List of San Jose Sharks Playoff Chokes

•February 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

In Today’s NHL, no team has become so legendary for blowing it during the playoffs than the San Jose Sharks. Sure, there have been teams in the NHL plus other sports franchises who also had that reputation of making great teams but always losing when it counted during their history, such as their division rival Ducks in recent years (though they have one Stanley Cup under their belt), the Kings during the Dionne through Gretzky years, the Lakers in the 1960s, the Brooklyn Dodgers before 1955, the Boston Red Sox between 1919 and 2004, the Buffalo Bills four straight Super Bowl losses, and many others, but over the last decade it seems that the Sharks have made such a big reputation for blowing it during the playoffs that it’s impossible for hockey fans NOT to say “the sharks choke in the playoffs.”

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Let’s get one thing out of the way. I hate the Sharks. As a Southern California native who supports all local teams, I am not only bred to hate every team from Northern California, I have grown up doing so, even as far as hating all the NorCal teams I played against while growing up playing ice hockey. While I do respect the history and stories of the longtime franchises, I will NEVER cheer for a Northern California team, and I don’t care what sport it’s in.  It’s one thing to be from the Bay Area living as a transplant, but it totally baffles me seeing so many native-born SoCal people that despise their local teams and love the Sharks instead. Sure, some people absolutely despise everything associated with L.A. and/or will never get over the Disney movie roots of the Ducks, but when it comes to jumping on the Sharks bandwagon instead of their local teams, often times their reasons are, “well I like Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Patrick Marleau; they’re my favorite players” or “because they are a really good team and fun to watch,” all the way down to “I like their colors.” However, aside from the few that I’m actually friends with, most Sharks fans I’ve encountered do not share the same knowledge and love of the sport as I do, but then again the same can be said about fans of the team of your choice. But to me, the Sharks fans in attendance get really annoying due to their constant booing and whining over calls not going their way, even at their own players when they lose. When I go to games when the Sharks are visiting, many times the fans I’ve encountered have been downright obnoxious and disrespectful, and don’t know when to shut their mouths at games.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHHEUsaqE6k

One time I dated this girl who said she was a big Sharks fan, so we went to a game in Anaheim when the Sharks were in town, and she couldn’t name a single player on the Sharks roster, and one couldn’t imagine how much I poked fun at her for that all through the game. Even though the Sharks won that game it didn’t matter, the Ducks fans kept taunting the Sharks fans over their epic playoff choke in 2009, saying “first round chokers!” *clap* *clap* *clap clap clap.*

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Sure, over the past two decades, they have easily been the most successful of the California franchises during the regular season, winning the division 6 times, the president’s trophy once, boasting rosters of strong skaters and potential future hall of fame players, and having more post season appearances than their So-Cal rivals. But their regular season success was always washed away when it came to playoff time. After being underdogs for so long, starting in 2001-02 id when their reputation as playoff chokers took center stage. Year after year they had all the makings of a championship caliber team: big name veteran superstars, great depth teams with decent coaching staff, strong high scoring offense, great defenseman, and great goaltending. When I can get over the fact I hate the Sharks more than I love my local teams, they can be fun to watch, and especially during the regular season, look downright scary to the other teams and their fans. They also have a home attendance that’s regarded around the league as among the loudest crowds (mostly due to the acoustics and low roof of the SAP Center) and thus one of the toughest arenas for visiting teams to play in. Therefore, It’s no surprise that so many experts pick the Sharks as favorites to win it all year after year.

But come playoff time, have managed to lose in every way possible, and just when you thought they couldn’t lose a certain way, there is always that one year it happens. Getting swept or losing series in 5 games; Losing three to four straight games after getting the series lead; Blowing leads in big games that turn the tide; Blowing series when they were on the brink of eliminating their opponents and moving on; losing to much lower seeded teams and sometimes getting dominated by them; there’s also been games with bad luck going their way, or even bad Karma due to their idiot fans in attendance, or incidents involving certain players cheating and getting away with it. It doesn’t matter what round it’s in, the chokes are all humiliating in their own way.

The following list is all their postseason chokes starting in 2002. Why not earlier? Because between 1991-2001, they were underdogs, and not seen as this big powerhouse franchise in the league, and not expected to go far. Sure they have a few playoff upsets of elite teams under their belt in those days, but to most fans, it was clear they themselves were not a championship caliber team. That changed as soon as the Sharks started finishing near the top of the standings, and winning division titles. Then in 2005 when Boston decided Joe Thornton wasn’t worth the money he was getting paid and traded him to San Jose, that’s when everyone started going “oh no, look out for Jumbo Joe and San Jose!”

I will also give my input on why it was a playoff choke, and have also given my score by how bad the choke in question was. The lowest being “ehh, whatever” and the highest being “Holy mother of God, what a choke!”

2001-02 -Lost to the Colorado Avalanche in the second round

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Why was it a choke?  They won their first of 6 division titles here, and seemed to have it all going in thanks to superstars like Vinnie Damphousse, Owen Nolan, and Teemu Selanne before his first freefall into healthy scratches. While they made easy work of the Coyotes in the first round, the Sharks battled to a 3-2 series lead against the Avalanche, but with a chance to close it out, lost Game 6 at home in overtime, and couldn’t recover for Game 7. The Avalanche were defending champions, and were still near the top of their game, so maybe it was expected that the Avalanche would move on. Little did we know this was a hint of things to come for the San Jose franchise.
Choke Level: 3

2002-2003 – Did not Make Playoffs

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Why Was it a Choke: You can’t choke in the playoffs if you don’t make the playoffs. All they did was miss the playoffs for the first time in 6 seasons. However, they were also one of the worst teams in the league that year, so… yeah… whatever. Can’t beat a dead horse.
Choke Level: 1

2003-2004 – Lost in Third Round to the Calgary Flames

Why was it a Choke?: While they made easy work of the Blues and Avalanche in the first two rounds, against the Flames it was a different story. After losing the first two games at home, the Sharks had just clawed their way back into the series with two road victories in Calgary, and it looked like all the momentum was on their side for Game 5 at home. Then they gave up a shorthanded goal early in the game and it was all done from there. They got shut out 3-0 at home for game 5, and in game 6 had a great opportunity to tie the game in the waning seconds, but the set up pass missed Jonathan Cheechoo’s stick and went all the way into the Sharks empty net to put one more final nail in the coffin. Some say this loss was retribution for their fans booing during the Canadian National Anthem before Game 5. By the way, who was the coach of the Flames that year? Why it was former Sharks coach Darryl Sutter, who had just been replaced by Ron Wilson the year before.
Choke Level: 8

2004-05: NHL Lockout

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Why was this a choke: nobody played that year, so nobody was given the chance. Maybe they were practicing the art on the golf courses. Since nobody could agree on stupid money issues, and save the season, everyone choked that year, and nearly ruined the league. Even today with all the changes there are groups of fans and former players who say the NHL nowadays is nothing more than a glorified adult league.
Choke Level: 0

2005-06: Lost in the Second Round to the Edmonton Oilers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxVihV8c5rg

Why was this a choke?: This was the year Joe Thornton not only was traded to San Jose, but won the Hart Trophy and Art Ross trophy as the league MVP and top scorer respectively. Jonathan Cheechoo also got the Rocket Richard trophy for getting the most goals scored. Once again, it looked like the Sharks had it all and were on their way to go far in the playoffs. Because the Oilers were the lowest seed, and not expected to go much further, the Sharks were predicted to steamroll their way to the finals. But after going up two games to none, it seemed like the Sharks were doomed, losing in triple overtime for Game 3, blowing an early 3-1 lead in game 4 by allowing Edmonton to score 5 unanswered goals, and after that it was all Oilers on their way to winning four straight games after going down 0-2. Losing four straight to a low seeded team is pretty much just as bad as getting swept altogether. but in all fairness, the run made by the Oilers that year was something nobody saw coming.
Choke Level: 6

2006-07 : Lost in the second round to Detroit Red Wings

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuxmAeLtXTM

Why was this a choke?: Both teams were predicted to be heavy favorites to win the Cup that year, but I distinctly remember several big sites like Yahoo! saying the Sharks were going to win it all. It looked that way in the second round when the Sharks were up 2 games to 1 against the Red Wings. Game 4 in San Jose saw the Sharks up 2-0, only to blow the lead, with the tying goal going in with less than a minute remaining; then they lost in overtime to even the series. I remember watching this game at home and thinking “yup, I knew it, it was only a matter of time before they’d blow it in the playoffs.” and sure enough, my prediction came true: Detroit then dominated and outscored San Jose 6-1 over the next two games to win the series. Here the Sharks lost three straight games after going up in the series and having a chance to get a stranglehold on the series, but the two bad goals they let in during Game 4 was the beginning of the end… still a big choke but not as bad as losing four straight the year before.
Choke Level: 5

2007-08 – Lost in the second round to the Dallas Stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuxmAeLtXTM

Why was this a choke?: This may be the closest playoff loss that wasn’t really considered a choke, since they faced off against a Dallas team that was red hot riding off their eliminating the Stanley Cup Champion in the first round. Dallas won the first three games, two of which went to OT. The Sharks won games 4 and 5 to shift the momentum back, but in game 6, the game went into four overtones before the Stars won the game and eliminated the Sharks. The only way it could be considered a choke was the fact that there was an 11 point difference in regular season standings between the two teams, and San Jose had the higher seed and was the second best team in the league during the regular season.
Choke Level: 2

2008-09 – Lost 4-2 in the first round to the Anaheim Ducksurl
Why was this a choke?: The Sharks were the best team in the regular season that year, and many sports experts considered them Cup favorites because of that. The Ducks had just clawed their way into the playoffs and barely made the 8th and final spot. There was a 26 point difference between the two teams. The Ducks won the first two games in the road in front of a stunned and silent San Jose crowd. While the Sharks eventually woke up and got two wins of their own, in game 6, the Ducks flat out dominated the Sharks on their way to a 4-1 win. Not only that, the game opened with Joe Thornton getting in a fight with Ryan Getzlaf, something I’ll probably never see again. I was at this game, and the look on all the Sharks fans faces was absolutely priceless as the Ducks celebrated their win. The Sharks simply managed to further prove my claim that winning the Presidents Trophy is a kiss of death for the playoffs… most of the time.
Choke Level: 9

2009-10 – Lost 4-0 in the third round to the Chicago Blackhawks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0sIvrPVtMg

Why was this a choke?: San Jose won the Pacific Division title once again during the regular season, and pretty much steamrolled their way to the Conference Finals with an 8-3 record during the first two rounds. They even managed to recover from a potential first round choke-job against Colorado after going down 2-1 in the series by scoring on their own net in overtime. The Blackhawks had just one more loss, and were also equally as dominant. With the playoff experience of the Sharks and the surge upstart of the Blackhawks, that should’ve made one hell of a seven game Conference Final right? Nope… Chicago flat out swept San Jose. Sure, The Blackhawks only outscored them 11-7 over their four meetings, but the Sharks had three games where they scored first, and one game where they were up 2-0 but then blew the lead and the game. Of course fans will say “but they lost to the Cup Champion that year, shouldn’t that amount for something?” Not if your team is constantly picked to win it all. The Sharks had been making the postseason consistently since 2004, and at that time Chicago was among the worst teams in the league and golfing during the postseason up until 2008-09. You’re not supposed to lose to a young playoff squad like that, especially when you’re supposed to have the experience and the advantage.
Choke Level: 7

