Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Daredevil: Director's Cut

Here we go with Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the many movies I own.  I'm taking a look at Daredevil again, because I just got the director's cut out of a discount bin.  This was originally in my notes at August 27, 2016.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Grown Up Stuff

A couple of weeks ago, I was out driving my car to work, when I rounded a corner, and it made a strange grinding noise.  It sounded a lot like when my car scrapes the bottom on an unplowed, and since we'd had a late April snowstorm, I wrote it off as the snow.  But as the days went by, and the snow melted, the grinding noise didn't go away with the snow.  I started to get worried.  So, I finally sucked it up and got my car into the shop.  According to the mechanic, my front brake pads had completely worn away, and the grinding noise was the brakes grinding into the rotors.  $600 to get the brakes done.  But, it was very important that I had to get it done by May 6.

I needed my car in tip-top shape to hit the city and see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Guaridans of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Poster

*sigh*  It's becoming more and more important to see these Marvel movies on opening weekend, because by Monday morning, the Internet is full of spoiler-filled articles dissecting every Easter egg and explaining the post-credit sequences.  In case you haven't heard yet, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has a record-setting five post-credit sequences, so be sure to stick around for all of them.

I quite enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  Just like the first film, what blew my mind the most was the music choices.  I mean, we're so conditioned to hearing the Jerry Goldsmith trumpets whenever a spaceship pulls into orbit around a planet.  But here, we hear My Sweet Lord and damn it, it works.

I also like that this one is a lot more character-based.  There's not as many big action sequences as it instead focuses on Peter Quill/Star-Lord as he meets his long lost father Ego, Gamora heading towards a reckoning of sorts with her sister Nebula, Drax opening up to Ego's consort Mantis, and Rocket and Yondu just being badasses.  And Baby Groot occasionally popping up to be adorable.

I also liked that Guardians of the Galaxy is still set in a remote corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, far removed from Earth.  That means it gets to be more of a direct sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy rather than having to worry about acknowledging Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and whatever else came out since that last one that I seem to be forgetting.

If I have to dig up one quibble, it would have to be your standard sequelitis.  Being the second film, it lacks the freshness that made the first one such an unexpected treat.

All in all, a great kickoff to the start of summer blockbuster season.  I give it 3.5 out of 4 nibs.  Full review over on the full website.

And then, heading home, I decided to break out of my culinary norm.  Some folks around the office were asking about a new fast casual place popping up in power centres across the land called Mucho Burrito, and if anyone had tried it yet.  Since I knew of a power centre that contained one on my drive home, I decided to try Mucho Burrito for supper.

My initial impression of Mucho Burrito is that it's very much like Taco del Mar, just a touch more upscale.  (i.e., fancier decor, more topping options, they serve booze.)  But it's pretty much the same.  You place your order the clerk, they make it all right in front of you, asking what toppings you'd like as you go along.  As has become my way in these new franchises that I try, I asked the clerk what I should try for my first time.  She recommended I go with their standard beef burrito.

Honestly, I found it a bit bland, but I blame myself.  This being my first time, I decided to take it easy on the options.  But next time, I'll probably go for the medium salsa instead of the mild, and maybe not drown it in every sauce because I want to try everything.  I do like shrimp, and I see one of their meat options is Cajun shrimp.  So I'll probably keep heading back to try a few more options before making a final judgement.

And that was my trip into the city last week.  As I headed home, I went back to fretting about my car, and what more needed to be done.  While my car was up on the hoist, the mechanic did say my tires are on their last legs, and that it's time to get some new ones.  I've been worried about the tires and pricing out a new set for about a year now, so it's finally time to pull the trigger.  I think I've found a set I like that works within my budget, and if the Fates are with me, I'll be getting them next week.  And as for the budget, it turns out paying for things is easy if you don't mind going back in debt.  Finally paid off my car in 2015, and I've had this lovely two year streak of being debt-free.  Oh, well.  Desperate times and all that.

For the most part, I think I'm doing a good job of this being a grown-up.  And it means I can go see my silly superhero movies whenever I want.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Roxanne

Time to go Fishing in the Discount Bin again, as I watch and reflect upon one of the many movies I own.  This time up, it's Steve Martin's classic 1980s romantic comedy Roxanne.  This is in my notes at August 22, 2016.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

It's Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly rambling about one of the many movies I own.  Time to bust out one of the most talked-about movies of this time last year (but not in a good way), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  This is in my notes at August 14, 2016.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Scarecrow Goes to Popeyes Chicken

I was in the city last week for some meetings at head office.  While there, I turned to some of my co-workers, and talk soon turned to Popeyes Chicken.  Popeyes Chicken -- officially known as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen -- is an American fried chicken chain.  They've made the news recently as they were just bought up by Restaurant Brands International -- the consortium that now owns Burger King and Tim Hortons.  But before that, back in the fall, they announced that they were finally beginning an aggressive expansion into Western Canada.  One of my co-workers from Toronto says they've had them in the Golden Horseshoe region forever, but they've never ventured further west than Ontario.  That all changed when, with much hype and ballyhoo, they opened their first Western Canadian location in Edmonton in November.

And being obsessed with fast food, I knew I had to try it.

Now, they're first location in Edmonton was down on the south side...kind of where the east leg of the Whitemud Freeway meets the Anthony Henday.  It was a long drive from head office, but doable.  But after chatting with some of my Edmonton colleagues, they revealed that the second location had just opened up...just north of the Yellowhead on 97 Street.  That was a lot closer.  So, when the meetings were done, we were off to Popeyes Chicken!

We made it to the restaurant OK, thanks to every phone having GPS navigation these days.  We arrived, and people were lined up out the door.  I hadn't seen that since my very first trip to Wendy's when I was a kid.  Maybe it was the first Wendy's in Red Deer, and that's why it was so crowded.  Huh... I never thought of that.  Anyway.  Half of our group went and grabbed a table, the other half stood in the line to place the orders.  I was in the order group, which gave me lots of time to ponder the menu.

Like most chicken fast food places, they've got your usual assortment of chicken dinners, chicken fingers (they call theirs tenders), chicken nuggets, and chicken burgers.  They've also got some seafood options, but chicken is what they're known for, so that's what I was getting.  What got me was the variety of side dishes.  Let's be honest, fast food, generally your side dish options are fries, poutine (because Canada), and maybe onion rings.  But in addition to those, Popeyes also has mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and so many others.

Popeyes has two kinds of combos:  the combo and the platter.  Essentially, the combo has one side dish and the platter has two.  Since it was my first time, I decided to go with the platter to sample more sides.  I went with the three tender platter, with corn on the cob and red beans and rice for my sides.

Oh, and I should mention you get the chicken in spicy and mild.  I went with spicy, with buttermilk ranch for my dipping sauce.

Alright.  Once my meal came, I tied into it.  My thoughts:

The chicken - It had just the right amount of spice.  I find, sometimes, the fast food places can overdo it.  But there's just enough to give it a kick without overwhelming the taste buds.  The batter had a nice crunch to it.  And I found it to be less greasy than the rest of the fried chicken choices out there.

Red beans and rice - I actually found it kind of bland, but given the spicy chicken, it was a nice way to cool things down.

