I Watched: BLACKFISH

I’m in the early stages of a free month of Netflix. A couple of weeks ago my cousin and I were talking about SeaWorld for some reason and she mentioned the documentary Blackfish. I had heard of it, but hadn’t seen it. I have, however, been to SeaWorld. The summer of 2004 I had a season pass to the San Antonio park. I went three times.

I had seen the Shamu show and it made me nervous the same way that ice skating and ballroom dancing make me nervous: I always wait for something bad to happen, like, somebody falls or gets dropped. In the case of the killer whale show I expected somebody to get chomped or flattened. I’ve always thought that orcas were too big for captivity and it always made me sad to see them in the small pools (possibly seeing Free Willy as a kid has something to do with this opinion because dolphins, whale sharks, and other ocean animals do not bother me at all to see them in captivity). Or maybe just having a general sense of physics – orcas are big and seemingly intelligent, the SeaWorld pools are small.

Anyway, so I was curious about watching Blackfish.

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The documentary discusses killer whale performance and captivity and is centered around the death of a SeaWorld trainer in 2010 by a whale who had previously displayed violent tendencies, and had been involved, however directly, in two previous deaths, one in Canada and one also at SeaWorld Orlando in 1999. Former SeaWorld trainers were interviewed discussing various aspects of behind-the-scenes life at SeaWorld and various other incidents of killer whale violence.

The film does a good job of getting their point across and I definitely would recommend watching it. However, it is clear propaganda –  an anti-SeaWorld point of view from what I believe are essentially animal activists. The filmmakers have a clear agenda for wanting to shut down SeaWorld and similar parks. At no time did they ever address the conservation efforts that SeaWorld has accomplished, nor did they interview any current employees of the company. I also would have liked to see the point made that the reason for keeping some animals in captivity is to educate and to promote conservation efforts in natural habitats.

Some further reading:

From MySA.com: Ex-SeaWorld trainers dispute ‘Blackfish,’ say phase out whale show
From SouthernFried Science: Blackfish: the Science Behind the Movie
From CNN: ‘Blackfish’ film ignores SeaWorld’s benefits to conservation, research
SeaWorld’s Rebuttal: Truth About Blackfish

There is a lot of information out there – and it’s a subject worth learning more about. I think Blackfish is a good place to start, but you can’t take everything at face value. I am, currently, mostly undecided on this subject, but leaning towards “not a fan of killer whales in captivity” if only, because it seems so sad for such big, intelligent creatures to be kept confined.

(I am totally pro those whale sharks at the Georgia State Aquarium though so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Those guys would have been eaten out of Taiwan’s then-quota of allowable whale sharks caught for food. They may be in captivity but at least they are not lunch.)

Why I’m Irritated at the HIMYM Series Finale

Yes, it took the ending of a beloved television show to get me to post again.

But seriously guys, the series of How I Met Your Mother has really annoyed me.

It didn’t send me into rage spirals like the LOST finale (STILL MAD ABOUT THAT ONE, even though it’s been over for like 4 years already), it didn’t perplex me with its sheer wtf-ery like the Dexter finale (random lumberjacks!) and it didn’t pull the “Oh wait, what – it got canceled six months ago and I didn’t know about it?” crap that the poor The Glades got last year (and the last episode was a cliffhanger! Phooey!).

SPOILERS AHOY

So what the HIMYM finale did was negate an entire series with the last five minutes of the finale. How I Met Your Mother was not, in fact, about meeting the mother. It was about how Ted fell in love with Robin, never got over her, met the mother and had kids, then eventually got back together with Robin after the mother died. This whole time, Ted wasn’t telling stories to the kids about how he met their mom, he was telling them about his life so that he could justify getting back together with Robin several years after losing his wife.

Now generally speaking, had the show not gone on for so long, this could have been perfectly acceptable. It works in books and isn’t uncommon in real life. But the show went on for nine years and the entire last season took place over Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend. Then, in the final episode, they had Robin and Barney get divorced and Barney go back to his philandering ways – which the show had spent YEARS developing Barney into a better person. And the show had spent YEARS developing the idea that Robin and Ted were wrong for each other and that the mother was the love of Ted’s life.

