Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, July 31, 2003

WOO! Finding Nemo just kicked The Lion King's ass and became the #1 animated film of all time! Let's hope that Pixar can finally renegotiate their deal with Disney. See, under the current deal, Pixar and Disney split everything - profits and expenses - 50/50. Pixar wants that to change to where they get all the profits, pay all the expenses, and just pay Disney a flat rate for distribution. It's the same deal Lucasfilm has with 20th Century Fox for the Star Wars films.

I did some more window shopping at Star Trek Toys. They actually have one of the more obscure Star Trek action figures that I want, and they have it for a decent price too. See, the Star Trek figures of the 1990s were made by Playmates Toys. Playmates dominated toy shelves in the late 80s and early 90s with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. So, in the early 90s, there was a brief overlap where Playmates made both Star Trek and Ninja Turtles. Obviously, Playmates saw money to be made and combined the two. That's right, they made a brief line of Star Trek Ninja Turtles. This set of four figures featured Leonardo as Captain Kirk, Donatallo as Spock, Rapheal as Bones, and Michaelangelo as Scotty. Why they never bothered with Klingon Captain Shredder or Orion Slave Girl April O'Neil we'll never know. But still, being a Turtles fan at the time, and with Donatello being my favourite, I did kind of desire the Donatello as Spock figure.

In case you're curious, my Star Trek action figure wish list runs like this:

The Doctor from Star Trek Voyager
General Chang from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Donatello as Mr. Spock from that Star Trek Ninja Turtles line
The Borg Queen from Star Trek First Contact

I'd also kind of like to get an Ezri Dax figure. They never made one. Can you believe it? Sadly, the final season of Deep Space Nine happened in a grey period when no one was making Star Trek figures.

Next issue...the Lives of Dax

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Well, now it's Wednesday. For those interested in the follow-up, I saw Terminator 3, which was actually a lot better than I expected, and Tomb Raider 2, which was about what I expected. I also wound up going to Toys R Us and buying some of the leftover Star Trek Nemesis action figures. I know the movie was all "meh," but they were cool toys! Besides, I first got into collecting action figures with the Star Trek ones. For some reason, they became really hard-to-find around 1995. I'm a little thrilled that there's finally new product on the shelves.

Sadly, they became really hard-to-find right when the Star Trek: Voyager toys came out. I still want the Doctor for my collection. I occasionally look for him on eBay, seeing if someone is willing to part with his/hers. I also found this online store that sells nothing but Star Trek toys, which is appropriatly called, Star Trek Toys. I can buy the Doctor from them for $80 US. Call me cheap, but I won't pay that much for a collectable action figure until I have so much money that I can wipe my ass with silk, to quote whathisname from The Matrix Reloaded.

Next issue...The Doctor Lives!

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Still debating how to spend my Tuesday. I was thinking about heading into Edmonton, picking up Daredevil on DVD, doing some more in-person bitching about my laptop not being fixed, and doing a double feature day. The only problem is, what movies should I see? I was thinking Tomb Raider 2, but lackluster reviews are turning me off. I still have a morbid curiosity about Terminator 3. And then there's the surprise hit of the summer, Pirates of the Carribean. Any suggestions? You have 9 hours to e-mail me.

Next issue...Excitement in the Mall

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Trouble had this up at her website, and it looked like fun, so I thought I'd do it. She, in turn, got it from here. So, without further ado....

1. If your life were a movie, what would the title be?
Since I'm planning on writing a book about my life, the movie would probably have the same title: The Life and Times of the Scarecrow.

2. What songs would be on the soundtrack?
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - Monty Python
The Rainbow Connection - Kermit the Frog
Tryin' To Get to New Orleans - The Tractors
A Hard Day's Night - The Beatles
Pinch Me - Barenaked Ladies
UHF, Dare to be Stupid, Everything You Know Is Wrong, You Make Me, Genius In France - "Weird Al" Yankovic
The Japanese closing credits theme for series 5 of Pokemon
...and a Danny Elfman score

3. Would it be a live-action film or animated? Why?
Live action, of course, because I don't think animation is the right medium. We're going for more of an American Beauty vibe.