Corn on the cob - Wow, this was really juicy.  Like, dribbling down your chin juicy.  But yeah.  Nothing really special about it.  Just good ol' corn on the cob.

Biscuit - Every combo and platter at Popeyes comes with one of their signature buttermilk biscuits.  Nice and fluffy.  I don't know if the warmth came from being oven-fresh or under a heat lamp, but it didn't have they drying-out that comes with the heat lamp.  So it was good.

All in all, I was quite pleased with my Popeyes Chicken experience.  I found the chicken quite good, and was tickled with the variety of side dishes.  I'll probably be heading back...once more locations open and it's not such a journey to get to one.

And now, the scene from Little Nicky we were all quoting on the drive down.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Scarecrow Goes to IKEA

When last we left our intrepid hero, he came home from work on Thursday afternoon, ready to enjoy the Easter weekend, when he met tragedy in his living room.  The tempered glass top shelf of his entertainment centre had shattered, leaving broken glass all over his floor and one upside down TV.  Here's the pics, in our "pics or it didn't happen" world.  Once I got the glass cleaned up and verified that the TV was still functional, the question turned to needing a new entertainment centre.  So as one does in this day and age, I hopped on line and went to the IKEA website.  I found one I liked that was within my budget, asked my parents to meet me there (because things like "size" confuse me so I wanted to borrow my Dad's truck in case it was needed), and plans were made for a road trip!

Rolling into Edmonton, I was pondering the last time I went to IKEA.  It had to be when I was a kid...way back when IKEA was still in West Edmonton Mall.  Yes, Edmonton's IKEA was originally in West Edmonton Mall, way back when the Mall first opened in the mid-1980s.  The Mall has always prided itself on bringing in many retailers to Alberta for the first time, and I'm pretty sure the West Edmonton Mall IKEA was the first one in Alberta, if not Western Canada.  In the late-1990s, as the South Edmonton Common became a thing, they moved down there.  For those who don't know their West Edmonton Mall geography, IKEA was originally where the Sport Check and Bed, Bath, and Beyond currently are.

But no, they moved to South Edmonton Common, reviled by many in Edmonton for being the very definition of urban sprawl.  The massive, sprawling power centre, taking up a good portion of Edmonton's south side.  At least it's really easy to get to, now that the Anthony Henday Drive is complete.  Take the Henday all the way around to Gateway Boulevard, head north into the city, and BOOM!  It's your first exit.  I entered the Common and was instantly lost, as rather than the massive parking lot that most power centre have, it has built up its own maze of streets and avenues.  Luckily, IKEA is massive, so I just set my sights on the massive blue and yellow building on the horizon and drove towards it.

I arrived about a half-hour before my parents, and decided to browse the showroom while I waited.  As it was Saturday, it was understandably crowded.  The showroom was as I remembered from my youth, a winding maze taking you through many model rooms, showing you what the furniture looks like all assembled.  I spent a lot of time in the living room section.  I'm also in dire need of a new sofa, but even IKEA sofas are pretty pricey on a small market radioman's salary.  Hell, the only reason why I could afford the new TV stand was, in one of those strange karmic things that runs the universe, my tax refund arrived on the same day as the shattering.

I wandered over to the living room storage section, where I found the TV stand I had my eye on.  Looked like it would have fit in my trunk with no problem, so looks like I didn't need to invite my parents along.  Speaking of, that's when I got the text message from my mother that they had arrived.  Now came the most stressful part of my trip to IKEA...going against the flow of the people going through their showroom so I could get back out to the entrance.  Once I got back out to the front, took a moment to calm down, and met with my parents, it was back into the showroom, because they wanted to check out some stuff.

Seriously, though, I don't know if it was the legendarily high stress environment of IKEA on a Saturday, or me, because I was feeling pretty stressed out in IKEA.  Sometimes I think I should see a doctor about anxiety issues because I've never done well in big crowds, but it's getting worse as I get older.

Saw more great stuff in the showroom.  There was a nice glass display cabinet that would be prefect for my action figure collections, should I ever get a bigger place or more money.  They had bookshelves on sale, and I've considered getting a third one as my current DVD shelves are full and spilling out into little piles all over my floor.  Mom took down the number for that one in case I changed my mind by the time we got down to the warehouse.  And some mattresses as well, as my original IKEA mattress is starting to get pretty worn out.

Even thought I haven't been to IKEA in 30 years or so, a lot of my furniture is IKEA.  My armchair, my dining room set, my bed, my dresser, and my computer desk.  I have my parents to thank for that.  The standard housewarming gift that my parents settled on when me and my siblings all got our first places was $1000 worth of flatpacked furniture.  So within a week of being at my first apartment at my first radio gig, my parents and my brother showed up with all these IKEA boxes and we spent the day setting it all up.  I still use pretty much all of it because, well, I'm cheap and it works, so why not?  But the mattress on my bed is starting to wear out.  and IKEA's got some comfy ones.

We finished up in the showroom, the codes for my TV stand in hand, and it was time for lunch.  So we dined in the famous IKEA restaurant.  It really was a cafeteria, though, as you grabbed your tray and got in line.  I grabbed a glass to hit up the soda fountain, but while looking through the cooler full of bottled juices, I saw a juice box of an IKEA exclusive called "Elder Flower Juice."  Intrigued, and no doubt thinking of the classic insult from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I decided to grab it.  For lunch, I dined upon the IKEA specialty of Swedish meatballs with gravy and mashed potatoes.  It suffered from the standard cafeteria problem:  it had been sitting in the steam trays a little too long and had dried out.  But still, pretty good.  The Elder Flower Juice had a sweet, slightly tart flavour.  It tasted vaguely familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

With out bellies full, we went downstairs.  Here, IKEA turned into a more conventional store, as the shelves were lined with all kinds of housewares and other knick-nacks for your home.  As Mom remarked afterwards, she wound up spending more money there than I did, as she got some new lamps for the guest rooms, some new towels, and various other sundry items for the home.  It a situation where I'm definitely going to have to go back someday, and check out all the other neat stuff.  Especially the lamps.  Lots of neat lamps.

Now that Mom's shopping cart was full, it was into the warehouse to pick up my entertainment centre.  With their cutesy mock-Swedish names, my TV stand was the Besta.  But it turns out, the Besta is a modular system, with dozens of different variants.  Took us a while to go up and down the aisles, getting all the parts for the particular Besta I had seen in the showroom.  But we found them.  With those precariously placed atop our shopping cart, my mother said, "So...is there anything else we're getting?" as she pulled her notepad from her purse, with the numbers for the bookshelf I was eyeing.  I frightened my mother by responding with a Rick and Morty quote:  "Nobody exists on purpose.  Nobody belongs anywhere.  Everyone's going to die.  Let's get the bookshelves."

We got everything into the back of Dad's truck, and made our way out of the city and back to Westlock.  Mom and Dad volunteered to stick around for a bit and help with the assembly.  Dad and I got the Besta put together OK.  I did get a little worried when Mom told me to take a break and she and Dad got to work on the bookshelves.  There was a viral story not too long ago about a certain IKEA cabinet that a marriage councilor had dubbed "the divorce-maker" because of all the arguments it started as couples put it together. Luckily, my parents got through it unscathed.

