Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, April 28, 2014

Adventures in Chia

Back in December, I was chillin' out, watching TV, and an ad for a Chia Pet came on.  So, I took to Twitter and made this remark.

Flash forward to Christmas morning, and I made a shocking discovery.

So, back in January, I cracked open the box, and set out to grow my Chia Pet.  But I figured that this was an experience that needed to be shared with the world.  I filmed the unboxing and then I set up my camera in the hopes of doing a time-lapse thing to chart it's growth.  And then edit it all together into a YouTube video.

I've had the video sitting on my computer about 3/4ths finished for a month now, so back on Saturday, I said, "Today's the day I finally get it done."  And get it done I did, and now it's on YouTube for the world to enjoy.

If you've got 7 minutes to kill, please enjoy "Adventures in Chia."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Targ Returns...Yet Again

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

The podcast is back after a 2 week break!  You were afraid I was going to take another year off, weren't you?  But I'm back, and I've brought U62: The Targ with me!  This time out, I chat about:
  • Where I've been for the past two weeks.  (Hint:  Workin' and Easter)
  • Hearing stories about the Calgary Expo going on this weekend makes me long to go to a con
  • Geeking out about the fact they're making a live-action Jem movie (already blogged about here)
  • And a film crew hit the New Mexico desert to find the fabled landfill of E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial Atari games and other Atari hardware.  You won't believe what they found!  (Well, you probably will, as it was the big news story of Saturday.)
All this and more in Episode 7.11:  Remember to Make a Slurpee Joke

Click here to go download it!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Jem and the Hobbits

Two bits of movie news broke yesterday that boggled my mind so much that I just have to take to the blog and ramble.

Firstly, the live-action movie version of Jem.  It was announced about a month ago that Hasbro was looking to do a live-action movie version of this classic cartoon and fashion doll line from the 1980s.  Hasbro lined up Jon M. Chu to direct.  I guess Hasbro and Chu got along well together when Chu directed G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  And Jem seems to be right up Chu's alley, as he also directed a couple of the Step Up films and the Justin Beiber concert film Never Say Never.

Things seem to be moving very quickly on Jem, as just one short month later, Chu took to the Internet to announce the cast.  Ladies and gentlemen...Jem and the Holograms:

Aubrey Peeples as Jerrica/Jem - Peeples currently has a recurring role on the prime time soap Nashville, where she plays an up-and-coming country music star.  Oh, and she was one of the stars of Sharknado.

Stefanie Scott as Kimber - Scott is a Disney kid, having starred in the Disney channel tween sitcom A.N.T. Farm.

Hayley Kiyoko as Aja - Another Disney kid, as Kiyoko starred in the Disney channel movie Lemonade Mouth.  She also played Velma in the live-action straight-to-video Scooby-Doo movies.

Aurora Perrineau as Shana - She doesn't have a lot of credits on her IMDB page, just a smattering of TV guest appearances.

Along with the announcement came this first teaser poster.

Jem Teaser Poster

Quite frankly, I'm still gobsmacked that this is actually happening.  Way back in my college years, when my friends and I would reminisce about the cartoons of our youth, we all talked about how cool this would be, but we never actually believed it would actually happen.  Looks like that got a cast with good singing credentials, too, so it looks like they'll be doing their own singing.

Now, the big question, who'll be playing the Misfits?

No word yet on a release date, but based on the original announcement, they hope to be filming by the end of the year.

And while we're at it, a bit of a shake-up was announced with the development of The Hobbit trilogy.  They've decided to change the name of the third and final film.

The Hobbit:  There and Back Again will now be known as The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies.

Peter Jackson explains the change in that There and Back Again no longer makes sense as the name of the final film.  When it was originally just going to be two films, it made sense because the whole second film was going to be about Bilbo and the the dwarves getting "there" and then going "back again."  But now that it's three films, the third film is going to open with our heroes already "there," so you can see the logic.

Jackson also said that he may hang onto the title There and Back Again for the eventual ultimate home media release of the trilogy. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Blade II

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing and blogging of a DVD/Blu-Ray I own because I'm o so lonely.  We continue what we started last week, by watching the popular sequel to Blade, Blade II.  This appears in my notes at July 14, 2013.

Blade II Movie Poster

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Batman Animated

It was announced that DC Comics had commissioned two brand new animated shorts to commemorate the fact that 2014 is the 75th anniversary of Batman.  The second short went online over the weekend, so may I present, Darwyn Cooke's Batman Beyond.

You might be wondering who Darwyn Cooke is.  Cooke got his start at Warner Brothers as a storyboard artist on Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and  yes, Batman Beyond.  From there, he was able to break into comic books, where his graphic novel DC: The New Frontier was a critical darling and sales success. 

Now that I've established his cred, onto the short!