4. Casting: who would play you, members of your family, friends, etc?
Hmmm.... Never thought about me until I started thinking about this. Everyone else is easy.

Me - Tobey Maguire

Dad - Leslie Neilsen
Mom - Jane Kaczmerick
Brother - John Goodman
Sister - Alicia Witt
Sister-in-Law - Courtney Thorne-Smith

Mr. Anderson (formerly Chuck) - Ben Affleck
Yves (formerly L) - Christina Ricci
The Horny Wisconciner - Topher Grace
Trouble - Marina Sirtis
Darmok - Brent Spiner
Streiff - Dominic Keating

Influential People Who'd Be a Crime to Leave Out:
My high school phys ed teacher - Christopher Meloni
My high school math/science teacher - Julie Andrews
My high school English teacher - David Ogden Stires
An amalgimation of every positive trait of my university professors - Rene Auberjenois
My univeristy foil/arch-rival - Danny Masterson
My boss at Extra Foods - Cameryn Manheim
My head teacher in Japan - Ming-Na
My coolest co-worker in Japan - B.D. Wong
My unrequited love from university - Joan Cusak
And, as the voice of the mysterious, shadowy dream woman, Tara Strong.

5. Describe the movie preview/trailer.
American Beauty-style music begins to play. Helicopter shot of Entwistle. The Tobey Maguire voice over begins: "This is my home. I've lived here most of my life. There's nothing for me here. There's never been anything for me here. I keep trying to leave...." Thus begins the montage of various highlights from my 26 years of life, before we cut to the final shot of Tobey Maguire on my front porch, "But something keeps pulling me back." The title appears on screen. Fade out. The final words apear on screen: "Attempt the Escape. This Christmas."

See, I currently have no life, so I just kind of sit around planning this.

Next issue...the Sequel!

Saturday, July 26, 2003

The new bio I threw together for my real website.

Next issue...Home Alone 27

Friday, July 25, 2003

Long story short: I owe the government $292.74.

The long story: Back in March I was running around like a chicken with it's head cut off trying to figure out whether I had to pay taxes or not. What I ultimatley did was send off a special audit form to Revenue Canada to determine my residency status. I've been waiting for a reply ever since. Today, I get this bill from the government for $292.74 and it's marked "past due." I go "wha? I never got the first one! What's this about?" I reach into the box Mom has in the corner here labeled "Mark's mail I was going to forward to him but didn't because he'll be home soon," thinking that the first bill would be inside saying why I have to pay this. The first letter I find from Revenue Canada is dated May 9. I skim it. It's the results of my audit and it says I was not a Canadian resident, ergo I don't have to pay taxes on my Japanese earnings. Yay! I find a second letter dated May 30, also from Revenue Canada. It says, "It has come to our attention that from June 2002 to April 2003, you were not a resident of Canada. Therefore, we shouldn't have sent you all of those GST rebate cheques. We want our money back. You owe us...$292.74." The first bill.

So, yeah. Governments are evil. They just take our money and give it to big business. They'll be sorry when the revolution comes....

Next issue...The Revolution!...Canceled Due to Snow

Thursday, July 24, 2003

I've been wasting way too much time on my new addiction: Lego Racers. It's a video game I tried on my cousin's PlayStation, and I just fished it out of a discount bin for PC. It's a racing game in the style of Super Mario Kart and all that. You race little Lego cars down little Lego World tracks. And thing is, because it's Lego, you build your own car. I've built four so far: Scarecrow, Easy Rider, Boxcar Willie, and Knightman. Boxcar is simply a big block on wheels. And know what? It's the best one I've built.

And see, thing is, because it's Lego, you don't unlock cars when you win. No. You unlock Lego sets to build your cars. You start with the standards: Basic, Town, Space, and Castle. So far, I've unlocked Pirate, Tropical Island, a second Castle, and two versions of that Johnny Thunder adventure. It's just so darn addictive. Anyway, off to build a fifth car!

Next issue...Attack of the Knightman!

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

*sigh* There's always something depressing about returning from a 3-day road trip and finding you have no e-mail from your friends. Not even from your best friend, whom you obsessivly e-mail 3 times a day. I often morbidly wonder how long he'd have to go with no e-mail from me before he sends me a "Dude, you alive?" message.

