Figure Skating Takes a Wrong Turn

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Source: Salon.com

Oh, figure skating, what’s happened to you? You used to be interesting, beautifully diverse in movement and creativity. You were a blend of grace, power, and speed. Sadly, you’re none of those things now. These days, everyone looks the same, picks the same music, and moves about the ice like zombies from The Walking Dead. Where’s the excitement? Where are the edge-of-your-seat, heart-pounding programs?

I wish Simon Cowell was a skating judge. He’d have a lot to say about what passes for figures skating circa 2014. He’d bemoan the lack of originality, the total absence of what he calls ‘the wow factor’

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Simon says, ‘Where’s the wow factor?’.

And he’d be right.

Modern figure skating is dull. Profoundly, insomnia-curing, what’s it doing in the Olympics, is it even a sport, dull. It wasn’t always this way. Around the time Tonya Harding was plotting the whack heard round the world, skaters world-wide took chances. Remember Alexei Yagudin’s unbelievable footwork? Breathtaking! Enough so you forgot about the jumps–and that’s saying something. In dance, Evgeni Platov and Pasha Grishuk perfected what Torvill and Dean started. When was the last time a free dance was as peppy, astutely crowd-friendly, and exciting as theirs. When they were winning everything, their music choices included: St. James Infirmary Blues, Rock Around the Clock, and Stepping Out. Those are a far cry from the classical snooze fest we’ve seen since. It’s not limited to dance either; the ennui, so pervasive in what was once ballroom on ice has invaded ladies, mens, and pairs. Mens? Really? I still remember David Santee rousing the crowd to its feet with Rocky. Once, albeit in a show, Brian Bointano skated in total darkness with lights all over his costume. I think the music was Funky Town. If not, then it was something very much like it. Can you imagine Bointano’s later iterations doing that? I didn’t think so.

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media.salon.com

Today, figure skating has become a parade of ballet solos and pas de deux, (a prize for the plural of that). If I wanted ballet, I’d go to the ballet. Is it any wonder figure skating’s popularity has fallen? One look at gymnastics, skating’s Summer Olympic cousin, shows why. Granted, the male gymnasts don’t use music, but the women do. How often is that music slow and uninteresting? Not much that I recall.

In skating, we get a recycling of about 10 classical pieces. At any given competition you’ll get the requisite Carmen, Rhapsody in Blue, Swan Lake, Firebird, Giselle, Copellia, or some other famous ballet. And within those selections, the arrangements are BORING! No build in the music, no engaging the audience. What gives? Years ago, Olympic medalist, Toller Cranston, performed in Boston to something he considered art. It went on for–I kid you not–10 minutes. By the time he finished, you heard snickers throughout the crowd. Maybe this was the beginning of the end. Every Olympics, sports writers and viewers wonder if judged events belong. They ask: is skating even a sport? Figure Skating’s current march toward ballet puts that question in play. And not in a good way. Skating needs to make up its mind. If it’s art, then be art. Just don’t expect to stay in the Olympics for long. You’re giving the not-a-sport crowd WAY too much ammunition. You’re not interesting. You’re not exciting. You’re not ballet. And you shouldn’t pretend to be.

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FWIW; Keith Yatsuhashi was the 1984 World Jr. Ice Dance Silver Medalist (behind the great Evgeni Platov) and 1984 US Jr. Dance Champion.

Speechless. This 5-star KOJIKI review from Amazon leaves me speechless (and a little teary-eyed)

5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing and unique perspective on fantasy!, February 11, 2014
This review is from: Kojiki (Kindle Edition)
I tend to be very choosy when it comes to what I will admit I enjoy in a book. I will read nearly anything, but few make the list of all time. Few make me want to read it all over again the moment it’s done. Few leave me with a profound feeling of being a more fulfilled person for having read the words between the pages.Kojiki is no exception. The characters are beautifully written, and though I’m not anywhere near Japanese in heritage, I have always admired the culture, the rich history and philosophy behind Japan. The characters all embody what I believe is the heart of not just Japan, but our entire existence.

The author says that the book is anime inspired, and though I can very clearly see this book being developed into an anime, I think there is so much more that you just cannot capture with the eyes. By reading this, I was able to transport myself into a world rich with creatures of lore, vivid in imagery and rich in absolute fascination factors. I plan to give this to my son to read next, because I’m sure his 16 year old mind will eat this up. He’s my anime watching partner, and I’ve told him no less than three times about this book.

I love that there are words in Japanese, used in context within the text, along with an explanatory English word so we understand. It keeps it feeling very genuine, and keeps you in that floating ethereal place you’re meant to be while reading it. As the characters grow in substance, so too do our feelings of attachment and a sense of being parallel. We are watching their struggles as they encounter them, and though they cannot hear our cheers, we remain their supporters from behind the pages.

What can I say that isn’t shining about this book? Maybe my greed in wanting more like it! The ending was incredible and felt exactly right, but I hate that it ended at all.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who require a high degree of mental sophistication in their fantasy novels, those who won’t read “just anything” and people looking for a fresh and direct perspective on a new premise entirely. It definitely is nothing like anything I have read before, it is not the same old story that is predictable, nor full of beings of evil or good that we’ve all seen and heard from in other ways before.

5 stars doesn’t even do this justice. I will continue to come back for more.

You Want Epic Anime? GIANT ROBO: THE ANIMATION is Epic Anime

Another Castle

Giant Robo: The Animation is a reimagining of Mitsuteru Yokoyama‘s classic manga of the same name. Not content to simply retell the story, the show’s creator, Yasuhiro Imagawa dives into Yokoyama’s entire body of work, stitching together an epic story filled with vivid characters, great action, and a dense and thrilling plot.

Story:

Imagawa sets the stage right from the beginning. A quick montage tells us we’re looking at a future Earth. A group of dedicated scientists have invented a renewable, 100 percent clean energy source–the Shizuma Drive. Quickly, Shizuma Drives power everything, and the world prospers.

But wait, not all is sunshine and lollipops. Creating the Shizuma Drive came at a great cost. Some huge tragedy surrounded it, one central to the event that follow. Adding to that, a powerful organization known s Big Fire emerges, it’s goal: to possess the Shizuma Drive’s latest iteration and thereby control…

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The Return of the Guests: The Once and Current Boskonians!

The Boskone Blog

Boskoneis well-known for the number of guests who continue to return to the convention as regular program participants long after their “guest” status is over. This year we have a wonderful assortment of past guests who have returned once again to participate in Boskone 51’s programming.

In fact, Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant), this year’s Guest of Honor, was our Featured Filker for Boskone 45. It’s a pleasure to welcome Seanan, and all of our other returning past guests, back to Boskone for an exciting weekend of literature, art, science, and music!

Below is a list of the past guests and the roles they have held at previous Boskones.

Year Dates Name
20 18-20 Feb 1983 SS: Jeff Hecht
21 17-19 Feb 1984 SG: David Hartwell
23 14-16 Feb 1986 OA: Bob Eggleton
23 14-16 Feb 1986 SG: Tom Doherty
25 29-31 Jan 1988 SG: Ellen…

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