Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Bumblebee

And here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how this works, I watch a movie and blog about it.  This time out, we got Bumblebee.  This is in my notes at April 7, 2019.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how it works, I watch a movie and blog about it.  Don't get much more complicated than that.  This time out, I giving Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse a spin.  This is originally in my notes at March 23, 2019.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Amazing Screw-On Head

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the routine, I watch a movie and blog about it.  This time out, we watch the forgotten animated pilot Amazing Screw-On Head.  This was originally in my notes at March 16, 2019.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Welcome Distractions

The Amber Alert woke me up at 5AM.  I don't wanna be one of those "How dare it wake me up!" jerks, but the truth is, I'm hard-wired to be up early for the job.  So if anything wakes me up after 4AM, there's a 99% chance I'm not getting back to sleep.  So after lying awake in bed for about half-an-hour, today was not going to be the 1%, so I got up. 

As I joked before, I wouldn't mind being up so early on Saturdays if Saturday morning cartoons were still a thing, so I went to the streaming services for something good to watch.  I recently learned the 1980s classic Fraggle Rock is now on Amazon Prime, so I've been revisiting some episodes from my youth. 

I was listening to a podcast not too long ago, where they talked to Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady.  One of Prady's first jobs many, many years ago was with the Jim Henson Company, and he worked on Fraggle Rock.  He told the story, on how to help break stories on Fraggle Rock, Jim Henson had left these four questions hanging on the writers' room wall:

1)  Who's the hero?
2)  What do they want?
3)  What's in their way?
4)  What do they learn? 

It's fascinating watching episodes of Fraggle Rock now and breaking down episodes like that.  The first one I watched on Saturday morning went like this:

1)  Who's the hero?  Red.
2)  What does she want?  To put on a swimming show.
3)  What's in her way?  The swimming hole has dried up.
4)  What does she learn?  To ask for help. 

I skipped ahead to the final episode, because it was one of those episodes that haunted me when I was a kid.  Doc, the kindly old inventor whose workshop bordered on the Fraggle world, finally learns of the existence of Fraggles, and becomes fast friends with Gobo, our lead Fraggle.  But, Doc has to move away, just as he's getting to know his new friend.  Broken hearts all around. 

1)  Who's the hero?  Gobo.
2)  What does he want?  To be friends with Doc.
3)  What's in his way?  Doc is moving away.
4)  What does he learn?  Friends will find a way. 

I'm going to have fun re-visiting this show, now that summer rerun season is here and my binging will be increasing. 

But after a leisurely morning catching up with the Fraggles, I got my car and went into the city.  I had my tickets to go see Godzilla: King of the Monsters.  This was interesting.  This wasn't in the big fancy, UltraAVX theatres with assigned seating and all that.  This was more old-school, just show up early and claim a seat.  Why?  Well, I had enough scene points to get my ticket for free this way, that's why. 

I arrived at the city and wandered through the stores with a certain sense of emptiness.  There's really nothing in my life I want or need right now, so I just kind of browsed around.  Plus, money's been pretty tight lately, so I'm trying to firm up that line between "want" and "need" a little more. 

And there's a few things I wanted, sure.  In the Star Wars action figure department, a lot of the Solo merchandise has found its way to discount bins.  But I already have everything I wanted.  Sure, the exclusive four pack is now down to $20 (regular price $40), but do I really need it?  Not even sure I want it for my collection.  And then I decided to pop in at Toys R Us to see the exclusive Last Jedi four pack is also down to $20.  Again, do I need it?  Not even sure I want it.

From there, just some aimless wandering around West Edmonton Mall.  Popped in at the Apple Store, and finally got the attention of a clerk to ask some questions about the latest Apple TV.  I currently have an Apple TV.  It's what I use for watching my Netflix and other streaming services, but I've been thinking about upgrading.  The previous model that I have...well, you're kind of stuck with the dozen or so apps that meet the design specs of the Apple TV.   But the newest generations have a full-blown app store, so if there's an app on your iPhone or iPad, there's a much greater chance it's got an Apple TV app, too.  But still, that $200 price tag does make it more of a "want." 

And then, a quick browse through Sunrise Records.  I was thinking about picking up a certain Blu-Ray.  With me going to see Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I thought it'd be kind of appropriate to pick up the 1998 American Godzilla on Blu-Ray.  Godzilla (1998) holds a special distinction in my movie library:  it's the last one I have yet to upgrade to DVD or Blu-Ray.  It's my last VHS tape.  But, lo and behold, Sunrise Records didn't have it.  I find, when it comes to movie selection, HMV still had Sunrise Records beat. 