But then, I don't have to wonder. I know. It takes one week. A few years back, I left on the spur-of-the-moment to join my family on a camping trip. We left on Wednesday, and were back the next Wednesday. I booted up my computer that evening, and there it was: "To: Mark. Subject: Where are you? I miss you!" Ahh, for the days when I had a life and he didn't.

But I'm back now. After being home in Canada for a month, I figured it was time to go see the grandparents and show them I'm alive and well. So are they.

Next issue...Dr. Octopus Stikes! (And the Canadian Postal Workers)

Friday, July 18, 2003

Well, I spent a wonderful waste of an afternoon watching Star Trek on DVD. I found this really great cut scene from Nemesis. It was only 1 minute long; I don't know why they had to cut it. Essentially, as the Enterprise-E prepares for battle, Picard goes down to sickbay and has a moment with Dr. Crusher. He laments how he's always felt uneasy when this ship of exploration becomes a ship of war. Snip, snip.

And in another crime against humanity, Stan Lee, coming off of his "success" with Stripperella, has another idea for a superhero cartoon that is essentially a collection of jiggly boob jokes. Hef's Superbunnies features Hugh Hefner dispatching Playboy bunnies on all kinds of crime-fighting missions around the world. As Cinescape put it, it sounds like a more risque version of Charlie's Angels.

Stripperella, in case you're not watching it, stars Pamela Anderson as a stripper named Erotica, who also fights crime as super-secret agent 0069, code named Stripperella. It's trying to be The Tick, but it replaces genuine wit with jiggly boob jokes.

Next issue...More Jiggly Boob Jokes.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

It's official. I need to buy my own house. Why? Because my mean ol' parents won't let me build my home theatre. My first attempt at getting my own house didn't go so well. One night, around the dinner table, I looked at my parents and said, "Mom. Dad. MOVE OUT OF MY HOUSE!" They just laughed. So, I guess I'll just have to buy one.

Speaking of buying stuff, next time I'm in a bookstore I think I'll have to get The Martians by Kim Stanley Robinson. When I was in Japan, Streiff sent me Robinson's Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) and I found it to be a fascinating read. The Martians isn't as much as a sequel as it is a companion. See, each novel is divided into sections, and each section is told from the POV of a specific character. In The Martians, Robinson thinks, "Well, you know, in that section, I never mentioned this character at all. I think I'll write a short story about what he/she was doing during that time...." And it's stuff like that. I think I'll enjoy it.

Next issue...Darth Randall Strikes!

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Yay! The 2-disc special edition of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier comes out in October! Among the bonus features will be test footage of the Rock Monster. Are you familiar with this story? At the climax of #5, the energy being that claims to be God gets all pissy and starts hurling lightening bolts at Capt. Kirk. Originally, the faux-God was going to create a Rock Monster to hunt down Capt. Kirk. Only problem was, the animatronic Rock Monster that was created was sooooooooo phony that they didn't use it. They hoped to put in a stop-motion animated Rock Monster later, but they ran out of money and they couldn't afford to put in any Rock Monsters.

When this DVD project was first announced, Director and star William Shatner did ask if he could go and put in a computer animated Rock Monster, because now it could be done so cheaply. But, Paramount said, "Nope. #5 is the biggest bomb of the series. It's not worth the trouble."

But, we'll get to see what little of the Rock Monster was filmed.

Next issue...Wrath of the Rock Monsters

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Well, I was going to not bother doing this, but then when I saw Finding Nemo with Trouble the other day, she tells me that she's reading these, mainly because she doesn't have cable TV and can't watch these for herself. With that in mind, here's what happened on last week's two episodes of the new He-Man:

Snake Pit - We open deep with in the dungeons of the Palace of Eternia. With the assistance of his reptillian sidekick, Kobra Kahn manages to escape. This causes great distress for Man-At-Arms, and he soon calls Teela and Prince Adam to his side to explain why Kobra Kahn is so dangerous. Kobra Kahn, you see, is the last survivng Snake Man. Centuries ago, the Snake Men were a viscious warrior race who, under the leadership of their ruler King Hiss, just about managed to enslave all of Eternia. But, thanks to Eternia's Council of Elders and the mysitcal alien warrior known as Zodac, the Snake Men were banished into the the Void. The entry door to the Void is deep within the heart of the Snake Men's old stronghold - Snake Mountain. Man-At-Arms, Prince Adam, and Teela make off for Zodac's remote mountain shrine, knowing they will need Zodac's help in this battle. Meanwhile, Kobra Kahn makes his way to Snake Mountain, intent on freeing his bretheren. There, he pledges his loyalty to Skeletor, but it is all a ruse to gain access to Snake Mountain. Back with our heroes, Man-At-Arms, Adam and Teela have found Zodac and informed him of the situation. Zodac understands and charges off into battle - alone. This troubles and offends Adam and Teela, but Man-At-Arms understands. King Hiss, you see, killed Zodac's brother. Our heroes pursue Zodac anyway, knowing he'll need help eventually. Zodac arrives at Snake Mountain and proceeds to break down the doors and mop the floor with Skeletor's henchmen. Seeing his opportunity, Kobra Kahn sneaks away in the chaos to the Void. Zodac easily restrains Skeletor and his forces and goes off after Kobra Kahn. Skeletor, however, manages to escape and follows Zodac. Finally, Man-At-Arms, Teela, and Adam arrive. They sprint past all of Skeletor's restrained henchmen and make their way to the Void, where they find Zodac. But it is too late. Kobra Kahn has opened the Void. The first one to crawl out is King Hiss's general, Rattlor. Rattlor brings with him a squadron of his finest Snake Men soldiers, and the battle ensues. As the battle begins, Adam sneaks off to become He-Man. So, we've got Zodac, He-Man, Man-At-Arms, and Teela slugging it out with an army of Snake Men. At this point, Skeletor shows up, impressed that Kobra Kahn has recruited the Snake Men for his own forces. Kobra Kahn plays along for a while, but soon Skeletor sees where Kobra Kahn's true loyalties lie. The battle rages as more Snake Men soldiers crawl out of the Void. The battle gets more and more intense, and soon, He-Man himself plummets into the Void. He-Man hits the ground hard and is knocked unconscious. Snake Men soldiers pick up He-Man's body, and drag him in offering to King Hiss. Zodac jumps into the Void, intent on saving He-Man. He-Man wakes up just in time to see King Hiss's shadowy form emerging from the Void. This is when Zodac arrives and frees He-Man. Zodac wants to stay behind and avenge his brother, but He-Man says, "Either we all go home or no one goes home." He-Man and Zodac leave together, leaving King Hiss in the Void. When they get outside, they see that Man-At-Arms, Teela, and Skeletor have been keeping busy battling the Snake Men. Knowing it's time to end this, Zodac jams his staff into the Void's lock, and the Void begins sucking the Snake Men back in. But it's not powerful enough. He-Man jams in his sword along side Zodac's staff, and begins pouring the Power of Greyskull into the Void. The Void soon manages to pull all the Snake Men back in, and the Void is resealed. But, Kobra Kahn and General Rattlor managed to stay out and they sneak off into the darkness. Skeletor allows our heroes to return home. Back at the palace, Zodac admits that he was a fool to try and take on the Snake Men by himself. He-Man offers his understanding, and Zodac becomes a Master of the Universe.

I thought this week's second episode, Trust, was a little lame. Besides, it's getting late. I'll transcribe it tomorrow.

Next issue...The Story to End Some Stories

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Just picked up Star Trek Nemesis on DVD. Ya know, when I saw that film, I thought it to be a colossal let-down. It was just the best of the previous movies recycled into one. As the Barenaked Ladies sang, "It's all been done." Nemesis came out in Japan in mid-April, so I saw it within weeks of seeing X2. Right there is a great comparison. I just felt more at the death of Jean Grey than I did at the death of Data. It's strange how the hands of certain filmmakers made me care more about a character I had only known for two movies rather, and yet certain filmmakers can also make me feel completely indifferent towards a character I had loved and known for 15 years.

