Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Gallileo was near-blind at the time of death. This happened because he kept staring at the sun through his telescope in an effort to learn more about it. I think about this every morning as I drive to school and the rising sun comes over the horizon and blinds me for the final half-hour of my drive.

I've really got to step up my search for a place in the city. Not only because of the sun issue, but also because, if I get here any later than 8:15, a parking spot becomes really difficult to find. Right now, I'm hoping that my car doesn't suffer major damage because I parked in an incredibly tight spot and was awful close to that big green pick up truck with, "Alberta Red Neck and Proud Of It!" printed across his back window. Last thing I really need is to come out of my final class and see the driver there, wanting to "learn me some manners."

That happened to me one time working at Extra Foods. I was running late, and the only parking spot was a very tight one, right up close to a minivan. At the end of my shift, there's an angry note on my windshield: "HOW DARE YOU PARK SO CLOSE TO MY VAN! I WAS IN A RUSH! HOW THE HELL WAS I SUPPOSED TO GET ALL MY GROCERIES IN WITH YOU HAVING PARKED SO CLOSE? AND I HAVE A BABY, TOO, YOU BASTARD! NEVER DO THIS AGAIN!" I just always smile at the irony that, if I didn't do that, that same guy would have probably complained to the supervisor about the lack of cashiers on duty. But, the supervisor wouldn't have been there, because I would have been looking for a parking spot. But I digress.

A place I must find. But it's tough I live so far out of town! After the hour-and-a-half commute, I tend to fall asleep on the couch, get up, do my homework, then go back to sleep. But still, it must be done. And it will be done because I will do it.

Next Issue...I hear banjos, and I don't know why.

Monday, September 29, 2003

I've been giving too much thought to my "website that reviews fast food" idea again. I mean, ideally, you can't expect one person to go to every fast food chain, eat everything on the menu, and review it all. Ideally, you'd have one critic to cover each major chain: Ron does McDonald's, Dave covers Wendy's, Charles analyzes Burger King, and so on. The only real legwork would come in the early days, and then, once the website is established, this army of critics only has to eat there again when some new burger-of-the-month thing comes out.

I'm spending too much time on this.

I'm also thinking it's time I write my angry letter to McDonald's. I think I want to know what it'll take to bring the Teriyaki McBurger to Canada. I still remember the last Teriyaki McBurger I had. It was literally my final hour in Japan. I was waiting in the Narita Airport for my boarding call, when I spied McDonald's and thought, "When's the next time I'll be able to have a Teriyaki McBurger?" It was the first thing I had in a Japanese McDonald's, and the last thing. I still find I'm not eating at McDonald's very often now that I'm back. I'm too busy enjoying all the ones they didn't have in Japan, like A&W and Arby's.

Next Issue...Lotteria Special!

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Well, folks, the core of my frustration over my laptop's faults tended to revolve around this week's column. Ideally, this would have been finished and uploaded 5 months ago, but I was only able to finally to finish it one month ago, during the first weekend when we thought my laptop was fixed, and I was finally able to recover it last weekend, which was the second weekend we thought my laptop was fixed. Anyway, at long last, YOU GET TO READ IT! It's entitled Don't Panic 2: The Female Buddha, and here's a sample:

"Kumagaya sits on the Takasaki line. At the end of this line lies the city of Takasaki. I’ve always been curious about this city. What is the final destination? What things await a person at the end of the line? I’d quite frequently ask my coworkers and students, but they all told me the same thing. “Don’t bother, Mark, there’s nothing there.” One who had never even set foot in that direction described it simply as “a bigger Kumagaya.” So, it seemed like there was little point in going. Until, one fateful day, when I met a Takasakian. (Now, this isn’t a big romantic tale, sadly, although it does involve a boy and a girl.)"

Read it all!

Of course, this 3-column epic is a sequel to one that I wrote a year ago entitled Don't Panic. I, personally, think it's one of my best, so feel free to go into the "Scarecrow Goes to Japan" archive and read Don't Panic!

Next issue...My Tummy Hurts.
I've been watching a lot of Shadow Raiders lately. I still think that's one of the best cartoons ever made. Hell, Mainframe did a bunch of ReBoot TV movies to continue the saga. What would it take for a few Shadow Raiders TV movies to be made? I just always liked the idea of the Alliance, with the threat of the Beast Planet behind them, settling down, but suddenly, external forces threaten to plunge them back into war and the question is asked: with no common enemy to unify them, can they remain unified? Naturally, the answer is yes, and with the threat of civil war averted, they try to enjoy the lasting peace. But, then, one day, a strange visitor crash lands on one of the planets, and his dying words: "The Beast..." thus setting up TV movie #2.