As my parents left, my mother did have a few surprises.  Some of the new towels she bought were for me, and she also found a bottle of Elder Flower Juice concentrate so I could brew some at home.  As I was getting ready to mix up a pitcher, I had an inspiration.  I fired up my SodaStream, ran the Elder Flower Juice concentrate through it, and made my own Elder Flower Soda.

Guess what?

With bubbles, it tasted just like ginger ale.  That was the vaguely familiar flavour.  It was flat ginger ale.

This whole adventure happened to me about a week ago.  I've been enjoying my TV on my nice new Besta stand, and drinking up the last of the Elder Flower Juice.  Needless to say, IKEA was quite the journey.  And like many other stores, I think I'll be going back someday when I have more money.  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Zootopia

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I sit and blog about one of the movies I own and have just recently watched.  This time out, we get to the most recent Oscar winner for Best Animated Film, Zootopia.  This is in my notes at August 13, 2016.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April Showers bring the Targ!

Well, it’s that time.  I’ve got an itch.  I’ve got an inspiration.  And it can only be satiated by sitting behind the mic and pumping out a podcast!  You probably know what the inspiration was:
  • Fist on deck, we’ve got to talk about that first trailer for The Last Jedi, as we continue counting down to the newest Star Wars movie.
  • And since we’re at it, may as well talk about the other trailer:  Thor Ragnarok, which broke records for being the biggest trailer launch in Disney’s history.  And that naturally leads into a bunch of Marvel news.
  • And, a tale of buried treasure from the UK, which I find just fascinating.
And I’m going to try something.  Real Life has gotten a little too busy to pump one out weekly, so at the very least, I’m going to try and pump one out monthly.  Hopefully, this’ll be the start.
So enjoy April Special:  April Snowstorms.

Head to the main site to check it out!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Spaceballs

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, rambling and blogging about one of the many movies I own.  This time out, we go with Mel Brooks' classic Star Wars spoof, Spaceballs.  This is in my notes at July 17, 2016.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Last Jedi Trailer! (And some other Star Wars ramblings.)

Good Friday.  The start of the long weekend.  Also, the start of a massive snowfall that would not let up until Easter Sunday morning.  But, I told my family I'd be coming home for Easter, so I gassed up ol' Bessie Lou (what I call my car) and set out down the road.  I knew I had to brave the snowy highways to get to a place with good WiFi, because something special was coming down from Orlando.

This past weekend, Orlando was host to Star Wars Celebration, the official Star Wars con.  Good Friday morning was the panel for the latest Star Wars movie, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.  Rumours abounded that we were going to get our first trailer at that panel.  And sure enough, as soon as I left Westlock town limits, the Star Wars app dinged with the notification:  the trailer was online.

With steady hands, I made it though the snow and slush until I was back comfortable in Entwistle.  I went inside, exchanged pleasantries with my parents, then went into the living room, commandeered the smart TV, brought up the YouTube app and took in...the trailer.

Much like the first Force Awakens trailer, we're not getting much of a sense of the plot yet.  We're just getting teases...glimpses of what's next for hour character.  Of course, the most anticipated part of this trailer was finally seeing what Luke had to say.  His closing line that, "It's time for the Jedi to end," has so many mysteries behind it.  Is he like Baron Mordo at the end of Doctor Strange now?  Has come to the realization that the only way to bring balance to the Force is by eliminating all Force users?  Or, as a friend of mine pointed out, is he just being dramatic because he's in some kind of funk and it takes Rey to pull him out of it?

Of course, in this day and age, and especially with a franchise like Star Wars, each new information must be picked apart with a fine-toothed comb.  I picked up on all the hushed dialogue in the sound mix, and used the production studio in some down time at work today to have a closer listen to it.  When Rey mentions "the Light," and we see the back of Leia, we hear Leia's iconic, "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi...."  When she mentions "the Dark," and we see Kylo Ren's crushed helmet, we hear Obi-Wan's, "He was seduced by the Dark Side...."  And when she mentions "the Balance," and we see that book, we hear Yoda's, "Surrounds us...binds us...."  What does it all mean?  Is Rey the child of Obi-Wan?  Will we see the spirit of Yoda?

Right now, all we have our images.  Until then, it's all speculation.

And speaking of images, holy moly, that teaser poster.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser poster

Seriously, I'm more excited for this poster than I am for the teaser.  Add my voice to the lamentations that movies posters are no longer works of art, but just crowded Photoshop collages of the film's stars.  But this poster, my friends, is a work of art.  It's been a long time since I've seen a movie poster and thought, "I want that hanging on my wall."  And I want that hanging on my wall.

Sadly, though, we didn't quite get all the announcements we wanted out of Star Wars Celebration.  As this is year is the 40th anniversary of the franchise, we were hoping there'd be an announcement about the original theatrical versions coming to Blu-Ray, but there was no announcement.  It was hoped that they'd reveal what the third Star Wars story is going to be, or the title of the young Han Solo movie, but no announcements on those fronts.  And it's the young Han Solo movie that's led me to another rambling I want to make tonight.

So a few weeks ago, the CEO of Disney was talking about the Han Solo movie, and said one of the things we'll see is "how Han Solo got his name."  Of course, the Internet went abuzz.  "You mean...Han Solo isn't his name?  How can that be?  Why does it have to be a name he adopts?" everyone asked.  I don't know.  But I found it intriguing.

When I was home, I went digging through the boxes of stuff I have yet to remove from my parents' house, and I brought home this:

A post shared by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

My very first Star Wars merch.  Scholastic's storybook adaptation of Return of the Jedi.  I got this at the Grade 1 book fair. 

As I was leafing through it, I came upon this passage.  It actually describes one of Return of the Jedi's deleted scenes.  If you have the big 9-disc Blu-Ray set, it's among the bonus features.  After our heroes rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt, they go to their ships in a blinding sandstorm.  Before Han gets on the Millennium Falcon, he and Luke have a brief conversation.  Han gets all, "Thank you...for saving my life," but he's a little more emotional than the cavalier Han Solo we know and love.  This passage is Luke's internal reaction to that.

"Luke felt the change in Han, and he knew the he and everything the others had risked had been worth it.  'Solo' means 'alone,' he thought.  He had often wondered if that was Han's real name.  Maybe it was an alias Han had chosen -- one that Han felt described him better than his real name.  But now Han knew he didn't have to be a loner anymore." 

So.  Is "Han Solo" not being Han's real name something that George Lucas had been toying with from the very beginning?  Is this one of the first seeds we saw planted of that, way back in 1983?  Or is it just the author, literalizing the symbolism of Han's name for younger readers? 

Sadly, now I know it's probably the last one, because as I was about to hit publish, I spotted this interview with Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy in which she says that Han Solo has always been his name, and the Disney CEO misspoke when he said that.  But still, I though the coincidence was neat and felt like sharing it. 

Ya know, i don't think I ever read that storybook from beginning to end.  I just read passages here and there, and leafed through it a lot, taking in all the pictures.  I should finally read it. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin -- Independence Day: Special Edition

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about one of my favourite movies.  I'm doing Independence Day for a second time, but this time out, I'm doing it's 15-minute longer Special Edition.  This is in my notes at June 11, 2016.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

I Want Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere....

I need pants.