But anyway, today's rant is the new trend towards flavoured beverages. It started a year ago, shortly before I left for Japan. Cherry Pepsi, Lemon Pepsi, and Code Red Mountain Dew had been introduced. Now that I'm back, we've got: Cherry Pepsi, Lemon Pepsi, Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, Tropical Fruit 7-Up, Mint Sprite, and Mountain Dew in green, red, and blue. You know, people, you can't improve on imperfection. Pepsi, Coke, 7-Up, Sprite and Mountain Dew all suck. You can't make them better by adding MORE chemicals. Give it up. I tend to try one out of curiousity and then go, "Yup. It sucks," and go back to Dr. Pepper.

(Although, I really miss the wide variety of iced teas I enjoyed in Japan. I'd kill for a nice cold cup of milk tea right about now.)

So, to the cola companies: stop it, OK? We don't need 4 kinds of Pepsi, 6 kinds of Coke, and, least of all, 27 kinds of Mountain Dew.

In a completely unreleated story, I added some Enterprise action figures to my collection today. I got Hoshi Sato and T'Pol. When all else fails, go for the hot chicks.

Next issue...The Needs of the Many

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

As I stand in the middle of my room and look around at all of my collectable action figures mounted on the wall, I can't help but think this thought:

"Someday, I am going to have a house. And in my house, I will have a room. In this room, I will put my desk. I will cover the walls with my collectable action figures. There will be a bookshelf along one wall where I put my boxed action figures. My computer will sit on the desk, and this will be the room where I write my best selling novels and/or screenplays. And I will call this room...the computer room. Why? Cuz my computer's in it."

Next issue...More f**king action figures
I have been 26 year old for a day now. I did absolutly nothing for my birthday. I just kind of sat around the house, trying to drive myself insane. I'd think weird thoughts, like "Wow. The majority of my DVDs are animated films. What kind of 26 year old has more animated movies on DVD than a soccer mom?" I'm always reminded of what some guy said in an Ain't It Cool News message board: "Who should we be more worried about: the man who rents 8 hours of porn, or the man who rents 8 hours of Disney films?"

But, at least being back in a small town, it's easy to get embroilled in small town politics, especially when you're a passionate young man with a lot of free time. Today's small town political issue is the Entwistle Public Library. Did you know that the Entwistle Public Library has purchased no new books in the past 3 years? Add to that the fact that the Regional Library Board has done an audit of the Entwistle Library and determined that 92% of the library's books are too old to be lent out and/or out of date. (And they have serious doubts about the remaining 8%.) It's not that they don't have the money. The problem is the three little old ladies who comprise Entwistle's Library Board are hoarding their money and don't see any need to bring the library into the 20th Century. (That's not a typo. I'm being sarcastic.)

Ya know, a year and a half ago, I made the New Year's Resolution to read more. To fill such a goal, naturally the first stop I made was the library. I haven't been back since. Do you know why? Because one afternoon of browsing told me that they have nothing I want; that I'd be better off driving the one hour into Edmonton and dropping $100 at Chapters each month. And that's just not right.

Next issue...Mark vs. Hulk

Monday, July 07, 2003

I feel like posting something but I don't know what. I know! Following the pattern established last week, let's give you synopses of the latest episodes of the new He-Man cartoon. Well, the latest ones I've seen:

Buzz Off's Pride - His queen's royal jubilee is coming up, so Buzz Off heads off the village of Viradis to get his queen's favourite food: honeyberries. Viradis, you see, is home to the Crystal of Prasinus, which makes their produce ripe all year round and grow to phenomenal proportions. Orko tags along with Buzz Off, but they find the bridge to Viradis being guarded by a big, evil giant who's terrorizing all who tries to cross it. Buzz Off, Master of the Universe that he is, tries to battle the giant, but the giant easily whips Buzz Off's buggy butt. Buzz Off retreats to the Eternia palace and makes Orko vow never to talk of his defeat. A few minutes later, Man At Arms hears of giants terrorizing Viradis, so he, Prince Adam, Ram Man, and Buzz Off go off to battle the giants. When they assess the situation, Adam sneaks off to become He-Man. Buzz Off, consumed with vengeance, goes after the giant who defeated him in battle. This giant leads Buzz Off away, leaving He-Man, Ram Man, and Man At Arms short-handed. The other two giants make short work of these three, lay waste to the village, and make off with the Crystal of Prasinus. Our three heroes begin rescuing the civillians when Buzz Off returns. Buzz Off sees the damage that happened because he was off trying to heal his wounded pride rather than help out with the battle. Having learned a valuable lesson about one of the seven deadly sins, Buzz Off heads off on his own, on a stealth mission, to recover the Crystal and redeem himself. He goes to the giant's cottage, and this time, he doesn't let their taunts faze him. He flies around the room, making the giants trip over themselves, swipes the Crystal, and escapes through the chimeny. He returns it to Viradis where he apologizes to the other Masters for his behaviour, and the villagers offer to reward him for his action. He turns down their reward, but does at last buy some honeyberries for his queen.