Had the events that took place in the finale took place over the entire final season, I think that would have been much better. HIMYM has proven over the years that while generally a comedy, they can have tough stories lines and go about them in a serious way (Marshall’s dad dying and Robin’s infertility issues) – I actually think they could have done that whole final episode over the final season and those fans who expected Ted to wind up with the mother wouldn’t be so PISSED that they got cheated out of what they thought was the ultimate end game for the series.

Because ultimately that how I feel – cheated out of what I thought the show was about. While I can appreciate the creator’s artistic vision (the plan all along was to kill off the mother), the title was a misdirect – it wasn’t “How I Met Your Mother”, it was “How I Hard Time Dating, Met Your Mother, She Died, and Got Back Together With Robin.” And as someone who never thought Ted & Robin actually worked as a couple, I thought that was lame. I liked Robin & Barney together.

So, points I guess for taking a storytelling risk (the finale has been almost universally panned by fans/critics from what I can tell). I didn’t care for it, am disappointed by it, but wish that if that’s what they wanted to do, that it had been executed better.

Still, I did love the early years of this show. Lily & Marshall are probably one of the best TV couples ever, and it brought us the glory of NPH. I liked the flashback/flash forward structure which was unique to sitcoms. And I don’t feel like I wasted a bunch of time watching it like I do LOST, so there’s that!

BIRTHDAY WEEKEND

When I was a kid, my dad called me his “late firecracker” because I was born on the 5th of July, one day too late to share our country’s birthday. But I’m okay with that because every year it’s like two days worth of partying all for me.

This year it was quite an extended celebration, starting last Wednesday when my aunt and cousin brought over a cake and presents for me when we all gathered over at Jason’s for our weekly dinner! And then they crammed 31 candles on top (+1 to grow on, I am *only* 30) which, because I am full of hot air, I managed to blow out in one single breath.

Then on Friday, I baked myself a cake that fell apart. This was for my friend-gathering on Saturday. It was still tasty, though. I think that it was a combination of errors on my part (cake not cooled enough, forgot to grease the non-stick pan) along with a Pillsbury cake mix. I tend to prefer the Duncan Hines brand. But I did make homemade frosting that turned out really delicious.

It was the rancor's fault.

So on Saturday, Sarah (all the way up from LA) and Malvina (all the way down from Sacramento) came over and we headed off to lunch at Pasta Pomodoro in Pleasant Hill. Then, we celebrated being adults by going to see Twilight: Eclipse. Oh man, that movie was fraught with giggles (from us) and tortured significant glances (from the cast). Teenage girls just eat this stuff up, but I found myself relating more to the dad in the movie, who was like, holy crap, these people are dumb, also why am I in this movie. Team Charlie! From a “Let’s Go Laugh At Twilight” vantage point, Eclipse (dare I say it) eclipsed the first two movies in its constant barrage of unintentional giggle moments. From a “Is This Movie Actually Any Good” standpoint, the answer is: not really. I still rate it an LOL+, however.

Then everybody (Sam, Amy, and Ben) came over and I made Thai food and we ate the cake and took silly pictures with my rancor toy. Have I ever mentioned my collection of 100+ Star Wars collectible figurines? And how most of them are still in mint condition in their boxes? But how the rancor is not? Anyway.

On Sunday I made a red velvet cake that did not fail with cream cheese frosting and took it over to Rossmoor where we had lunch over at my grandparents’ condo. Technically speaking I suppose the cake was another birthday cake (my grandma put candles on it and everybody sang the birthday song) but really I just made it as a contribution for the dinner. Still, it was nice to be with family and eat delicious meat and whatnot.

Later we went to the fireworks over at the Benicia waterfront and that was pretty great – we were right under them and it was really windy so there was an element of danger as the sparks kept raining right down over where people were sitting. Luckily the wind shifted all that over about forty feet away from us so we could enjoy the danger without worry. Haha.

Then yesterday was my actual birthday and my sister had been wanting to see the Swedish movie version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. They weren’t playing it at the dome anymore, but it was still playing at the Rheem in Moraga, and Abby bribed me by paying for my ticket so off we went. And it was excellent! Now I’m so worried about the Hollywood adaptation. It will be okay if they use character actors or unknowns, but Brad Pitt as Blomkvist? Kill me.

After that we stopped at Jason’s for a bit. He looked good. Then on to the parentals’ and out to dinner at the Outback. Not super original but I wanted steak and an Awesome Blossom, and they brought me free ice cream.

All in all, a great way to ring in my fourth decade. I think my thirties will be pretty awesome, all in all.