Woke up Friday morning to see that I'd worn a whole in my favourite pair of jeans.  Going though my closet and taking inventory, I discovered that a lot of my favourite pairs of pants had holes worn in them.  And in a rather embarrassing place.  A man can't have no pants.  Last time I had no pants, I was asked politely to never return to that restaurant.  So, my Saturday plans were set:  go get some pants.

Luckily, pants were easy to find.  My size is usually difficult to come by, but this time, I managed to find three pairs in my size, so I snapped them all up.  Didn't have much else to do in the city, anyway, as this past Tuesday, I made a whirlwind trip into to the city to pick up Rogue One on Blu-Ray.  One of the benefits of being back on the morning show.  If, on a sunny Tuesday, I'm able to get out of the office by noon like I'm supposed to, I can make the quick drive down into Edmonton to snatch up the hottest new movies.

And, as I went about browsing, I noticed that the release of Rogue One seems to have brought out the newest round of Star Wars merchandise.  It looks like the third and final wave of Rogue One action figures is out.  Finally, the Death Trooper (those Stormtroopers in funky black armor) are finally available single-packed.  When they first came out in the fall, they were only available in a two-pack with some funky alien Rebel commando.  And the one Jyn Erso figure I wanted was finally out.  That's the one where she's wearing the black armor from that awesome shot in the trailer.  You know, the awesome shot that, like 90% of the awesome trailer shots for Rogue One, wasn't in the movie.

Jyn Erso in the awesome trailer shot.  Wearing the black armor of an Imperial trooper, staring into the camera, as the hallway illuminate behind her.

Actually, I read an interview with Rogue One director Gareth Edwards about the genesis of that shot.  It happened by accident as they were setting up one day.  He liked it so much, he made them do it again so he could get it on film.  He never intended to put it in the movie...he just liked it so much he had to get it on film.  And the marketing department liked it so much, they put it in the trailer.

Anyway, I passed on those figures, as I think I'm pretty much done when it comes to Rogue One figures.  Besides, with 2017 marking the 40th anniversary of the franchise, I saw that the 40th anniversary figures are out.  I passed on those, because they're currently marked at $30 each, and when I started collecting action figures back in my teen years, I vowed I'd never spend more than $20 on a figure.  I'm amazed at how I've been able to stick to that self-imposed budget over the years.

The closest I came to snatching up some Star Wars figures was over at the Disney Store.  The Disney Store's exclusive line of Star Wars figures is called the "Elite Series."  They're made of die cast metal.  Regular price $35.  On sale for $12 each!  I passed on those because I just couldn't decide which ones to get.  The Death Trooper?  Kylo Ren?  Jyn Erso?  Rey?  Because of JJ Abrams' obsessive secrecy with The Force Awakens, the Elite Series Rey is pretty much the only Rey that actually comes with a lightsaber.  Or how about the Riot Control Stormtrooper?  That's the one that stole the show in The Force Awakens by screaming out "Traitor!" and then unleashing the beast on Finn.  If they're still on sale next time I'm at the Mall, maybe, just maybe, I'll buy one.  Or two.

But then it was time for lunch.  And I had resolved to try something I had stumble across the last time I was in the city two weeks ago.  Harvey's, the legendary Canadian burger chain, the birthplace of Frings, now does rice bowls.  The rice bowl is a staple of Japanese fast food.  The name pretty much says it all.  It's a bowl of rice, with some tasty toppings.  The most common of which is the beef bowl, a bowl of rice topped with some thinly-sliced fried beef, a dash of onions, and a sweet sauce.  So I had to try a Harvey's rice bowl.

So the entire Harvey's bowl gimmick is currently known as the Build-a-Bowl.  Step one, you decide what you want it to be a bowl of:  rice, fries, or salad.  I went with rice.  Step two:  you add your meat:  beef or chicken.  I went with beef.  Then they asked me if I wanted regular or Angus.  I went with Angus.  All they do is take a burger paddy, chop it up, and add it to the bowl.  And for the final step, you add the rest of your toppings.  Just like good ol' regular Harvey's, you go over to their toppings station and tell the clerk what you want on it.  I went with lettuce, tomato, and the Asian sesame dressing.

And voila, a Harvey's rice bowl.

A post shared by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

All in all, not too bad.  Not sure it'll be a regular fast food dining experience for me, but it may have inspired me to try making one at home.  I've never attempted to make my own beef bowls at home.

But anyway, with lunch in my belly, it was time to do what I always do when I hit the city:  movie time!  And I had one last March blockbuster on my wish list:  Disney's live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast Movie Poster

Beauty and the Beast was poised to become the monster hit it now is.  Not only are Disney's live-action remakes of their animated hits proving to be a steady franchise in its own right, but we're starting to hit the sweet spot for 1990s nostalgia.  Everyone who saw the original when they were a kid is now grown up with kids of their own and ready to share this definitive moment in their developmental years with their families.  It was something that was proven when the trailer set a new record for most viewed YouTube trailer.  It's been out for almost a month now, so the the theatre was only about half-full when I saw it.

I like some of the new additions they made.  They flesh out the backstories a little more.  We find out what happened to Belle's mother, we found out what the palace staff did to get cursed alongside the Beast and turned into household objects, and we get to see a little more villainy on the part of Gaston.  Some of the new additions seemed excessive, though.  I mean, Belle was already enough of an outcast for burying her nose in books instead of engaging in a provincial life...did she really need to be publicly shamed for committing the crime of sharing that love of reading with others?

But the performances are good, the visuals are spectacular, it's a real struggle to not sing along to your favourite songs, and I'll be damned if that Alan Menken score still doesn't give me goosebumps.

All in all,I found it to be a fun nostalgic trip.  I give it 3 out of 4 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

Actually, going through the reviews over on the main site, I'm mildly disturbed.  Reviewing my reviews for the past few years, usually by this point in the year, I've only seen 2 films, 3 max.  But so far this year, I've seen seven.  I don't know if I'll be able to sustain this rate financially.

But then, looking ahead, I see a lot of that had to do with how unusually loaded this March has been.  Logan, Kong, Power Rangers, Beauty and the Beast....  In fact, looking ahead to this summer, it almost seems like it's going to be a light summer for me.  Alien, Planet of the Apes, Pirates of the Caribbean...these are all franchises I'm pretty indifferent towards.  Yeah, there's a new Transformers, but I'm thinking I'm done with Transformers.  They've just done nothing new since the first one.  We've got a new King Arthur.  Maybe I'll take Mom to that one, because Mom always liked the Arthurian legends.  So, yeah.  Outside of the superhero films coming up -- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man: Homecoming -- it looks like it might be a pretty light summer for me.

And also, thanks to all of the gift cards I got for Christmas, I have yet to actually pay for a movie this year with my own money.   

And thanks to the money I'm saving due to all these gift cards, I'll be able to do it all in stylish new pants. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Jungle Book

Here we are again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin, blogging about one of the many movies I own.  Taking a look at some classic Disney animation this time out with The Jungle Book.  This is in my notes at June 4, 2016.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

As I've Blogged Before....

When last I blogged, I was talking about how March this year is shaping up to be a really good month for movies.  I mean, it's like a summer blockbuster month.  After I was reveling in Power Rangers and recapping Logan, I remembered that I also wanted to watch Kong: Skull Island.  .  I saw I had enough Scene points for a free movie.  Dare I see a second movie in two days?  Do I turned around and head back into the city to watch Kong: Skull Island?  Why not?