2010-2011 – Lost4-1 in the third round to the Vancouver CanucksChicago Blackhawks v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five
Why was this a choke?: Once again this was supposed to be their year. After all, they aquired Anti Niemi from the Champion Blackhawks, and had more strength on their roster with guys like Joe Pavelski and Dany Heatley. However, there were two other playoff rounds in 2011 the Sharks almost choked but found a way to win. The first round was against an Anze Kopitar-less Los Angeles Kings who blew a major lead in game 3, and couldn’t capitalize on a 5 minute major penalty in overtime for game 6… In short a Kings team that refused to win. The second round the Sharks blew a 3-0 series lead against the Red Wings but still won game 7 at home. The third round was a match up against the  Canucks, another  perennial playoff choker throughout their 40+ year existence (don’t get me started on their own choke-job in the 2011 Finals vs Boston), but since the Sharks had been in the third round the year before and had more playoff experience over the last decade than the Canucks, surely they’d figure out how to win the big games far in the playoffs, right? Nope. The Canucks beat them in 5 games, with the fifth game seeing the Sharks blow the lead with less than 20 seconds left and lose in the second overtime. Not as much of a choke as against the Blackhawks, but still significant none the less.
Choke Level: 6

2011-2012 – Lost 4-1  in the first round to the St. Louis Blues

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Why was this a choke?: Going into the playoffs, the Sharks got away with an incident versus the Kings where Ryane Clowe was cheating by trying to reach for the puck from inside the bench, and really pissed off the Kings fans in the crowd. So it was figured that karma would once again happen in the playoffs, right? Yep. The Sharks won the first game in overtime, but after that it was all St. Louis controlling the series, only allowing 5 goals over the next four games and winning them all to eliminate San Jose. The Blues just showed they were simply better. For the Sharks, it wasn’t their biggest choke, but it surely didn’t help their reputation either.
Choke Level: 5

2012-2013 – Lost 4-3 in the second round to the Los Angeles Kings

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1Dj3j38gAY

Why was this a choke?: The Sharks beat the crap out of the Canucks in the first round, but even Canucks fans themselves claimed that the Sharks beating them in 2013 was “the equivalent of stepping on dog poop.” The Kings were defending champions, but clearly not the dominant invincible team they were the year before. In Game 2 with a chance to tie the series, the Sharks blew a late game lead due to penalty trouble. They eventually did tie the series at home because the Kings were terrible on the road in 2013, but I remember being at game 5 in L.A. during a moment of silence for tornado victims in Oklahoma, one idiot yelled “let’s go Sharks!” And at that exact moment I knew the Kings would win the series, which they eventually did in 7 games thanks to Jonathan Quick absolutely robbing the Sharks out of a game tying goal. Once again wasn’t their biggest choke, but this was the time I started hearing the familiar phrase not just from local fans but around the NHL. But it did make the playoff rivalry more heated.
Choke Level: 6

2013-2014 – Lost 4-3 to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round

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Why was this a choke?: oh I don’t know… How about BLOWING A 3-0 SERIES LEAD?! And not just to any team, but to their most hated rivals in Los Angeles?! The Sharks flat out dominated the Kings in the first two games, and it wasn’t even funny: out scoring L.A. 13-5. To say I was distraught was the least you could describe how I felt as those games went on. The Kings finally showed up for Game 3, but still lost in OT due to a lucky bounce off Patrick Marleau. I remember on Facebook my Sharks fan ex taunted the Kings saying “this just in the Kings finally show up To the game and they still suck!” I threw my phone across the room in disgust, just mad that once again it looked like the Kings would lose to their most hated rival. Then something happened… The Kings won the next four games, out scoring them 18-5, including a 3-0 shutout in Game 5, and a 5-1 schooling session in Game 7 in San Jose. Talk about a complete turnaround! If the Sharks reputation as chokers wasn’t legendary before then, it surely was after that series. The ridicule that I saw coming from fans around the NHL I finally saw, thanks to meme after meme.
Choke Level: 10

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1G6gNcb0GDM

So there you have it, the current list of all the playoff chokes that the Sharks have done. As this current NHL season is going on, and teams are fighting for their playoff spots, only time will tell if the Sharks can get it together at all, or if they finally miss out on the playoffs and potentially spare their fans another playoff choke job.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYvRsHYOhaw

Salute to the Ninja Turtles

•April 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

You already know of my sentimental love-hate relationship with the power rangers franchise, but it’s still going strong, hell  I’ve seen my 8 year old son watch both older and current versions of power rangers, so after 20+ years for them, obviously they’re doing something right! Another show he will watch on his own? The current version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Who hasn’t heard of the Ninja Turtles? The franchise is a big cultural phenomenon, and it’s right up there with Transformers, My Little Pony, and others from the golden age of Saturday morning cartoons that has still stayed relevant. Like the shows I mentioned, it went into something much bigger than simply a 30 minute advertisement for the toys, and when I went to Comic-Con in 2014, there was a big turtles celebration because it had reached 30 years, and from the looks of it, it’s as big as it has ever been, and there still are new comics, new cartoon shows, and of course new movies coming out with no signs of slowing down.

As long as I can remember, it has always been a part of my life, and as I grew up, it was always there in some form or another. I can safely say I was part of the first generation fandom. I may not have been as old as most of the kids in this generation, but I took everything I could get from it, and as you can see in this picture, there’s me in ninja turtle pj’s. I also had a hat, a mask, and several toys.

The original comics came out a few years before I was born, but while the original cartoon series was in full swing in my early childhood years, I couldn’t get enough of them. Time literally stood still whenever I saw the cartoon show on TV. On Super Nintendo, the game Turtles in time was the one I always wanted to play. It was just too much fun for me because I would actually feel like I was any of the turtles kicking some ass. I also had one of the old games on game boy, and would go through phases where I’d play it religiously. Even when I look back on those games today, they still bring a smile to my face, and they still look impressive, even for the graphics of the time as they literally looked like the ninja turtles! The first two movies that came out always made me ecstatic even more, because to me, it made them seem more real than ever before, and as the tagline on the movie poster said – hey dude, this is no cartoon! As a kid I didn’t see the things that are so obviously corny now, to me those movies where epic and awesome.

What do I think of the 3 live action movies now?

I still think the first movie from 1990 is a good experience, and even my wife said “that was actually pretty good” when I had her finally watch it for the first time. Sure it has its dumb moments, but it still holds up as a whole, and makes me laugh at times. I like the darker shadowy edge to it, and the fight scenes are still great, much like how they were in the early comics. The costumes of the turtles themselves look impressive even to this day, and some of it has to do with the correct amount of lighting all through the film. You can still appreciate the coreography and hard work they put into making the movie believable. The first movie also has my favorite character of the entire franchise, Casey Jones! He was the one with all the best parts in the movie, at least I thought. It was very easy for me to pick him as someone I could cosplay as at comic con. The first movie has everything resolved  with the loose ends all tied up at the end, and for the longest time as a kid, I always thought THIS was in fact the second movie because of the ending with shredder being crushed, I mean even to my 5 year old self, it looked way more convincing than the way the a actual second movie ended.

The second movie even as an adult I feel like was more of a movie version of the cartoon, which focused more on the corny jokes, and I remember as a kid I thought many of the newer characters were from the show. I didn’t really notice that April was played by a different actress because she still kept the same familiar mannerisms. While the fight scenes aren’t terrible, I wish they kept the dark edge of the first movie intact rather than listen to those idiot parent groups who said the first movie was too violent and they swore too much, that’s what made it cool! Because it didn’t have that edge, the turtles didn’t look as impressive. The fight scenes were a little stupider, the jokes were Cornier,  and the And why wasn’t Casey in the second movie?! There’s not even an explanation why, and instead of him, it’s this pizza delivery boy who didn’t really add anything! Also, like many dissatisfied fans, I hated that super shredder simply dies out at the end like a little bitch from causing a dock to fall on top of him, after it was revealed he survived a 7 story fall and being crushed by a dump truck AS REGULAR SHREDDER in the first movie. I remember as a kid I thought, “okay now what? Is that it?!” And as an adult I thought, “really? What were they thinking?!” They could’ve come up with so many different scenarios, like what if at the end Krang appeared and it left us on a cliffhanger, That would’ve been awesome! I may be more critical of this movie, but maybe that’s because it was underwhelming, and clearly a cash in. But hey, at least the movie still makes me laugh because it’s one of those so bad it’s great types of movies, and we will still always have “go ninja go ninja go!”

As for the third movie? Well, the only parts worth watching for me involve Casey Jones, who I think was brought in for that reason. It sucks he doesn’t do any actual fighting, but his scenes where he tries to teach the samurais how to play hockey still make me chuckle, but his scenes are few and far between.The rest of the movie however? I’m not gonna lie, it’s…. Terrible. The charm is not there, all the jokes with the turtles are lame, and there’s actually not as many action scenes this time around, and when there are, they are boring and underwhelming. The other two movies had their lame moments, but Turtles 3 made them look like masterpieces. I remember thinking “why does April look so different? why are they in ancient japan? Why do they need to wear that armor? They don’t look like the true ninja turtles! Who the heck are these guys?” Not only that, because they tried too hard to make the movie light-hearted and marketable, the lack of that dark and gritty edge made the physical appearance turtles look absolutely horrible, I mean just look at their costumes from the first movie, and then look at the third movie. Even the animatronics were clearly cheaper and looked more like sock puppets! It was way more of a cheap cash in than the second movie was, and it just didn’t feel like a ninja turtles movie at all, and I will always say this movie nearly killed the franchise. It’s amazing how downhill it went after this movie came out.

Kids today who are enjoying the third generation of turtles will never understand that at one point, the turtles phenomenon almost died out because of a big decline. It started in 1993 after the third live action movie came out. Sure they had the silly rock band attempt that came and went in 1990, but they were still big and going strong until Turtles 3. Like I said before, I remember as a kid being totally not impressed with that movie, and I started losing interest…. Fast.  The old cartoon was also starting to lose its appeal, and was clearly declining in quality. It should also be noted that majority of first gen kids who grew up with the 1987 cartoon were now entering their pre-teen to early teenage years, and were moving on.  Plus, I remember a certain other show starting to come into prominence and ultimately take over the spotlight in the mid-late 90s, and let’s just say I ended up joining that bandwagon for a while because of a certain other character. I could safely tell you that when I was still a kid in 1998, I did not even know about the live-action show that included a female fifth turtle, as it came and went after one season. Almost everyone I’ve heard that has seen that show has said it sucked, mostly due to cheap production values, and it being produced by the same company that produced that certain OTHER show. Even Peter Laird, the co-creator of the ninja turtles franchise is rumored to absolutely hate the female turtle, and they say it’s wise not to mention anything about it to him, not even for joking purposes.

Sure, during that period, I could still enjoy the old movies, plus the video games were always fun to play for me, but at one point, there was nothing in syndication, no new movies being planned, no new toy lines being advertised, and by then even the original Mirage Studios comic books had been cancelled due to declining popularity…. Oh sure there was a series of comics being made between 96-99, but the creators later didnt consider the storylines from Volume 3 part of official canon at all. Point is, at one point in time… There was NOTHING!

It looked like TMNT was going to die and stay dead.

Then something happened in 2003… I just one say saw on TV a commercial for a new toy line for the Turtles, and low and behold, they were back! TMNT was officially launching into a second generation!  The new cartoon seemed more closer to the old comics and first movie. While not as violent and dark as the early comics, it was a little more serious in tone compared to the 1987 show. It also gave more character development towards April O Neil and Casey Jones, as opposed to how they were in the original cartoon, culminating with them falling in love and marrying, much like the older comics. I’m not saying the 2003 cartoon was superior to the 1987 series, but there are definitely things about it That I like more. Plus my nephew JMAP was a kid at this time, and we had lots of fun together  playing the video games that came out from this series on Game Boy Advance and Playstation 2.

