Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Andy Barker, P.I.

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how it works.  I watch one of the DVDs I own, I blog my thoughts about it.  I'm delving into a "brilliant but cancelled" TV series with Andy Barker, P.I.  This is in my notes at August 25, 2019.





Thursday, October 10, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  You know the routine by now.  Today, I'm doing Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.  This is in my notes at August 24, 2019.




Thursday, October 03, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Fantastic Four (2005)

Boppin' along on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch one of the many movies in my personal library, and blog about it.  This time out, we're doing 2005's Fantastic Four.  This is in my notes at August 21, 2019




Thursday, September 26, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Avengers: Endgame

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how this works...I watch a movie I own, then blog about it.  It's time for Avengers: Endgame!  This is in my notes at August 18, 2019.

Avengers Endgame Poster



Thursday, September 19, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird!

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how it is, I watch a movie I own, and the blog about it.  It's just that simple.  Tonight, we do Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird.  This is in my notes at August 3, 2019.





Thursday, September 12, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Shazam!

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know my routine, I watch a movie and blog about it.  This time out, we're watching Shazam!.  This is in my notes at August 3, 2019.




Thursday, September 05, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Captain Marvel

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how it works, I watch one of the movies I own and blog about it.  We dip back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain Marvel.  This is originally in my notes at July 1, 2019.




Thursday, August 29, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Jerk

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the premise by now, I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  Today, I'm watching the classic Steve Martin comedy The Jerk.  This is in my notes at June 30, 2019.




Thursday, August 22, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - A Bunch of Batman Episodes

Here we go again with Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a DVD I own and blog about it.  Something a little different tonight.  Whenever I watch a rerun of Batman: The Animated Series, I usually jot down a few thoughts on Facebook.  So, for this one, I just compiled those thoughts.  This is in my notes at May 18, 2019.





Friday, August 16, 2019

Various Rants About Pop Culture

I really don't do the kind of rants about pop culture like I used to on this blog.  But I've got a few ramblings that are a bit longer than tweets, so let's dust off the old blog and get this off my chest.

Iron Giant

It recently popped up in the social media feeds that my all-time favourite movie, The Iron Giant, just celebrated it's 20th anniversary.  A flop when it first hit theatres, it has now become a beloved cult classic.

It was the summer of 1999.  I had just graduated from college.  The euphoric high brought on by the release of Episode I was starting to fade, and the question of what to do with the rest of my life was starting to set it.  I've always loved animated films, and at that point in my life, I was going to see pretty much every animated film that came out.  My sister was going through a similar phase as me, having just graduated from high school, and wanted to go see Disney's Tarzan.  So we planned a trip to the city to see both films.

We both agreed, The Iron Giant was the better film.  I was completely blown away.  I went home that night and fired up the old dial-up Internet.  Social media as we know it didn't exist yet, so I e-mailed all my friends about how amazing it was, and gushed about it in my online journal.  ("Online journal" is what we called blogs back then, because the word "blog" hadn't been invented yet.)

How much did I love it?  I went to see it again.  You have to understand, I grew up in a small town with the nearest movie theatre being an hour's drive away, so seeing a movie in the theatre twice has always been a Really Big Deal for me.

As much as a year after it's release, friends were still coming up to me and saying, "Hey, I finally rented it on VHS last night because you won't shut up about it, and yeah, it's amazing."

So, yeah.  Because I haven't gushed about it in a while, check out The Iron Giant.  It's awesome.


Three's Company

I still pay for cable TV, and thanks to that, I sometimes stumble across come unexpected gems.  Like a particular rerun of Three's Company.  It was one of the episodes I remember most vividly from my youth.

Janet currently has the hots for this billionaire that frequents her flower shop.  He invites her to a party on his private island.  But, this billionaire has a lady companion with him.  Seeking to make him jealous, Janet invites Jack along.

Now, they have to get to this private island via private plane.  And Jack's afraid of flying.  So Jack decides to dose up on tranquilizers before the flight.  Which has the end result of Jack tripping balls by the time they get to the party.  Jack engages in all kinds of high shenanigans, climaxing in this spectacular drunken dance routine.  I tell you, it's an amazing dance number, and I think people have forgotten just what a wonderfully gifted physical comedian John Ritter was.

Anyway, Jack comes down from his high.  The billionaire's lady friend turns out to be his sister, so Janet hooks up with the billionaire and Jack hooks up with the billionaire's sister.  Happy endings all around!

I've now got that episode recorded on my PVR, marked with "never delete."  If I knew how to rip that dance sequence and post it to YouTube, I would.

Astro Boy

When I was off on vacation about a month ago, I fell down an Internet rabbit hole, and before I knew it, I was watching old clips of Astro Boy on YouTube.  There have been many Astro Boy adaptations over the years, but the one I grew up with was the 1980s series.  And I didn't know this, but for us North Americans, there's a whole lost episode.