I also see that, following the success of their Transformers boxed sets, Kid Rhino has just released Beast Wars: The Complete First Season. I would love to get that! Yeah, I grew up with Transformers and all that, but I've just become more of a computer animation junkie in my old age. So, put that on my Christmas list!

Now if someone would only release the season-by-season boxed sets of ReBoot, I'd be a happy man.

And how's this for twists of fate? Coming out on Tuesday is The Tick: The Complete Series. This DVD contains every episode of the short-lived live-action TV version of The Tick. The other day, as I was digging through boxes of stuff, I found a video tape labeled "The Tick for Yves and Mr. Anderson." See, The Tick made its premiere shortly before they left for Japan, and was canceled shortly before I left. I promised that I'd tape every episode for them, and I managed to. I never got around to mailing the tape to them before I left. But now, with the DVD coming out on Tuesday and with Yves and Mr. Anderson coming home in December...screw the tape. I think I'll just give them the DVD for Christmas.

Next Issue...Do Your Homework!

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Well, I think I had a productive day. I wrote two columns and, thanks to my parents' new printer, I made liner notes for 2/3 of my mixed CDs. One of the columns I wrote was about my mixed CDs. I'm thinking about making one of nothing but the J-pop I picked up, as a gift for Trouble. Right now, though, I'm contemplating writing a third column before Saturday Night Live.

I had a point to all of this, but I've forgotten it.

Next Issue...the Point.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

So, let's see here. Trouble just announced to me that she's going to China. Mr. Anderson is on his fabulous cycling trip across Japan, with a brief stop over in Thailand, before making a home in Vancouver as he plots the next country he wants to go to. And I'm pissing around in school at the ripe old age of 26. Which of these three doesn't belong?

In other news today, I failed one of my first big tests in the broadcasting program. Apparently, I don't have a great enough lung capacity to be a broadcaster. And I'm starting to get a reputaion among my classmates. I'm the guy who does voices. Just when I was sliding back into my traditional role of the quiet, moody one.

I knew from day one I was going to fail out of this program. But, I'll keep soldiering on for now, because, as the entire population of the world tells me, "What will you do instead? Get a job? Ha!" The needs of the many....
September 25. I heard on the radio today that it's the birthday of Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamil. Happy birthday! You know, when I was a kid, I always found Mark Hamil to be a beacon of hope. See, I, too, am named Mark, and I always found it to be such a painfully average name. But then, here was Mark Hamil! And he was...a Jedi Knight! I spent the rest of my childhood convinced that Marks were destined to become Jedi.

But, Mark is still a painfully average name. There are no great TV characters named Mark. I mean, the only one I knew of was Mark Albert, a character who was briefly on Ally McBeal. He didn't do much. He had a crush on Ally. He dated a transsexual. He had a fling with Elaine. And then, he just disappeared. That was my only namesake on TV. But then, while in Japan, I started watching ER, mainly because it was one of the few shows on in English. And there, I was introduced to the rock of the ER, the man who provided its moral centre, the eye in the hurricane, Dr. Mark Green, as played by Anthony Edwards. And I thought, "OK, he's cool."

I still think I should drop my first name and go by my middle name; something I've toyed with since junior high. You've got to admit, there aren't many "Sladens" in the world.

What else is in the news...I heard this on the radio on the drive to school. A church in Athens, Georgia, was celebrating Random Acts of Kindness week by having the kids make boxes of candy and leave them around the church grounds for the parishoners to find. A few enthusiastic kids, however, crossed the street and put some of these boxes on the front steps of City Hall. A few city workers spotted these strange boxes on the steps, and called the police. The bomb squad came down and destroyed the boxes of candy. The church leaders have decided to use this to teach the kids a lesson in how good things don't always go off as planned.

Next issue...Enter Sladen!

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

And the fight with Future Shop continues! Despite all their claims that I couldn't turn it on because of issues with the hibernation mode and needing to drain capacitors, they've ruled that they put in a bad motherboard. The solution? They're going to put in ANOTHER new one. So, it's in the shop again for another month. This time, I demanded some kind of compensation, and do you know what they said? "We'll cut you a deal on a new one." Go to hell! And, according to the extended warranty, we have to do this song and dance 4 times before they just give me a new one. We're at #3....

