Oct 30, 2014
On 1 November 1461, Richard Plantagenet, more famously known by his later alias of Richard III of England, was granted the dukedom of Gloucester. In honor of the five hundred and fifty-third anniversary of this momentous, earth-shattering occasion happening in two days, this post is dedicated to Richard III! Rock on, Richard!! White boars forever!!! Of course, since this is ostensibly a figure skating blog, I will endeavor to rope figure skating in here somehow.
But first, a backgrounder on Richard III before we proceed. Though unfairly maligned for centuries by Tudor propagandists such as Shakespeare, the reputation of Richard III has undergone extensive rehabilitation during recent years, no doubt helped by revisionist historiography and the tireless efforts of hard-working Ricardians. The surest sign of Richard III's reputational rehabilitation is evidenced by the evolution of his fictional portrayal through time: Richard III went from being portrayed as an ugly, physically-deformed and unscrupulous antagonist in Shakespeare's play Richard III to the misunderstood, brooding heartthrob played by Aneurin Barnard in the recent television series The White Queen. Anyway, Richard III's reputation has suffered for centuries due for three reasons:
1) Seizing the throne from his nephew Edward V after his brother Edward IV died
2) Widespread suspicion that he was involved in the mysterious disappearances of his nephews Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York
3) Having his throne seized by right of conquest from Henry Tudor (AKA Henry VII) and the Tudors needing to justify their reigns by demonizing Richard III
But all that is water under the bridge now. In honor of Richard III, let's go through the figure skating world and evaluate how its denizens are inspired by/carrying out his honorable legacy:
Oct 26, 2014
Keeping with the general theme of the men's discipline over the past few seasons, the men's competition at Skate America 2014 veered into splatfast territory, particularly during the long program. Luckily for the (mostly) hapless men of Skate America, they have the excuse of skating early in the season. Better luck next outing!
Oct 25, 2014
Some comments on the top 3 ladies short programs at Skate America 2014....
The downward trajectory of Elizaveta Tutkamysheva has been painful to watch over the past few seasons, particularly as she is a Russian ladies skater: one gets the sense that Ms. Tuktamysheva would literally be trampled afoot by the hordes of talented Russian ladies skaters clawing their way up to the podium. After failing to make the Russian Olympic team at her home Olympics, Ms. Tuktamysheva has clearly buckled down and worked hard to improve her skating. Skating to Bolero while dressed in a dark, bat-winged dress (the wings presumably in tribute to Christopher Dean), Ms. Tuktmaysheva placed first in the short program with a clean skate. Ms. Tuktamysheva's choreography has a jerky quality rather incongruous with the music of Bolero, but her jumps looked very good, and she skated the entire performance with a sort of confidence, conviction and speed that has often been missing from her skating for the past couple of seasons.
Oct 14, 2014
Daisuke Takahashi announced his official retirement from competitive figure skating today. This is no surprise to any sentient being who has been keeping tabs on the skating world (except, perhaps, for some mild surprise upon hearing that a skater is actually explicitly announcing his retirement instead of taking an indefinite "break" from competitive figure skating), but inevitability is no panacea for the attendant peculiarities of loss. Instead of moping, however, let's look back at some of Mr. Takahashi's best performances, and drink a toast--to Daisuke Takahashi, for the exceptional skater he has become, and for all the pleasure and joy he has given his fans and the skating world.
Aug 17, 2014
In an article from the New Yorker, Richard Brody discusses music that has personally been ruined for him association with questionable films--specifically, Lars von Trier's ham-fisted use of various beloved classical pieces in Nymphomanic. I certainly can empathise: to me, Prokofiev's otherwise delightful Dance of the Knights from Romeo and Juliet is forever bound up with the luridly torturous experience of watching Tinto Brass' Caligula. Listening to music, as Mr. Brody rightfully points out, is a highly personal experience and there comes a point when it is impossible to dissociate a piece of music from a personal experience--whether that be a film, a specific person, a figure skating performance.
So, what pieces of music have been ruined for me via association with thoroughly unpleasant figure skating programs?