  But upon viewing the movie a second time, Kylo Ren said something to Rey that I missed the first time.  During their first "Force Projection" conversation, he said something like "How are you doing this?  The effort alone would kill you."  So Luke was so drained, that he died.  But I am still disappointed because I would rather have had him use the Force to raise his x-wing from that shallow lagoon and show up in person on the salty planet to face Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel for real. When Rey led the fighters away in the Falcon, it would have been extra awesome if Luke showed up in his x-wing to assist, then landed to confront Kylo Ren.

2. Leia's space adventure.

Leia is blown out of the command ship into space.  I realize that she is Force sensitive, but to this point we have never been given any inclining that she is capable of anything more than sensing the well-being of others.  Now suddenly she is able to survive temperatures of -300 degrees in an environment completely void of atmosphere, and then "fly" to safety?  Maybe...MAYBE for a Jedi master trained in the ways of the Force.  Or maybe being thrust into a life or death situation activated powers she didn't realize she had.  And it would have been cool if they explored that in the next movie.  But due to Carrie Fisher's untimely passing, that can never be.

But I just didn't buy that scene at all.

3. NO lightsaber duels.

My favorite part of Star Wars movies is the lightsaber duel.  There has been at least one in every Star Wars movie...until this one.  Yes, there were duels involving lightsabers.  But none of them featured lightsaber/lightsaber combat.  The Praetorian Guards wielded some pretty cool looking weapons.  But they weren't lightsabers.


I really thought he was going to be one of the surprises for which I avoided spoilers like the plague to truly enjoy.

5. The casino scene.

A. This side mission story was not enjoyable at all.  I found myself eager for it to be over.  I shouldn't feel that way about a scene in a Star Wars movie.  I haven't felt that way since Attack of the Clones.

B. The side mission was unnecessary.  It turns out they didn't need the code-breaker.  I guess you could argue that this was realistic because there are both successful and unsuccessful missions in real life military operations.  But it was obviously included in the movie to give Finn and Rose something to do.  It allowed the audience to get to know Rose and introduce us to the kids on the planet, one of which would later be shown to be Force-sensitive.  But in my opinion, this could have been accomplished in another way.

C. DJ (Del Toro's character) was just sitting in a cell when he had the means to escape all along?  Or was he just waiting for a new "client."  Or are we supposed to assume that the First Order somehow knew Finn and Rose were going to go the casino, get arrested, and thrown in that cell?

6. Rey's parents.

So they were nobodies?  All these fantastic theories.  And they were nobodies.  I forget how Kylo Ren put it but they were no one of any importance or significance.  Just felt like a let-down to me. My aunt defended this by saying this meant that anyone could be Force-sensitive.  I get that.  And after seeing it a second time, I am more okay with it.  But it was still a let-down.

7. Snoke.

Just when I was really enjoying his character, he's sliced in half.  That was really cool.  But I expected him to be a villain in Episode IX too.  It's fine that he's not, but I wish we had a better understanding of him.  Where did he come from?  How did he get those injuries?  Who trained him?  How did he find Ben Solo?  I understand that we had these same questions about Emperor Palpatine and the only reason we found answers was because of the prequel trilogy.  But I can't help but feel Snoke was killed off too soon.

8. Phasma.

Speaking of being killed off so could such a cool-looking character used in so much marketing be killed off after so little screen time?  I know, I know...Boba Fett.  I still would have liked to have seen her have more than 3 minutes of screen time and possibly see her with her mask removed.  My son has a theory that since her armor was impervious to laser blasts, she could have survived the fall into fire.  And perhaps she'll have cool eye/face burn scars in the next movie.  But I think she is dead.

9. Hunting down the Resistance.

It didn't seem plausible to me that the First Order could only follow the Resistance and could not get close enough to destroy their ships.  They have TIE fighters at their disposal and maybe some other smaller spacecraft.  Couldnt' they be deployed to cripple their large, lumbering vessels?  Too plot-convenient that they did not.

10. Chewbacca.

Not enough of him.

11. Yoda

When he first appeared, he looked cartoonish.  And so now Force ghosts have the ability to interact with and control nature?  Why don't all the Force ghosts just get together and send some lightning to strike down all the bad guys?  Didn't he knock Luke on the head with his cane too?  If so, that would mean Force ghosts (and the objects they are holding) can interact physically with the real world.  So why not get a bunch of Force ghosts with lightsabers together to take on bad guys?