But with time killed, it was now time to see Godzilla: King of the Monsters

It's been five years since Godzilla's first appearance.  There's a global debate going with how to deal with these giant monsters...now dubbed Titans.  Monarch -- the shadowy organization that monitors them and is not so shadowy anymore -- wants them to be studied, to see if there's a way to co-exist with them.  The military wants to wipe them out.  Caught in the middle is the Russel family, who lost their son during Godzilla's first appearance.  The parents were both Monarch scientists.  The father, Mark, walked away, going back to nature and studying wolves.  The mother, Emma, doubled-down, and has invented a device called the Orca that would allow communication with, and maybe even control over, the Titans.  But, Mark is called back into service when Emma is kidnapped by eco-terrorists who want to use the Orca to unleash all the monsters.  First one they release:  Ghidora, who was Godzilla's only challenger to be the top of the food chain back in the day.  Now, with the other revived titans falling under Ghidora's sway, the humans realize the only way to survive might be to help Godzilla.  In the battle between Godzilla and Ghidora, who will be crowned king of the monsters? 

This movie is just fun.  For those who complained that the last Godzilla film didn't have enough monster battles, well, this one will give you your fill.  Not only is Ghidora here, but Mothra and Rodan.  There's enough callbacks and Easter eggs to the original Japanese franchise to make you smile.  Even in the music, in which each giant monster's theme is lovingly brought back. 

A few quibbles though.  I mean, I know it's because it makes the computer animation cheaper and easier, but why do all these monster battles have to take place at night, in the rain?  And yeah, as with most giant monster films, the human story does drag a bit. 

But I still had a really good time.  Three out of four nibs, full review at the website

And then, I was heading home, but first, I thought I'd stop for supper.  I decided to hit up Popeyes Chicken again.  Now that there is one on the north side that I drive by a lot of the time and is easier to get to.  As I've blogged before, they do two different kinds of combos:  there's the combo, which gets you one side dish and a medium drink, and the platter, which gets you two side dishes and a large drink.  I've been hitting the platters on every visit, the logic being, "I don't know when I'll be back, so I'd better sample everything!"  But I've been by enough times now I think I can start going with combos.  Went with the spicy chicken tenders, and for sides, the onion rings and coleslaw.  I think this was my first time trying the spicy chicken.  Didn't really notice it, or else the ranch dipping sauce I went with was good enough at cancelling it out. 

So, yeah.  As cool as Popeyes Chicken is, I think it's time to find a new fast food obsession in Edmonton.  I've only ever had Five Guys once, and I was in a bad mood when I did that, so I never really fully appreciated it.  (It was the day of the escape room debacle...don't ask.)  So maybe Five Guys needs to be the new one I need to quest to.  Failing that, I hear Jollibee is coming to Edmonton this fall. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Backdraft

Here we are once again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how it works:  I watch a movie I own and blog about it, because it gives some semblance of purpose to my life.  This time out, I'm doing Backdraft.  This is in my notes at March 15, 2019.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Ralph Breaks the Internet

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie and blog about it.  I've been doing this for eight years now, so if you haven't figured it out yet...well, thanks for stumbling across my blog!  Today, I'm doing Ralph Breaks the Internet.  I originally watched it and blogged about it on March 10, 2019.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Phantom Menace at 20

Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace just celebrated it's 20th anniversary.  And if there's one thing that's making me midlife crisis hard this year, it's that fact.  Firstly, the prequels are now as old as the original trilogy when the Special Editions came out.  For all we know, if George Lucas were still running the show, we might be getting prequel special editions this year.

And secondly, it now means it's been 20 years since I finished college.  As I've blogged before, Episode I pretty much served as our grad party.  Most of my final semester in college was about the countdown to that film.  When that legendary trailer first dropped, I talked one of my professors into letting us use that newfangled projector in the lecture hall to watch it on the big screen.  Hell, being a physics major, a lot of my friends were computer science majors.  (You have to take a lot of math courses in both disciplines, so we wound up in a lot of the same math classes.)  The night that trailer dropped, their pals in the campus IT department noted there was a massive uptick in network usage that night.

Graduation from Augustana University College (now known as the Augustan Campus of the University of Alberta) was that first weekend in May.  I was back a week later to buy my tickets.  That's another advance in film marketing that Episode I brought about.  It was the first movie that did advance tickets.  Nowadays, it's par for the course that tickets for a much-hyped blockbuster go on sale several months before the release.  But, for Phantom Menace, tickets went on sale a full week before the film came out, and that blew minds.

Online ticketing wasn't a thing yet, either, so on the morning of May 12, 1999, I was at the Duggan Cinemas in Camrose at 9AM to stand in line for tickets.  They went on sale at 1PM.  And...I was already third in line.  But still, some friends came to hang out with me.  The soundtrack had come out a week before, so we were cranking up Duel of the Fates.  My only regret is that I didn't bring a) a chair, and b) my copy of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, as playing it would have been a great way to pass the time.

Anyway, I got my tickets.  Got interviewed by the Camrose Canadian, as apparently coming all the way down from Entwistle made me newsworthy.

And then, a week later, on May 19th, I was back to watch The Phantom Menace.  And again, we stood in line for hours.  We all got tickets to the 7PM show, so we spent the whole day unofficially standing in line (the cinema wouldn't let us stand in line for the 7PM show until about 5PM or so), so "unofficial standing in line" consisted of hanging out the Duggan Mall in Camrose.

The moment came.  We all gathered in the theatre.  When the title came up, it was the first time I'd ever heard a movie theatre cheer.  And we watched the film.