When the 2007 CGI animated movie came out, I remember feeling very impressed with the action scenes, and it looked really cool! It was nice to see the heroes kicking ass again. That movie’s only weakness was the story, which really did not make a whole lot of sense, nor did it flow correctly. Could they have made a sequel to it? I certainly thought so, especially because it ended on such a note, but alas that never happened… Oh well. This movie has seemed to be long forgotten, because it doesn’t have the charm of the first two movies from 1990, but it wasn’t as memorably bad as turtles 3.

Turtles Forever on the other hand, I feel like THAT could’ve been a big animated theatrical release rather than just a TV special. Maybe they could have done a bit more with it, but I felt storyline wise the cross over between the 2003 and 1987 series was very clever, and they did a well done story that went with it. While it wasnt a 100% true representation of the 87 series (im not just talking about the voices), I didn’t hate it as much as some ’87 cartoon purists did. I also loved the inclusion of the original Mirage series Turtles, and wish there was way more time involving them.

Now we come to the 2012 series, which some purists hate, but others don’t mind that April and Casey Jones are teenagers. People didn’t seem too bugged when April started learning ninjutsu in the 2003 cartoon, so who cares if she is also a teenager this time around. I’m not even that bugged that the cartoon is done in CGI, after all it is what period of time we are living in. I don’t hate the new cartoon, it’s still better than a lot of the shows they have now on Nickelodeon.  If my 8 year old step son enjoys it, that’s good enough for me. I’m glad there is a third generation, and I’m hoping it keeps going for the rest of the decade.

But of course, some of you just want to hear my thoughts on the 2014 Michael Bay TMNT movie, right? Well, I may never watch a movie ever touched by Michael Bay again, but any Ninja Turtles movie is something I have to see, and I don’t care if he and Uwe Boll made a movie turtles movie starring Tommy Weiseu as Casey Jones and Shia Lebitch as Baxter Stockman, and the trailer was nothing but boobs and explosions, id still go see it.

Was there anything I did like about it? Megan Fox’s April isn’t as bad as people say it is, and her helping them is actually a welcome change as opposed to her always having to be saved. I did like that each turtle wears a different outfit, more representative of their personalities, the turtles themselves did manage to make me chuckle a few times, the chase scene down the snowy mountain was actually pretty well done, and that elevator scene was quite possibly the best representation of the ninja turtles franchise as a whole… But that’s about it.

The turtle’s and splinter’s faces are god awfully fugly. Their body designs were great, but my god, someone got paid to design their faces like that! Shredder looks like Megatron and Iron Man’s love child, and is about as interesting as watching paint dry. I get the times have changed and he needs to look more menacing, but they failed miserably. Sure, the whole exposition and motive is not much better than the villains of the first movie, but at least there was a clear connection then between the heroes and the main villain. At least in the other movies you felt the sense of urgency for the foot clan to stay hidden and secretive, and felt a sense of mystery with shredder, but here, he’s so over the top that he loses the menacing edge, and he gets boring very quickly. The storyline makes much less sense than the 2007 CGI movie, like how the hell they learn ninjutsu from simply reading in a language they don’t speak! If they actually had the William Fincher character be revealed to be the shredder, it actually would’ve saved the plot a little.

You know how the Michael Bay transformers movies  had much more emphasis is on the human characters, and oh yeah, here come some giant robots to beat the shit out of each other, and as that’s happening, let’s keep focusing on the human characters. Same thing happens here, except instead of transformers, it’s the ninja turtles. But what the hell is the movie named after again?

The 1990 movie built the turtles up perfectly, and after they were finally revealed, the focus stayed mostly on the turtles, not so much on April and or all the other human characters we didn’t care about. Throughout the majority of the 2014 movie, it was like “who gives a shit, just show us the fucking turtles already!”

As for the action scenes, besides the chase down the mountain, the rest of the fight scenes are typical CGI close up cuts and slow-mo shots in front of green screens crap we have seen before time and time again.  With the 1990 film, sure the fights  may look super cheesy today, but at least it’s actual physical contact and choreography, all of those stunts are actually happening, giving you a sense of realism! Plus there’s more variety, even including my man Casey Jones kicking foot clan ass. You try doing ninjutsu in specially designed costumes from Jim Henson, I remember people at comic con had a tough time just walking around in their own homemade suits without overheating.

Is the 2014 movie  as bad as Turtles 3? No. There are some moments that can remind you of the turtles of old, but then there are moments that just make you think, “why are they doing that?!”

Just like the transformer movies, this new TMNT movie is simply a new version, and even after this version dies out, I know we’ll get another version within a couple decades. I know there will be a sequel to the 2014 movie, and it will include Casey Jones in it, so all I gotta say is, don’t fuck up Casey!

We will always have “go ninja go ninja go!” But this third generation will have “knock knock you’re about to get shell-shocked!”

I’m just glad the franchise is here to say, and meeting Kevin Eastman, a co-creator, was an experience I’ll never forget, especially with how humble he was over how big of a fandom his creation has made. He didn’t have to do it,  actually went out of his way to take a couple moments for a picture with the group of ninja turtle cosplayers my wife and I were in, even though he was still doing signing sessions for people waiting patienty in line. This guy is clearly someone appreciative of his fans.

If batman and superman can still be around after 70+ years, then the turtles can do so too. Who knows, maybe someday they’ll finally get it 100% right in how a TMNT movie should both look and feel like. After all, it took Batman almost 5-6 decades before they could figure it out.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful Review

•February 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Yes I did all the other albums, so as soon as Endless Forms Most Beautiful came out I had to do it.

By the way,  If there is still all this crying that Tarja should still be in Nightwish, let me show you THIS! Yes, that’s right, that’s Tarja and Floor Jansen performing Over the Hills and Far Away together, ten days AFTER Floor Jansen was announced as the permanent Nightwish singer! Three words… GET OVER IT!

They seem to be.

I pretty much went over their history and events leading up to this album and discussed my views on the band member changes on the Imaginaerum video, so I won’t go over it again. All we really need to know is  expectations and anticipations were once again at an all time high. Those who did not care for Anette Olzon or the direction that the band took with the albums during her tenure could now look forward to hopefully something more familiar but still manage to be different and fresh.

Like its predecessor, Endless Forms carries a central theme throughout, and what is that theme? Earth’s natural Evolution. I can see exactly why Tuomas picked this theme: the band is evolving, and is pushing forward towards something bigger, plus it is something that interests him personally, as he admitted he wanted to be a biologist growing up before he became a musician. Whereas Imaginaerum was a celebration of life as an individual, Endless Forms celebrates the broader subject of life evolving and adapting, and ultimately our place in the universe. The title of the album is even a quote from Charles Darwin.

Speaking of Evolution and Biology, Now some of you may be wondering about my stance on the subject matter, and especially with Richard Dawkins on the album as a guest narrator. I am somewhat of an astronomy and science nut, so the fact the songs have that subject matter, or can remind me of it I absolutely love, and was very excited about it when I heard about the central theme. It’s like I share common interests with the songwriters. I have said before that I do believe in an intelligent creator, but I also believe science and spirituality/faith can coexist together, and I see science as EVIDENCE of a creator, not disproving of one.. HOWEVER, this is not a video about my beliefs, or Nightwish’s personal beliefs, this is an video about an album review of new MUSIC that I love, so if I see any comments that start a religion war, they will be deleted. Let’s talk about the music please!

Moving on,

How does Endless Forms Most Beautiful hold up soundwise?

Nightwish has 4 essential elements to their sound: Heavy, Power, Melodic, and Folk, all fitting into their symphonic metal style. All through the years each album has had one or two of these elements being more prominent with others taking a back seat (for example on Imaginaerum, the power metal was almost non-existant while most of it was very melodic and folky). Here Endless Forms has all four elements rather evenly represented, so there’s something for everyone: songs with speed and heaviness that pack a punch to appeal to the metal fans, plus there are the beautiful melodic folky songs that appeal to the non-metal fan, and everything in between. What’s different on this album is the music back to being more on the heavier side compared to its predecessor, and instead of the orchestra and theatrics taking the center stage and almost putting the band in the background like it was in Imaginaerum, here it’s the opposite where the guitars and keyboards are more prominent, as well as Troy’s flutes and pipes, and the orchestra is not as loud, but still noticeable enough to be the icing on the cake, much like it was in the Century Child/Once days. It’s like the band pulled sounds out of their older catalog, but gave it a more modern sound. There’s definitely some good surprises here that Nightwish has managed to pull off.

Let’s remember that this album is very young to me, so a lot of opinions here are first impressions.

Shudder Before the Beautiful – Oh HELL YES! This is definitely a great album opener similar to Dark Chest of Wonders, and my first impression of it was the guitar riff and orchestral melody was like a faster version of Storytime, which honestly didn’t bug me too much. I was waiting for another song like this: No long intro, no big grandiose opening like previous two albums, just a few spoken words by dawkins, and it explodes with Kai’s fast drum beat just like that, and then the guitars kick in after the orchestra introduces the melody, which I think is awesome! I also love that I hear Emmpu’s guitar a lot more than the mix of the previous album. Floor’s voice is definitely more on the “rock” based side, but she increases her range the more louder the song gets. One thing that was brought back that was surely missed was Tuomas keyboard solos… here, he trades solos with Emppu for the bridge, and it’s whats easily the best part of the song. Definitely a reminder of the earlier days! Can easily see this song kicking off every concert for the upcoming tour.

Weak Fantasy – the drums and grooves are the best thing about this song, and I love the heaviness in it , as it was something direly missed off the last album. It’s also dynamic as well, with the verses being more acoustic and the chorus being really bombastic and heavy. What I also love is that the orchestra does add to it, but it’s not too prominent and overwhelming. By this time, it’s very apparent that Floor’s voice fits in very well with the songs, and she does use her range well in this one. Other than that, there’s not too much to say, but I can definitely see this one played live as well because it’s a fun song to listen to.

Élan – like the first single off Imaginaerum, I wasn’t crazy about this song when it came out in mid February before the rest of the album came out in late March. However, it did grow on me, and I enjoy it a lot. Sound wise it reminds me of Nemo, and I do feel it was a safe choice for the first single, because it’s definitely the most accessible song on the album, has all the elements of Nightwish that are there, and represents the band well. Why some people were going ape-shit and nitpicking everything about it I’ll never know. I do know people think that singles should be the best song that showcases the album’s high moments, but I’m the opposite, I think singles should be teasers that are good for radio play and catching the ears of casual listeners, so that way the best moments are left to be discovered. Like those stupid movie trailers that essentially show the whole movie in a 3-4 minute preview and leave nothing to be imagined. Same thing applies with singles and albums. While it may initially disappoint some of the fans who love the metal side more, it can definitely appeal more to the outside fan the same way that Amaranth did for my wife. who now loves Nightwish almost as much as I do.

I can definitely see it as a staple of the tour promoting the album, but if Elan does get played in the setlist; then I hope they don’t waste more setlist space by also playing their other well-known singles to appease the casual fans. After all, there will be those in the audience like me who will want to hear different songs, especially the deep cuts.

Sagan – I know this is a non-album track, but it was released as a B-side to the Élan single, so I may as well talk about it here in case people are wondering what I think about it. This is another meaning of life song, this time more the adventure of looking beyond it by going further than just what’s in front of you, which is a good tribute to the work by Carl Sagan. That little spacey sounding keyboard/orchestral part before the chorus I really like, and I also love the touch of the rocket blasting off before the second chorus. In short, it’s a decent song, but I can see why it was left off the album and instead made a B-side to the similar themed Élan, plus because of the 24 minute epic, there wasn’t any more room left. Either way, I like it.

