Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Favourite Skate of the Day: Yuzuru Hanyu Crushing it in Sochi

Tomorrow (or I guess tonight technically?) the World Figure Skating Championships start in Japan. So before those get under way, here is the incredible, record-breaking short program that Yuzuru Hanyu performed in Sochi, right before he and Patrick Chan both stumbled their way through their free skates (it pains me to think about it, because I know that they are both so much better than that). It's so flawless, and he brings so much sass and personality to certain moves in it that I just fell in love with him. Also I'm pretty sure Jeffrey Buttle choreographed this program for him (but correct me if I'm wrong), which makes so much sense when you look at the kind of moves and style in there. 
I look forward to seeing what Yuzuru's career holds in the future, and wish him luck performing in his home country within the next couple of days; I'm sure he's going to blow the roof off the joint! But for now, let's revisit his amazing performance in Russia earlier this year:

(Unfortunately the only video I can find of the actual skate won't embed so you'll have to follow this link here to see it).

(He's really cute, you can't deny it.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

#CBR6 Review #08: Locke & Key, vol. 2: Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

This series keeps drawing me in with so many questions and little mysteries about all of the different characters, and if someone hadn’t already borrowed my sister’s copy, I would have kept on with the 3rd volume in this series immediately after finishing Head Games. There is something really refreshing about the familial mystery to be found in Locke & Key, with cleanly detailed artwork that just adds to the overall appeal.

This second volume, Head Games, picks up with the Locke family, and the eerie new friend of Tyler’s, Zach, who was previously in the form of the woman in their old well house. Zach is recognized at the high school by one of the old professors, who identifies him as an old student that had disappeared over twenty years earlier. Zach sees this information as threatening his plans, and decides to “deal with” anyone who seems to recognize him even in the slightest. He does this all while posing as the nephew of the high school gym teacher, who appears to have known Zach back when he went by Lucas, as was a student at the school herself.

Meanwhile, young Bode Locke at the Keyhouse estate continues to explore and discover new areas of the large house. At the end of the previous volume, Bode had found a key at the bottom of the pond on the estate, and works to figure out what the key’s purpose is. When he realizes it’s somewhat magical abilities, he rushes to show his family, and yet, his mother appears to not even notice what is going on. There are many instances where it is hinted that adults may not be able to see the magical properties of the world like children, which begs the question as to whether or not the Locke kids are going to have to deal with some kind of attack or threat from Zach on their own in the near future. With each discovery at Keyhouse, Zach appears to make new and evolving plans, though what exactly his endgame is, we don’t know at this point.

Overall, I’ve been finding Locke & Key to be very interesting so far, and it’s not afraid to be a little gruesome and dark at times (yet as of now, it hasn’t been too over-the-top, which is always good). I would highly recommend it to fans of the graphic-novel genre, particularly things that are a little mysterious, and I hope to read some more soon, as always.  

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Friday, March 14, 2014

Favourite Skate of the Day: Kevin Reynolds' AC/DC Short Program

Today we have a routine by the lovely Kevin Reynolds, who I sometimes refer to as the True Elf Prince (sorry, Legolas), skating to a musical selection by AC/DC. And why have I chosen this skate today? Because even though he may not land some of his jumps, there is nothing more wonderful than someone being true to themselves. Most of the other competitive skaters may perform to classical music or a swelling movie soundtrack, but not Kevin (at least not in this program): he chooses to skate to the kind of music he loves, with minimal costuming and a little personality flare in his moves, which just shows how much fun he has with the choreography of his program. 
Keep on doing your thing, Kevin, you marvellous being. And might I add, that your long limbs are ridiculous and amazing? Because they most certainly are.

(The skate doesn't begin until about the 3:00 mark of this video):

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Favourite Skate of the Day: Jason Brown's "Riverdance"

Today's skate that I want to share is of Jason Brown's free skate at the 2014 US Open championships. I hadn't really heard of this young man until recently, and absolutely fell in love with this skate for a few reasons: first and foremost, because you can clearly tell that he is having so much fun performing it, and I can't help but smile while watching him. He has so much energy and flexibility in those long limbs of his, and his split-jumps are amazingly effortless! There is something so infectious about Jason Brown already in his career, and I can't wait to see what he accomplishes in the years to come. 
Plus, who doesn't love a good routine set to the soundtrack of Riverdance?



Monday, March 10, 2014

Favourite Skate of the Day: An Explanation of My Weakness that is Figure Skating, Plus Patrick Chan's "Phantasia"

After meeting me, it's only a matter of time until you find out that I am quite a big fan of figure skating (particularly men's figure skating), though this interest is something that ebbs and flows depending on the time: however the Sochi Olympics just refuelled that fire, and I am once again completely in love with the sport.