Well, as I've blogged before, I try not to head into the city on Sundays.  Nothing really opens until noon, so for an early riser like myself, there's really nothing to see or do.  And Sunday tends to bring out more crazies.  I'll never forget the time some guy in Best Buy completely lost his mind at DVDs being just $5 in the discount bin.  "THESE MOVIES ARE CHEAPER THAN WHORES IN THAILAND!" he screamed loud enough for the whole store to hear.  But to just dart in, catch a movie, and dart out?  Yeah, I could do that.

As I was just heading in to catch the movie, I was off to the North Edmonton Commons power centre.  Now, as I've blogged before, I'm not a big fan of power centres.  They're not very pedestrian-friendly, so if you're early for your movie -- like I was -- there's really not much you can do in the way of wandering around and browsing in the other shops.  And besides, it was Sunday.  About the only thing open was Golf Town.  So I went browsing in Golf Town.

I've only been out golfing a handful of times in my adult life, but I occasionally think I could really get into it.  It involves a lot walking.  I like to walk.  As stores like Golf Town prove, golf is a sport where you can collect a lot of stuff.  And as my collections of action figures and DVDs prove, I like to collect stuff.  All the pieces are in place.  But, as a store like Golf Town proves, golf gear is an expensive collection to collect.  So when it comes to golf, I think I will stick to the mini variety.

Which reminds me.  A couple of weeks ago when I was at West Edmonton Mall, to see Logan I think, I snapped this pictures of Professor Wem's Adventure Golf.

A post shared by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

I was kind of stunned at how this quickly became one of the most-liked photos I ever posted to Instagram.  I just snapped it because I've long looked out at Professor Wem's Adventure Golf in amazement.  I've been going to West Edmonton Mall ever since it was built, but the mini-golf is the one attraction I've never partook. 

Well, that's not quite true.  I've also never been skating at the Ice Palace, and I've never spent a night in the Fantasyland Hotel.  But as I don't skate, and the rooms at the Fantasyland  Hotel can get pretty steep, Professor Wem's Adventure Golf is the only attraction within my grasp that I've never done.  But yet I've walked by it countless times and never ventured in. 

I've been walking past it long enough that I remember its history.  When the Mall first opened in the 1980s, the mini-golf course was called Pebble Beach, and it was meant to be a mini-golf re-creation of the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Club in California.  But they changed it in the mid-1990s, around the same time Fantasyland became Galaxyland.  Did their licensing agreement with Pebble Beach expire?  Did their lawsuit with Disney over the name "Fantasyland" make them gun shy, and they changed the name to avoid future lawsuits?  Either way, the Professor Wem mascot was invented, and Professor Wem's adventure golf was born. 

Maybe this'll be the year.  It's the big 4-0 this year, so maybe a mini-golf party at West Edmonton Mall.  Or maybe I'll just do what I always do on my birthday and catch a movie.  And speaking of movies....

*pats self on back for awesome segue*

Kong:  Skull Island!

Kong: Skull Island Poster

As I've blogged before, as much as I love giant monster movies, my biggest complaint is they can never find anything interesting for the humans to do.  They just kind of stand around, waiting for the giant monster to show up so they can react to it.  So I really liked Kong: Skull Island for giving us some cool characters, and I found myself actually intrigued by them. 

First we have Samuel L. Jackson as Lt. Col. Preston Packard.  He leads the military escort to Skull Island.  As most of his troops are taken down by Kong as soon as they land, he decides to take down Kong to avenge his troops.  And as they days on the island go on, he grows more and more obsessed with taking down Kong. 

Next up there's John C. Reilly as Lt. Hank Marlow.  He was a World War II fighter pilot who crashed on the island and has been trapped there for almost 30 years.  (The film takes place in the early 1970s, by the way.)  Needless to say, his time on the island has made him a little bit loopy, but he's got the most experience with dealing with Kong and the other beasties on the island. 

And there are some really good giant monster fights in the film as well.  And, for those who haven't heard, this is in the same cinematic universe as 2014's Godzilla reboot, so there's a nice post-credits stinger setting that up. 

Yes, for those who haven't heard, next in the cinematic universe is Godzilla 2 in 2019, now officially titled Godzilla: King of the Monsters.  After that, Kong vs Godzilla in 2020. 

But I quite enjoyed it.  I give it a solid 3 Nibs.  Full review on the website. 

And then I went home.  The end.  Yeah, I know.  I suck it endings. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Deadpool

Time to roll again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blog about a movie I own on DVD or Blu-Ray, or even VHS in a few rare occasions.  I'm done with every Batman movie, so I think Deadpool would be a good palette-cleanser.  This is in my notes at May 29, 2016.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Movie Time Catch-Up

I find I haven't blogged about my last three or four trips to the city.  Mainly, because, well, they're getting kind of repetitive.  "I went to HMV during it's dying days and it made me sad."  "I went to the Apple Store and I still can't afford an iPad and that made me sad."  "I went to the Disney Store and I can't afford any of the high end collectables and that made me sad."  About the only thing in the city that doesn't make me sad these days is going to the movies, so let's run down the last four I've seen and have neglected to blog about! 

First up, this past weekend, Power Rangers.

I can't believe how excited I'd been getting for Power Rangers.  I mean, I did love the original show back in the day.  It was so cheezy and delightful.  Ever since the first trailers, I'd been joking that I haven't seen Power Rangers taken this seriously since the fanfic I wrote in high school.

So imagine my delight that there is a scene that's ripped straight from the fanfic I wrote in high school. 

Man o man, it's kind of fun seeing Power Rangers being taken all gritty and serious.  Although, I am tiring of that washed-out colour scheme that we've seen in, well, ever DC film.  And sometimes it gets a little too serious.  I mean, they took that "teenagers with attitude" line from the original show's opening narration and ran with it.  These kids have got some pretty serious issues. 

And the problem with that is it takes far too long for our heroes to get going and suit up for the first time.  My fanfic back in the day dealt with stuff we never saw, like the training montages, explaining what exactly their powers are and how to use them, and all that.  But sadly, the first two acts are dedicated to that, and they don't morph until the start of the third act.

But out of all the Easter eggs, I love that the third act follows the same basic formula as a typical episode of the original show.

There's lots of good.  Man, Elizabeth Banks is such a delight as Rita Repulsa.  I wish we had more of her in the film.  With the drive on these days to make villains into sympathetic characters, we don't get a lot of...deliciously evil villains anymore.  Banks' Rita is deliciously evil. 

Long story short:  it's all talk talk talk and franchise set-up until an action-filled third act.  Much like the first Transformers film, my nostalgia for the property is making me love this cliche-filled superhero origin story a lot more than I should.

3 Nibs.  Full review on website.

A couple weeks ago, it was that time of year again.  Time to take some time off to burn off some unused vacation time from last year.  So of course, I went to a weekday matinee of Logan

Needless to say, going into Logan with a twinge of sadness.  Hugh Jackman has long said this is his swan song as Wolverine, and he definitely goes out on a high note.  We finally get the R-rated Wolverine we've wanted because, let's be honest, his most famous superpower is knives coming out of his hands and his go-to move is stabbing people.  So there's gratuitous head-stabbings and decapitations throughout. 