Yours is an Empty Hope – when I read all the journalists pre-listening session entries, they made this song the one I looked forward to hearing the most. When I finally got to hear it, I was still blown away and instantly smiled and started headbanging. Thematically it’s the most different from the rest of the songs on the albums and It’s also dark, sinister, yet really fun to listen to. It’s a fast song like Shudder, but the difference here is the orchestral opening, the guitar is definitely heavier with tight riffing and hints of thrash drumming from Kai, plus Floor definitely uses her aggressive powerful vocals, and even Marco joins in the screaming with her.  While not as double-bass heavy as I expected, this one definitely still has the power and intensity of the brutal heavy songs like Planet Hell, Romanticide, and even Master Passion Greed. The intensity of the chorus made me think of the band Epica during the song. Of all the songs on this album, this one definitely has the most linkage to the sound of Oceanborn, and an instant favorite in my book. Those who said there were no growls in this song surely didn’t hear them, because they definitely are there in the chorus, and it’s definitely refreshing to hear a nod to the classic sound similar to songs like Pharaoh sails to Orion. I surely hope they play this one live, they can really get the crowd going nuts with this one.

Our Decades in the Sun – this ballad brings in the children’s choir, and it sounds very beautiful. It’s about as close as it can get to Tuomas’ solo album without going too far from the Nightwish sound. This one is easily the most personal of all the songs, with a very touching tribute to parents. It’s open ended enough to be about anyone’s mother or father, but still very relatable in that aspect. I can definitely see this song, at least the first half before the guitars kick in, as a song that the mother and groom, or even the father daughter can dance to at a wedding, as a way of saying “thank you mother/father.”

My Walden – here we have what Tuomas admitted as the continuation of “I want my tears back.” Troy opens up with Gaelic singing, and it’s overall a very folky but upbeat song. I actually like that they are using his singing voice here, it’s a very soothing welcome addition. My favorite part however is the last half, when the beat changes to something similar to the end of Dead Boys Poem off Wishmaster, therefore sounding old school with Troy’s pipes adding the new new sound. Usually my wife loves the songs that make her want to do the irish jig, so if she loves it, I love it.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful – once again we have a title track that’s not an acoustic ballad or a soft outro to an album, it’s a very upbeat and rather heavy song, along the lines of Wish I had an Angel/Bye Bye Beautiful. While it has a decent catchy chorus, The best part is the middle breakdown and the final chorus, where the intensity picks up and Floor’s voice goes into a higher key, much like songs along the lines of She is my Sin, and Ever Dream. It does get better every time I listen to it.

Edema Ruh – this song is almost like a reference to Nightwish themselves, as the Edema Ruh are a group of traveling musicians who are always out and about entertaining. I can see why this one was almost picked as the first single, but I think Marco and Troy were right on the head when it came to this versus Elan. Yes, the song is very accessible, catchy, and has all the band members active. But other than that, it’s not one of my favorites at the moment, and I still prefer Elan if I were to compare songs with similar structures. However, songs like these usually grow on me later.

Alpenglow – Tuomas has said this song essentially has everything Nightwish has to offer, like a combination of all their sounds. To me it just sounds like a generic Nightwish song… Well I guess he has me there. The only things that stand out are the pre-chorus lines where Floor briefly picks up the intensity, the breakdown with Emppu’s guitars and Troys flutes, and the final chorus being sung in a higher key… Yup that’s Nightwish alright. I’m sure this one will grow on me later, but at the moment it doesn’t excite me as much as other songs, and it might be among the weaker tracks.

The Eyes of Sharbat Gula –  According to an interview with Tuomas, there was originally going to be lyrics and the subject be more about children of war, but then Troy stepped in and said this song is better as an instrumental. As such, this instrumental seems to mainly lead into the next song. Do I feel this one necessarily need to be included on the album? Not really, and if they needed to fit in space they could’ve just put in Sagan since it has the same theme as the album, even though Sagan has roughly the same structure as Alpenglow. But Tuomas always has his own vision, and he obviously put it there for a reason. I can see this being used as a potential pre-show opener or intermission on the PA systems during the tour, but I also see this song as a skipper for many who don’t want to sit through 6 minutes of chants and flutes. I get what they were going for as it’s not that bad of a song, however I think I’ve only listened to it once or twice all the way through and pretty much usually skip to the next song.  Tuomas and the band likes to think of this as an intermission of some sorts where are you have what he calls “nine supporting acts, one intermission and then a main act.”

The Greatest Show on Earth – Finally we have reached what is considered and promoted the album’s climax and centerpiece. It was the first thing teased about as far back as during the Imaginaerum tour, and has definitely had the most build up. The fact that it’s 24 minutes, nearly twice as long as their typical epic songs, may shock some fans, but let’s remember that I am also a big Dream Theater fan and love progressive metal, so I am pretty much used to songs that long. It’s like a longer version of Poet and the Pendulum, but if you want to compare this to another 24 minute song, it reminds me of Dream Theater’s the Illumination theory, which like this song, has a long grand intro, then breaks into a heavy song, then has little transition section that has just ominous sounds and music, then breaks into an even heavier tune with a distinct climax, then closes with a long slow outro. Floor even uses her operatic vocals for a small bit in the beginning, and uses her powerful style for most of the song. The long intro gives me visions of earths creation and early beginnings, complete with all the meteor impacts represented by the loud bangs, and when it gets more pleasant, you think of the first signs of life on the planet, and it’s absolutely beautiful! My favorite part is the transition between the two band parts, and where you hear various sounds, and it’s like it’s cycling through periods of time at lightning pace, then the lion roars and it blasts into an even heavier and faster section with Marco and Floor sharing the lead vocal duties. the band keeps going, and when they sing out “we were here” for the climax, It makes me think that I am flying away from the solar system, much like the Voyager probes containing information about our existence, and I envision the end of the sun and life on earth as we know it, which will eventually happen once our sun swells into a red giant and completely swallows the earth. My only complaint will be that the outro after such a great climax is a bit long, and could’ve used more lyrics and singing from Floor. Sure, Dawkin’s quotes aren’t too much, and they are compelling, but once you realize the band isn’t coming back on during the final 7 minutes of the song, you start to think of listening to another song, or just wait it out. The final two minutes aren’t even any music, it’s just animal sounds. I will say for the record that I still like it a lot more than the poem in Song of Myself.  Is this the best epic song Nightwish has done? Well it’s definitely the most grandiose in terms of length, and I absolutely love the build up from the beginning through the heavier middle chunk, essentially the first 17 minutes of it until Dawkins takes over the song during the soft outro. Even if you take out the long outro, 17 minutes is still longer than their prior longest epic, and It is still a fantastic piece of music. Usually for the epic songs, you have to mentally prepare yourself to fully dive in before you fully appreciate and love it, so what’s funny is with this one is that no time was needed for that; I kept wanting to listen to it repeatedly every chance I had, and easily kept humming the notes.  So in many aspects it’s their best epic song to date, at least for me, but each of their epics have their own qualities that I love which set them apart.

In terms of this song being played live, Tuomas has said they won’t play all 24 minutes, but there are the sections with the band that they will definitely play, so I’m guessing the middle 12 minutes if anything. maybe even the first 17 minutes… but any more than that is too much, even for a 2 hour set. They will probably use the opening section as a pre-show opener over the PA, play the middle 2-3, and then use the final sections as an outro as the band is taking a bow. If I’m wrong… oh well. Only time will tell if this epic will be up there with Ghost Love Score in terms of fan reaction, or if it will fade into obscurity.

 

So what do I feel about Endless Forms Most Beautiful as a whole?

Let’s remember that this album to me is young and new, and it will take me at least a dozen more listens all the way through before I can really rank it among the rest of the catalog. Like the rest of them, some songs will grow on me later, and join my playlist of favorite Nightwish songs. However, with that said, I am definitely in love with the album moreso than I was with Imaginaerum. Maybe it’s the metal-head side of me that got satisfied enough, I don’t know. All I know is that as soon as I finally heard Shudder, Weak Fantasy, Empty Hope, the title track, and Greatest Show on Earth, I felt refreshed that the songwriting was going a little more back to their roots in a sense, but still making it sound more refined, better produced, and bigger than ever. This album surprised me how more upbeat it was compared to the predecessor, and I definitely think it will please those who love the heavy metal side of Nightwish a lot more. I love the subject matter, and even though it has a more scientific approach, I do feel there is a spiritual connection… I sure get that feeling from listening to it. Hell, if I end up starting a church one day, I will make Shudder Before the Beautiful one of the worship songs, it just makes me feel that way.

Some people are complaining that many songs sound too similar to older songs, like Shudder sounding like Dark Chest of Wonders, Elan and Edema Ruh sounding similar to Nemo/Amaranth, My Walden being similar to I want my Tears Back.. etc. I can come up with many examples of bands who went in a different direction, got criticized over it, then got criticized for trying to go back to their roots. The same goes here, where you have those idiots who are still butthurt over prior singers being fired, and/or say they need to go back to their older sound and are tired of them expanding out… so when Tuomas decides to cut the theatrics and experimental phase, and writes an album musically that’s a cross between Oceanborn and Once, but has the grandiose production quality and atmosphere of Imaginaerum, people say “oh, it’s not original anymore!” Fuck them. I loved this album, all of the songs were worth the wait! This album definitely showed now that after all the years of trials and tribulation they are force to be reckoned with, and I don’t care what the chart positions might say, this band will continue to get bigger and gain more worldwide fame.

With Floor Jansen at the helm, I started getting tired of those who thought she was always going to be high and powerful all the time like she had been doing with After Forever and ReVamp, and expected the new Nightwish album to sound similar to her other bands. While there are definitely moments where she uses her trademark style, she uses a wider range, and dives more into the softer vocals a lot more, and She herself also said she didn’t feel the need to write anything, and fully trusted in Tuomas and Marco to write the songs. After all, we’re not listening to a ReVamp album, so those who say she is weak because she doesn’t sing all the time like she does with ReVamp can suck it. I thought she fit well on this album. I actually am glad they chose to have her sing a wider range of styles and not just her powerful vocals, it made people like my wife who prefered Anette over Tarja able to enjoy the songs a lot easier.

As of the date on this review, the upcoming tour hasn’t started yet. There is only speculation of what songs they will play as the tour starts. If the first leg of the tour will be anything like how it was on the previous one, I’ll definitely expect at least half of the setlist taken up by songs off the new album. The only anticipation really is what songs off the new album will be played, and what songs will they bring out from the vault and surprise the longtime fans with?  Since Floor has that range and versatility, could we expect surprises from Oceanborn and Wishmaster albums that haven’t been touched in over a decade? We can only hope.

Disaster Movies

•January 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

By this title, I don’t mean movies that were disasters of themselves, I mean movies that are about disaster. Why am I talking about them? Because I consider myself a fan, and a guilty one at that, of these types of movies. Don’t get me wrong, a huge chunk of them are nothing short of cheesy and stupid, but at the same time they’re a guilty pleasure, and sometimes, and I mean very seldom we will get one that’s actually considered good. Sometimes it’s hard to categorize a “disaster flick” because there are so many scenarios, ranging from natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, etc. all the way to alien invasions, crazy people causing havoc, or just in general, bad things happening to good people. Even movies that have disasters and catastrophe in it aren’t necessarily considered “disaster flicks.” But I do feel there are distinct characteristics.

In this video I will be talking MOSTLY about natural disaster films with maybe a couple exceptions, but I acknowledge that alien invasion films, monster movies, zombie films, and even man-made disaster movies can fall into the same category, especially when it comes to how the movies are played out. Movies like Independence Day and War of the Worlds? Yes, at least I think so because they focus a good amount of time on the crap being blown up by aliens part. Movies like Battle:LA and Pacific Rim? No. Those are more alien/monster WAR films than disaster movies.

