Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Thaw

I've mentioned it to friends, and I even tweeted about it.  I was feeling a little off in March.  March was a month that was full of movies that should have been right up my alley -- A Wrinkle in Time, the Tomb Raider reboot, Pacific Rim Uprising -- but my desire to go see them was non-existent.  That did change, though, with Ready Player One.  I'd been reading about the book online for a while, I was hoping to read it before going to see the movie, but I never got around to it.  I wasn't able to see it the weekend it came out, because that was Easter and I was doing family stuff.  Last weekend was no good, because I was on location.  But this weekend...this weekend, I was ready.

Headed off to the city bright and early on Saturday morning.  Before heading off to the movies, though, I had to hit the department stores to get some of that grown-up stuff.  I can never seem to find pants in my size, so when I find some in my size, and on sale to boot, I pick 'em up.  So I have new pants.  Can't go to work without pants!  I learned that one the hard way....

Of course, had to check the toy section, too, as we're getting closer and closer to Wookie Weekend.  For those just joining us, ever since Disney bought Star Wars, Disney has had massive retail events for the when the new Star Wars toys that tie in to the next Star Wars movie go on sale.  For our main saga films (that's Force Awakens and Last Jedi), they called it "Force Friday."  For Rogue One, they called it "Going Rogue."  And, for Solo, they've called it "Wookie Weekend."

Now, Wookie Weekend is this Friday, April 20, but you never know.  Clerks have been known to make mistakes and get the stuff on the shelves early.  Which is what I found at Toys R Us.  They had the LEGO sets out, they had the vehicles out, but they didn't have any of the figures out yet.  So it looks like I'll still be making a quick trip into the city on April 20 after work to see if there's anything left.

Then I made it to West Edmonton Mall in plenty of time for my movie.  Sometimes, I just like to wander around West Edmonton Mall, do a little people watching, and take in the ambience.  Plus, I've also recently discovered this cool YouTube channel called Best Edmonton Mall that's dedicated to telling the history of West Edmonton Mall...closed down attractions, editorials on recent changes, stuff like that.  I had to tweet them my appreciation because, in their video about West Edmonton Mall's bronze whale, they used my pictures of the whale being dismantled, and gave me proper credit.  Those pictures are from this ancient blog entry, in case you're wondering.

Anyway, one of their videos was about some recent changes to Galaxyland, so I decided to take a wander through Galaxyland and just take it in.  As always, when I go through Galaxyland, I take a moment to stop at the former location of the Drop of Doom and sigh wistfully.  About my only regret when it comes to West Edmonton Mall was I was took chicken to try the Drop of Doom back in the day.  According to one of my friends at school, if you wanted to see something really neat, you'd put a penny on your knee at the start of the ride.  When they dropped you from the top, thanks to the differing terminal velocity of the penny, the penny would slowly rise from your knee until it appeared to be floating in mid-air just in front of your face.  And then, when you curved at the bottom to coast to a stop, the penny would smack into the ride car, just past your head.

The last time I actually did Galaxyland -- like,ride the rides and stuff -- had to be in the early 2000s.  It was those hazy days when I'd just finished college and hadn't figured out what to do with my life yet.  It was my nephew's birthday, so I was meeting up with my brother's family and my parents for a birthday celebration.  I noticed one of my old friends from college working there, and since there was no line at the ride she was staffing, I excused myself for a bit and went over to say hello.

I remember chatting with her, and our conversation was interrupted by one of the loud airhorns or bells or something like that that signified the start of the ride.  "How can you stand working here?" I asked her.

"I can't," she replied.  "Gave my two weeks notice this morning."

With that trip down memory lane finished, I left through Galaxyland's main entrance and back out into the mall.  Wound up doing a little more reminiscing.  I remembered when West Edmonton Mall first opened back in the mid-1980s, the mall boasted that it had three McDonald's.  And we're not talking food court kiosks, we're talking full restaurants.  There was one right across the main entrance from Galaxyland, one was on Bourbon Street, and the third was in the Phase III food court...the one closest to the Deep Sea Adventure.  Now, the mall has only one...a food court kiosk in the Phase I food court.  That's the one closest to Galaxyland.

Now that I was done being nostalgic, it was time for the nostalgia-fest that is Ready Player One.

Ready Player One poster

In a dystopian not-too-distant-future, the main escape from the drudgery of real life has become OASIS...a virtual reality MMORPG where imagination is your only limit.  When the creator of OASIS, James Halliday, passes away, he announces in a pre-recorded video message that he hid an Easter egg in OASIS, and you need to find three keys in order to access it.  The first to find the Easter egg will win Halliday's personal fortune and complete control of OASIS.

Our hero is Wade Watts.  In OASIS, he goes by Parzival.  Like many, he's dedicated his life to tracking down the Easter egg.  When he's the first to find the first key, he draws the attention of allies -- like fellow egg hunger Art3mis -- and enemies, particularly the corporation IOI, who wants to dominate OASIS so they can ramp up its monetization.  Before long, all out war is brewing between Parzival and his allies and the IOI corporation in both OASIS and the real world for control of OASIS.

I really enjoyed the film.  You've probably seen the commercials and TV spots, where see OASIS is crammed full of pop culture references and is a mash-up of all kinds of pop culture stuff.  "Forrest Gump for Gen X" is how I saw one blogger describe it.  But I'm pleased to report that, much like Wreck-It Ralph, the nostalgia is merely sprinkles on top, and not necessary to understand the plot.  That being said, the plot is a pretty routine "hero's journey" kind of tale, with heroic heroes and slimy villains.

Oh, and the Iron Giant fought Mechagodzilla.  Which was awesome.

So,  yeah.  I really liked Ready Player One.  I give it three out of four nibs.  Full review on the website.

And before departing from the mall, I made a quick stop through Sunrise Records.  They finally had a Blu-ray in stock that had been on my Amazon wish list forever, and I finally thought, "What the hey?" and picked it up.

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Ghost World.  The critically acclaimed 2001 movie, based on the indie comic by Daniel Clowes.  It's the movie that pretty much made Scarlett Johansson famous, which is kind of weird, because Thora Birch is the star.

Birch is Enid, recently graduated from high school, what modern society would call a hipster, and is kind of drifting through summer, trying to figure out what next to do with her life.  Johansson is her best friend Rebeca, who's going through a similar malaise.  Enid soon falls in with a super-nerdy record collector played by Steve Buscemi and...that's all I know, really.

I've actually never seen Ghost World.  I just know that, when it came out in 2001, most of my friends at the time were raving about it.  It seemed to perfectly capture that post-college confusion of "What comes next?" that we were all going through.  So when I saw that Criterion released an edition back in the fall, I just looked at it and thought, "I want this."

 Grabbed it off the shelf, went up to the clerk...and I swear, this clerk was Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons.  He sees that Blu-ray cover and he starts going off about some little Brazilian animated film that he describes as being super-weird, and I'm like, "Yeah, thanks, can you finish ringing me up please?"  When I left the store I started wondering about it.  I wonder if he, too, has never seen Ghost World, and based on the Clowes' artwork on the Blu-Ray cover, assumed it was some indie animated film?

Anyway, as I finish writing this up on Sunday morning, sitting down and watching Ghost World is my Sunday afternoon plan.  So if you'll excuse me, it's off to the rest of my weekend! 

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