One thing that never made sense about the cartoon was our big bad, Atlas, who's eventually revealed to be Astro's brother.  The explanation was that they were made from the same blueprints.  But, how can they be made from the same blueprints, when Astro is a little boy robot, and Atlas is a golden god robot?

Well, the lost episode explains that.  The blueprints for Astro were stolen by a master criminal, who then built Atlas to be the ultimate criminal robot.  And in this first appearance, Atlas did look like Astro, only blonde instead of dark-haired.

Turns out, though, having a master criminal for a surrogate father doesn't really work out in the superhero world.  Atlas finally had enough of his father/creator's BS and went all "Rise of the Machines," killing his father and getting critically damaged in the process.  Atlas rebuilt himself in the aftermath, and upgraded his body in the process, turning himself into the golden god robot that plagues Astro throughout the cartoon.

There you go.  A riddle that plagued 8-year old me, finally solved.  This episode was never released in North America because in North American cartoons, they generally frown on murder.  The 1980s series is hard to come by on DVD, with only the 2003 series being made widely available.



Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man: Far From Home was so good, you guys.  And it made me angry about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 again.  Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the textbook case of you DON'T build a franchise.  "Hey, people like that Green Goblin.  Let's get him back in there."  "Hey, let's kill Gwen Stacy, because that's something that happened in the comics."  "Hey, remember that 'mystery of Peter Parker's parents' plot that we abandoned 10 minutes into the last film?  Let's double down on that."  "Let's make Black Cat the Green Goblin's secretary, because maybe that'll be a Thing someday."

NO.  Stop.  You can't just throw all this crap on the screen to see what sticks.  The whole "mystery of Peter Parker's parents" is a prime example.  It was all over the ad campaign for The Amazing Spider-Man, and audiences were baffled when the plot was abandoned 10 minutes into the film.  Well, the studio mistook the audience's confusion for interest, which is what they decided to go in hard in the sequel.

At the end of the day, the story must come first.  Just give me a solid Spider-Man movie, without tossing a whole bunch of extra junk in there.  Which is what Spider-Man: Far From Home is.

Avengers vs. Justice League

Kind of building on the Spider-Man anger, let's talk about Justice League and Avengers: Endgame.  I think, with Endgame, we can finally retire the massive CGI battles that climax so many of these films these days.  Yeah, the giant CGI armies are cool, but with Endgame...we've followed pretty much everyone in that army of Avengers for the past 10 years.  So we know everyone in that army and they're stake in the battle.

Now, let's look at Justice LeagueJustice League opens with a massive battle where the armies of Man, the Amazons, and the Atlanteans all join together to drive the forces of Darkseid from the Earth.  And a Green Lantern is in there for some reason?  But we don't know anyone in that fight.  We kinda know that Amazons through Wonder Woman, we haven't met Aquaman yet, so we don't care about the Atlanteans.  It's just...meh.

DC was in such a rush to catch up with Marvel that they tried to open withe massive battle at the end of Endgame.  And we didn't care because we didn't know anyone in the fight.

As a friend summed up as I was ranting about this to him.  You can't just throw all this in and expected us to care.  A filmmaker's job is to make us care.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I'm jotting this down on August 15.  It's shown up in my social media feeds that today is the 11th anniversary of the animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  I know some friends have worried that they might get burnt out on Star Wars, what with all the stuff that Disney is cranking out these days, and I sympathize, for I have been there.

As with every other Star Wars movie, I was there opening weekend for Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  And I don't care how phenomenal the resulting series was, but the opening movie is not a good movie.  I mean, we all know it's not a real movie...it was the first four episodes of the series smooshed together.  As I went home from the theatre that night, I thought to myself, "Ya know what, Star Wars?  I think you and I...we need a break."

That's probably why I avoided the Clone Wars series for such a long time.  I finally binged it when it hit Netflix a few years back.  It was good, but I wasn't all, "OH MY GOD!  THIS IS THE BESTEST STAR WARS EVER!" like a lot of fans are.  And I wonder how much of that stems from the movie leaving such a bad taste in my mouth.

It's probably smart that Disney is planning to give Star Wars a rest after Rise of Skywalker hits this Christmas.  Last thing you want to do is burn out a whole generation, like how I got burnt out in the late-2000s.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Avatar (Again)

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch one of the movies I own and blog about it.  Easy as that.  This time out, I decided to take a second go-around at Avatar.  This is in my notes at May 12, 2019.





Thursday, August 08, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the drill...I watch a movie I own, then blog about this.  This time out, we're doing The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.  This is in my notes at May 11, 2019.





Thursday, August 01, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, in which I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  We're going back into my VHS tapes for today's entry, Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light.  This is in my  notes at May 5, 2019.




Thursday, July 25, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Justice League: Starcrossed

And we're back on Fishing in the Discount Bin!  Took a couple weeks off there, because I was on vacation in the real world.  Normally, I work ahead, and pre-post everything, but this time out, I thought, "Ah, screw it.  The 20 people who read this won't mind."  And here we are.  I'm back now, and we can get back to it, with Justice League: Starcrossed.  This is in my notes at May 4, 2019.