I came out of the film having loved each and every single moment.  I thought it was just beautiful filmmaking.  But some of my friends...well, looking back now, I recognize the shock on their faces.  I remember asking one of my friends -- the Star Wars superfan who had devoured every novel and comic book -- I remember jokingly asking him, "So, how many books did it contradict?"

He just looked at me and said, "It's not that.  It's...it's...bah!"  And he walked off.

Here's another thing people tend not to remember.  Initial response to The Phantom Menace was ecstatic.  People loved it for its first few weeks of release.  The hatred and the backlash didn't really begin until after it had been out for a month, and people started seeing that it really didn't hold up on multiple viewings.  I wound up seeing in the theatre three times -- still a record for how many times I've seen a film in the theatre.  I saw it again on July 7, declaring it my birthday movie that year.  And I saw it again in January of 2000.  Me and my friend were going to see Fight Club but it wasn't playing at the loonie theatre anymore, so we looked at each other and said, "Episode I again?"  And we did.

And now, here we are, twenty years later.  It's the middle of a long weekend, so I figured I would sit down and binge-watch the entire prequel trilogy to commemorate.  I'd never done a binge-watch of the prequels.  Hell, it's even been ages since I did a binge-watch of the original trilogy.  I think the last time I binged the original trilogy was in the spring of 1999, as me and a few friends decided to do it to prep for Phantom Menace.  So, that's how I spent May 19, 2019.  I cleared my schedule.  Skipped all my exercising.  And watched the prequels.

What now follows is my twitter thread after re-watching Phantom Menace:

"In my prequel binge, just finished Phantom Menace.  News flash:  I don't hate it.  The countdown to Episode I dominated my final year of college.  That film is deeply tied to my nostalgia for those days.  Podrace is still pretty cool.  Obi-Wan vs. Darth Maul is still the best lightsabre fight.  Watching it again, I forgot how front-loaded it is.  The first 20 minutes is nothing but action as we get off Naboo.  And the first ever massive CGI armies climax that now dominates films.  So, yeah.  Phantom Menace.  I don't hate it."

Before tying into Attack of the Clones, I thought I'd take a break from the binging and order lunch.  Decided to treat myself to pizza.  I miss pizza.  It's not that I swore off it or anything.  When I started eating healthier a year ago and started doing more meal prep and such, I just don't think to order it anymore.  Since I tend to use apps to order online, I can track how often I order pizza.  I last did it on New Years Day, again, to fuel a day-off movie binge.

Anyways, I'm still enough of a small town boy that ordering food to be delivered is kinda foreign to me, so I had to leave my house to go pick up the pizzas.  Got the pizza from Dominos.  Only on the way over did I remember that Pizza Hut/KFC/Taco Bell had the tie-in for Episode I, so I guess I should have gone to Pizza Hut for historical accuracy.  Or get a bucket of KFC.

Man, the merchandise for Episode I.  I didn't really bother with the Pepsi cans, because it seemed like my corner store didn't have a wide enough selection.  Besides, with Doritos being my #1 snack, what I did collect a lot of was the mini trading cards in every bag of Doritos.  I used them to make a frame around my computer monitor.

Pizza in hand, I sat down with a couple of slices and fired up Attack of the Clones.  What follows if my twitter thread after re-watching:

"Attack of the Clones.  Easily the most problematic of the prequels.  10 years ago, a dead Jedi ordered the creation of a clone army, at around the same time the chancellor pushing for the creation of an army came to power.  Does this not raise any red flags?  The Anakin/Padme romance could have been played much better.  He goes from chill to rageaholic in the blink of an eye.  Does this not raise any red flags?  And forget Last Jedi not answering anything.  It's been seventeen years.  WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHO SIFO DIAS IS?  But there is still good.  The Jango Fett/Obi-Wan space battle...the monsters on Geonosis.  My method to make the prequels better is they should have been buddy cop movies, and we get a bit of that in the beginning.  But yeah.  Attack of the Clones.  I saw it back-to-back with the first Spider-Man."

And after that, it was straight into Revenge of the Sith.  My twitter thread:

"Revenge of the Sith.  Hands down, the best of the prequels.  People rag on them for their flat acting, but everyone's trying really hard this time to bring this to an end.  Some real artistry, too.  Anakin and Padme staring across the city pondering their fates...the Order 66 montage...the dual birth of the twins/birth of Darth Vader.  But still, "she's just lost the will to live," remains the laziest death in the franchise.  Oh!  And that opening space battle.  Almost James Bond-ian, the way they open with wrapping up their latest caper."

And that's how I spent my long weekend.  Revisiting the prequels and weeping for my lost youth.  I'm seeing a lot of the prequels in the real world right now.  Avengers: Endgame is still riding high, and reading all the interviews with the cast and crew, highlighting background details, really reminds me of that first month after Phantom Menace, when there was still nothing but love for that film.

Twenty years ago, for about a month, there was nothing but love Episode I.  We had a new Star Wars movie, I had just finished college...I had nothing but optimism for the future!  Whatever happened to that world?