After 17 years, it's like Hugh Jackman has finally gotten grizzled enough to be Wolverine.  And we've never seen a Wolverine like this.  He's near the end.  He knows he doesn't have much time left.  He's moving a little slower.  His healing factor moves a little slower, leaving him with scars.  But he's still the best there is at what he does.

Along for the ride, for one last outing as Professor Charles Xavier, is Patrick Stewart.  Wolverine has been caring for him, as the Professor is starting to lose control of his powers in his old age.  However, it is he who encourages Wolverine to go on one last ride to get the silent Laura to safety. 

Laura, of course, is a young girl with powers just like Wolverine's, and protecting her is just enough to get Wolverine moving once again.

If I have a quibble, it has to be that our villain really doesn't make himself and his motivations known until the literal final minutes of the film.  Would have been nice to, you know, actually get to know the villain.

But it was a remarkable send off to everyone's favourite mutant, and I may have gotten a little misty-eyed at the end.  3.5 Nibs.  Full review on website.

Going back a little further than that, to the end of February, it was The Lego Batman Movie

We've been so, so ready for a light-hearted Batman movie, and The Lego Batman Movie delivers in spades.  The weird thing is, this is the first-ever Batman movie that really delves into the psychology of why Batman prefers to work alone.  It's fun watching as Batman slowly learns to open his heart and work with Robin, Batgirl, and Alfred. 

And dear God, when this movie comes out on Blu-Ray, I'm going to have to watch it frame-by-frame to get all the Batman in-jokes and references.  The director, Chris McKay, cut his teeth on Robot Chicken, and it shows, as that brand of humour runs throughout the entire film. "British robots.  Ask your nerd friends." 

It is so much fun, you guys.  3.5 Nibs.  Full review on the website. 

And we conclude this trip all the way back on Family Day, with A Dog's Purpose.

Yeah, I know, this isn't the typical kind of movie I go see.   Hell, it's the only one on this list that doesn't have a superhero in it.  But it was Family Day, and I was hanging out with sister and her family, so my nieces got to pick the movie.  And of course they picked the one with the cute puppies. 

It's a fairly typical "boy and his dog" kind of movie, but with this one, we get to see the dog get reincarnated and live again.  So it's several "boy and his dog" movies all rolled into one.  But the dogs are cute and the performances are pretty good, so it was fun for the whole family. 

Plus, in the lobby, I managed to win each of nieces a teddy bear in the claw machine!  I'm not some kind of claw machine pro...this one just let you keep going and going and going until you won something. 

But yeah.  A Dog's Purpose was cute.  3 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

So there ya go.  That's how I've been spending my free time over the past month.  And I'm still not done yet.  Man, March sure is crowded with blockbusters.  I still want to get out there and see Kong: Skull Island and Beauty and the Beast.  So I'll do my best to keep you updated going forward. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, blogging about one of the many movies I own.  Well, I guess I couldn't help myself, and decided to do on more Batman movie.  Here's Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.  This is in my notes at July 3, 2016.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Dark Knight Rises (Again)

I feel like I need to apologize.  In the five years that I've been doing Fishing in the Discount Bin, I forgot to post one last week!  Normally, when I go on vacation, I post it, and use all the "publish later" functions at my disposal to make sure it still goes online every Thursday morning.  I was on vacation last week, and I just plum forgot to do that.  As I said on Twitter the day it happened, my apologies to the six of you who actually read this.

Anyway, time to close out my run on every Batman movie with The Dark Knight Rises.  This is in my notes at July 2, 2016.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Dark Knight

Time for another installment on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about a movie I own, just so I can justify my binge-watching.  Right now, I'm binge-watching the Batman franchise, and we get to The Dark Knight.  This is in my notes at June 26, 2016.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman Begins

I'm still working my way through every Batman movie on Fishing in the Discount Bin, and today, we finally get to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy with Batman Begins.  This is in my notes at June 18, 2016.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman & Robin

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  I'm currently making my way through every Batman movie, so we knew we were going to get here eventually.  Time for Batman & Robin.  This is originally in my notes at May 7, 2016.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman Forever

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about a movie I own and have recently re-watched.  Right now, I'm plowing my way through every Batman movie, trying to find the worst one.  Today, we find ourselves on Batman Forever.  This is originally in my notes at April 30, 2016.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

The Targ Returns for February!

Well, when I posted my Christmas special podcast, I said, "Gee, I'd better make a podcast pretty early in the new year, or else the first thing people will see when they come by my website is the Christmas podcast, and that'll get out-of-date pretty quickly." It only took me until Groundhog's Day to do it!

That, and, as I was blogging last week, I figured that there's lots I have to podcast about, so I should get to it.

And here we are with February Special: A Month of Holidays. So what compelled me to sit behind the mic once again?
  • Sharing my woes that I didn't get a Classic NES for Christmas
  • Geeking out over my new phone and my first adventures in Pokemon Go.
  • And mourning the closure of HMV, and reminiscing about all the music stores that used to be in West Edmonton Mall.
And so many trailers came along in January! I've got to share my thoughts on the trailers for Power Rangers, Logan, and Beauty and the Beast.

So give February Special: A Month of Holidays a listen! 

Head over to the main site to check it out!

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about a movie I own and recently re-watched.  Well, re-watched about six months ago, because that seems to be how far ahead I work on this thing.  I'm currently making my way through every theatrically-released Batman film, and that means I get to do Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.  This is originally in my notes at April 23, 2016.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Oh, What a Lovely January

January is such a dead month.  There’s very little going on, as everyone is getting over the holiday rush and preparing for the year ahead.  At least, that’s the way it’s always felt to me.  So naturally, it’s a time for self-reflection, or at least weekends out of the house, spending all those Christmas gift cards you got.  I needed to get out.  I needed to get my mind off things.  So, it was off it the city.

As I’ve blogged before, I don’t feel too guilty about spending a lot of money if I’m sure to pick up at least one thing I need.  This time out, that one thing was a new set of headphones.  Now, you may be sitting there thinking that headphones are nothing, but for us radio folk, they are a tool of the trade.  And I was disheartened this past week when my favourite pair of headphones just up and quit working.  I plugged them into the board to start doing my show, and the left side was just completely gone.

Granted, my headphones weren’t top of the line or anything like that, but my sister gave them to me for Christmas a few years ago.  They always filled the bill, and it was like having my sister right there with me.  So I was sad to see them go.  But I got a new pair, and I’ll be breaking those in on Monday. 

Sadly, I didn’t find the one thing that I was really looking forward to spending a gift card on.  I’m not much of a gamer, but damn it, I really wanted an NES Classic for Christmas.  With a Best Buy gift card in hand, I stopped in at Best Buy to see if any were back in stock yet.  With a sympathetic shrug, the clerk checked the computer and told me, “No.”  So I guess I’ll just keep trying until they are. 

I never had a Nintendo when I was a kid, but I always wanted one.  So the NES Classic is my last, best, nostalgic chance to get one.  Did I tell you of how I screwed myself out of the chance to get one when I was a kid?  I don’t think I’ve ever blogged it, but I know I tell it on the air just about every Christmas as an example to all the kids out there how they’ve got to be good for Santa.