But all this has gotten me thinking. There's got to be a better way to run a business. I actually hatched this idea way back when I was working at Extra Foods. Being a supervisor, I had the authority to place a reprimand on someone's record if they were acting up too much. That's all fine and dandy, but then I started thinking. In the military, what's the opposite of a reprimand? When you do something bad, you're reprimanded, and when you're good, you get a commendation. So, how come all these minimum wage hells don't give commendations?

I mean, sure, that's what the whole "Employee of the Month" thing is supposed to be about, but let's face it, Employees of the Month are generally branded as dorks, boss's pets, sell-outs, etc. Hell, shortly after I arrived in Japan, I discovered that Yves had been branded an "Employee of the Month," and I branded her a dork, sell-out, etc. And she was my friend! One of the people who convinced me to go to Japan! But, in all fairness, Mr. Anderson did do a good job of beating the crap out of me and defending his woman's honour. "She hated her management! *pow* She was complaining too much to head office! *smash* They did it to buy her off! *bang* So leave her alone! *thunk* "

So, once again, Yves, I'm sorry for those things I said.

But this is a great example of the flaws in the system. Not only do employees abuse it to abuse other employees, but the bosses abuse it to bribe troublesome employees. So, here's what I propose. Instead of the Employee of the Month program, corporations should adpot..."commendation pay." Whenever you, the employee, does something above and beyond the call of duty, or if customers wants to talk to the manager so they can shower you with compliments, then you qualify for commendation pay. You get a one-time bonus (amount to be hammered out later) with your paycheque. It's nice, simple, and discreet. Wouldn't that be much better? I'll develop this more and have a formal proposal for you in an upcoming column.

And that's what's wrong with society this week.

Next Issue...The Official Song of Alberta

Monday, September 22, 2003

So, what's in the news this morning? The debate over the legalization of gay marriage continues. There was a huge anti-gay marriage rally on the front steps of the Alberta Legeslature, and pro-protesters showed up to prtoest the anti rally. There were some scuffles, but nothing requiring riot gear and tear gas. Just a push here and a shove there....

But still, this gets me thinking. True, I'm still pro, but I can't help but think the anti people are doing it all wrong. I mean, the pro-people are waving around their rainbow flags, dancing to tunes, and making out with each other. The anti-people are wearing conservative suits, waving bibles in the air and falling to their knees and praying. Which side would you rather be on?

So, I'm proposing that the anti-gay marriage groups lighten up their image. I mean, to all the men in the crowd, do you make out with women because you like it, or simply because the bible tells you to? I'm guessing you like it. So, there you go! Bring your wives and husbands to these rallies! Make out with each other on the steps of the Legeslature! You keep saying that you do this to protect the sanctity of the family. So, bring the kids along! Make this a family affair! Show them that the love between a man and a woman can be fun! You're already starting. The media doesn't call you "anti-gay marriage" any more but "pro-traditional marriage." Focus on the positives, folks, not the negatives.

Next Issue...Scarecrow in love...with a woman!

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Well, folks, looks like the laptop has died again. I've been doing the little trick the Future Shop tech boys taught me to fix it myself, but it's just not working. Looks like I'll be going back again to bust some heads. But I'm not too distressed this time. This time, I backed up everything before it fried! So, at long last, you'll get to read some of those wonderful columns that were previously stranded on my hard drive! One, such as tonight's! It's one of my favourte true adventures from my travels in Japan. It's entitled How to Acheive Enlightenment and Impress Girls, and here's a quick sample:

"Now, being the 25-year old virgin that I was, I didn’t know much about women. But one thing I did learn was that you shouldn’t say “No” to one three times in a row. And besides, nothing motivates a man more than when a woman looks him over and says, “Oh, you can’t do it.” Akiko wasn’t saying it, but she had the look. So, I had developed a strategy, and felt the need to impress a woman who I had said “No” to far too many times. I stood up and got a grin on my face. I dramatically unzipped my jacket and thrust out my chest, something that would’ve looked really stupid if not for the fact I was wearing my Nightwing T-shirt. You can only get away with this move when wearing some kind of superhero logo, or if you have rock hard abs. I politely asked Akiko to hold my coat and hat. I was going in!"

Click here to read it all!

And, I said I was going to do this tonight, so let's do it.

G.I. Joe vs. Transformers issue 1:
The recently founded terrorist organization known as Corba needs weapons. They purchase some information from the renowned weapons dealer Destro regarding the whereabouts of a cave. This cave contains a downed spacecraft, carrying all maner of alien technology. As Cobra Commander and his legions enter this spacecraft, and they find hundreds of giant robots. One of them (who we, the audience, recognize as Megatron) manages to utter the words, "I still function." Cobra Commander orders the giant robots rounded up, and the cave resealed.