Roboto's Gambit - (I was looking forward to this one because I had Roboto when I was a kid and he was one of my favourites.) Man-E-Faces in his robot form is an unbeatable chess player. So, to provide him with an equal, Man At Arms builds a chess playing android that he names Roboto. Roboto proves to be a chess player equal to Man-E-Faces, but the Masters go off on patrol, leaving Roboto alone in the castle. Meanwhile, Tri Klops is demonstrating his latest weapon of mass destruction to Skeletor: tiny skeleton warriors that double their numbers when you destroy them. But, when these skeleton warriors start fighting each other, Skeletor laughs at this weapon and sends Tri Klops on his way. We cut to Prince Adam and Teela, doing some sparring on the outskirts of the kingdom, while Sy-Klone offers some sage warrior advice. At this point, Tri Klops attacks them with his skeleton warriors. He wants to prove to Skeletor that they will work. They easily overwhelm Adam and Teela, so Sy-Klone stays behind to hold them off while Adam and Teela head to the palace to rally the troops. When they arrive at the palace, Adam sneaks off to become He-Man. He-Man orders Teela and the Eternian guard to stay behind and protect the castle while he and Battle Cat go off to assist Sy-Klone. As Teela inspects her troops, she is stunned to see Roboto among their ranks. Roboto says that he has skills as a warrior, and wants to help, but Teela dismisses him as being nothing but a game playing robot and sends him on his way. Roboto heads off to Man At Arm's lab, where he upgrades his body from that of a mere chess player to an ass kicking warrior. Again, he tries to join Teela's troops, but Teela still dismisses him as nothing but a game player. Back on the frontlines, He-Man, Battle Cat, and Sy-Klone are starting to get overwhelmed by the skeleton warriors. No matter how many they smash, more just rise up. Tri Klops begins thinking, "Who needs Skeletor? I'll take the palace for myself!" Back at the palace, Roboto has been scanning the battle field with his sensors. He finally spots Tri Klops - and his control device. He deduces that the control device must be the key to deactivating these skeleton warriors. He tries to tell this to Teela, but Teela just keeps telling him that robots can't be warriors. Finally pissed off with Teela, Roboto charges to the frontline to tell this to He-Man personally. With this new information, He-Man goes after Tri Klops while Roboto stays behind to draw away the skeleton warriors. He-Man and Tri Klops duke it out, and He-Man gets the control device and shuts down the skeleton warriors. But, it's too late. The skeleton warriors have rendered Roboto offline. Teela is stunned and saddend by this. Roboto's heroic actions have proved her wrong, and now she can't apologize to Roboto. Oh, if only she had followed Sy-Klone's wisdom! But, Man At Arms has a surprise for Teela. He has repaired Roboto, and Teela welcomes Roboto to the team of Masters of the Universe. Back at Snake Mountain, Skeletor decides to punish Tri Klops for his failure and treachery by making Tri Klops fight his own skeleton warriors.

In a completely unrelated story, it's July 7. It's my 26th birthday. I'll celebrate in the usual way: contemplating whether I should blow my head off or just go bowling. Usually, I go bowling.

Next issue...the Adventures of the 26 year old Virgin.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Hmm. Now that I'm back home in Canada, I feel more interested in following Japanese movie news. I was reading today that over 1,000,000 advance tickets for Pokemon 6 have been sold. It opens in Japan in two weeks. If only I stayed for two more months!