So what do you need to fill the criteria of a disaster movie?

First and foremost, you gotta have something really bad happen, whatever it is. That’s pretty obvious, don’t you think?

Second, the “something bad” clearly has to be defined as “yes, that is a really bad disaster. A single home fire that affects a family of 4? Sure there is some drama and maybe a good story behind it, but is that a disaster? No.

A hotel fire that kills dozens and affects hundreds to thousands more? Yes, absolutely.

3. That disaster has to be the star of the movie. I don’t care if it is a returned Jesus Christ or a resurrected Ghandi in a starring movie role, in a disaster flick, the DISASTER is the star! It’s what is built up the whole time, and what we are paying to see!

Sure, you’ll have movies set against the background of a real life disaster that happened, like the Titanic for instance, and the film would not necessarily be a disaster flick if the focus is more about the victims and survivors and the disaster itself is an afterthought, but it pretty much depends on the film. Some movies about the Titanic spend little time about the ship sinking and more about the characters and people involved, while with James Cameron’s Titanic, yes it is almost a 3-hour chick flick, but all through the movie the focus is more on the ship itself: it opens with the acknowledgement that it sank, has this whole story arc with treasure hunters finding the ship, and all through the movie there are factoids being inserted by present-day characters as the story progresses, and the last half of the movie is the Titanic sinking, and it’s filled with scenes of chaos. You can pretty much watch the last hour and a half and still feel like you watched a satisfying disaster movie about the Titanic without even having to get sucked into that build up love story featuring Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet…

Now when I’m talking about disaster movies, do I sometimes mean apocalyptic films? Well, it usually depends if the disaster is on a global scale and the film focuses a great deal of time building up to it.  But do I consider movies focusing more on the aftermath and only glimpses at the global catastrophe, like 28 Days Later, in the same categories? no. You also have doomsday movies like Seeking a Friend for the End of the World or Melancholia which I do not put in the same category because they are way more about the drama involving the characters and what they do while the end of the world is in the background and heavily implied… although at least Melancholia has THIS scene at the end….

These movies have been around since the dawn of cinema, and they’re not going away anytime soon. Movies like The Poseidon Adventure (the original, not the remake), the original War of the Worlds, plus The Towering Inferno and some of the Titanic movies are among the most famous films of all time; hell, James Cameron’s Titanic won 11 academy awards and at one point was the highest grossing film of all time~ It was one of the few movies I actually saw in the movie theater more than once!

But while there truly are some diamonds in the rough so to speak, as a fan of the genre itself we have to sift through piles and piles of crap, including some of the more infamous movies like Michael Bay’s Armaggedon, every disaster movie made by Roland Emmerich, and a bunch of movies from the 1970s that were made during the genre’s heyday. You have the science fiction movies of the 1950s and 60s that most of which do not hold up to today’s standards simply because of it being outdated, but the original Godzilla, War of the Worlds, When Worlds Collide, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, and The Devil at 4:00 still pop up as being relevant and very impressive for their time.

In the 70s there were a TON of them, starting with the Airport movies (which later became spoofed by the more successful and really funny movie Airplane), The Poseidon Adventure movies, The Towering Inferno, Earthquake, all into the early 80s when people got tired of the same thing… and it wasn’t until the mid 90s when special effects were able to look more realistic and make you really think the White House was really getting blown up. We have since then continued to have more of them, and they won’t stop anytime soon. Coming up we have San Andreas, starring the Rock, which I know I’ll go see, even though I know it will probably suck. But when you look past all that, even as cheesy as they can get, they’re still fun entertainment.

So Why do these movies typically suck?

1. For starts, these movies often have a huge cast featuring big name actors, and that’s usually a BAD thing. Sure, they may attract viewers because of their star power, but for these actors, doing movies like these are simply paychecks for them, and they often ACT like it’s just a paycheck and that it’s just a waste of time. It doesn’t matter what decade the film is in, somehow they attract these big names that usually do little to add, and are essentially second in billing and star attraction to the actual disaster of the movie. If the film is any good, it’s usually because the characters and story they are telling doesn’t suck.

But of course you have those movies who have all these separate characters who pretty much do not ever connect… ever, or if they do it’s very briefly at some point in the movie! You’ll have movies where a group of characters are doing one story, and then another couple group of characters are doing another, and eventually you have all these separate backstories and expositions to keep up with until you get to the film’s climactic disaster of choice. You just get to the point where you don’t care!

Armageddon has big names like Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clark Duncan, Owen Wilson: the list is too much to count! Sure they may all interact with each other throughout the film, but you have SO MANY characters trying to hog the screentime that you just don’t care who lives or who dies, and you just secretly hope the asteroid hits the earth anyway so everyone dies.

2. The second reason why these disaster movies suck is lots of times, the disaster itself is very underwhelming. This can be either because the effects don’t hold up due to being outdated, or are so loaded with CGI that it’s quite obvious these actors are in front of a green screen. Part of the thrill is feeling like you’re actually there trying to take cover from a giant earthquake in L.A. or running from a tidal wave in New York City. Now if it isn’t the disaster itself, it’s often the bad science fiction behind it. What makes good science fiction? Well, making it excitingly believable that it can happen. Take Star Wars for instance, we know that a lot of the space battles would never really happen the way they do in the movies, but it’s so well done that we don’t care. But if these movies look like very little effort is actually put into the science fiction behind the disaster, or it’s just too UNBELIEVABLE even if it’s supposed to be fake, or if it just doesn’t excite the viewer, then we get a very bland movie with nothing to offer.

3. Even if the effects are top notch, and the movie really does a good job with the big action scenes, Unfortunately, most movies cannot seem to get it right when it comes to the storytelling. We’ll have stuff either happen towards the beginning, and then the rest of the movie is the aftermath which leads to a generic plot resolution; or we will get the movie where we have to wait, and wait, and wait for something to happen, all while trying to keep up with all the 10,000 backstories going on, and waiting to see which story ends with the climax or which story resolves itself. Along that same category we’ll get the movie that has one single plotline that makes it seem like it’s an entirely different movie, and oh by the way there is a disaster going… I’m looking at you Pompeii!  Then of course we’ll get those movies where the entire movie is non-stop special effect shit being blown up or people dying or whatever, and it gets old too quickly because no story is even attempted at being told.

Let’s look an example of each, and wouldn’t you know it, Roland Emmerich managed to make all of them! Independence Day wasn’t terrible, but the movie opens pretty much with all these stereotypical characters played by Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, and dives right into their back-stories as if we’re supposed to care one way or another, and oh by the way here come the Aliens to fuck shit up. And while that’s happening we still need to follow ALL of them! The same exact thing happened with Godzilla as well.  The film Day After Tomorrow has pretty much all the best parts at the very beginning up to the first 30-45 minutes; I mean you have ice sheets breaking off, giant hailstorms, tornadoes in L.A., floods and storm surge tidal waves crashing through New York City, and a giant super blizzard cover the northern hemisphere in heavy snow… and then the last hour or so is slow paced and simply everyone waiting while Dennis Quaid tries to trek hundreds of miles in the newly formed ice caps to get to his son. I remember seeing that movie with my father and my dad whispering to me during the later parts, “this movie is really boring!” Sure they try to add some action at the end, but seriously? running away from the EVIL deep freeze eye of the storm? Puh-Lease! And then of course we had 2012, which is pretty much non-stop disaster after disaster after disaster. Sure, I said before how much I did enjoy the thrill of the big earthquake in L.A. scene, but the rest of it, with them pretty much going all over the place, escaping pyroclastic flows from Yellowstone in an airplane, conveniently flying over the pacific ocean with no fuel thanks to “crustal displacement,” tidal waves covering Mt. Everest: I mean I get it, 2012 was supposed to be end of the world, but seriously, how the hell can John Cusack and Amanda Peet escape disaster after disaster?!

4. You are getting exactly what the movie is selling: special effect scenes of bad stuff happening, and whether or not you are impressed with it doesn’t matter. Sometimes the big scenes with the special effects look so bad they’re laughable, and it doesn’t matter what decade it’s in. Even with the movie Earthquake, which received a special achievement award for visual effects, has this part where they were not allowed to show blood splattering from people being crushed in a falling elevator, so what did they do? let’s watch! Here, let’s watch again and add what should’ve been added! Of course, the rest of the movie has an 11 minute long earthquake scene that still holds up, plus that isn’t the climax of the movie! Definitely a movie for your disaster movie cravings!

Trust me when I say though that there are a lot of them where the all of the effects are so bad they’re laughable, especially with movies made by the Assylum, or TV movies from any era.

But when the effects are nice, they can satisfy the cravings. Hell, I don’t care if I’ve already seen Twister, I’ll still probably Redbox or watch Into the Storm on Netflix. Why? Because it’s still fun. The movie San Andreas, about an earthquake in California… sure I’ve already seen that before, but I’m still probably going to see it. A lot of us all saw, and were annoyed by Dakota Fanning in the remake of War of the Worlds because we knew that with Spielberg directing we’d still probably get decent action scenes. When Armaggeddon came out, we didn’t care about the story of Ben Affleck chasing Liv Tyler, all we saw in the previews were meteors destroying New York City, and that’s what we wanted to see more of.

Add all these into the equation, and there you have why your generic disaster movie is usually some stupid cash in for actors while trying to please those in the audience that want to see bad stuff happening.

So let’s look at some of the worst disaster films that I’ve seen. Now do I necessarily count the movies that are made to be bad? No. All those films especially made by Assylum which often knock off big blockbusters are considered spared. However, there are some TV movies that were notorious when they came out.

The following are movies that were advertised a lot in previews and all over the place, and even if they made money were totally panned for being really stupid, even for disaster movie standards. Now there are a ton of them that could probably fit into this upcoming list, but I’m only going to mention the 5 I feel are the worst of the worst. If you have a differing opinion, and think I should list a different movie, go ahead and tell me in the comment section.

5. Armageddon – Now I know some people prefer this movie when compared to ANOTHER movie with nearly the same story, and if you like this movie, fine. Sure, it has its share of fun and great special effects, and has a lot more loud noise and sound to sooth the mindless MTV-popcorn audience… but when you look at it as a whole, that’s ALL that it is. It suffers the same exact problems that it’s distant relative  – Meteor, does: very bad script, poor characters besides the occasional one liners by Steve Buscemi. The time spent where teams try to drill into the asteroid is way too much, and after a while, you forget what type of movie you’re watching when it starts to look straight out of a 1950s B-movie set in another planet. Plus you have it done in Michael Bay’s filmmaking style: lots of quick cuts and edits, and a lot of annoying shots of making big things out of nothing. You also have characters that leave nothing to remember, and are a complete waste of screen time, and that’s a shame given the number of big stars in this movie! Not only that, but the science in this film is VERY bad, and I mean so bad that NASA often has people watch it to point out how many scientific inaccuracies are in it. Nevermind the fact that we can’t do a fucking thing if a giant asteroid is headed our way, there’s dozens of things about physics in and out of space that are just plain wrong. Let’s remember, the rock that killed the dinosaurs was about 6-7 miles across, but this movie is talking about a rock that’s over 600 miles across! And you’re telling me you only need to drill 800 feet, not even a fifth of a mile, into this 600 mile rock and set off nuclear bombs to split it in half and destroy it?! Bullshit! It’s so bad it ruins your suspension of disbelief. Rumor has it, Ben Affleck once asked Michael Bay, “wouldn’t it be easier to train astronauts how to drill rather than train drillers to be astronauts?” and Michael Bay’s reply: “Shut up.”