Really nitpicking....

A. Did Poe Dameron really have to use the term "big-ass door?"  Not necessary in a Star Wars movie.

B. Sad to see Admiral Ackbar die.  It was a trap.  Rest in peace.

C. Luke's lightsaber should have been green on the salty planet.

So there you have it.  I may add or subtract from this post after further viewings.  But let me be clear about this...I liked the movie.  I just didn't love it.  And I really, really wanted to love it.  My hopes were so high.  I waited two years like every other die-hard Star Wars geek.  I think it feels worse because I was so, so, so excited about the release of the Star Wars: Battlefront 2 PS4 game...and that game is an even bigger disappointment.  This movie was supposed to wipe out my frustration with that game and it did not.

Looking forward to Episode IX.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

I was sent the following email from a friend.  He knows I am a Blue Jackets fan.  And he knows how superstitious I am.  Enjoy...

This email is not about hockey.

However, it is conceivable that I could have a friend who enjoys the game of hockey, or some other professional sport.  It is further conceivable that said friend might, possibly, cheer for a team -- hockey or otherwise -- that has not, in recent memory, enjoyed successful, winning seasons.  If such an alleged team were to go on a hypothetical winning streak of historical proportions, it could be incumbent upon me to voice my congratulations, support, and overall well-wishes to said friend and the alleged team supposedly cheered for by him (or her).  Of course, I would resist the temptation to voice such enthusiastic support for fear that my vocalization of the matter might jinx the supposed hypothetical "team" in question, thus inadvertently bringing to a premature end the aforementioned, albeit purely speculative, winning streak.  So I therefore offer to you no comment whatsoever, regarding any subject related to or not related to professional sports of any nature, and above all certainly not hockey.   

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Blue Jackets: Choose Your Own Adventure

The fact that I am sitting here writing a blog entry speak volumes.  I hardly ever do this.

The fact that I am starting it during the third period of a Blue Jackets game, instead of actually watching the Jackets game, speaks even higher volumes.

The fact that the Jackets have started the season 0-6 is unfathomable.  But then again, it's the Jackets. They have proven they can disappoint you in a wide variety of ways.

When I was a kid, I used to read a lot of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.  If you are not familiar with the series, each book presented the reader with choices throughout the story.  For example if you wanted the character to turn left down a dark hallway,  you were told to turn to a certain page.  If you wanted the character to turn right into a bright room, you were told to turn to a different page.

I have to admit, I don't remember a whole lot about the stories, but one in particular stands out.  I remember it because no matter what choices I made, my character seemed to die every time.  No matter what I did, something prevented me from surviving.  Occasionally, I think I would survive...but it would not be the outcome for which I hoped.  I was imprisoned, lost, etc. I never was able to finish the book with the ultimate happy ending.

This is what it's like to be a Jackets fan. Every season seems to bring a new adventure that leads to an unhappy ending.  There are always new excuses and new story lines that are the reasons for the team's lack of success.  Occasionally you get a playoff appearance to make you think you are getting closer to the ultimate happy ending, only to start the story again and become enslaved by the Ant People (or whatever the heck they were in that story I am thinking of).

Last year the excuse was injuries but the Jackets finished the season on a positive note.  Fans, media, players, coaches...everybody had high expectations for the start of this season.  The Jackets were healthy.  They acquired Saad.  They dominated in the preseason.  They had the most depth ever at the forward position.  To come out 0-6, to the worst start in franchise history, is mind boggling.  To not even get one single win in the first six games is just beyond belief.  To think back to two weeks ago, to all the positive energy, high hopes, and excitement I had about the season is frustrating to a point of numbness.

So now what?  Does the team get rebuilt again?  At some point this madness has to stop, right?  At some point, we have to find the ultimate happy ending of the story right?  I'm sure it's hidden somewhere in the Blue Jackets' Choose Your Own Adventure book.  I'm just so tired of starting over to try and find it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Jackets' Offense of the Future

When Rick Nash left the Blue Jackets several years ago, fans like myself wondered where they would get their goals from.  The overwhelming response to such questions was "offense by committee."  We were getting Dubinsky and Anisimov who had the potential to be 20-goal scorers.  Anisimov accomplished that and Dubinsky was close.