Thursday, July 04, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Justice League: Secret Origins

And here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how this works, I watch a movie and blog about it.  Tonight, I do the premiere episode of the legendary Justice League cartoon.  This is in my  notes at May 4, 2019.




Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review

About 10 years ago or so, straight-to-DVD content was one of the big buzzwords around Hollywood, and we started getting blessed with tons of straight-to-DVD films.  It was a boon to us comic book nerds, because they started cranking out a ton of straight-to-DVD animated films based on classic superheroes.  I was to run out and buy a lot of them...specifically the DC ones put out by Warner Brothers.  I started tapering off about five or six years ago, as I felt they were getting kinda repetitive.  But, occasionally one will come along where I just have to snatch it up.  And that's the case right now with....






Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Directed by Jake Castorena

Starring the voices of Troy Baker, Darren Criss, Kyle Mooney, Baron Vaughn, Eric Bauza, Rachel Bloom, Andrew Kishino, and Cas Anvar.

Backstory

Batman and the TMNT have become quite the team-up over the past few years.  It all started in 2015, when IDW and DC Comics partnered to do a mini-series crossover comic.  It was so well-received, it spawned two sequels and a spinoff taking its cues from their respective animated series.  It even led to the Turtles being playable characters in Injustice 2.  So it didn't take long before Warner Brothers Animation went, "Hey!  This is so popular, why don't we do it as one of our straight-to-DVD animated films?"  And here we are.

Plot

There's a new player in Gotham City...a mysterious ninja clan with a fighting style unfamiliar to Batman.  And they seem to have brought four reptilian men with them.  It turns out the Ninja Turtles have tracked the Foot Clan to Gotham City, as the Shredder has gained a powerful new ally in one of Batman's rogues.  It's not long before the Caped Crusader and the Heroes in a Half-Shell cross paths, and they decide to join forces to stop this unholy alliance of Shredder and...Ra's Al Guhl.  But, Batman's grim and serious manner doesn't mesh well the Turtles' youthful and impulsive tactics.  Will Batman and the TMNT be able to put aside their differences?  What is the Shedder and Ra's Al Guhl plotting for the city?

What I Liked

The voice acting, as always, is top notch.  Troy Baker becomes the first to voice both Batman AND the Joker in an animated project, and the voices he uses are such a close match to Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill that you'll wonder why they just didn't get them.  There's a great humour to it, and they come up with some great pairings between the Turtles and the various members of the Batman family.  One of the highlights of the original  comic -- Shredder using the ooze on Arkham Asylum, and our heroes having to fight off mutated versions of Batman's rogues -- is a standout fight sequence here.  And it's just chock-full of Easter eggs, as the animators re-create many famous shots from the Ninja Turtle franchise.

What I Didn't Like

At the end of the day, it's a pretty formulaic superhero team-up plot.

Final Verdict

A very fun superhero offering, and absolutely delightful if you're a fan of Batman and/or TMNT.  I picked it up on Blu-Ray, but another reason why I stopped buying these is they pop up on Netflix soon enough.  I suggest you check it out.

3 Nibs

Monday, July 01, 2019

A Welcome Break

June turned out to be a pretty rough  month for me.  We were in to a busy stretch at work, which made some long days, and I agreed to be in the Westlock Drama Society's latest production, which made for some long nights.  So when the boss suggested I take last Monday off to recuperate, I didn't put up much of a fight.  While I was looking forward to just lazing around the house, I took a look at the box office returns and figured it might be my last chance to see Dark Phoenix before it tanks out of theatres. 

I checked the weather forecast, and sadly, it was looking like rain.  I clenched up a little.  When we got hit with our first real storm of the season at the start of the month, I got a terrible surprise when I was driving across town.  One of my windshield wipers broke off!  It wasn't doing anything to clear my windshield, it was just flopping around.  It's quite frightening when it's bumper-to-bumper traffic on Westlock's main drag, in a storm, and suddenly you can't see. 

I made it to my destination, waited inside for the rain to stop, and then took a closer look at things.  I jiggled with the wiper a little bit and snapped it back into place.  Just to be safe, I took my car over to the tire shop in town.  They changed my oil back in the spring, and convinced me to buy a new pair of windshield wipers.  I was getting ready to raise holy hell to get them to fix things, but, even after I fixed it myself, I figured I'd feel safer if a professional looked at it.  So, they did, and they told me that, yeah, windshield wipers just snap on, and sometimes they work loose.  I went home that night and googled some YouTube tutorials on how to change your own windshield wipers, and it's become part of my pre-flight checks when I see there's rain in the forecast.  I make sure the windshield wipers are snapped in nice and tight. 