4. Volcano – I live in the L.A. area, so you could imagine when I saw the posters showing a volcano erupting in L.A. Oh man, this is probably going to be awesome! I just gotta go see how this volcano erupts in L.A.! What do we get? Well… early on, a geologist character points out that Volcanoes can erupt with more destructive energy than a nuclear blast, and instead we get this…. yeah not even an eruption, just lava slowly oozing down the street out of the La Brea Tar Pits…. weak. Not only that, you have lava basically going slow down Wilshire Blvd, and people essentially have enough time to pack all their belongings and get away… and possibly make a new insurance policy before it reaches your home. You even have a stupid scene where an escaping dog runs up to the moving lava and barks at it a few times before going out the doggy door. Now some will say, “but Coyote, lava like that in the movie DOES move slow, even down steep slopes!” Well that’s the problem. You can’t have scenes that build up to it with lava bombs and blast waves damaging windows and NOT have a big explosion… When you think escaping from a volcano in L.A. you think, oh shit, gotta escape that blast! but no, it’s none of that! Instead the filmmakers conveniently trap our heroes several times with falling palm trees and damming buildings galore. The only “eruption” that’s in the movie is at the end where some rogue lava flow hits a dead end and conveniently happens to punch through a man-hole cover near a hospital…. YAWN! Forget the actual science behind it, of which none of it is correct, the whole pace of the movie is one slow snoozefest. I’m sorry, but if I want to listen to Tommy Lee Jones bark out orders like he does in the Fugitive, I’d go watch the Fugitive!

3. Meteor – Now, this movie was infamously bad when it came out in 1979, and it still ranks high up among the WORST of the disaster movies. It had the same director of the Poseidon Adventure, who also did other good films that won Oscars. It has friggen Sean Connery in it for crying out loud, plus other academy award winning actors like Karl Malden, Henry Fonda, and Martin Landau! So how the hell can this movie be bad? Well… it’s because the Meteor of the movie itself is a huge letdown, and the films “special” effects are the movie’s downfall. Let’s remember that two years prior, Star Wars had just come out, and completely raised the bar on special effects, so they decided the films special effects weren’t very good, and spent additional money trying to redo them, and essentially did away with all the dramatic scenes that these good actors could’ve conveyed with storytelling. What did these yahoos do for special effect scenes? they used stock footage from another movie for an avalanche scene, and they used demolition footage to pass off as a meteor fragment destroying New York. I’m sure if you see the big climax scene, you’re probably wondering what were these idiots thinking when it came to their special effects. Not only that, the main cast knew the script was bad and simply went through the motions. Add all of this with bad science applied throughout, and you got a dud that was already dead before it was even presented to the public.

So the movies I mentioned I consider bad because of the bad science involved, or bad storytelling with very little suspense at all. Like I said, other movies like The Core, the 1998 Godzilla remake, and Day After Tomorrow, and 2012 could also fall into this list, but I didn’t hate them as much as most people seemed to. And I’m not talking about Sharknado… I am just not going to go there; the same applies to that movie that spoofed every flavor of the month and didn’t really spoof anything disaster at all… you know the one I’m talking about. They were meant to be bad, and they attracted people to watch it because of that, so you cannot take those movies seriously.

The following two movies I will talk about are easily the most unforgivable of all disaster films, and have absolutely NOTHING nice for me to say about them. Here they are… the bottom of the barrel of disaster movies!

2. 10.5 – This movie was a TV special that came out in 2004, and I remember it being advertised quite well. It has such big star power with Jeff Bridges… wait, I mean his less successful brother Beau, plus Fred Ward, and a young Kaylee Cuoco still in her 8 simple rules days. The rest are perpetual C-listers. What’s the problem with this movie you ask? Well, besides the fact that it’s a TV movie made with the budget of a TV movie, the whole premise involving the West Coast falling into the ocean after a storm of earthquakes is just old, especially after it had already been scientifically proven and stated that under no circumstances can an earthquake along the San Andreas fault do that! Then we should add the ridiculous scientific “facts” as stated in the movie, like aftershocks not having epicenters, earth opening up and swallowing everything, or opening cracks and following train tracks, only stopping when it swallows the train because earthquakes are dicks to trains, knowing the magnitude and calling out the numbers increasing in values as it happens, being able to predict where an earthquake will happen, using nuclear bombs to fuse fault lines, and that’s not even the worst of it… that will be a person being able to bicycle through a narrow road during a magnitude 7.9 earthquake despite falling debris all around him, or people being able to stand and walk during magnitude 9 earthquakes… the list goes on and on but seriously… HOW CAN THEY GET ALL OF THIS STUFF WRONG?!. Don’t get me started on the way the quakes selectively picked who felt it and who didn’t… like people in Sacramento NOT feeling an 8.4 earthquake in Redding, CA, less than 200 miles away when … I have been hundreds of miles away from the epicenters of several large earthquakes in the high 6’s and low 7’s, and still felt strong jolts By the way, the movie has all the stronger quakes in California and the weakest out of them in Seattle, which in real life would be the other way around. Our San Andreas Fault is surely capable of an 8 pointer, but subduction zones, like the one off the coasts of Oregon and Washington State are very capable of 9 point earthquakes, accompanied by devastating tsunamis with it. So yeah, those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest, you’re more fucked than we are down here!

1.If you want a movie with plots that pretty much have nothing to do with the disaster itself, and then when the disaster happens it’s pretty much an afterthought and gets no justice whatsoever, then look no further than… Pompeii! Oh my god was that bad! Up until the volcano erupts, it’s pretty much a rip off of Gladiator, complete with the black guy friend and the politician that the main character wants revenge for. And then when the volcano happens, there is this whole climax that has nothing to do with the volcano, but with Jon Snow from Game of Thrones trying to rescue his love interest from the evil Kiefer Sutherland! You have lavabombs and tsunamis destroying the city (which never happened by the way), and of course the famous pyroclastic flows and ash clouds that incinerated and suffocated the surrounding cities, and instead during all of that going on, we focus on a horse chase between those two characters. Pompeii is famous for many reasons, one of them was that those who stayed in the cities did not survive! So knowing this, and with the movie focusing on the suspense of will Jon Snow rescue his love and be with each other at the end, you’re just thinking, “they’re going to die anyway, so why are we even watching this, why should we care one way or another if they make it?” My dad had the movie on DVR, and when I asked him how much he liked it, he said, “everytime I try to get further in the movie I keep falling asleep because of how bad it is.” Yeah, that’s pretty much Pompeii. You know the movie is bad when a TV documentary provides more suspense and feeling than Hollywood does.

Now are there any disaster movies that are actually pretty good? Well I won’t go too much into them, but I’ll list a few. They aren’t masterpieces, and still have their flaws, but are still enjoyable. There really isn’t an order to this list, but here goes.

 

5. Dante’s Peak – This came out the same year as Volcano, and was easily superior. Why? Because not only is it more accurate, but when the volcano itself actually does erupt, it does not let anyone down. It’s a movie about a volcano similar to Mt. St. Helens, only this time instead of being remote, it’s placed right next to a town. Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamelton do a good job in their roles, and the movie does do a good job building up the eruption while not giving us too many plot devices to follow, and portraying the volcanic devastation along with it. It’s worth it alone at the climax when the main eruption and pyroclastic flow destroy the town. Sure, no car can out run a pyroclastic flow that’s moving faster than a jet, but with the way the movie is done, and with everything else done just right, it hardly matters.

4. Deep Impact – Yes, I prefer this movie to its 1998 competitor. Sure the competitor did better in the box office, but this movie is considered more accurate. It’s a lot more character driven, but while it’s building up to the comet impacting the earth, it doesn’t give you too much to have to follow, and it manages to convey the emotions felt by the characters well. Morgan Freeman as the president alone is worth watching, as is the big impact scene. Sure, it does follow the same astronaut drilling into the comet and setting off nuclear bombs plot line, but here it’s somewhat more believable, and unlike the other film, it does do the route that makes more sense: train astronauts to drill! Not only that; the films climax with the impact event destroying New York City is CAUSED by the astronauts accidentally blowing up a small chunk of the comet off, which is something that scientists say would most likely happen if we ever tried to do that. Sure, the comet does get blown up the exact same way as in that OTHER movie, but at least this movie gets it right with the chunk blown off still impacting and causing havoc.

3. Independence Day – Roland Emmerich essentially made the same movie four times but with different scenarios, so if you just want to watch one of them and save you the time, I recommend this one. Yes, I mentioned how it has that cliche of all those characters with no development, but what does save the movie are two things: Will Smith, and the action scenes. The action is what got us watching in the first place, and I can still watch the alien invasion scenes and subsequent man-kind fighting back scenes and still enjoy it. Will Smith and his one-liners are easily the best thing in this movie, and is pretty much the only guy you care about after a while. At the time, he was doing Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and this was the surprise breakout role for him, and you can see why he eventually became a multi-million dollar movie star.

2. The Poseidon Adventure/Poseidon – The 1972 original and the remake both hold up about the same for different reasons. The original may not have the updated effects of the remake, but still has the good  setup story with good character development, and the characters you follow you feel great for them surviving, or bad for those who die.  The remake is the opposite, where you are blown away by the effects of the ship capsizing, and are just waiting to see who lives and who dies. It was like, movie opens, oh heres the wave… now what. But I equally enjoyed both about the same, so they fall under the same category. I didn’t bother with Beyond the Poseidon Adventure because I don’t care to watch the same movie with the same ship capsizing twice.

1. The Towering Inferno – This movie has been regarded as the best disaster film of all time, and for good reason, it has just the right amount of action and suspense, and the story is told really well. It has a great set up, and has lots of scenes that keep you on your toes without necessarily always being fires and explosions. It’s about a group of people who are trapped above a skyscraper fire, and about the rescue attempt. There’s not much else I can say about it other than check it out, as there is a good reason it’s often listed on people’s top 100 lists. If you can overlook the fact it can look outdated because it was made in 1974, then definitely give it a watch when you get the chance.

There are others that are worth seeing too, such as Earthquake, Twister, Knowing, War of the Worlds, and others. I haven’t really talked about monster films, or zombie films because they are pretty much their own category.

If you have an opinion on a particular movie, agree with what I said, or disagree, please start commenting now. I’m Desert Coyote 22 and thanks for listening.

Nightwish Imaginaerum Revisited AND Closing statements

•December 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Yes I have a video where I reviewed the Imaginaerum album right after it came out and gave my first thoughts on it. But some opinions have changed, and for the events that happened afterwards, I have decided to update my view on the album, plus talk about the film, and the departure of Anette and immediate replacement of Floor Jansen.

After their megatour promoting Dark Passion Play ended, and the bandmates spent time off for themselves, there was always speculation on what they would do next. What ended up happening came as a welcome surprise to many: not only just a concept album, but an accompanying movie written and produced by Tuomas Holopainen. Because of this, Imaginaerum became one of the most anticipated albums I had to wait for. After listening to the other six albums, I had high hopes for the album. I was always in love with the bombastic songs that had heavy double bass sound like Wishmaster, and because I did feel that Century Child and Once had some songs that were simply melodic mid-tempo filler, I wanted just a couple more fast tempo songs like Stargazers, Crownless, and Master Passion Greed. Dark Passion Play may have been a continuation of the Once style in some ways, but they added songs that were both faster and heavier, and slower and softer to change things up, so it was very diverse in style each song.