Now with Ryan Johansen, Nick Foligno, and Scott Hartnell reaching the 20-goal plateau this season, it got me thinking.  The Jackets really have some potent offensive weapons.  They seem to have an abundance of players who have scored or have the potential to score 20 goals in a season.

Johansen, Foligno, Hartnell, and Anisimov have already done it.  I would think logic suggests they can do it again.

Others, in my opinion, who have the potential to score 20 goals: Atkinson, Dubinsky, Jenner.  Clarkson has done it in the past and Jackets fans like myself are hoping he can find some semblance of his former 20-goal scoring self next season.

Plus you have Wennberg and Dano who arguably could be 20-goal scorers in the near future.  Throw Borkstrand into that mix and that gives the Jackets a whopping 11 players capable.  Obviously having 11 20-goal scorers on a team is a bit far-fetched, but it makes me smile to think about the future of the Blue Jackets.  I only hope our coaching staff can install the right system to bring the most offense out of these players.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I just want to watch Jackets playoff hockey!

Please help.

I was unable to get a straight answer from Dish Network.
I was unable to get a straight answer from Fox Sports Ohio.

It is 12:39 am.  I'm supposed to be sleeping.  Big day at work tomorrow.  But instead I am sitting at my computer, stewing.  I was unable to watch the Blue Jackets Game 3 playoff game on TV on Monday.  Now it seems I may be unable to watch tonight's as well.

I live in Troy, Ohio.  Just north of Dayton.  I am not a wealthy man by any means.  I cannot afford to attend NHL games very often but I do drive the 90 minutes to Columbus a few times a year to enjoy a Blue Jackets game at Nationwide Arena.  When I can't see them in person, one of my favorite things to do is to relax in front of the TV with my two boys and watch the Jackets on our regional Fox Sports station.  We watch so much, that they have memorized the commercials!  Proven here:

I am a Dish Network subscriber and pay an additional $5 per month for the Fox Sports regional sports package.  I do this for one reason and one reason only: to watch my beloved Blue Jackets.  I do not watch the Reds or Xavier or any other sports team.  I pay those few dollars extra every month for the CBJ.

I am ecstatic that my team is finally back in the playoffs.  Unable to watch Game 2 on Saturday night due to work, I was looking forward to watching Game 3 on Monday.  Fox Sports televised the game in my area (DirecTv customers were able to watch)...yet I was unable to watch.

You see, I actually have Fox Sports Cincinnati (a division of Fox Sports Ohio, I think).  Throughout the season I was able to watch every game on this station.  When there was a conflict with another team, I would always be able to find the game on an alternate channel.  But not Monday.  With the Reds playing that evening, I found myself searching for the alternate channel.  To my complete and utter frustration, the Reds game was also on the alternate channel.  That made no sense to me.

Was this a mistake?  I'm not so sure.  I contacted Dish Network and was told it was a programming decision by Fox Sports Ohio.  But the Fox Sports Ohio web site indicated that I still should be able to watch the game in my area as proven here:

So right before bed tonight I checked my Dish Network guide.  The Reds game for tonight starts at 7pm and is televised on Fox Sports Cincinnati.  So I searched the alternate channels.  NO BLUE JACKETS GAME.
I find this very disturbing.  I have been able to watch every Blue Jackets game on Fox Sports this season.  Now they are in the playoffs and suddenly I cannot watch???  Sure it's on the NBC Sports network but I don't get that channel.  That package would cost me an additional $10 per month.  I'm already spending $5 for Fox Sports...a channel on which I SHOULD be able to watch the Jackets.

But the bigger issue is this: EVERYONE in this part of Ohio and Cincinnati should be able to watch the Jackets game.  And EVERYONE who has Dish Network and the same package as me CANNOT.  From a marketing perspective, this is horrible.  The Blue Jackets organization should want everyone in the state with access to FSOhio to be able to see the Blue Jackets in the playoffs.  This is the perfect way to promote the game and hook new fans.

In comparison, DirecTv (from which I recently switched) offers both FSOhio AND FSCincinnati as part of its regional sports package.  Dish Network should follow suit. Or whoever is in charge.  Dish Network?  Fox Sports?  Blue Jackets?

I don't want to watch a choppy, illegal Internet feed.  I don't want to go to a bar.  I just want to sit on the couch with my two boys and watch the Jackets.  Is that too much to ask?  I should be able to do it.  I've been able to do it all year.  Why has it changed now when it matters most?