Once it looked like my wipers would hold, I hopped in the car and went into the city.  I was thinking of treating myself to a little something.  I collect Star Wars action figures.  And something that's been happening ever since Disney started cranking out Star Wars movies is each movie has its own exclusive 4-pack of action figures.  Last time I was in the city, I noticed that Wal-Mart had the Solo: A Star Wars Story 4-pack for $20...that's half price!  And up the road at Toys R Us, they have the Last Jedi 4-pack for $25...also half price!  I figured, "Hey, let's get these!  They'll make nice bookends on the Star Wars action figure shelves!" 

So I got to Wal-Mart, and saw that the Solo 4-pack had gone back up to its regular price of $40.  I looked at the price tag, double-checked with one of those "Check Price Here!" scanners they've got all over the place, and though, "Well...screw this.  I ain't payin' full price for it!" and put it back.  I thought about picking it up at Toy R Us, because they also had the Solo 4-pack for half-price, but the thrill was gone.  The mood had been killed. 

I soldiered on to West Edmonton Mall...pretty much the only place where Dark Phoenix was playing on a weekday matinee.  I didn't even buy my ticket online, like I've been doing with so many movie tickets these days.  I went and bought it from one of their self-serve kiosks in the lobby.  Wow.  There's such a backlash towards the self-serve kiosks these days, but I remember movie theatres were the first ones to bring them in some 20 years ago. 

I swung by the snack counter to get some snacks.  I've been snacking a lot more at the movies lately.  For the longest time, I wouldn't have anything.  With my preference for matinees, I'd always wind up going right after lunch, and I'd be too full to think about popcorn.  But these days, I feel like I need some sweets at the movies.  Not much of a popcorn fan, though.  My movie-going snack has to be Twizzlers.  That was always Mom's movie-going snack when I was a kid, and Mom would always share with the family when we went to a movie.  So it's ingrained in my.  You need Twizzlers at the movies. 

I settled into my chair, got my pack of Twizzlers open, and got ready for the show.  First thing I saw was the Universal logo.  "OK, this is kinda weird.  Dark Phoenix is a Fox movie," I thought.  "Maybe it's just a trailer."  But no, I realized it wasn't a trailer when they started rolling the opening credits to The Secret Life of Pets 2.  I went outside to make sure I was in the right theatres, and/or make a complaint.  The usher explained that, yeah, I was in the right theatre.  There was a school group in there earlier in the day, and they forgot to swap out the films in the projector.  Just give the projectionist 10 minutes to reset everything and Dark Phoenix would be good to go. 

Ten minutes later, and the opening credits to Dark Phoenix were rolling. 

Dark Phoenix Movie Poster


So, for those not in the know, Dark Phoenix is the latest X-Men movie, and it takes its cues from one of X-Men's best known stories, The Phoenix Saga.  It's been 10 years since the last film, X-Men: Apocalypse, and the X-Men have grown to become superheroes the world over.  Charles Xavier is happy, as it looks as though his dream of humans and mutants living in harmony has come to pass, but some wonder if this newfound fame is going to Charles' head.  The X-Men are soon called upon to do a daring space rescue, but Jean Grey is hit with a massive energy blast in space.  She manages to survive, and begins growing more and more powerful.  Frightened by her newfound power and what she's capable of, Jean Grey goes on a rampage, and the X-Men try to talk her down.  But soon, nefarious forces from beyond the starts come in search of Jean Grey and her power.  Will they capture Jean?  Will she be able to control her power?  Or will the X-Men's most dangerous foe turn out to be Charles' own hubris? 

Ya know, for one of X-Men's biggest and most epic stories, it sure struck me how small Dark Phoenix felt.  You have all these gigantic cosmic forces at play, but the stakes never feel at a cosmic level.  In a way, it reminded me a lot of the first X-Men film that came out way back in 2000.  It is shockingly small compared to all the superhero films we've gotten since.  And Dark Phoenix just felt small. 

Don't get me wrong, there is some good.  James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender still shine as Charles Xavier and Magneto.  The opening space rescue is a great action sequence.  But so much of the film feels like it's on auto pilot. 

This is probably our last X-Men movie for a while.  With Disney buying out 20th Century Fox, the X-Men will soon be able to mix it up with the Avengers, like they have in the comics for so long.  Dark Phoenix is, quite literally, the end of a chapter in superhero films.  It's a shame it was more limping across the finish line than a grand finale. 

2 Nibs.  Full review over on the other website.

And before I went home, I decided to pop in to Sunrise Records.  Since I wasn't buying Star Wars action figure 4-packs anymore, I thought I'd splurge on some new Blu-Rays I'd had my eyes on.  Firstly, Warner Brothers' latest straight-to-DVD animated film based on a DC Comic, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Ah, the crossover that my 12-year old self dreamed of.  Batman and the TMNT have actually been crossing paths quite a bit lately.  DC Comics and IDW have published a best-selling series of crossovers featuring the Caped Crusader and the Heroes in a Half Shell, so it wasn't long before Warner Animation said, "Hey!  Let's make this into a movie!"  It's pretty standard superhero team-up fare.  Batman and the Ninja Turtles have to team up to stop the unholy alliance of Shredder and Ra's Al Guhl.  Fun stuff. 