Because of my rekindled affection for figure skating, I've decided to periodically post videos of some of my favourite skating performances, starting now. But first, some explanation:

Figure skating requires an intense amount of athleticism, which I think some people often forget, as it is technically a "glamour sport". But behind the shiny veneer and effortlessness that is presented, I'd hazard to say that any skater is not a world-class athlete. How many people do you know that can dead-lift a muscular girl while speeding across ice on two blades, only to hold her with a single arm, or throw her up in the air and put her back down light as a feather? It takes strength, balance, agility, flexibility, and all kinds of other skills. Can I figure skate? Oh no, definitely not. I mean, I can skate just fine, as any average Canadian can, but as soon as it comes to spins or balances, jumps or tricks, I'm afraid that I am lacking. But that doesn't mean that I don't love watching those who can! In fact, I can't seem to get enough of it these days. 

When I was younger, I adored Michelle Kwan, and put up huge cutouts of her from newspapers in my room. I later found great enjoyment in seeing Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko, and Evengy Plushenko skate, which carried me all the way into my teens where I became enamoured with Jeffrey Buttle. I remember at the 2006 Turin Olympics, waiting nervous as numerous skaters performed after him, while he clung to the Bronze Medal position, only to go on to win the bronze, and blow everything out of the water to become world champion a few years later. It seems like it's always the Olympics that stir me up again (even though I often do get engaged in the World Championships as well), and I also remember getting so caught up in Joannie Rochette's emotional performance at the Vancouver 2010 games (another bronze-winning skate!).

Of course there are so many other skaters that I adore these days, and apparently I know far more about the figure-skating world than I ever realized, as evidenced by all the "fun facts" I've been spewing the past few months. But I don't think any skater has really captured my heart so much as Patrick Chan: I recall seeing his 2nd place skate at the 2009 world's and thinking "I like this guy. He's going to be great." And I was certainly right, as I've since followed him through a 5th place finish in Vancouver 2010, another silver at worlds, followed by 3 consecutive World Championship titles, which is an accomplishment that currently only 2 other men in history have achieved (including fellow Canadian Kurt Browning!). And I continue to love Chan --not just because or since he started winning, like some people suggest-- but because there is simply something special about the way he skates. Also, when I first became aware of Patrick he was only 18, and I was also 18 so... well... obviously I developed a bit of a crush on the guy. How could I not? That's what your teens are for, and he's absolutely adorable!

In any case, to kick off this series of my favourite skates, here is Patrick Chan's Free Skate from the 2011 Canadian Championships. 
This is from those few years where Patrick kept skating to music from the Phantom of the Opera, which seemed to really work for him. The footwork sequences of the choreography are just perfect for him, and I absolutely love the costuming as well (plus Shawn Sawyer's face is priceless near the end; you're great too, Shawn!). 



This has been my first favourite skate of note, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do (well, that may be a bit difficult, but I'm sure you know what I mean). 
Hopefully there will be more to come soon (if I have the chance to post), and if you have any favourite skates of your own that you love for any reason at all, tell me about it, because I'd love to see them!
...... Now everyone knows that figure skating is my weakness, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, March 7, 2014

#CBR6 Review #07: Lucifer, Book 2 by Mike Carey

Collecting Lucifer issues #14-28, and presented in a series of 3-part tales, Lucifer, Book 2 packs just as much interest, theological imagination, grotesqueness, and creativity as the first volume in the series. This kind of thing is definitely not for everyone, and my appreciation of the illustrative qualities varied from artist to artist within the book. However, I once again thoroughly enjoyed the characterization that Mike Carey has created in Lucifer, many of the issue covers and artworks separating the different sections within this book are absolutely stunning!

The second volume of Lucifer picks up where the first book left off: with Lucifer in the process of creating his own new universe. This new realm lies within no boundaries of authority but his own, and without the presence of God or the other heavenly warriors, many different sects of spirits, demons, and other creatures all want a slice of the new world under the Morningstar’s rule. Schemes are made, and deals are laid out on the table, but Lucifer denies all, even to those close to him; the only rule that governs his realm is that no worship can exist, for God, for any other deity, or even for Lucifer himself, and yet many try to garner the favor of the Morningstar by promising their fealty to him.

Many characters from the first volume reappear, in order to either resolve or continue their stories. This includes major revelations with the spirits of the Basanos tarot deck that have inhabited the singer Jill Presto, as well as the fate of the angel Michael’s daughter, Elaine, who is coming to terms and learning more and more about her half-angelic abilities. It is definitely a good thing that I read the first volume of this series not too long ago, however, as I could see myself forgetting certain details and plotlines that found there way back into the story here; that being said, the attention to the detail and not leaving any strand untied is definitely one of the strong points of these books.

I am excited to keep reading this series, as it is definitely right up my alley. I believe the next full volume will be coming out in the second half of March (not long now!), and would love to see where Lucifer’s tale goes from here. It’s complicated and engaging, and I enjoyed book 2 as much as I did book 1. If you enjoy graphic novels, particularly those with a similar style to The Sandman or Hellblazer, then I would certainly reccommend taking a gander at the Lucifer series. 

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]