Wow.  This is great.  My one complaint is it's too short.  I want  to know who sent the army of Batman robots after Batman.  That's the best Easter Egg in this whole thing:  that army of Batman robots at the end is every incarnation of Batman in animation...and a couple from live-action.  This is so good, and makes me want more of an official return to the Batman Beyond universe.

While we're on the subject, let's go back and take a second look at the first 75th anniversary short, Batman: Strange Days, which was conceived by Bruce Timm.  Timm, of course, has been the main creative force behind most DC Comics animation projects over the past 20 years, having been the showrunner for Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, Green Lantern: The Animated Series and the series of straight-to-DVD animated films.  Actually, he stepped down as head of the straight-to-DVD animated films a little over a year ago so he could pursue other projects...such as this.  

Yeah...I'm still kind of "meh" towards this one.  I can see they were going for an early Batman adventure, using a Batman design reminscient of his first appearance in the late 1930s, but it just comes across as a deleted scene from an episode of Batman: The Animated Series.

And while we're going through all this Batman animated goodness, may as well share the first trailer for the next DC straight-to-DVD animated film, Batman:  Assault on Arkham.  Rather than a popular story line in the comics, this one is based on the best-selling Arkham series of video games.

I like that the Suicide Squad is featured so prominently.  I made the same observation about Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.  DC is stuck on doing films that focus on Batman and Superman, because, according to their research, those are the only ones that sell well.  So I guess the only way we're going to get films that focus on other characters is to give those other characters really prominent supporting roles.  So if this is the only way we get a Suicide Squad movie, so be it.

That being said, though, I'm really tiring of Batman and Superman adventures.  Come on.  Give us another Wonder Woman movie.  Give us a true Flash movie.  Give Batman and Superman a rest.  

No word on an official release date.  Following the official pattern, and with the next one, Son of Batman coming out next month, I'd wager this one is coming in the fall.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why I Work in Radio

"Why do you work in radio when you have a physics degree?"  It's a question I get asked a lot.  I've considered taking my degree off my resume because I tire of the question coming up in job interviews.  And, as I've blogged before, in a society that loathes math and swears to their math teachers that they'll never, ever, ever need that stuff when they grow up, "Radio is more fun than math" is an answer that never satisfies.

And then, last week, I was surfing the Internet, and I found an online comic called Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.  And they had a comic strip there, called "How to Solve a Physics Problem," that summed up my reasons for choosing a career in radio quite nicely.

Here then, is "How to Solve a Physics Problem."

I think I'll starting handing this out, only crudely scribble out the final step and replace it with "become radio announcer."

In fact, reading this strip, it triggered a flashback, and I think I can now pinpoint the exact moment when I realized a career in the mathematical sciences wasn't for me.

So I was taking this one math course.  The problems in this course were so complicated that no mere calculator could solve them.  You had to write computer programs to solve them.  So the course was about 50% math and 50% computer programming.

I was down in the computer lab, working on the latest assignment.  My program just finished compiling, so I tested the program with a few problems I already knew the answer to.  The program spit out the correct answers, so the program was working.  I fed in the first problem.  Got the right answer.  I fed in the second problem.  Got the right answer.  I fed in the third problem.  And got a strange error message.

Obviously, I made a mistake writing my computer program.  So I looked over the code, spotted a few errors, corrected them, and went back to work.  And again, the third problem gave me a strange error message.

Again I checked over my code.  Again I rewrote my computer program.  And again, that third problem on the assignment gave me a weird error message.

I puzzled over this all week.  I'd go through the code, spot some supposed error and correct it, only for my program to keep giving me strange error messages for the third problem.  I couldn't take it anymore.  I gathered up my notes, and I fell back on the last (honest) refuge for a student who's stuck on an assignment:  I went to the professor for help. 

In the professor's office, I showed him my work.  I showed him how my program kept giving me the right answers for the first two problems, but always a strange error message appeared when it worked on the third problem.

After reviewing my work and listening to my concerns, my professor took a deep breath and said, "I'll let you in on a little secret, Mark.  You will always get an error message for the third problem."

I was silent for a moment while I processed this.  "What?" I asked.

"The third problem is an unsolvable problem in this field of mathematics," my professor elaborated.  "There is no known solution for it.  No matter what you do, you'll always get error messages.  It's like trying to divide by zero on your calculator."

"Why would you put such a problem on the assignment?" I asked. 

"Just to give you an example of the kinds of problems you'll run into in the real world," he said.

"So you're saying I've literally lost sleep over this assignment for nothing?"

"Welcome to the life of a mathematician, Mark."

Since my assignment was pretty much complete, then, I handed it in to my professor and went on my way.  I think that's when I realized the life of a mathematician wasn't for me.  Who wants to constantly lose sleep over problems with no solutions? 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Blade

Time once again for Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly look at one of the movies I own on a home media format of some kind, and blogging about it.  Because I have a lot of DVDs and a blog, so, why not?  Today, it's back to the beginning.  According to the comic book geeks, our current run of superhero films started with Blade.  This appears in my notes at July 13, 2013.