A few months later. There's a summit on Captiol Hill. The protesters are gathering. The military is called in to do security. They are led by Col. Clayton Abernathy (Hawk to you and me) and some of the finest soldiers in the US armed forces. The protest is going peacefully enough when suddenly, out of nowhere, these futuristic-looking tanks (Cobra HISS tanks) appear and attack! Cobra is making their presence known! The military leaps into action! They protect the protesters and open fire on these strange weapons of war. But...they are different. They don't behave like any known vehicle, and the firepower is so great! Cobra Commander leads from his Cobra Blackbird (really Starscream), while Megatron, trapped in gun mode and strapped to Cobra Commander's side, cautions Cobra Commander about what he is doing. Cobra Commander ignores Megatron's warning and gives the order to activate the Battle Android Troopers. At this command, the tanks and planes transform into some familiar looking robots, and they begin to lay waste to Washington. But, Cobra has trouble controlling one of their robots: a large, red one who will not attack the humans. (We recognize him as Optimus Prime.) The soldier nicknamed Snake Eyes leaps atop a tank to be taken to the front lines, only to have Starscream attack this tank and leave Snake Eyes horribly scarred. When Cobra wreaks enough damage, making their presence known, they retreat.

After the attack, General Flagg brings together some of his finest soldiers: Col. Abernathy, who led the defense of Captiol Hill, intelligence operative Alison Burnett (Lady Jaye to you and me), who's been following Cobra since their inception, and officer Dashielle Fairborn (Flint), who's the army's premiere special tactics officer. They are to head up a US Military task force dedicate to taking down Cobra and their giant robots. The code name of this task force: G.I. Joe.

Issue 2:
Back on Cobra Island, Cobra Commander applauds his troops recent string of victories, but Megatron still taunts. They are running low on energon, and humans don't know how to manufacture it. As they confer, Dr. Mindbender and his army of Techno-Vipers pick apart Optimus Prime, trying to bring him under control.

Meanwhile, G.I. Joe is forming nicely. Hawk just asked Snake Eyes to join the team, figuring Snake Eyes would be hungry for a little payback. Turns out Cobra killed his family, who had come to Capitol Hill to visit their favourite son.

And finally, we meet up with Bumblebee and Wheeljack. Some how (not explained yet) they managed to escape before being brought under Cobra control, and are now hiding in their vehicle modes, plotting how to free their friends.

We return to Cobra Island. Dr. Mindbender is still trying to hack into Optimus Prime. He begins downloading files from Optimus Prime onto Cobra's network, when suddenly, the computer becomes unresponsive! The Cobra techs figure they've picked up a virus from Optimus! Reluctantly, Mindbender gives the order to cut power and stop the download, but not before something escapes from Optimus Prime and makes it to the Internet; something that is brought to the attention of a NSA computer analyst nicknamed Mainframre....

Back in the Pit, G.I. Joe is practicing their skills, waiting for their orders, when General Flagg comes in with "their new best friend," a Cobra defector named Mercer. Mercer fills them in on these alien robots, the location of the alien spacecraft, and where Cobra will strike next.

We end on Cobra Island. Destro comes to see what Cobra's made of the info he sold them. He is impressed, but points out that they are still weak. They still need a control station to control the robots in battle. Dr. Mindbender says that this is no problem, as they've now modified one of the robots to serve as the control station. This robot's name: Soundwave.

Issue 3:
Destro's tour of Cobra Island continues. By reverse-engineering some of the alien technology, they've developed battle drones called SNAKEs. Destro is impressed, and insists that, in Cobra's next strike, he pilots Soundwave. Cobra Commander reluctantly agrees.

Back in the Pit, G.I. Joe has learned of Cobra's next target. There's an experimental alternate power source called the SPS, which harnesses solar energry. The Pentagon figures that, with it, Cobra could power their "Transformers" indefinitly. It's confirmed as Destro, piloting Soundwave, attacks the SPS facility. While Soundwave and his drones (the cassettes) attack, two of Destro's operatvies, Firefly and Zartan, use some of the alien cloaking technology to go in undetected. But, G.I. Joe was there, waiting for Cobra, and the battle rages. Just when it looks like Cobra is winning, Bumblebee and Wheeljack show up to help out the Joes.

