Putting aside my belief that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss secretly intended on using the last two seasons of Game of Thrones as their Kathleen Kennedy-Star Wars audition tape, I find it fascinating that anyone would be surprised at how badly this final season is being dissected and trashed over social media. Never before has a series found itself pummeled to the tune of 750,000+ on-line signatures all demanding an entire show reboot, a complete creative re-write, and probably a cameo appearance from Daniel Craig. What exactly did you think would happen when the showrunners who guided us through the nuances of George R. R. Martin’s creative mind eventually ran out of source material? Losing their golden goose of fantastical ideas should conveniently explain why those who live and breathe the series have joined an unreasonable wave of criticism not seen before; especially ironic considering the 18.4 million viewers who enjoyed the penultimate “The Bells” and are still basking in the orgasmic afterglow of “The Long Night” – both episodes crafted by the Hollywood wizardry of Miguel Sapochnik and his penchant for Spielbergesque cinematography. Yes, this season has been sloppy at times, badly truncated, and paced in a manner that makes The Matrix sequels feel like veritable cinematic masterpieces. And yes, their shameless reliance on CGI flying dragons and post-apocalyptic battles interwoven with deux ex machina moments at every narrative turn is painfully out of place considering the previous six seasons of intricate character development channeled through the greatest assortment of talented journeyman actors (Sean Bean, Stephen Dillane, Aidan Gillen, Mark Addy) ever assembled on television. All good things eventually must come to an end, and I applaud David and Daniel for going out on their own terms amidst the pressure of satiating the critical nature of the masses while never once looking back, safe in the knowledge of how they themselves forged the gold standard for today’s television entertainment.
There’s no doubt in my mind that a certain percentage of the tennis fan population really wants to embrace Nick Kyrgios. He’s young, captivating, and has proven himself to be a mercurial talent who can measure up against the best on any given day; Roger, Rafa, and Djoko would attest to that personally. His competitive nature is the stuff of Greco-Roman fables rooted in his own belief that, in another life – he was probably a grouchy Spartan. And initially, we were willing to put up with his recurring petulance and dizzying flights of pre-pubescence caused by not getting enough love from his mother. But after this latest tantrum directed at the chair umpire during his Italian Open match against Casper Ruud, it was painfully clear that we’ve reached a whole new level of infantilism. At 24, he’s achieved what so very few of us would ever dream of doing and would likely offer their first-born to obtain, and yet he seems completely unwilling to evolve beyond the troglodyte tennis player he’s become. Perhaps the future will be kind and offer us a glimpse of a man whose self-absorbed egotism might be the only thing keeping him from becoming the best tennis player in the world. In the meantime, we’re left to dine on whatever wretchedly pathetic spectacle Nick deems fit to brazenly put on display while those of us with children look on in amazement and seriously rethink how we’ve raised them.
When you hear or read about Ontario News Now, it’s easy to forget how quickly something gets normalized in society and becomes a fact of life overnight. I hate anything that remotely smells like government propaganda. It’s hard enough being pandered to by the tits-and-ass paradigm of aesthetically drive sensationalism that ends up with blonde, chair-throwing condo dwellers looking for their fifteen minutes of fame, or the growing numbers of vile corporations feasting on your most primordial vulnerabilities (lottery, sports betting, vape pens, luxury cars, cable, fast food). But it’s entirely another to use taxpayer money ($6.7 million dollars!) to fund a cult of personality channel, because that’s precisely what it is. Premier Doug Ford’s cronies are like the original pigs at the trough, suckling on the taxpayer’s teat courtesy of a political leader whose primary concern is ensuring that blind loyalty is rewarded – unless of course you’re one of the people who actually voted him in (in which case you get bupkis). I’m sure the Tim Hortons employee who barely makes ends meet earning $15 per hour is thrilled that ONN’s executives get paid $100,000-150,000 working fastidiously to ensure Ontarians have their daily dose of malingering half-truths, populist gobbledygook, and random public cuts to health care and/or education; if it were at least marginally entertaining like Billions or Barry, you could justify this ersatz propaganda machine as a legitimate distraction while friends desperately search for sheltered beds, family doctors, and financial relief.
There’s an inherent shame with winning under circumstances that leave you feeling empty. I’m talking about that moment when you realize that human foresight is meaningless when you don’t learn from your mistakes. Earlier in the week it was painfully obvious to every spectator, player, and sentient air-breathing organism at the Enterprise Center that something had gone horribly wrong. And considering where we now sit with this Sharks-Blues Western Conference final and the magnitude of that overtime goal, you’d think the NHL would have learned their lesson from two decades ago when Brett Hull scored an illegal goal on Dominik Hasek. Yes, that’s right – a goal that never should have counted if the league had the nerve to enforce their own ridiculous policy exhibited during the entirety of the 1998-1999 regular season. A quick recap: the Golden Brett’s left skate found itself in the blue paint that was better known as the verboten zone during his goal in much the way that Timo Meier’s hand pass eventually found Erik Karlsson’s stick and into the back of the net. No matter how you slice it, this was a hockey travesty of the first order. How four (4) professionally-trained hockey referees (with thousands of regular season + hundreds of playoff games under their collective belts) missed a call of this magnitude makes the minds of hockey fans roar with conspiratorial angst and furrowed brow bitterness (unless of course you’re a San Jose booster who just found the pot of gold at the end of this lucky-as-shit rainbow). Surely a quick 20-second emergency review rule that examines game-ending/series-determining goals as a prerequisite would do the trick; why not have the head office in Toronto call down to the refs and literally tell them: “This is not a good goal” or “this is a kosher goal” thus ensuring quality assurance in the very definition of the term. The fallout from this blown call didn’t just hurt our expectations of the game, it also damaged countless of raging on-line gamblers and ravenous sports betters who still believe that San Jose will find a way to blow this series in the end.