But what we got instead with the Imaginaerum album was quite the opposite. Because of this, Imaginaerum is easily their most accessible album. This album utilizes their mid tempo melodic approach pretty much beyond the limit, and is a lot more consistent sound-wise, and while it not only relies more on their popular atmospheric sound that was big on the last three albums, it explores the folk sound a bit more, and more songs use flutes, Uilean Pipes, and whistles by Troy Donockely. Also, whereas there was thrash and alternative metal influences on the last album, Imaginaerum has it’s share of influence from doom metal, which essentially sacrifices speed and power for gloom and heaviness, which is what Nightwish had been doing beforehand anyway. Despite the consistency in the sound, they still manage to make the album have no two songs sound the same, and each one still having individual traits that make them good stand alone songs. Three of the 13 songs are also orchestral interlude songs that signify the beginning, intermission, and the end, much like as if you were watching a play or movie.

How does it hold up? The album as a whole is still downright BEAUTIFUL, just like I said before. From start to finish, there really isn’t a bad moment on this album, nor it doesn’t really have a boring or bland song, which even their best albums before always had. Each song pretty much has it’s awesome moments, and among my favorites are the intro and beginning to Scaretale, the middle breakdown of I Want My Tears Back, the spaghetti western influenced parts of Turn Loose the Mermaids, the first half of Song of Myself. which should really be its own stand alone song and not on the same track as a poem recital, and others.

Since this is their first concept album, I have to talk about the concept, which is a composer on his deathbed reminiscing of his youth, so each song represents a certain period of his life. The first half represents his life during his youth, and young adult days, with Storytime and Scaretale representing the good. ambitious dreams, and the nightmarish traumatizing moments respectively, while Slow Love Slow, Ghost River, and I Want My tears Back representing both the  struggle and growth  with feelings of love, sacrifice, and of course learning the contrast between right and wrong. The  last half represents the adventures of his later years, with The Crow the Owl and the Dove representing a now wiser person, Mermaids and Rest Calm representing the moments after you reach your zenith, so then you have your swan song and slowing down moments, with Last Ride and Song of Myself representing the roller coaster feelings you get when you know the end is near, not just getting one last hurrah, but at the same time celebrating life itself as a whole. The song Imaginaerum that closes the album I can totally see as a song that may play in your head when you die, and as your life flashes before your eyes you see the various important moments, represented by the themes that are being played on the song. In fact, when I die, I want this song to be played, with an accompanying slide show video representing every important moment of my life being displayed.

How does it hold up to the other albums? Well, I wansn’t as blown away by it as I was with Dark Passion Play, but I still think Anette being more mature with her position in the band shines way more than before, especially because the songs were written with her in mind. But one thing I can point out is that Marco may not have a standalone song (unless you count the intro), but his voice is heard in the background or in a duet on most of the songs, plus he wrote one of them. This of course leads to the argument that during her time Anette’s best songs were the ones with Marco all over them. If that is true, I see part of that as coincidence because I still think she was just as talented vocal-wise. I also may love the sound of the album, but I still feel like because of the consistency of the songs, it was mostly melodic, and didn’t really change anything up, and it actually makes you miss the other albums that included faster and more powerful songs.

What about the movie?

Well, the movie was originally going to be more or less a collection of music videos for every song on the album, but then they decided there should not only be spoken dialogue, but they turned it into a full movie with a bigger story. It evolved radically from the original plan, but still retained what the album as a whole represented, which is a celebration of life as a whole. When I finally got my chance to view it, at first I had to get over the fact that Nightwish themselves would only be there for a couple scenes. Once I did, I saw it as a visually great film with a decent story. I don’t actually want to give too much of it away, but it’s easily way different than the original story but it still does keep the basic concept. The actors they hired did good for what they were given with, and I did like the way the band was used for the songs they actually played. The Scaretale scene/music video is both frightening and really cool at the same time, and it makes you miss the original concept where all the songs would have a music video… The film score itself I find myself sometimes listening to on a regular basis, because the score itself is also very beautiful and well made, and the score version of Last Ride of the Day, called I Have to Let You Go is just epic… and really captures the essence of not just what the song is about, but the whole scene as well. Other than that there really isn’t much to say about it. It’s not a film that appeals to everyone, and typically only Nightwish fans will love the movie. If it had a bigger budget, and possibly had bigger actors, it could’ve been a much better movie. But the movie is good for what it is, plus it is also kind of awkward now because Anette is no longer the singer.

Which sadly brings me to the closing statements, and they involve the departure of Anette and immediate replacement of Floor Jansen, first as a temporary singer, now a full time member.

This is going to be a pretty long discussion, so if you want to get to my closing statements, go to the end of the video.

Just when we thought the band was drama free and more together than ever, 10 months into the Imaginaerum tour, Anette and Nightwish parted ways.   For those that do not know what exactly happened, here is the sequence of events:  during the north American leg, Anette got sick and was hospitalized, and instead of cancelling a show, the band decided to play on using guest vocalists from Kamelot. In response, Anette posted on her blog “”… I was never asked if it was okay they used the Kamelot back up singers in the show last night. I don’t think it’s a good decision they made and I’m sorry for those of you who came to see the whole band but got something else. But I was very ill and this decision wasn’t mine.” After she recovered enough for one more show, the news came out on September 29, 2012 that they parted ways and that Floor Jansen was in line to continue the rest of the tour as a guest, only to be asked along with Troy Donockely to become full time members over the summer of 2013. 


After over a year of silence, Anette claimed in an interview that she  lost support of the band mates while stress over her personal life and health was going out of control, and was eventually fired… and she claimed part of it was her being sick and pregnant, even went as far as claiming she announced her pregnancy moments before being fired (which would’ve been pretty fucked up); but Nightwish then claimed, “no, we dismissed her not because of illness or pregnancy but because we realized her personality didn’t fit with the work community, and was actually detrimental to it….” then they went on to claim that not only were they congratulatory over her expectancy, she announced it a week earlier while in Montreal, said she was planning to go on maternity leave, and agreed with the idea of a temporary singer, but then she reversed her decision, which made it difficult.”

In another interview, Anette had a very interesting statement about her and the replacement singer:  “I would have been too pregnant to go to Australia so I wanted to push the dates back, but Tuomas didn’t want that. Discussions about a substitute came up and at first I was like ‘Yeah, well…. okay…’ but when they mentioned Floor it was an automatic ‘No’ from me. I didn’t think it was a good idea because I knew what would happen; I knew the fans would love Floor because she’s a metal singer and I’m a pop singer, and I wanted to keep my job. Because I couldn’t do the Australian tour, I think that’s when they started thinking about a new singer. ... Of course I knew we had our gigs to do, and I was pregnant so it was my own fault, but it was only one small tour that I wanted to push back. I could have done all the other gigs and I didn’t understand why they needed a substitute singer when I wanted to go. Maybe they felt that they wanted to have another singer. I think that’s what they wanted, but they weren’t quite honest about it. I guess when I said no they got frustrated. Maybe when I got ill they saw a way out. Of course, then I got angry when they did what they did and wrote something in my blog. They got pissed off at me, I was pissed at them, and it led to where we are now, I guess.” 

Was this situation handled the best way? No. But unfortunately, as shady as the band might have been, this does happen a lot in any kind business, and it absolutely sucks being on the non-beneficial end of it. The thing is, when bands book dates, it is well planned in advance, and when a band goes on tour, that is their priority, and each member has to make it that, and do everything you can to keep your shit together while on tour. It’s not easy to postpone or reschedule gigs, especially when the members have other projects, with Tuomas doing his solo project, and Marco also recording and touring with Tarot. You also do not want to disappoint the fans that paid money to see the band.  If you cannot get your shit together, nor if you can see eye to eye with the rest of the band, your ass will be gone.

While there were some fans, myself included, that were sad and rather bitter about Anette leaving, I was surprised to learn that the majority of fans were happywith her being dismissed, and even more in favor of Floor being the singer. Anette she did add a level of uniqueness and a great twist to the overall sound that they preferred over Tarja. Yes, Tarja had a novelty that nobody else was really doing at the time with her operatic soprano vocals, and she also did have a good stage presence. Was she as good as everyone says she was? I disagree. When I listen to her solo albums, they just do not compare with her work with Nightwish, which backs up my argument that she sang her best songs because Tuomas wrote them. With Anette, I felt her vocals did fit with the songs that were written during her time, and I cannot imagine the Dark Passion Play and Imaginaerum albums with another singer. Sure, she may not have been as comfortable singing the older songs that required a higher range than she had, but she could hold her own most of the timeOthers were glad she was gone because not only did her vocals not sound “metal enough” but her presence and persona on stage with her dancing on stage like she was in the Spice Girls to songs like Bless the Child and Ghost Love Score probably turned some people off. A lot of people also said she was inconsistent live with her voice, and thus sounded rather stale to a lot of people. The fact she struggled on songs that weren’t for her range didn’t really bug me that much, but it did bug a lot of people.

As for my opinion on Floor, I had never heard After Forever or ReVamp,  and the split and subsequent replacement happened just a few days before they were supposed to play in Anaheim, and my girlfriend was so bitter about the split she flat out said “I’m not going!” We were among the crowd that was upset Anette was gone, and when watching clips of Floor first singing songs like Scaretale and Storytime, I felt she didn’t hold up that well.

BUT… a few months later, one day on Pandora, an After Forever song came on, Transitory, and I said, “hey, isn’t this one of that new singer’s bands? She is actually pretty good!” So I checked her out, and the more I looked her up, the more I realized “hey, she’s not only a well seasoned vocalist, but she is classically trained, is also a vocal instructor, and she’s actually very respected, and she definitely is a better metal singer and a better performer on stage than Tarja and Anette.” Whereas the two prior singers were relatively unknowns until they joined Nightwish, Floor was already a well-established and well-seasoned singer who understood greatly what the pressures of in a well known touring heavy metal band was all about. They needed someone like her for that reason, the band itself was getting bigger, and as long as they get bigger, the higher they are in demand for big tours and big album releases, so they couldn’t just find a new singer to test the water again. Finally, when I started watching her on Youtube performing older songs, I instantly got excited for her and Nightwish, and was blown away by the Showtime, Storytime live album they released to coincide with her and Troy Donockely being announced as the permanent members. She fits very well with the beautifully bombastic songs Nightwish is good at doing, can sing songs from both past eras just as good, and can even add more to it, such as her performance of Ghost Love Score on the live album, which sends me even more chills than the original version.

Hopefully this means third time is a charm when it comes to vocalists. That documentary about Floor coming into the band shows a band coming together more, and they all seem happier together, BUT… I said the same thing about Anette as well a couple years ago. I just hope what happened with Anette and Tarja doesn’t happen with Floor. I mean if Floor ends up getting kicked out or leaves the band, THEN we can literally call Nightwish the Van Halen of symphonic metal, and finally say “this band just doesn’t know how to get along.”

Closing thoughts, I am definitely excited to see what the first official album with Floor will be like. My girlfriend and I  have seen Floor perform with ReVamp , and she was so good on stage that my girlfriend finally put her bitterness aside and started liking her (plus meeting them and taking pictures was a plus). She has the potential to add much more than Tarja and Anette ever could. She can sing any range, plus can grunt, scream, and pack a powerful punch to the songs she sings, AND sound just as consistent live. It will be interesting to see how Floor will be utilized, and I just hope they do her justice, because if I feel she is underutilized, it could be a disappointing album. With Troy now a full time member, you can obviously expect more flutes and pipes, but upbeat songs like I Want My Tears Back shows he wont be restricted to just folk ballads like Turn Loose the Mermaids.  They have teased us and said the new album will have the longest song Nightwish has ever written to date, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, but one thing for certain is I don’t think we are getting another Imaginaerum esque sounding album. The Imaginaerum album put more emphasis on the theatrics and less on the band, and I feel like the next album will be the opposite, and now with Floor having a huge range and big metal background, and her vocals suiting more for the darker and more powerful songs of old, we could be in for an album that blows us all away…. again.