Meanwhile, in the SPS facility, Zartan, Firefly and Ravage undergo the true objective: steal the SPS contol module. Zartan gets the module, Firefly rigs the place to explode, and Ravage begins tearing strips out of Mutt and Quick Kick. When Zartan gets the module, Destro orders the retreat. But, Firefly's bombs go off, critically wounding Mutt and Quick Kick.

Back at the Pit, G.I. Joe returns - with Bumblebee and Wheeljack. The Joes still don't trust these giant robots, but reluctantly let them in. Given the circumstances, the Joes show Bumblebee and Wheeljack the mysterious signal that was sent out over the Internet. Wheeljack recognizes it right away. It's a coded message from Optiums Prime. It gives the location of Cobra Island, and instructions on how to hack into the Cobra system that's controlling the Transformers. Taking the initiative, Wheeljack plugs himself into G.I. Joe's computer, and begins doing some reprograming to the Cobra system

On Cobra Island, panic ensues as the Transformers are freed and turn against Cobra.

My thoughts so far: This mini-series is a real labour of geek love, the way various Joes and Transformers keep slipping in in unexpected, yet appropriate, places. By the way, this is the first comic book I've religiously purchased since I was deep into Ninja Turtle 12 years ago.

Next Issue...Optimus Prime vs. Megatron (Hey, I'm not making that up. Those are the final words of Issue 3)

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Well, it seems that the laptop is fixed...for now. I took it back to Future Shop today, and they hit in the right spot to get it to turn on and then showed me where to hit it. Everything is backed up, and it seems that things are safe...for now.

To cheer myself up, I also went to Comic King and picked up the latest issue of ToyFare. There's an exceptionally good installment of Twisted ToyFare Theatre this month: Crisis in Infinite Megovilles. When Aunt May starts playing with the Infinity Gauntlet, Spider-Man and the Watcher must recruit heroes from all of the universes! Here's some of the highlights:

Next up, the Ultraverse!
Watcher>> Greetings! I am the Watcher, the all-knowing, all-see...uh, who are you guys again?
Lord Pumpkin>> Hail to you my fellow Marvel characters! I'm Lord Pumpkin!
Sludge>> Call me Sludge
Brian Michael Bendis>> I'm Wizard fan award winner Brain Michael Bendis! The cabbie was supposed to let me off at the ULTIMATE universe, but I got dumped here. I'll pay you $20 to take me with you!

The Star Wars Universe
Xixor>> I AM PRINCE XIXOR! Welcome to this galaxy far, far away....
Spider-Man>> What? Who are you guys? Where's Chewbacca?
Grand Admiral Thrawn>> This is the Star Wars EXPANDED Universe, where imagination is the only limit and no one at Lucasfilm gives a poop.

The Dark Horse Universe
Usagi Yojimbo>> Man, I used to be the most Japanese thing about this place - until those manga goons showed up.

Next Issue...I summarize G.I. Joe and the Transformers

Friday, September 19, 2003

That's it. I'm at my wits end. I got a call from Future Shop today. "Come pick up your laptop. It's fixed!"

I get it home, and this time, I only have it back for an hour before it breaks down again. And after all that fuss and paying $80 to get them to preserve the hard drive and all that. Gone again.

Again, I'm kicking myself. Instead of spending that hour doing things like re-loading Microsoft Office, I should have spent it backing up everything. But I didn't. I think it's all gone for good this time.

Damn. Damn damn damn. When I go back to Future Shop tomorrow, I'll be demanding to speak to the manager.

But, let's focus on the right now. I'm really depressed about all this. My parents are gone for the weekend. I'm all alone. So, if any of my friends are reading this, I sure could use a hug right now.

Next issue.......
Today, I present two obscure facts which might be related:

- It has come to my attention that my hometown's library has purchased no new books over the last 3 years.

- It has come to my attention that my hometown's gas station boasts the largest selection of pornographic magazines between Edmonton and Jasper.

I just keep seeing a connection....

Next Issue...Off to the Library!

Thursday, September 18, 2003

We might have a happy ending after all. Future Shop can back-up my hard drive before they reload Windows. Only hitch: it's not covered by the warranty. I am now paying to have my laptop fixed. Cost: $80. Any and all contributions are appreciated.

Next Issue...Home Alone 26

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Well, the ongoing soap opera that is, "Getting the Laptop Fixed: Mark vs. Future Shop" is starting its final chapter, and it's not going to be a happy ending.