It was the early 1990s, the height of the console wars.  Christmas was coming up, and Mom started hinting that Santa was thinking about bringing us kids a video game console.  “But, he can’t decide if he should bring a Nintendo or a Sega,” said Mom.  I was Team Nintendo all the way.  All my friends had Nintendo.  All our cousins had Nintendo.  Whenever we rented a video game console from the corner store on a rainy weekend afternoon, it was a Nintendo.  Nintendo just made sense.  But my brother...my brother was Sega all the way.  My brother was deep into military aircraft when we were kids, and as such, he was hooked on the Sega classic After Burner.  He wanted a Sega just so he could get his After Burner fix. 

So, over the dinner table that night, my brother and I broke into a debate over the merits of Nintendo versus Sega.  And the debate quickly devolved into an argument.  And as the argument was about to devolve into a fistfight, Mom broke us up and said, “HEY!  If you’re going to be that way, Santa’s bringing you NO VIDEO GAMES.  EVER.”  And thus, we did not get a video game console that Christmas. 

I still got my Nintendo fix.  I had a paper route, so I diligently saved my paper route money for about six months.  When I had enough, I bought myself a Game Boy, as it was Nintendo’s hot new console at the time.  I loved that Game Boy.  Played it quite a bit.  But there’s still a part of me that wanted a Nintendo. 

So I’ll keep occasionally dropping in at Best Buy and the odd video game store until they’re back in stock.  I mean, hey, I may be nostalgic for one, but not nostalgic enough to drop $500 for one on Kijiji.  At that price, may as well go to a used video game store and buy a Nintendo proper. 

Since people know what I like, the bulk of my gift cards this Christmas were for Cineplex, so that meant I was next off to see a movie.  Now, January is usually a pretty slow time for movies, but there still happens to be one out there I had my eye on.  I was going to see The Founder.  Now, I get it.  The Founder doesn’t look like my kind of movie.  No superheroes, no spaceships, nothing.  But I do love fast food.  And my love of fast food has extended beyond just running out to McDonald’s whenever they introduce a new promotional burger.  I have spent countless hours reading up on the history of the various fast food franchise and their origins.  Many told me back in the day that the book Fast Food Nation would turn me off fast food forever, but instead, I found it to be a fascinating peek-behind-the-curtain for this billion dollar industry.  So, yeah.  I wanted to see The Founder. 

The Founder tells the true story of Ray Kroc.  In his early 50s, Kroc had been a salesman for all his life.  He’s OK at it, enough to buy a nice house and get married, but Kroc wants more.  When we first meet him, he’s selling restaurant equipment, and trying to move these fancy milkshake machines that can make five milkshakes at once.  While checking in with his office one day, he learns of a restaurant that’s actually put in an order for 8 of his machines.  Curious as to what kind of restaurant would need to make 40 milkshakes at once, he decides to investigate personally.  His journey takes him to a little California hamburger stand called McDonald’s.  He meets the founders and owners, Dick and Mac McDonald, and quickly becomes enamored with their business.  They’ve developed a whole new method of food preparation and restaurant management that they call “Speedy Service,” getting people their food and out the door within 30 seconds.  Kroc senses this could be huge, and enters into an agreement with the McDonald brothers.  Kroc gets to work selling McDonald’s franchises, and thus begins the tale of how Kroc turned that humble burger stand into the fast food empire we know it to be today. 

The Founder is a really good movie, you guys.  Michael Keaton plays Kroc, and he manages to walk that fine line between charming and sleazy that most salespeople need to walk.  Equally good is Nick Offerman as Dick McDonald, who quickly begins to regret the Pandora ’s Box he opened when he went into business with Kroc.  I also love how it plays with convention a little bit.  When Kroc and the McDonald brothers go out for a drink, and the McDonalds starts explaining how they came up with their concept, the whole film plays like a documentary for that segment.  It’s like we’re watching the A&E Biography of the McDonald brothers. 

And that was about all I did in the city that day.  Although, I kind of regret that i didn’t make it all the way down to West Edmonton Mall, as I’m sure I’ll be running out of time to check out HMV.  News broke on Friday afternoon that HMV is planning to close up shop, and shut down all of its Canadian locations.  And with that, the last great Canadian record store chain will be gone.  Man, HMV had been one of my regular stops at West Edmonton Mall for as long as I can remember. 

When its current location first opened up in 1999, I remember what a big deal it was.  One of those stores that comes along that the media trumpets as “revolutionary.”  When it first opened in ’99, one of its biggest features was its rooms.  These were pretty much stores within the store.  You could go into the country music room, where all the country albums were and country was playing on the loudspeakers.  You could go into the hip hop room, which was pretty much the same thing, but for hip hop.  And there was even a listening lounge, where you could preview the newest albums before buying them.  Back in those hazy lazy days after college, that listening lounge was the popular place where I’d meet up with my friends in the city for a night on the town. 

And that’s not even HMV’s original location in West Edmonton Mall.  Their original location was where Victoria’s Secret now is.  Bought a lot of albums there.  Hell, bought a lot of VHS tapes there, when I started getting into movies.  I remember blowing my mother’s mind, when I picked up the Star Wars trilogy...the famous “one last time” edition from 1995, which wound up being the last official release of the original theatrical editions.  “You actually like Star Wars that much?” asked my mother, slightly confused.  Hell, I remember when HMV used to have two locations in West Edmonton Mall.  They had a second, smaller one, over in Phase I for a couple of years.  I remember having an awkward encounter there with the girl I had a crush on in elementary school.  We had moved on to separate high schools by then, and made the awkward comments about how much we had...grown, and that was the last time we ever saw each other. 

That’s getting me nostalgic for all the record stores that used to be in West Edmonton Mall.  As a kid, I remember visiting A&A Records and Tapes in the Mall, until HMV moved in and put them out of business.  Music World used to be in the food court, where the eyeglass store is now.  Again, bought a lot of VHS tapes at Music World, because I was starting to become a snob about aspect ratios, and it was the first place I saw with a dedicated widescreen section.  Over where Chapters is now, that used to be the West Edmonton Mall location of Sam the Record Man.  Didn’t shop at Sam’s that much, as I always found HMV to be a little bit cheaper.

Sad seeing all these record stores go, even though I am part of the problem.  Ever since the smartphone era begin, I buy pretty much all of my music digitally now.  And streaming music services like Spotify make it even easier.  But ya know, with the resurgence of vinyl, I am half-tempted to get myself a turntable some days.  If I go through with that, I guess I’ll have to buy my records online.  I blogged back in December that I wandered into HMV to pick up the soundtracks for Star Trek Beyond and Rogue One.  Those might wind up being the last albums I ever buy at HMV. 

Speaking of smartphones, did I mention yet that I finally bit the bullet and upgraded my smartphone?  Did that about two weeks ago.  I figured I should update you, as pondering over when to upgrade kind of dominated the “my day in the city” blog entries last year.  But yeah, with everything on my iPhone 4S being all slow and choppy, I finally said, “Screw it, I gotta do it.” 
Ran down to Spruce Grove, because there’s a Telus Store there where I got my 4S 4 years ago, and they treated me really nice.  After mulling my choices online for most of 2016, I finally settled on an iPhone 6S.  As I told my friends, I’ve bought too much stuff on iTunes to turn back now.  And again, that Telus Store treated me really nice.  They brought up my account, and discovered I qualified for a free upgrade.  So all I really had to pay for was a new SIM card and the protective case. 

