beautiful new music

This music video is a beautiful and, to me at least, unique use of Pixar's excellent Up.

Of course, I have to wonder what the copyright maximalists would make of this. I'm betting that they would say that it is a clear case of infringement, since the whole thing (music and video) comes from Up.

But I hope any court would look at it and see a clear, transformative use. It's amazing.

I have a very large music collection, but I still keep coming back and listening to it. My only complaint (and it's a nit, I'll admit) is that since there are very few complete words, it's awfully hard to sing along with.

Still, Fagottron, keep it up. That's damned awesome work.


non-local blackout?

Man, NBC's coverage of the Olympics gets suckier and suckier. First there was the USA-Canada game getting pushed to MSNBC, which meant that I could only see a few minutes of it. Now they don't even show what was supposed to be THE marquee matchup of the entire hockey tournament... what was widely expected to be the gold medal game?

Granted, it didn't turn out to be much of a game, and I'm shocked that Ovie apparently didn't bring his "A" game (although I'm actually happy that Russia is out; now Ovie and Semin will get a bit more rest before finishing the season), but that's hardly something that they could have predicted.

As a side note, I caught the coverage of the 4x10km cross-country race, and that was one hell of an anchor leg by the Norwegian Petter Northug. Damned impressive. They had one shot of him after the race ended, and it looked like he had done it all on adrenaline, and was completely spent. Major kudos to him for giving it his all.


Wolverine's origin

I was a big fan of X-Men back in High School. It was the second series I got into (The New Mutants was the first). I think my first favorite was Rachel (the two earliest ones I remember were #175 and #199). Kitty was a very cool character as well. But Wolverine quickly became my favorite. The Kitty Pryde/Wolverine miniseries was awesome, and the Wolverine mini-series was even better (once I found it).

When the movies came out, I was happy to see them. I didn't think they were great, but they definitely had their moments. Hugh Jackman definitely did a good job as Wolverine in them, and Famke Janssen was also very good.

But I wasn't able to get to see Wolverine in the theaters, unfortunately. The lousy reviews didn't exactly get me excited to see it, and timing was difficult. So I waited and bought it a while after it came out.

Three months later, I've finally managed to watch it.

To say it was weak would be a bit of an understatement. You can't fake your own death in front of Wolverine; his senses are too sharp (he'll hear your heartbeat, weak as it is, and he'll know it isn't your blood). Why did Gambit interfere and help Sabertooth get away? Not only was it out of character for Gambit (he'd be more likely to run than to pick an unnecessary fight), but it didn't make sense with his motivations (at least as expressed) either. And what was the basis for thinking that shooting Wolverine in the head was going to wipe his memories? After going through the bloodiest wars in human history, he'd have had to have been shot in the head before (firing squads would seem especially good at that) without having memory problems.

And have you ever thought about trying to make a gun that can fire an adamantium bullet? Do they have any idea why no one makes steel bullets nowadays? I'll give a hint: it has nothing to do with damage to the target.

And how about how quickly he back up to Sabertooth, capability-wise? He gets his clock cleaned, flies away for what doesn't seem like more than a couple of days to get his bones upgraded, spends perhaps a couple of weeks finding out about, and then going to, New Orleans, and that's enough for him to now be faster than Sabertooth (again, presumably)? Not even superheroes get back into shape that quickly.

And this is all ignoring him becoming American. They also lost his time as a secret agent, plus it was now a different government changing him. And the way he acted around Kayla? Way different than he's ever been in any incarnation I've seen, around women.

Of course, the director was also confused about one major thing. He said in his commentary for one of the deleted scenes that Wolverine was essentially unkillable, but that's not true either. X-Men #142 showed him being killed (hmm... back to Rachel). There might well be other comics that showed him dying, but that's the only one I can remember.

And I'm pretty sure there are bigger, structural issues with the whole story, but I'm too tired to piece them together right now. Maybe another time.

Anyway, this was a very disappointing movie for me. I initially had very high hopes for it, but they were badly dashed. About the only good thing this movie had going for it was the cute story of the wolverine howling at the moon.


Other shoe dropped

Well, two very disappointing nights in a row for the Caps. They spotted the opposition a couple of goals, came back, but failed to secure a win both times.

The first could very reasonably be blamed on the officiating, and the goal that was called back for no apparent reason. After watching the replay on that a number of times, I can't figure out why they decided to wash it out.

In any event, going down by a bunch is certainly no recipe for success, no matter how good you are, so perhaps they deserved it.

The only small bit of consolation is that they scored five in each of the games, which is enough to get them to a four goal per game average. And the hat tricks in three consecutive games is kind of neat (Ovie, Laich, and Semin, in order), especially without any hat tricks in the previous fifty-eight games. But we'd definitely rather have the wins.

I hope they'll use the Olympic break to get back in sync, because they've definitely been out of sync overall for the last several games.