When Dad picked me up from school last night, he passed along a message from my mother that I was to call Future Shop about my laptop. I called, but the guy I was supposed to get in touch with had already taken off for the night. I left a message for him, and when I got home, I asked Mom for the complete message. Future Shop needed my permission to "reload my computer." My mind began reeling at what that meant, and when Future Shop finally got back to me at 9:30 that night, my suspicions were confirmed.

After their 2.5 months of screwing around and needlessly swapping parts, they've finally determined that my operating system is corrupt. They want to reload Windows. Reloading Windows means wiping out the hard drive. I will lose everything. My resume, my 6 completed columns, my 1/4 finished novel, a few short stories I was working on, the various things I was developing for my website...all gone.

I gave them orders not to touch it until their tech guys had taken a look and determined that there's no way to back up anything. I'm going to rush over to Future Shop after school and...the endgame will be played out.

If there's one lesson I've learned from all this, it's BACK UP EVERYTHING OFTEN. You thought I would have learned my lesson in the 6th grade. I lost my computer science project when the 5.25" disc it was stored on got smushed in my backpack. But, that incident made me cocky, too, as I was able to rebuild the project in 15 minutes. (It had originally taken me a month.) And that's what I'm going to have to do now: rebuild.

Other lessons I've learned are "Don't buy Compaq" and "Don't go to Future Shop for computer repairs."

Next issue...It's the End of the World as We Know It

Monday, September 15, 2003

My father is baffled by the fact that I've been gaining weight since I returned to Canada. I say it's quite obvious when you realize that it's been a long time since I've been this close to a well stocked kitchen, and the fact that walking is no longer my primary mode of transportation.

In a related story, ever try BBQ sauce on a Pizza Pop? Delicious!

Let's move outside. I'm starting to put together a shopping list of what to put in my GeoCache. I think I've mentioned this sport before. It's where you put some stuff in an old coffee can, put it out in the middle of the wilderness, and then put the geographic coordinates on the Internet. Then, people around the world punch those coordinates into their GPS units and go hunting for your buried treasure. After I check out the ones near my house, I figure I want to plant one or two in the area. I've already scouted a few locations in the nearby provincial park, and my Dad knows some great, remote locations on forgotten roads to abandoned gas plants. Anyway, here's what I'm thinking will make great buried treasure:

- The requisite log book. See, how a GeoCache works is, when you find it, you take something, leave something behind, and put all this info (along with your name and the date you found it) in the log book. Need a log book, then.
- A red devil fish hook. When I first started thinking about doing this, first thing I thought was, "A fish hook! Perfect!"
- A disposable camera, along with instructions for the person who finds the cache to take their picture for me, the cache administrator.
- Gift certificates. To which store? I know not. It's still in committee.
- A travel bug. This is a new spin-off sport. They travel from GeoCache to GeoCache, and you track their movements online.

This is still a work in progress. I still want to find an existing GeoCache, just to find out more about what goes in to one of these.

Next issue...Looking for Buried Treasure!

Saturday, September 13, 2003

The Edmonton Journal today reports that former Monty Python star Eric Idle is hard at work at developing a Broadway musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Idle is writing the script, based, of course, on the screenplay written by him and his former Python-mates. Idle is also co-writing the songs with formerMonty Python composer John Du Prez. Veteran film and Broadway director Mike Nichols is directing, and they hope to have their premiere in the spring of 2005.

And the working title is Spamalot.

Next issue...I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK.

Friday, September 12, 2003

So, as I'm sure you all know, I think that EZ-D is one of the stupidest ideas ever. (If you're just tuning in, EZ-D is a new disposable DVD. Once you open the package, you have just 48 hours to watch it. After that, the disc oxidizes and becomes unreadable to most DVD players.) I'm digging up more info on it, and I find the official EZ-D website. Here's a snippet from their FAQ:

"Where will EZ-Ds™ be sold?

EZ-Ds™ can be sold almost anywhere, such as grocery, mass, electronics, clubs, drugstores, convenience stores and gas stations."

Did I read that right? EZ-Ds will be sold at mass? EZ-DS WILL BE SOLD AT MASS?? They want to see these things in church! Sheesh!

and let me remind you one last time, EZ-D is brought to you by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Corporation, in an effort to put video rental stores out of business.

Next issue...Watch, as the heroic SCARECROW burns all of his Disney DVDs in protest.
Cool! The Storyteller is now on DVD! Remember this show? I saw it as part of The Jim Henson Hour. It aired in the late-1980s. John Hurt played the Storyteller, who would always tells us some freaky old European folk tale, which would be brought to life by Jim Henson and his geniuses. It was freaky cool. Actually, the entire Jim Henson Hour was.