Blade Movie Poster

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Superhero Goodness

Sorry there's no podcast this week.  Wound up getting busy, and I didn't have much worth saying anyway.  However, I feel I at least owe you a blog entry this Sunday, and there's something I need to get down on paper.

So...I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier poster

I saw it back on Wednesday night, actually.  I keep forgetting that I live close enough to the city now that I can conceivably go into the city after work some night and catch a movie.  So, back on Wednesday, a co-worker said, "Hey, I'm going into the city to see Captain America tonight.  Wanna come?"  And I said, "Yes, please!"

So how's Cap been spending his time since the Battle of New York (aka the events depicted in The Avengers)?  Well, Cap decided to stick around with Nick Fury and the Black Widow, and he's now one of SHIELD's top commandos.  However, Cap is starting to feel some unease about what he does and how SHIELD operates.  This comes to a head when Black Widow strikes off on her own on one mission to complete her own separate mission.  This leads to Cap asking questions of Nick Fury, who begins asking questions of his superiors, represented by one Alexander Pierce.  The questions strike a nerve, and before long, there's an attack, and Cap is declared to be a rogue agent.  With the Black Widow helping him, alongside new ally Sam Wilson (the Falcon), Cap soon finds that there's a conspiracy at the heart of SHIELD, and with the mysterious assassin known as the Winter Soldier on the trail, Cap and his new friends must save the world.

Right of the bat, I'd say my favourite part has to be Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow.  This is, by far, the best Black Widow we've had to date.  She's not just there to tease the Avengers (like in Iron Man 2, and he's not just there to have a couple of cool fight scenes (like The Avengers).  She actually does stuff of importance in this film.  Johansson injects her with a new level of sass, and it all works wonderfully.

Anthony Mackie as the Falcon is good, too.  We've seen the Falcon fly in the trailers and TV commercials, but the first time you see him fly in the film, you will cheer.

The action is good, the humour is good, the plot is good, everything about it is good.  About the only problem I had was when I saw last week's Agents of SHIELD the day before which kind of gave away some plot twists.

Anyway, I've got the complete review of it up at my website, so feel free to go read it. 

Meanwhile, over at DC Comics, they're celebrating Batman's 75th anniversary.  As part of the celebration, DC and Warner Brothers have commissioned 2 new animated Batman short films to celebrate.  The first one, from Batman: The Animated Series legend Bruce Timm, when online this past week, and it's called Batman: Strange Days.

My thoughts?  It's OK....  It doesn't quite have the epic feel as the Superman 75th anniversary short, which told the characters entire history in 2 minutes.  This feels more like a deleted scene from an episode of Batman: The Animated Series.  It's good, but I wanted something more encompasing of the character's history. 

Let's wait to see what the second short brings us. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Dogma

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blogging about something in my DVD library that I'd recently re-watched.  Being a die-hard fanboy for Kevin Smith, I'm surprised it's taken me this long to tackle a Kevin Smith film in this here blog, but here we are.  Today, I re-watch his classic religious parable, Dogma.  This appears in my notes at June 30, 2013. 

Dogma movie poster

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Netflix Nonsense - Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Welcome back to Netflix Nonsense, where I blog about that thing I just saw on Netflix.  As we all know, the gritty reboots of fairy tales seems to be one of the trends at the box office, what with Snow White and the Huntsman a few years ago, and Malificent coming this summer.  But there was one fairy tale gritty reboot that came out a year ago that I wanted to see, just because it looked so freakin' ridiculous.  And that was Hansel & Gretel:  Witch Hunters.

Hansel & Gretel:  Witch Hunters movie poster

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Targ Ho!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Sunday morning, which means while you're sleeping in and/or getting ready for church and/or getting ready for an afternoon of sportsball on TV, I'm working hard to bring you radio awesomeness!  Well, this week's episode of U62: The Targ kind of lacks in the awesome department, as you'll see in the title Episode 7.10: Announcer's Block.  What's on deck?
  • I ramble about this week's episode of Community, which was a spectacular rip on G.I. Joe.  
  • My thoughts on the legendary samurai film The Hidden Fortress, which was the inspiration for Star Wars
  • Leading to just general ramblings about Criterion collections
So drop it in your MP3 player, gather round the computer, or just do however you like to listen to podcasts.  Just listen to mine!  (did that sound needy?)

Click here to go download it!

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Quantum of Solace

And we return to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of something in my movie collection, and then blogging about it, because why not?  Today, I officially run out of James Bond movies in my collection with Quantum of Solace.  This originally appears in my notes at June 9, 2013.

Quantum of Solace movie poster

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Netflix Nonsense - Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Welcome back to Netflix Nonsense!  In my efforts to get my $8 worth, I tend to sit down and blog about whatever I recently viewed on Netflix.  And, geek that I am, I figured it was finally time to tackle that beloved Star Wars spin-off, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie poster