This kind of slides in what happned to me today. While I was in Japan, I loved to eat the Pokemon-brand pastries. All kinds of Pokemon-style Twinkies and stuff like that. Each one came with a free Pokemon sticker. Not knowing what to do with them, I'd stick them on my laptop. My laptop is still in the hands of Future Shop's tekkies, undergoing repairs. They told me it'd be ready 4-5 days. As of today, it's been 8 days. So, I phoned them up to ask what was taking so long. They asked for my name and the make & model of my laptop. After a brief pause, the tekkie asked me, "Is that the one with the Pokmeon stickers on it?" I said, "Yes." Anyway, they're waiting for replacement parts.

That's *also* why there's been no Monthly Spam for July yet. For one brief, shining moment when I returned home, my laptop was working fine. In that one brief, shining moment, I downloaded all my e-mail onto my laptop, which included my only back-up copy of my Monthly Spam mailing list. No spam until I get it back.

On an unrelated topic, I watched Star Trek IV on DVD again. It makes me curious about the history of trekkie kind. Way back in 1986, as trekkies huddled in darkened theaters to be the first to see The Voyage Home, how many just totally geeked out at the end, with the big reveal that their new ship was the Enterprise-A? You know, with no Internet back then, I guess it was easier to keep an ending like that a secret.

Next issue...The Secret of Anwat Gar

Thursday, July 03, 2003

WOO!! Vancouver got the 2010 Winter Olympics! Who's coming with me?

Sooo, today's obsession is action figures. Mainly, Star Trek ones. It was the Star Trek figures that first got me into action figure collecting. When the Playmates Trek figures first came out, I got myself Riker at a Star Trek convention. I figured he needed a villain, so I got a Borg drone. Then DS9 figures came out, then Star Wars, and it all went downhill.

Anyway, now that I'm back home, I see that there are new Star Trek figures out. Really cool ones from a company called Art Asylum. So far, they've got 3 lines of figures out. There's the requisite tie-in for Enterprise, the requisite tie-in for Star Trek Nemesis, and the line that intrigues me the most, Borg Assimilation. This line features classic Star Trek aliens who have been turned into Borg drones. There are only three: Klingon, Cardassian, and Hirogen. Now see, THAT'S a great idea for Star Trek action figures. We all know that this has happened in the Star Trek universe, so why not give it to us? This is a truly a nifty way to expand the Star Trek universe in toy form. ToyFare once mention that Art Asylum is planning a similar line called Warriors of Kahless, which would be nothing but bad-ass Klingon warriors.

But, Toys R Us was out of Borg Assimilation. All they had was Nemesis and Enterprise. And from the thick layer of dust, I could tell they weren't big sellers. The question now before me is which Enterprise figure do I get? With all the other Star Trek shows, I had one simple mandate: get only my favourite characters. The only real exception to that are the ToyFare exclusives I managed to pick up. But, the problem here is, I really don't have a favourite character on Enterprise. I'm indifferent to all of them. I don't know. I guess I really don't identify with any of the Enterprise characters the way I identified with Odo. But I do want to get one because, hey, I'm a Trekkie. It's my nature. I'll probably wind up with communications officer Hoshi Sato, because:

a) They don't make enough female action figures, so I should support the cause.
b) My time in Japan seems to have temporarily left me with a thing for Asian chicks.

Speaking of ToyFare exclusives, I just went nuts at ToyFare's online store and bought a few more for my collection. In 6-8 weeks, I'll be getting Vacation Fozzie Bear from the The Muppet Show line, and the Snake Eyes and Scarlett 2-pack from the G.I. Joe line. Vacation Fozzie I've been obsessing about since September, when ToyFare first offered it. I'm thinking of it as the welcome home present to myself.

Next issue...The Call of the Huntress!

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Mr. Anderson always tells me how he hates seeing the world filled with mediocrity. Maybe this'll cheer him up. Paramount is being sued for making crappy Star Trek.

See, back in 1998, Activision entered into a 10-year contract with Paramount to be the exclusive manufacturer of Star Trek video games. We are at the halfway point of the contract, and all Paramount has put out is one crappy Star Trek movie and one crappy series. Activision claims that all this crappy Star Trek is starting to hurt their video game sales. So, they're suing to a) get out of their contract and b) be compensated for damages. Here's the complete story.