And I also grabbed the Steve Martin classic The Jerk.  It got a brand-new super-special edition back at Christmas, so I thought, "Why not?" 

Flash forward a week and, thanks to Canada Day, I was blessed with two long weekends in a row.  And, massive Pixar lover that I am, I knew I had to head back into the city to see Toy Story 4

In this past decade, Pixar became notorious for cranking out sequels.  We got Monsters University, Finding Dory, Incredibles 2, and Cars 2 & 3.  It began with Toy Story 3, and now it ends with Toy Story 4.  And like a lot of folks, I went into that theatre thinking, "Do we really need another Toy Story?  The third one was such a perfect ending."

Toy Story 4 Movie Poster
It's been a couple of years since Andy went off to college and gave all his toys to neighbourhood girl Bonnie.  Most of Andy's toys have settled into Bonnie's life, except for Woody, who still hasn't found his place.  At Bonnie's first day of kindergarten, she makes a new toy out of a spork that she names Forky, and, being a toy, Forky comes to life.  Woody makes it his new purpose to become Forky's protector, especially on an upcoming road trip.  On the road, Woody soon runs into his lost love Bo Peep, who has been living on her own for a while as a lost toy, reveling in the freedom.  But soon, Forky gets captured by the evil doll Gabby Gaby in an old antique shop, and it's up to Woody, Bo Peep, and the rest of the gang to rescue Forky! 

Dude, Toy Story 4 made me cry.  While Toy Story 3 may have been a good ending for the Toy Story saga, Toy Story 4 was a good ending for Woody.  It was very much like Captain America at the end of Avengers Endgame.  We get some fun new friends as well, like the stuntman action figure Duke Caboom, voiced by Keanu Reeves, and the carnival plushies Duckie and Bunny, voiced by a reunited Key and Peele.  Easily the funniest Toy Story movie, with some shockingly dark jokes.  The plot kind of meanders for a bit, but when it all comes together at the end, man, does it come together.  And, because it's Pixar, of course the animation is dazzling. 

Toy Story 4 is another winner for Pixar, and a very worthy addition to the franchise.  4 out of 4 Nibs.  Full review on the website. 

And that's been my two long weekends in a row.  It was a much needed break after a very busy month.  Now, I can get to binging what I've been meaning to binge. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Aquaman

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how this works, I watch a movie and blog about it.  Easy as pie.  Today, we're checking out Aquaman.  This is in my notes at April 14, 2019.





Thursday, June 20, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Bumblebee

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




Thursday, June 13, 2019

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

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





Thursday, June 06, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Amazing Screw-On Head

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




Monday, June 03, 2019

Welcome Distractions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Backdraft

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




Thursday, May 23, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Ralph Breaks the Internet

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




Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Phantom Menace at 20

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Hellboy Animated: Blood & Iron

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the routine by now, I watch a movie and blog about it.  This timeout, I'm finishing off the Hellboy Animated films with Blood & Iron.  This is in my notes at March 2, 2019.





Thursday, May 09, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms

And he we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the drill...I watch one of the movies I own and blog about it.  Don't get much simpler than that.  Today I watch Hellboy: Sword of Storms.  I originally watched it and blogged about it on March 2, 2019.



Thursday, May 02, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Goonies

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  You know the drill by now.  Tonight, we do the 1980s classic The Goonies.  This is in my notes at February 16, 2019.





Monday, April 29, 2019

The Blinding Snow

The best thing about being up early for my job is you're quite often the first to hear about things when news breaks early in the morning.  So, a few weeks ago, when the news dinged that Avengers: Endgame tickets were now on sale, I snapped mine up immediately.  When for an Edmonton show on Saturday, April 27 at 11AM, because in my old age, I prefer to go see movies on Saturday afternoon. 

But, as always, there has to be a wrinkle in the plan.  As the day drew nearer, the weather report started listing one of those wonderful spring weather anomalies:  a snowstorm.  I kept an eye on the weather report as the week went on.  The TV weatherman said that the weather system would be moving south and east...my route to the city would just be getting the edge of it.  I woke up the morning of the 27th.  I looked out the window to see grey skies.  The road report said the roads were good.  The weather report said weather was good.  I was off to see Avengers!

I left Westlock heading south on Highway 44.  Grey skies, good highways.  I started running into the snow when I hit Villeneuve.  "No worries," I said.  "Just a little bit of wet snow.  Nothing I can't handle."  I went farther south, to where Highway 44 meets the Yellowhead Highway.  I hit the brunt of it.  The roads were terrible.  Whiteout conditions.  I could barely see in front of me. 

"Well, looks like I'm not seeing Avengers today," I thought.  "I'm not too far from the big Husky truck stop at the Acheson Industrial Park.  There, I can safely turn around.  Failing that, I can hunker down in their diner and have a bite to eat and wait for the storm to pass." 

Thanks to the whiteout conditions, I missed the Acheson overpass. 