Speaking of things from my childhood, how many people remember these? When I was a really young guy, like 5 or 6 years old, malls had these "cartoon booths." It was a little booth, just big enough for you and another 6 year old to sit in. You put in a quarter, and you'd get to watch a cartoon. They were always in malls, next to the pony rides and race car rides and such. My brother and I would always go to them and bug Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, or whoever brought us to the mall for a quarter so we could watch a cartoon. Those things rocked! They kind of started disappearing when I turned 8 years old or so. They are one of the few things from my childhood that seem to have been eridacated from the face of the Earth.

My mind was just wandering the other day, and I started thinking how easy it would be to retrofit one of these things with DVD technology. You could put in a flat screen monitor to be your screen, completely wire the whole booth with 5.1 surround sound, and you stick a DVD player in there, with a disc containing 100 cartoons or so, and you're in business! Ideally, the flat screen monitor should actually be a touch-sensitive screen, so when you put in your quarter (well, with this level of technonolgy, probably a twonie), a menu screen will pop up and you can select which cartoon you want to watch.

How much you wanna bet that these things started disappearing from malls when I was 8 years old because that was also the age the VCR finally caught on? Who wants to go to the mall, drop in a quarter and watch one cartoon when you can watch dozens at home on video?

Let's see...what else in the news. Christian Bale, the young actor still best remembered as the psychotic Patrick Bateman in American Psycho has just signed on to play Bruce Wayne/Batman in the next Batman film. It's being directed by Christopher Nolan, who also brought us the indie thriller hit Memento. Nolan wrote the script along with David S. Goyer, who also wrote all three Blade films. Rumor has it the villain is the immortal Ra's Al Guhl. Filming begins in February.

The WB network, still trying to duplicate the success of Smallville, has ordered a new TV show based on the DC comic The Flash. Just like the comic, this new TV Flash will be a young guy (early 20s) just discovering his powers and learning that he's just the latest in a long line to wear the mantle of the Flash. Unlike the comic, he will never wear his trademark red tights, be from Gotham City, and always use his powers to time travel and put right what once went wrong. So, essentially, Dr. Sam Beckett is now The Flash. You may recall that The Flash was brought to TV screens once before, back in 1990, and it was one of the all-time favourtie TV shows to my 13-year old self. I hope they at least bring back that kick-ass Danny Elfman theme.

And, on a sad note today, veteran actor John Ritter died at the age of 54. He just keeled over and died of a previously undetected heart defect. When I was 6 or 7 years old, and still watching cartoons in booths in the mall, I was at home every night at 5 to watch Three's Company reruns. I loved that show when I was a kid, and Ritter one of the first actors I began to recognize. Hell, when my family first bought that VCR and I stopped watching cartoons in booths in the mall, I think the first thing I taped was a rerun of Three's Company.

Next issue...Who is Ra's Al Guhl?

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

This worked when she needed to get in touch with me, so I'll try it on her:

JO! Where are you? Are you OK? We know you don't like the Internet anymore, but please, check your e-mail more than once a month! Or at least get your phone re-connected so we can call you. Is it money? Do you need money? We can scrape together a few dollars so you can pay your phone bill. At least take 35¢ and go to a payphone and call me! Hell, call collect! I'll accept the charges! (Unless Dad gets to the phone first and hangs up, thinking the Telus operator is a telemarketer. He does that.) JO! Please let me know your OK!

Next issue...The Search for Trouble

Monday, September 08, 2003

WOO! Just watch the big, two-part episode of Justice League entitled Twilight. My God, that was a cool episode. I don't know, there's just something cool about seeing Superman consumed by anger, driven by vengeance, and willing to kill the Batman who gets in his way. And little touches, like, when trying to talk Superman down from his figurative ledge, Batman calls Superman "Kent." (I think the first time since Justice League's premiere that Batman called Superman by his true name.) And, at the end, when Batman tries to point out that Superman's vengeance was probably satisfied anyway, to which Superman angrily replies, "Hey, you know what, Bruce? You're not always right." Or, when they resurrect Superman's theme from the Superman cartoon. It underscores Superman's almost chilly assertion that he won't stop until Darkseid is no more than "a greasy smear on [his] fist."

See, that's another thing that made it cool. They picked up all these loose threads that were left dangling from the end of the Superman cartoon. Oh, man, when the next Justice League DVD comes out, I hope they put on this episode.

