Monday, July 11, 2016

Chances for Past Iditarod Champions in 2017?

I was asked this question the other day on Facebook - what are the chances for each of the five past champions currently signed up for Iditarod 45. 4-time Champions Martin Buser, Jeff King, Lance Mackey, Dallas Seavey, and 2-time Champion Mitch Seavey all signed up on the first day. All have champion line kennels, experience, and teams... but what are the real odds any of them will come under the burled arch first in Nome? Here are a few of my thoughts.

Martin Buser - Iditarod 44 was not a good race for Buser. He spent most of the training season in Seattle while his son Nikolai recovered from his car wreck. When recovery looked to be going well, Martin made the decision to return and run the race. He made it clear he wasn't in competitive form and would not be making any crazy run for first. Top if off he ended up with pneumonia while running the race. Not a good way to go. This coming season Martin's already made comments suggesting he won't be running for lead this year either.

Talk at the BBQ suggested Martin is downsizing - son Rohn is not planning to run this year, and Martin has said he wants to enjoy other things. Cindy Abbott told BBQ attendees she'd gotten a few of Martin's dogs. Honestly, the only way Martin wins - if this is really his outlook for the future - is if a bunch of other teams fall into the Norton Sound and are swept away and he makes it across.

Lance Mackey - the 44th Iditarod did not go as planned for Mackey. While still better than his outing in 2015, he still had issues with his team being ill/not wanting to go. He backtracked to Ophir for longer rest. The heat and the fast pace were a little too much for his young team. However, the rest of 2016 has been very kind. Mackey is winning races on the race car circuit (yes, you read that right) and is the proud papa to a bouncing baby Boy! The 4 time champ seemed in great spirits at the BBQ last month, and is confident in his team. That doesn't mean he'll be coming in first. All mushers are confident their team is awesome. With Mackey's health (thought he looks great these days) always a question, and the fact that he's still in the rebuilding process, he most likely won't be first... but I've been wrong before.

Jeff King - Really, Jeff should've been closer to first this past Iditarod. Sadly, due to someone's poor choices (attempted murder, in my opinion) Jeff's race was done just as it was getting started. Jeff's been so close to winning his fifth title, when his team has given up on him. Freak storms, young dogs, snow machines. It will be interesting to see how King comes back this year. I'm expecting another top 5 finish for Mr. The King this year... and with the right set of circumstances, he could win.

Mitch Seavey - this year's runner up, Mitch Seavey was just hours behind his son Dallas under the burled arch. Mitch is a competitor, and has said he's felt the best he's ever felt. Mitch's team did far better than expected considering several of his key leaders were left at home due to late season injury (sore muscles, and a jammed toe). They pushed with Dallas all the way up the coast, but it was the hills at the end that did them (or him?) in. Barring another season with injuries plaguing the team, Mitch could very well make a third title his.... of course I'd argue that Jeff has about an equal chance of winning.

Dallas Seavey - Iditarod Insider has basically declared him King with their recap video of the 2016 race. That could mean nothing, but I have to wonder if it isn't going to jinx him. They did pretty much the same thing with Mackey after his fourth win, and now he's lucky if he makes top 20. Of course, other factors are at play - namely musher health, which Dallas is younger and in a lot of ways healthier. (Which makes Mackey's 4 wins that much more impressive.) Dallas is very goal driven and athletic, but the other mushers are catching on - especially the ones around his age. Dallas is the odds on favorite, but winning that fifth title has eluded all other 4-time champions (except Rick Swenson). It's going to be difficult - but then, so were the other 4 wins, right?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Highlights from June

Well, this blog has been a big ol bit of boring lately, that’s mainly due to the fact that I just don’t have the motivation to come up with things to blog about. I’ve been quite busy this last month and a half, which also makes it hard for me to want to do anything but veg and goof around online.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Movie Review: Disney-Pixar's Finding Dory

Opening weekend for any highly anticipated summer film is always busy. When it’s a Disney-Pixar film, you can guarantee families will come out in droves to catch a peek at the latest greatest animated film. Funnily enough, however, audiences have had just as many adults as kids attend the showings. Why? Well, aside from it being a Pixar film (they almost always appeal to audiences of all ages) it’s Dory that loveable forgetful blue fish voiced by Ellen Degeneres. When she first swam into our hearts back in 2003 no one imagined her backstory… but oh a story it is.