I’ve spent the past two weeks playing with my new phone and getting accustomed to it.  I’m annoying the three people who follow me on SnapChat because I can finally use filters without my phone crashing.  I’m finally playing Pokemon Go.  Yeah, I’m about seven months late to the party on that fad, but I’m having a lot of fun with it.  With my increased duties at work, I don’t have much time to go out for my evening walks anymore.  But damn it, Pokemon Go is getting me out, because these 5km eggs aren’t going to hatch themselves. 

The only real problem I have with my new phone is my PC is now so old that my phone won’t sync to it.  So I can’t download my tunes!  Yeah, if there’s anything I’ve ever bought on iTunes, I can always download that from the cloud, but any of my albums that I’ve ripped over the years, and I’m SOL.  So I guess next up is I gotta get a new PC.  And I also wouldn’t mind a laptop or tablet, for when I’m on the road. 

But maybe I will be satisfied with my new phone for when I’m on the road.  I can’t get over how much bigger this 6S is compared to the 4S.  I can see myself comfortably watching Netflix on this. 

As I’m winding down on this rambling, I’m thinking I need to get a podcast again.  So much of this would have been good show prep for a podcast.  And there’s so much more to talk about.  Like the latest trailer for the Power Rangers reboot.  Or the latest trailer for Logan.  Or the next Star Wars movie has a title now.  (The Last Jedi, in case you haven’t heard.)  So much to talk about, and so little time. 

And the usually quiet January is almost done.  So If I’m going to do it, I’d better do it. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman Returns

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I sit and blog about one of the movies I own.  I'm doing something I always wanted to do...plowing my way through the Batman franchise.  Next up on this list, Batman Returns.  This is originally in my notes at April 17, 2016.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman (1989)

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about a movie I own. Right now, I'm making my way through the entire Batman franchise, and we get to the one that really kicked off this current run...Tim Burton's film from 1989.  This is originally in my notes at April 16, 2016.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman (1966)

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, that thing I do where I blog about a movie I own.  Today, I'm starting something I've wanted to do for a long time:  I'm plowing my way through every Batman movie.  I'm kicking things off with the Adam West Batman from 1966.  This was originally in my notes at April 26, 2016.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Memories of Eternia

He-man Calendar

It was with a healthy dose of nostalgic glee that my brother gave me a Masters of the Universe calendar for Christmas this year.  I was pretty lucky to have a lot of toys when I was a kid, and the holy trinity of the 1980s -- G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Masters of the Universe -- was pretty well represented in my bedroom.  As an adult, looking back, I declare Transformers to be my favourite, but Christmas always makes me the most nostalgic for Masters of the Universe.

It probably has a lot to do with the fact that my very first crystal-clear memory of Christmas has to do with Masters of the Universe toys.  I was about six years old.  The cartoon had just premiered, so naturally, I was nuts for it.  We were spending Christmas with my Opa and Oma down in Red Deer.  The German tradition is you open your presents on Christmas Eve, so, there we were, tearing open our presents, and I was overjoyed at the first two Masters of the Universe figures I ever had the pleasure of receiving:  the evil Skeletor, leader of the forces of evil, and his minion Faker, an evil robot duplicate of our hero, He-Man.

And they were the perfect to take command of the biggest gift I got that year:  Point Dread and the Talon Fighter.  Point Dread was a playset:  a tiny tower just barely big enough to hold a single action figure.  But it was just a glorified landing pad for the Talon Fighter:  a jet aircraft designed to resemble an eagle.  And, wouldn't you know it, just big enough to hold two figures!

While in canon as a base of operations for the heroes, it didn't take much imagination to declare Point Dread had been overrun by the villains, and was now a hideout for Skeletor and Faker.  I loved it so much.  I played with it for several months after Christmas.  In Grade 1, we had to keep a daily journal, and I remember several entries dedicated to the machinations of Skeletor and what he was doing with the power of Point Dread at his command.  But my most vivid memory is always of coming home from school one day.  My mother had tidied up my room.  I went to my room to play and there, perched upon my dresser, was the Talon Fighter, perched atop Point Dread, and in the cockpit, Skeletor and Faker were ready for action.  It looked so perfect.  The sun was coming through the window and hitting it the right way.  God, it was like the idol at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

And from them on, most Christmases in my childhood were highlighted with a new Masters of the Universe toy or two.  One year an aunt got me Wind Raider.  Wind Raider!  The hero's main jet fighter on the show.  I'd only ever seen it on the cartoon, but never in the stores, so I was starting to think it was made up for the show.  There was the crawling Dragon Walker.  I remember opening up the kitchen table and taking out the centre leaf, and setting it to traverse a wide crevasse, as it did on the TV commercials.

But the one that was long talked about afterwards was the Christmas of two Snake Mountains.  Snake Mountain -- Skeletor's domain, and the second-most famous playset in the toyline, after Castle Greyskull.  Another Christmas Eve at Opa and Oma's.  I tore into my biggest Christmas present to find it was Snake Mountain!  I thanked my uncle.  Then I tore into another one, from another uncle, to find it was...also Snake Mountain!  My uncles shot each other a worried glance, as it turned out they forgot to co-ordinate with each other.  While I tore into one, my uncle said he'd return the second one and get me something else.

I finally got the much-coveted Castle Greyskull earlier that year, for my birthday.  My birthday happened to fall on a Saturday that year, so I was up before anyone else to watch cartoons, as I always did on Saturday.  I quietly crept down to the living room, turned the corner, and was face-to-face with that grim green skull that was the face of Castle Greyskull.  I was quite startled, so I turned around and went back to bed.  A little while later, my Dad got up, and heard me rustling around in my room.  So Dad took me down to the living room, and there it was.  Castle Greyskull!  Battle Armor Skeletor!  Battle Armor He-Man!  Mekaneck!  All for me, and on my birthday!  Greatest birthday ever!

Sadly, by the time I got Castle Greyskull, Point Dread had been well-played with and had actually gone missing, so I was never able to try on of Point Dread's features:  the top half of Point Dread could attach to one of Castle Greyskull's towers, thus creating a Talon Fighter landing pad at Castle Greyskull.

And that's probably why I get most nostalgic for Masters of the Universe.  I don't have anything left.  I still have a few G.I. Joes and Transformers that I managed to hang onto over the years, but no Masters of the Universe stuff.  In fact, Masters of the Universe is the one toy I had where I made the conscious decision to get rid of it.  When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was thinking, "Yeah, I'm done with this," and sold it all at a garage sale.

I've never been the kind to browse eBay and try to re-collect my Masters of the Universe stuff.  I'm more content to just sit back and be nostalgic.  But part of me wouldn't mind getting Skeletor, Faker, Point Dread and the Talon Fighter once again, to perch majestically on my dresser. 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Peanuts Movie

Here we go again, on the first Fishing in the Discount Bin of the new year!  Taking a look at one of my favourite animated films of 2015, The Peanuts Movie.  This is in my notes at March 19, 2016.