And as an update to my previous post, I did a bit more searching for teams averaging four goals a game late into the season. The '06-07 Sabres got closer than the aforementioned Red Wings, with 222 goals through sixty games. And the '05-06 Sens were even better than those Red Wings, with nine more on the season, and managed to keep that four goal/game average through 64 games. In fact, through 61 games, they were exactly where these Caps are, at 244 goals. I guess we'll see what happens the rest of the way; those Sens ended up with 3.83 goals/game, about .75 over league average that year (though, to be fair, the average that year was about a quarter goal higher than it is this year).

But unless I missed someone else, those are the only three teams to score over 300 goals in a season since the '95-96 Penguins, powered by Lemieux, Jagr, and Francis. That team managed nearly four and a half goals per game in a league averaging π.


Waiting for the other shoe to drop?

I was poking around on The Post a few minutes ago, trying to figure out where the Caps are playing. ESPN says TSN, but I don't know what stands for. In any event, they mentioned in there that people are starting to compare these Caps to the Oilers that I mentioned in my last post.

My knee-jerk reaction was that that was absurd, because I already pointed out that the '85-'86 Oilers had 48% better than league average in points (standings points, not goals), and these Caps are only 33% better. Which, btw, would approximately tie them with the '85-'86 team. So this team is not on pace to run away with the best team record ever, contrary to my expectations.

In absolute standings points, they should set the record by quite a bit, but there are a lot more points available this year than there were that year.

Anyway, getting back to the Oilers comparison, I decided to compare scoring rates between the two teams. The Oilers scored 34% more goals than the league average, and allowed about 2% less than the league average. This year's Caps, meanwhile, are scoring 41% more than league average, while allowing 3% less than average. And it wasn't an off-year for those Oilers; it was the second-best year of their run. The best year ('83-'84), they scored 41% over average (tenths of a percent better than Caps, 2009-2010 edition) with less than 1% better than average goal prevention.

So that comparison isn't all that absurd.

I'm greedily hoping the Caps can score six tonight (though I'll be happy as long as they win), as that would put them at an even four goals per game over the season. I'm betting, although I'm unsure how to check without a week or more's work involved, that that would be the latest in the season for a team to average that in over a decade. Actually, probably two decades, and maybe even a quarter century. The '05-'06 Red Wings seem the only likely challenger to that. Hmm... decided to check that one... Nope, the Red Wings were only at 216 goals after sixty games.



Man, after watching that Caps game, I'm tired.

I was thinking to myself earlier today that Ovie would definitely bring his A-game, and I'd be shocked if he didn't score. But the hat-trick (plus the shot off the post that Knuble pushed over the line for the winning margin) was beyond my wildest hopes.

And man, I forgot who did it (Bradley, maybe? I forgot to take note), but the team's really gonna have to razz the Cap who had the open goal and decided to attempt a deke before shooting, giving Fleury time to get back into position to block the shot.

This was one heck of a game, though. The Caps started the same way that I had theorized might give them trouble against the Thrashers the other day; they played for the first five minutes as if showing up would be enough to win the game. That put them in an early two-goal hole. They narrowed that deficit to one in the second period, before allowing two more Pittsburgh goals. But a beautiful shot-and-follow by Fehr narrowed the margin back to two before the end of the half.

I think, though, that that was where fatigue caught up to the Penguins, because it was almost all Caps in the third period. Ovechkin's two goals highlighted the very well-played period, which tied the game. The Pens caught a bit of a second wind in the first minute or so of overtime, but a high stick by Orpik on Semin put the Caps on the power play to ice the game.

And it finally hit me over the head earlier; I've been watching the Caps point total, but only to compare it to San Jose's for the league lead. It finally occurred to me ten or fifteen minutes ago that that's a really fabulous total. They've got twenty-three games left for the twelve points they'd need to get to one hundred (which is a nice milestone for a great season). And, without checking, I'd guess they're on pace to break the team record for points in a season by a hefty margin (yes, I know they're on pace to break it; the only question is by how much).

Update: I finally went and looked at team history stats. The Caps have cleared 100 points five times in their history. Although last year set the record for total points (108), that was only 18.7% above league average in points. So the best Caps team was probably the '85-'86 team that had 107 points, which was 33.75% above league average. Unfortunately, that was part of the run of years where the fourth-place team in the Patrick division kept winning the division in the playoffs, so that Caps were out quickly.

Just to show how good that (2nd place in division, 3rd in league!) '85-'86 team was, last year's team would have needed 122 points, which would have put them five points ahead of the Sharks for best record in the league, to be equivalently far above league average. Which also goes to show how absurdly good that Oilers team was that finished twelve points ahead of the Caps.


Ugly, but we'll take it

I only got to watch a tiny bit of this one. I saw the initial goal and a few minutes. I was able to tune in again for a minute in the second intermission, and saw that I'd missed eight goals without the score differential changing. Boy, that was weird.

And then I tuned in at the very end to see that they'd won by a goal.

Allowing five goals? Ugly.

Scoring six? Nice.

Being a goalie in that game? Ouch!

But Ovie gets his 500th point, Backstrom gets five points of his own, and the team wins.

We'll take it, we're not proud. :)

Tomorrow night should be interesting, being Atlanta's first game without Kovalchuk. As long as the Caps don't expect to win just by showing up (like they did in game seven against Pittsburgh last year), they should have an easy time of it.