And, in other news, Canada had it's annual Canada Day parade. The winner for "float that makes you look twice" goes to Fig Tree Intamates, the local lingerie and sex shop, for their van, with two inflatable dolls on top, decked out in maple leaf undies. It's good to be home....

Next issue...The Return of the Laptop! (we hope)
Just watched Pokemon 4 again on DVD. Plus, the last CD I bought in Japan was a compilation of every Japanese Pokemon theme song, so the differences between Japanese and North American Pokemon are foremost on my mind at the moment. One of the differences that really strikes me -- maybe it's a cultural thing -- are the themes of the theme songs. See, in the North American theme songs, they tend to focus on the competition aspect of the Pokemon universe: lyrics like "Born to be a winner" and "strive to be the very best." But, in the Japanese theme songs, they focus more on the hero's journey, not the battles that he faces. I don't know, the Japanese themes just make the entire Pokemon universe seem more...epic.

I also sat down to watch the director's running commentary on Disney's Beauty and the Beast. That was rather fascinating. When Beauty and the Beast was made in the years 1989-1991, the concept of melding computer animation in with traditional animation was still very radical. We all know that famous ballroom scene from Beauty and the Beast, where Belle and Beast dance while Mrs. Potts sings the titular song. We also all know how the background -- the entire ballroom itself -- is computer animated. The directors share that, when the animators first pitched doing that scene in CGI, they did so very nervously. Why? Because it was still new and experimental. So this is leading me to develop a theory about animation.

Because the more successful animated films of recent years have been computer animated, many are quick to spell the death of traditional animation. But let's take a look here. Beauty and the Beast did many revolutionary things in the field of traditional animation. It was the first to use a CGI background. (In fact, the directors reveal they wanted MORE 3-D CGI backgrounds in the film, but the technology just wasn't fast enough yet.) It's was only Disney's second movie to use computer-coloured cels. While all this revolutionary stuff was going on, what did it produce? The only animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture.

Computer animation, for the most part, is still a relativly new medium. Hell, Toy Story's not even 10 years old yet. People are still pushing it's limits, seeing what can be done with it. A similar situation arose in 1990, when Beauty and the Beast was being made. These animators were pushing the technology, seeing what can be done with it. People look at the failure of most traditional animated films right now and say that people just aren't interested in them any more. I don't think that's the case. I think what's going on is, because CGI is still so new, the animators are feeling more creative with it, seeing what boundries there are, and thusly, producing better stories. That was the same thing in 1990, when traditional animation was making it's comeback.

You know, let's try an analogy here. Let's take a great artist. S/he had worked his/her whole life in black & white. S/he has become very good with black and white imagry. S/he pushes new boundries daily. Now, let's give this artist a new colour. Let's give them, say, green. The artist would be like, "Wow! Green! What can I do with this?" and would go and produce all kinds of striking black, white, and green pictures. Does this spell the end of black and white? Hell, no. A lot of great art still happens in black and white.

So, that's all that's happened with the advent of computer animation. We've just given the artists green. And, while everyone is fascinated with it, black and white still goes strong.

Does this make sense? It made sense while I watched Beauty and the Beast.

Anyway, let's take a quick look at the business side of animation. As most folks know, I love Pixar. Pixar currently has a contract to make computer animated films for Disney. Now, that contract ends in 2005. After that, no one knows what's going to happen to Pixar. Will they go solo? Will they sign up with a new studio? No one really knows. A lot thought that Pixar and Disney would go their seperate ways in 2005, as Steve Jobs (the head of Pixar) and Michael Eisner (the head of Disney) are starting to...well, feel a little animosity towards each other.

But then, a little movie happened: Finding Nemo. In case you haven't been following the box office receipts, Finding Nemo will shortly surpass The Matrix Reloaded as the #1 movie of 2003 (so far). Suddenly, Eisner is liking Pixar all over again. And, sadly, despites Jobs' dislike of Disney, the sad truth is a lot of Pixar's animators are ex-Disney. You can take the animator out of the Magic Kingdom, but you can't take the Magic Kingdom out of the animator. So, suddenly, both sides are very eager to re-negotiate their contract. As much as I'd love to see Pixar go solo, they might be under the sway of Disney for a lot longer.

Next issue...Celebi: A Timeless Encounter.