The film begins with a flashback to Dory’s childhood, she has suffered from Short Term Memory Loss her entire life it seems. In Finding Nemo, Dory says that it runs in her family – however that doesn’t seem to be true in Finding Dory. Her parents try very hard to teach their child little helps to hold on to her memories, but it proves futile when Little Dory is swept away from her family and is lost out in the open ocean.

She swims around looking for her family from childhood into maturity and that’s when she runs into Marlin. The rest of her past is documented in Finding Nemo. We find Dory happily settled into life in the Reef with Marlin and Nemo, when the topic turns to family and legacy and belonging. Dory doesn’t think she has memories of her family – her parents – but she begins having pieces of memories flash through and it’s both confusing and inspiring. Dory decides she must find out who she is and where she comes from.

I’ve seen a lot of reviews online warning that if you are a parent of a foster or adopted child that you should stay away from this film. I am not a parent, and I was not a child in need of a family, but I really didn’t see it as bad for that type of family. It may be with the way that the parents did not give Dory up, that she was just lost and they were waiting, and that can bring up some very difficult emotions, but I don’t think it’s a horrible adoption story. A lot of adoptions are open or otherwise positive to both the biological and adoptive families. I think, like any film, one should go into it knowing their child and what they can handle. If their adoption is a very emotionally confusing part of their life, maybe skip it and wait for the DVD. (But, then, I also did not agree that Tangled was a negative film for families of adoption, but I was told I was wrong then, too.)

I think more disturbing is the somewhat bullying of those that are “different” or “special needs” that was more blatant and kinda sat funny. There are two Seal Lions (both male however with the way they were animated, one should have been female, but I digress) hanging out on a rock. They’re just chillin’ pretty helpful to Nemo and Marlin, and then another Sea Lion swims up to get on the rock. They mention that Gerald has some special needs, and he definitely has a look about him that suggests he’s not “all there”, and the Sea Lions bark at him to get off the rock. They tease him, call him names… now I know this was supposed to be this movie’s version of the Sea Gulls in Finding Nemo (the Sea Lions shout “Get off! Get off! Get off!” and it sounds like the “barking” Sea Lions do), and it’s funny. But why did the one that they didn’t want on their rock have to be the one that was “different”? These two Sea Lions were part of the heroic conclusion. It shouldn’t have been praised.

And I’m not one of those that sees a bully around every corner or thinks that we need to make everything about bullying. I probably classify as a bully half the time. I’m just saying if it made ME come away with a weird feeling, I can’t be the only one to notice it and wonder if Pixar missed the mark a bit with that one.

The third issue that’s made its rounds around the internet that I’d like to address is the Lesbian Couple. Honestly, if there hadn’t been a big stink about it online and throughout certain circles, I’d have never thought that they were a couple. It was not a family – not that I noticed – it was a couple of girls/women at a Sea Life Center. If THAT is what makes them Gay, then I’ve had several “gay days” at the local Sea Life Center in Seward with my girls over the years. So if THAT is what is keeping you from this film – and not the fact that the main character Dory is voiced by a loud and proud Lesbian (who is extremely talented and one part of her life is not enough to suggest otherwise) – then get over it. It was blown WAY out of proportion by all sides.

What was more offensive or wrong about the film was how ridiculous a lot of it was. Some scenes were trying just a little too hard. I think a lot of it was they didn’t want to use the same jokes and plotline as last time, but that fell a little flat. Still, it was a solid Sequel and not the worst film Pixar has put out. I went in expecting to be extremely disappointed, but came away with those lovely Pixar emotions we’ve all come to expect (if you don’t cry for Baby Dory then I don’t know that we can be friends). I laughed so hard I cried in a couple of spots – just like when I first saw Finding Nemo.
Characters that just didn’t work, for me, were the whales. I honestly don’t know why either of them were really there. It was a little too far-fetched how they worked into the climax and conclusion. But that’s just me. I’m sure many more were in love with them. I was excited to see a Beluga, though, I have to admit.

If you haven’t gone to see it, when you go watch through the end of the credits. It’s probably one of the best scenes of the whole movie. I won’t give it away other than to say I was so excited to see the characters they used for that scene. Epic.

This movie deserves a view in the theaters – we saw it in the regular format, not 3D and it was enough. I will admit in 2003 I saw Finding Nemo four times in theaters, but that movie was THAT GOOD. It was a feast for the eyes and the heart. This film takes place mainly in a Sea Life Center and it just isn’t as colorful, bright, nor is it as much fun.

Have you seen the movie? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!