I kept heading down the Yellowhead Highway in a panic.  I had no idea where I was going to turn around.  The speed limit is 110, but I was barely doing 60.  In the middle of this, I got a text from my mother.  "I saw on the news that that new superhero movie is out today.   You're not going to it in the middle of this snow, are you?"  And then, out of the blizzard, I saw a sign indicating an off-ramp:  Anthony Henday Drive.  Edmonton's ring road.  I saw that and thought, "Well, I made it this far.  May as well press on." 

I made it to West Edmonton Mall.  I parked the car.  It was around 9:30AM.  I went inside, and given that text I got from my mother, figured I should probably give her a call and let her know I made it OK. 

My movie wasn't until 11AM, so I spent the next hour just kind of wandering around West Edmonton Mall burning off nervous energy.  10:30AM rolled around, and even though it's a fancy-pants modern theatre with assigned seating, I got there nice and early and settled in to watch the Endgame


Avengers Endgame Poster

Are we past the moratorium on spoilers yet?  Because I'm going to get into some mild spoilers as I describe the plot and my favourite bits. 

The film opens shortly after the end of Infinity War, as our heroes regroup at the Avengers Compound.  With the newly-arrived Captain Marvel, our remaining heroes head off to kick Thanos's butt, reclaim the Infinity Stones, and undo the snap.  But when they find Thanos, there's just one problem:  Thanos used the stones a second time to destroy the stones themselves.  There's no going back.

We jump forward five years, and our heroes are wallowing in various degrees of self-pity.  But then, the newly-returned Ant-Man comes to our heroes, explains how he survived, and presents a plan to recover the stones.  The Avengers then head off across time and space on a desperate plan to resurrect the stones and bring everyone back. 

Two words:  "Avengers assemble."  I've been waiting the whole franchise to hear that line spoken, and when it is finally uttered, it is the ultimate payoff. 

I can't think of anything I hated about this movie.  It could have almost been called Callbacks: The Movie because it is so full of referecnes to all the other films that came before this.  When it's on home media, you're going to have to watch it frame-by-frame to get all the Easter eggs.  I like that the film mostly focuses on our original six Avengers and brings their stories to a close. 

The film is three hours long, but doesn't feel like it because it moves along so quickly. 

And I think we can finally retire the "massive CGI armies duking it out" climax that so many of these movies have, because Endgame has the biggest one that there ever will be. 

Another little thing I noticed.  I know the Marvel films have gotten a lot of flak for not having really distinct film scores, but I still listen to those scores a lot, and composer Alan Silvestri really tries hard with Endgame.  Don't get me wrong, his Avengers theme is, hands down, the best theme that Marvel produced, but in his score, I noticed Silvestri also slipped in a little of Captain Marvel's theme when she returns, and Ant-Man's theme when he returns, and even his Captain America theme at appropriate times. 

I'm probably just getting emotional in my old age, but man o man, this movie made me cry, it's so good.  I give it four out of four Nibs.  Full review on the website. 

Hey, I don't think I ever got around to blogging that I saw Shazam, too.  I saw Shazam, too, when it came out a few weeks ago.  I was reluctant to talk about it because, when I saw it, I was having a bit of a bad day, and I was in a bad mood, as such, I really couldn't get into the film.  Without getting into too much, April has shaped up to be a bad month for me.  Avengers made it better, though.



Anyway.  Shazam.  I've always had a bit of a fondness for the Big Red Cheese.  Young orphan Billy Batson is spirited away on a magic subway car one day, and comes face to face with the wizard Shazam.  By speaking the wizard's name, Batson is turned into the superhero Shazam.  But there are others who covet the power of Shazam, like the evil scientist Dr. Sivana, whom the wizard Shazam rejected as his champion years ago.  Now, the superhero Shazam and Sivana will come face to face to determine once and for all who will wield the power of Shazam!

The film is pretty good.  Zachary Levi makes a really great Shazam, showing of the "kid trapped in an adult superhero body" comedy aspect.  I really wish we got to know of Billy's foster family, though, to help flesh out this universe a little more.  And as I lamented, I've probably seen too many of these things now, as I saw a lot of the big twists and turns coming from a mile away.

I'd really like to see it again, because once I'm in a better headspace, I'll probably warm up to it more.  I give it three out of four Nibs.  And again, full review on the website

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Shadow Raiders: Volume 6

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a DVD in my collection and blog about it.  We've reached the end of the 1990s animated classic Shadow Raiders.  This is in my notes at February 10, 2019.




Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Shadow Raiders: Volume 5

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  Watching DVDs and blogging about them as it gives some sense of structure to my life.  I'm continuing my dive thought Shadow Raiders as we get to volume 5.  This is in my notes at February 9, 2019.




Thursday, April 11, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Shadow Raiders: Volume 4

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the routine, I watch a movie and blog about it.  We go back to my journey through the old late-1990s animated series Shadow Raiders, as we're now on volume 4 of the DVD complete series set.  This is in my notes at February 3, 2019.