These idiots want $15/hour?

•October 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’m sure there are a lot of videos talking about this, and this is another one!

I understand, there are people who say the money they make at these places is not enough to support families… newsflash, FAST FOOD JOBS WERE NEVER MEANT TO DO THAT! Have you been to one recently? The workers there are either really young, high school age kids, or they’re middle aged and have managerial or supervisor positions that get slightly more pay. McDonalds is NOT MEANT to be a career life choice, it’s meant for getting job experience for later resume submissions for better job applications. Of course you will say, “but some people can’t go further than that, they need to work there to survive. you don’t have any idea how the world works you friggen idiot!”

Some people say that if they paid their workers nearly twice what the minimum wage is nowadays, it would raise the prices due to rising production costs and labor costs. Others say it won’t affect the prices at all due to the franchises constantly competing over attracting customers.

Ever since the subject came up about McDonalds workers wanting $15 an hour, I cannot think about how many times my order has been screwed up at these places, and it isn’t just McDonalds, it’s everywhere. You go to a place like this, you order your food, and it can even be the simplest of orders, but no matter if its the drive thru or even when you’re dining inside the place, An entree is missing and/or includes items that were either requested or asked not to include… Or it’s a completely different sandwich entirely, which can be especially troublesome if let’s say you are allergic to dairy or lactose intolerant and accidentally eat that piece of cheese you didn’t want.

Many drive thru attendees can barely understand you, or they will hear your Order wrong and ring them up without confirming. Especially here in SoCal, we’ll occasionally run into the worker that barely speaks English and yet is responsible for hundreds of orders from non-Spanish speaking people through the drive thru.

How do these people screw it up nowadays? It’s all so technologically sound nowadays that all they have to do is punch in the item and there’s a specific button for everything.

Items you paid for are not in the bag, and you’re already too far from the place to go get them. Some of these places the food is clearly not fresh at all, and the insides of the dining area and kitchens are absolutely filthy and look like nobody cares how many pests are infested inside the buildings. Sometimes, people will find pieces of hair, nails, and skin in their foods, and on rare occasions, it’s parts of dead vermin or insects in the burger mix or inside the coffee.

And these idiots want 15 an hour?! To all of those who support it, or for all of those fast food workers that believe what you do is worth 15 bucks an hour… You think what you do is worth potentially raising the price of everything at your restaurants? You think potentially severely impacting the fast food industry and affecting huge profit margins is worth it?  You think you deserve to earn just as much as medical secretaries, animal control workers, fitness trainers, and what really pisses me off is you think you deserve to earn more per hour than my EMT fiancé who works 14 hour shifts? I say go fuck yourself!

There are people with far more important jobs that don’t earn enough, at least in my opinion. If a McDonalds worker starts getting almost as much as

I will not pay more dollars for a sub quality burger that has so many preservatives and chemicals that it barely counts as a beef burger. The charm of these places and their items is yes, it ain’t good for us, but it’s cheap, and if there’s no food in the house, or if we really don’t feel like cooking and waiting, a $6 quick and cheap meal sounds awfully convenient and appetizing. But if the meal is gonna cost just as much as a burger and fries at Red Robin, Applebees, or places like that, I’m better off just going there, or going to the grocery store.

 

More Stupid Sports Parents

•October 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Yes, I made a video a few years ago about crazy sports parents, and this will be more of a continuation of this video, because obviously more stuff has happened, and it’s time to go over it more. If you think I missed a point in this rant, you might find it in the other video I put out 4 years ago.

Over the years, as my position and reputation grew, I got more and more exposed to behaviors and mannerisms from parents that almost ruin the experiences.

Starting with those who think they know enough about the sport to be able to teach their kids, rather than simply leave it in the hands of the professionals. It’s one thing to be out there with your own kid and just having some fun bonding time with them out there, but when you clearly do not possess the same knowledge and skill that the coaches have at teaching kids, you are only ruining it for the kid, and putting them on the wrong path.

It’s not necessarily the parents that coach their kids off the ice. A lot of them are simply trying to go over what their kids are learning on the ice, and those who do it the right way don’t say or do anything that contradict what I say.

However, there are those who try to pass off the information as their own and act like they are capable.

Many times while I’m in the middle of a lesson, or even when I’m on the ice just skating around while in uniform, I’ll have a parent come up to me and ask things like, “how do you teach kids to stop?” “how do you transition? “how do you turn?” And I show them, and then instead of having their kid listen to me, they proceed to go try and tell their kid exactly what I told them. Even while I’m busy giving a lesson to a client, I’m still biting my tongue watching this parent fail at showing their kid the information I just gave them. The kid is getting it wrong each time he tries, and the idiot parent is no help either, so both of them are getting frustrated…. My goodness, I understand lessons can be expensive, but I easily could’ve showed your kid how to do it for 5 minutes and he’d have gotten it right a lot quicker than listening to you! I especially love it when I’m in the middle of a lesson, and parents simply tell their kids to copy the drill I’m having the paying client do on the ice, or they just kind of let their kids barge in and interfere while I’m trying to do my job! Wow, its as if the signs are all there that your kid not only needs help from me or another skating instructor, but really wants it too, but you don’t want to pony up the dough because you think you can teach your kid!

I also especially loved it when a newbie parent came to the rink asking for private lessons for his kid, but he straight up told me, “unless you can get my kid good enough to get a college scholarship, this hockey thing wont be worth my time!” Umm, yeah, even if your kid doesn’t make higher levels, the experiences and life lessons are a hell of a lot worth more than its weight in gold! You obviously want to relive your life vigourously through your kid. That’s not anything I said to this guy, but after I gave him my number and said, “I can get him on the right path” he never contacted me afterwards.

But that’s minor compared to the other stuff I have dealt with and seen.

While yes, while club travel teams can get their share of drama and stupidity, rec leagues are not safe from it either. For a while. there was as a group of people who became somewhat of a cult, led  by a parent-coach that seemed to get sucked into it against all the advice given to him by our superiors. The group of parents for this team would have people that constantly cheered over the glass throughout the game, and because they took rec league games rather seriously, it got to the point where it was really obnoxious, especially if you were the coach of the other team, and their group would stand right next to your own bench, and cheer for their players through openings behind the bench. After their core players got better and began dominating and shutting out the other teams, because this was in a REC LEAGUE for 8-10 year olds, we had to try and even out the other teams to make it more fair, and that meant trading some strong players to other teams. Almost immediately parent reps got pissed, and I remember one of them going to our director and yelling, “but he’s been with us a while, you can’t put so and so on the other team!” and the director just calmly said, “yes I can, and I just did.” Even their coach wouldn’t stop complaining about it, and publicly said he felt he was getting punished for his team being good and that the league was out to get him…. ummm, it’s RECREATIONAL HOCKEY FOR KIDS! Nobody wants to see a team dominate everyone by 5 goals, and we don’t want to see teams go 0-10 for the season…

I had a parent in this same group constantly badmouth the officiating, and as I was watching, he said out loud in front of everyone, “I’m sick and tired of this fucking place!” He went and tapped on the glass behind the ref’s box over a call, and I ended up having to escort the younger referee to the room so the parent would leave him alone.

Flash forward a few months… More crap happened again to the point where the parent-coach was let go. But that didn’t stop people from creating a ruckus. Parents would get their kids to badmouth the substitute coach, and even one of them kept yelling from the glass, “this coach is a fucking joke!” DURING A PRACTICE!!! And that wasn’t the end of it, one parent broke a door trying to confront our director, and a couple of these parents defended the guy’s actions…

long story short, the problem eventually got rid of itself, and those who did not drink the kool-aid of that group ended up staying with us and joined our club teams later, and became great players I might add.

A year after all this crap happened, one of those parents who left saw my fiancee and kept chatting with her, badmouthing our rink and our former club, even though by that point his kid wasn’t even playing hockey anymore, and he was badmouthing a club that didn’t exist anymore. All my fiancee could do was keep her mouth shut as this guy kept blabbing on and on, and all she could think was, “shut up!” Your kid doesn’t even play anymore and it’s different coaches running the place now. You have no say in anything anymore!”

And lastly, the kind that really make my heart sink at times are what I call the rink hoppers. Those who are constantly shopping around for what they feel are the best deals because they feel like that’s what’s best for their kid.

Now, in my profession, it is quite common to see kids come and go, and a lot of times they will start one place and end up going to another, either due to moving or whatnot. Other times, it’s because the places closer to them cannot offer what they’re looking for or need, such as familiar coaches, or where all their friends are, or simply the pricing, so they go elsewhere.

This especially happens when a group of people are tired of being on losing teams, so they try and join the nearest club that had a better record than they did during the season.

And what’s completely sad is I’m friends with a lot of them on facebook, so when I see these people go from constantly saying good, encouraging things about one club, and then the next year can’t say enough how much they love the new club, it really jabs a pin in my heart when I see them go from a club that I helped coach them in, to a new one.

Just a couple weeks ago, I was coaching against a team of which at least half of them were on my team last year, and there they were on the other team being among the better players. According to my fiancee, she saw one of them compliment their kid on their ability, and the parent pointed at me, and said, “you see that coach of the other team? that guy taught my kid everything he knows, and he’s good because of that coach, not because of the team he’s on now.” he went from a really heartfelt comment to going on saying, “well I guess it’s biting him in the ass now.” My fiancee wanted to yell at them for that remark but didn’t.

A couple years ago, I had a really strong core of young players who I had helped build up for a while. One season, they were easily the strongest group of players in their division, and I constantly had to try and find better competition for them. At first, everything seemed okay, and even my boss applauded me on how well I kept them together, and seemed excited about them going up to a new level. But, then like a snowball effect, one had to move to orange county, and then a bunch of them followed, without even telling me they were going to sign there until after tryouts. There I ended up with a big chunk of core players gone, all because their parents were so convinced the programs in orange county were better suited for their kids, EVEN THOUGH WE WERE BEATING THEM BEFORE! SO NOW ORANGE COUNTY GOT TO BENEFIT WITH A TEAM FULL OF PLAYERS THAT STARTED OUT WITH ME AND OUR PROGRAM! To say I was really pissed and devastated was the least of it. It still eats a hole in my stomach every time I think about it.

Just recently, one of their parents posted pictures about their kids winning a tournament, and there they were, in orange county jerseys raising a damn tournament banner, and upon closer inspection, I realized… holy hell, those kids in the pictures WERE ALL MY KIDS FROM A COUPLE YEARS AGO!!!! That whole core of the roster, all of them! And there they were, all giving praise to their orange county club, and acting so proud of them… NEWSFLASH!!! YOU FORGOT WHO WAS THE COACH WHO GOT YOU TO THAT LEVEL! IF YOU JACKASSES HAD JUST STAYED TOGETHER UNDER OUR CLUB, YOU WOULD HAVE RAISED THE SAME GOD DAMN BANNER FOR US AND MADE YOUR LOCAL RINK LOOK BETTER! BUT NO! YOU GO AND MAKE ANOTHER CLUB FURTHER AWAY LOOK BETTER AND GIVE THE NEW CLUB ALL THE CREDIT! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! IT’S NOT LIKE I PUT MY HEART AND SOUL OR ANYTHING INTO MAKING YOUR KID AS GOOD AS HE GOT!

Now obviously I can’t stop parents from doing what they do, and I have to remember why I enjoy doing what I do in the first place to even keep going. As long as I keep coaching, there will be more stupid parents along the way.

If you’re listening, and can share an experience where parents let politics get in the way, or of someone acting like a complete moron at a youth sporting event, please share now.

 

 
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