Please help!  Someone must know something!


Monday, April 21, 2014

I Can't Watch the Jackets Playoff Game

Tonight I cannot watch my beloved Blue Jackets play in their Game 3 matchup against Pittsburgh.  I emailed Dish Network to complain.  Here is what I wrote.  Bet I get some kind of generic response with no resolution.

Hello.  I pay $5 extra per month so that I can have the regional sports network package with Dish Network.  I do that for one reason only: so I can watch the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey games.  That's it.  I do not watch the Cincinnati Reds or any other Ohio sports on that channel.

So I was quite angry when I was unable to watch the Blue Jackets PLAYOFF hockey game tonight (Monday, April 21).  The Cincinnati Reds game was on Fox Sports Cincinnati.  Usually when such a programming conflict occurs, I can switch to an alternate regional programming channel for the hockey game.  Instead, the Reds were on that channel too.  When I contacted Dish Network to inquire about this, I was told this was a Fox Sports issue.  The Fox Sports web site seems to indicate otherwise.

I live in the Dayton, Ohio area.  When I visited the Fox Sports Ohio web site, it says that tonight's Blue Jackets game is in fact televised on Dish Network IN THE DAYTON AREA.  The following link clearly shows that as a Dish Network customer, I should be able to watch the game on FSOhio.

The problem is that I do not have FSOhio.  I only have FSCincinnati.

I would like to voice my displeasure with this.  I recently switched to Dish Network from DirecTV.  When I was with DirecTV I had BOTH FSCincinnati AND FSOhio.  Clearly the Fox Sports Ohio web site operates under the assumption that Dish Network offers both channels to their subscribers.

I would appreciate a response as I am currently second-guessing my decision to switch from DirecTV.  I would like to know how I can help initiate a change so that Dish Network carries both Fox Sports Ohio and Fox Sports Cincinnati just like DirecTV.

For the record, the game is also televised on NBCSports Network.  However I do not wish to pay an additional $10 a month to upgrade my package to include that channel when I already pay the $5 per month to receive the regional sports network package.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trading Gaborik: Mistake

I am writing this entry with the understanding that perceptions can change.  I may very well look back on this entry in a year or two (or even at the end of this season) and say "what was I thinking?"  With that in mind, let me flat out say: trading Marian Gaborik for Matt Frattin was a poor decision.

As I write this, the Blue Jackets' offense is practically non-existent and the power play is in an 0-for-30-something slump.  You know what would help with that?  A proven NHL goal scorer.

It comes down to this question really, Blue Jackets fans: would your rather have, right now at this moment, Marian Gaborik on the ice or Matt Frattin in the press box?  At this juncture I think the answer is obvious. Many will argue that Gaborik would have been lost at the end of the season so the Jackets did the right thing to get something for him.

But is having Matt Frattin on the roster in the summer better than having a playoff berth in the spring? If I were Jarmo, I would have kept Gaborik on the team as a potent roster option.  Instead, we traded him for a guy who sits in the press box every night.  Gaborik would have helped this team, simply put.  I don't think keeping him on the team would have hurt.  If the Jackets can't find some offense soon they'll be finding themselves on the golf course in mid-April again.

Let's pretend we kept Gaborik and made the playoffs.  Then Gaborik walked.  The positives of making the playoffs would outweigh the negatives of losing him for nothing.  Seriously, would any of you Jackets fans be THAT upset if the Jackets chose not to re-sign him this summer?  I would have given it a big fat "oh well" and moved on.  Because you know what? We traded him for practically nothing anyway.

This was not addition by subtraction.  We lost a goal scorer and right now we need goals.  I was skeptical when the trade was made.  Now my worst fears are being realized.  Maybe I'm jumping the gun and things will turn around.  But things don't look so hot right now.

I am not saying that Gaborik would have solved all our problems with the offense, but he could not have made it worse than what we've recently seen on the ice. I've heard fans say he didn't fit into the gritty style the Jackets play.  Well, I hate to say it, but that gritty style is not putting pucks in the net right now.  We need all the help we can get.

So I hope I am wrong and the Jackets get hot and make the playoffs for only the second time in their history.  But if they don't, and we fans start talking about where things went wrong, the conversation should start with the Gaborik trade.