Thursday, April 04, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Willow

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a film and blog about it, giving some sense of purpose to my life.  Today, we take a look at the 1980s fantasy epic Willow.  This is in my notes at February 3, 2019.





Thursday, March 28, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Shadow Raiders: Volume 3

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch something.  I blog about it.  You get it.  I'm currently powering my way through Shadow Raiders.  I'm on volume 3 of the series.  I watched it and blogged about it on February 2, 2019.




Thursday, March 21, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Shadow Raiders: Volume 2

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie and blog about it.  I've stumbled across my DVDs for the old cartoon Shadow Raiders, and today we're on volume 2.  This is in my notes on January 27, 2019.




Saturday, March 16, 2019

Of Pizza, Movies, and Marvels

So it appears that spring has finally sprung, and with it, my neurosis about traversing winter roads into the city to catch a movie are starting to subside.  And just in time, too, as Marvel's latest, Captain Marvel, has been thrust upon the world.  But of course, there had to be a last-minute panic.  Thursday, it was a quick trip into the city after work for a dentist appointment.  Everything was fine.  Friday...a huge dump of snow.  But, above zero temperatures for the next day.  Would everything be find on Saturday morning?  I woke up, looked outside at the sunshine, saw the above-zero temperatures on my weather apps, an "all clear" on the road reports, and I knew my day in the city was a go!

After a lovely, uneventful, springtime drive, I arrived and made my first stop at Wal-Mart.  For you see, I was in the market for some new socks and underwear.  Sorry, gang, but not all my big city purchases are always sexy new action figures and sexy new Blu-Rays.  I need the neccessities, too.  And double sorry, but you're not going to see any pictures of my sexy new underwear.  I may have lost some weight, but I've still got a long ways to go before you're seeing pics of me with rock hard abs.

For those who may not have seen my tweets or Facebook posts over the past year, it's good news.  About a year ago, my mother finally convinced me to get a full physical.  And the prognosis was good, with a big "but."  The doctor's exact words that I was in "the grey zone for diabetes," so I had to lose some weight and get my blood sugar under control.  Here we are, a year later, and the doctor says I'm down 20 pounds, and my blood sugar has gone from a dangerously high 6.3 to a more typical 5.7, officially getting me out of "the grey zone."  I haven't really noticed the weight loss, but friends say they have.  And I can pull my pants up over my gut and starting wearing them around my waist like a normal person again.

Which led me to the most delightful brain fart as I was buying underwear.  I looked at the tags and started thinking, "What's my pants size again?"   I tried discreetly looking at the tag on the jeans I was wearing, but they'd been through the wash too many times, and the writing was too faded.  So I went with a different option.  Since I always complain that I could never find pants in my size, I went to go look at the pants, to see if the ones that were sold out would jog my memory.  It seemed to work, and I made my best guess at an underwear size.

I arrived at West Edmonton Mall, just in time for an early lunch, and settled on a rice bowl from Edo Japan.  Again, all part of the attempting to eat healthier and get healthier.  I'm opting less and less for the burgers in the food court and trying to explore the healthier options...like rice bowls.  And besides, as my dietician once advised, "A burger every once in a while ain't gonna kill you...as long as it's not one of those half-pound monster burgers."

I checked my watch and saw that I had a full hour and a half before my movie.  I figured I may as well get up and explore the Mall.  Hadn't made it all the way down to the Mall in a while, so I was looking forward to just exploring.  "And this is a good time to squeeze in some cardio," said the healthy part of my brain.  On the one hand, I hate that I'm having thoughts like, "This is a good time to squeeze in some cardio," but on the other hand, I love that I'm having brain farts like, "What's my pants size again?"

I got up and started exploring the Mall.  I've traversed these halls ever since West Edmonton Mall was built back in the mid-1980s.  I love how dynamic the mall is, always changing, always something new.  But, it also gives me a sense of nostalgia.  I miss the opulence of West Edmonton  Mall in the 1980s, when they really leaned into the "World's Largest Mall" quite hard and everything about the Mall had to be the world's largest.

Which is why it's always a shock when I see that a big change is coming.  It may not seem like a big change to some, but I was shocked to see that the Brick is moving.



The Brick is one of those anchor tenants that's been in the same place in West Edmonton Mall since it first opened in the mid-1980s.  I remember my family buying a new TV from the Brick in West Edmonton Mall in 1994.  I miss the Star Wars diorama they used to have.  They had this diorama set-up designed to look like an alien world, complete with a few model AT-ATs and Star Wars action figures set up.  And then, they had camcorders set up all around it so you could try them out by filming the diorama.  They did a massive renovation to their store in the late-90s/early-2000s and a had a huge grand reopening.  I remember because my favourite radio station at the time was on location from the newly renovated Brick for, like, an entire month.

And now it's moving.  All the way to the other side of the Mall where Sears used to be.

My nostalgic stroll continued as I went into Sunrise Records.  A part of me still thinks of that store as HMV.  I browsed the shelves of Blu-Rays, and as much was I wanted to buy a few new films, I knew I had to show some restraint.  I see Chicken Run is finally on Blu-Ray, and I still think it's one of the funniest animated movies ever made, but I put back, thinking that my old DVD is still good enough.  I see the Steve Martin classics The Jerk and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels have just gotten new super-special editions, but they were a little pricey, and so I left them behind.  But I did break down for one.



Backdraft, Ron Howard's 1991 loving ode to firefighters.  Won great acclaim at the time for its practical effects...cleverly hidden propane torches to put the actors right in the middle of the fire.  This one seems to have been filling discount bins for far too long, and I've been tempted to pick it up, but seeing it in novelty VHS clamshell packaging for just $10, I couldn't resist.  When I bought it, the clerk and I complained a little bit that the retro VHS packaging was being billed as "1980s packaging," and Backdraft came out in 1990s, but whatever.  It'll still look good on the shelf.

I glanced at my watch, and saw it was a half-hour before my movie.  Even in this modern age of assigned seating at the theatre, I still like to show up about a half-hour early to claim my seat, get settled, and open up any noisy candy packaging.  So I made my way over to the Scotiabank Theatre and settled in to watch Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel Movie Poster
On the distant planet Hala, home of the Kree Empire, a Kree warrior named Vers is troubled. She’s still learning to harness her massive power under the tutelage of Yon-Rogg. Their squad of Kree commandos are sent to take down a cel of evil shapeshifting aliens known as Skrulls, but Vers is capture. She eventually escapes, and winds up on the planet designated C-35 by the Kree, but the natives call it Earth. Something about Earth begins triggering memories in Vers, and she begins to learn that she was once a woman named Carol Danvers. But, Skrulls led by Talos have made it to Earth as well. With her new partner, SHIELD agent Nick Fury, can Carol Danvers uncover the secrets of her past and save Earth from a Skrull invasion?

I found Captain Marvel to be a very satisfying superhero film.  Yeah, I've probably watched too many of these, as I saw some of the big plot twists coming from a mile away.  And the soundtrack, full of 1990s rock (as it's set in 1995) is cute, but does get a little too...obvious as the film goes on.  I was kinda worried about Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, because she struck me as kinda flat in the trailers, but she brings it in the film, and does a great job.

I give it three out of four nibs.  Full review over on the website.

With the movie done, I still had very special plans for dinner.  I had resolved that, this night, I was going to check something off my bucket list.  I love pizza.  And for many, many years, anchovies tops the list as the most hated pizza topping.  But here's the thing.  Because it is so hated, it's very hard to find an anchovy pizza.  They hardly make them anymore.  So it soon got added to my bucket list to find and try an anchovy pizza.  After some searching online, I found I could get one at Famoso.

Famoso is one of those newer restaurant chains that's been popping up in power centres all across the land.  They specialize in traditional Italian-style pizza.  I've eaten there a few times, and they do make pretty good pizza, and it was one of the few places where I could get my anchovy pizza.



I hit up Famoso in Spruce Grove, and placed my order.  They changed it up a little bit since the last time I was there.  Originally, they had you fill out your order yourself and take it to the front counter.  But now, they have the waitress do that for you, like a regular restaurant.  Having studied the menu online, I knew exactly what I wanted:  a Magherita pizza with anchovies.  The waitress asked if I wanted the anchovies pre-cooked or fresh.  I went with pre-cooked.  She said OK, and then I sat back and waited.

She brought me my pizza, and I dug in.  I tasted the cheese, the tomato sauce and...that's it.  Couldn't taste anything else.  I figured the cheese and tomato sauce must be overpowering the anchovies.  So I picked one off an ate it on its own.  I found it to be a greasy, salty little thing.  That's probably why it's not liked...and that's probably why the cheese and the tomato sauce overpowered it.  I finished off my pizza, and resolved that I'd have to try this again, to see if having the anchovies fresh makes any difference. 

The waitress brought my bill and I settled up, and that's when I realized that she got my order wrong.  My own fault for not eating there enough and not being familiar with the Italian words on the menu.  I ordered a Magherita pizza with anchovies, and I got just a plain pizza with anchovies.  I decided to let it go and just move on, but since I'm blogging about it a week later, obviously I haven't done that.  Besides, the whole mission was to try an anchovy pizza, and that's what was done.  And since I'm going to try this again with fresh anchovies, I'll be able to try again. 

But with a full belly, I returned home, on another uneventful drive on warming, ice-free roads.  I got home, and after noting my car's mileage, realized I'm getting due for an oil change.  At my last oil change, they noted I should probably get a tire rotation in the spring.  But getting a tire rotation means going to a proper mechanic, and not one of those "Quickie Lube" oil change places.  I always worry about taking my car into the mechanic.  It might be for something as simple as an oil change, but once they get it up on the hoist, they're like, "Oh, yeah, you need a new fliberty gibbet.  That'll be $8000, please." 

My car.  I love ya, but I'll always have reason to worry. 

(Oh, and the underwear fits.)