And now, that leads into the latest animated offering from the DC Universe, the all-new Teen Titans cartoon. I'm not sure about this one. It is the first, balls-out attempt by an American studio to rip-off the Japanese anime style. It all follows anime-style art sensibilites. It features characters with overexagerated facial expressions to show extreme emotions. It takes the artistic touches like drawing a question mark over a characters head when he/she is inquisitive. But...it doesn't really work. It's like they still fail to grasp the timing. They still don't get what makes anime anime. It's more cute than cool. Oh, well.

Next issue...37 Happy Years of Star Trek

Sunday, September 07, 2003

[Note: I originally wanted to post this on Saturday morning, but either to Telus' incredibly slow, crappy Internet or the blog website just being down, I couldn't get through to blogger.com]

Yay! I finally found the Tokyo Mew Mew opening credits theme! It's like Saturday morning in Japan all over again, only I don't have to go to work when the music ends.

Let's see what's in the news...Alberta premier Ralph Klein is going off on a rant because, at a recent business function, a visiting Japanese banking official turned down the roast beef at the buffet. "When are they [the Japanese] going to realize that Alberta beef is perfectly safe? I hoped he would look at the facts and not succumb to the fear gripping his country," Klein said (or words to that effect. I'm paraphrasing, as I read the article 10 minutes ago). Uhh, Ralph, I hate to break this to you, but did it ever occur to you that maybe the guy just doesn't like beef? I mean, sadly, that's where the article is a little biased. It doesn't say if the Japanese businessman said, "AHH!! ALBERTA BEEF!! MAD COW! MAD COW! AHH!!" or if he just went, "Beef? No thanks. I'll have the chicken instead." It's not all about you, Ralph.

And in sillier news, in a recent interview, William Shatner revealed that he was approached by Star Trek big boss Rick Berman about making a guest shot on Enterprise. The gimmick: Shatner was to play Captian Kirk's grandfather. Shatner said he'd do it if the script was right, although he later lamented that he thinks Star Trek is getting too overcomplicated now; it's strayed too far from its roots.

[Another note: The following was written on Sunday night]

Went down to Red Deer this weekend. On Saturday, my siblings and I threw a big 30th anniversary bash for my folks. Sunday was my nephew's 5th birthday. I swear, someday I'm going to lift my self-imposed "no talking about the family" stipulation and, when I do, I will suddenly make so much sense to you readers....

Anyway, while watching TeleToon on my brother's TV, I managed to watch the new Duck Dodgers cartoon. Remember those one or two Looney Tunes shorts, where Daffy Duck was cast as intergalactic hero Duck Dodgers, and he did battle with Marvin the Martian over Planet X's supply of yo-yo polish and such? Well, the US Cartoon Network has resurrected that as a regular series. And I finally managed to catch an episode. In this one, Duck Dodgers made the plea to management that he couldn't do his latest mission unless he had a robot to help him out. So, he got his robot, Mr. Roboto, and sadly, Roboto was so good at his job that Duck Dodgers got jealous. The episode degenerated into some good ol' Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote mayhem as Duck Dodgers tried to dump Mr. Roboto.

The end of the episode.... Dodger's latest attempt to off Roboto resulted in the destruction of their ship's engines. And, a comet was headed for their ship, about to destroy it all. Dodgers and his sidekick (Porky Pig) hugged each other as they knew the end was coming. Porky turned to Daffy and said, "Shouldn't we get to a shelter?" Daffy replied, "It wouldn't matter." And I thought to myself, "Hey! That's the exact same exchange that Annie and Dean had at the end of The Iron Giant when the nuclear missle was coming to wipe out the town." Then, Daffy walked up to Roboto, who was looking whistfully at the heavens. Daffy said, "Roboto?" Roboto woefully looked at Daffy and said, "I go. You stay. No following." And that's when I yelled out, "Oh my God. This IS the end of The Iron Giant!" The rest of the episode was, then, this gigantic rip on Iron Giant as Roboto sacraficed himself to save the rocket. And as Iron Giant and Looney Tunes are all Waners properties, they were using the Iron Giant music and everything. Instead of saying, "Superman," Roboto murmered, "Dodgers...friend." I thought it was bloody brilliant parody.

You know, those are the kinds of spoofs I like. Sure, something like Spaceballs is funny, where the characters go, "Hey! Look at us! We're spoofing Star Wars and all these other movies!" But I really do prefer the ones where the characters don't wink at the camera or anything like that, but just subtly slide into it, like it just naturally popped up. Futurama was good for moments like that, and the Clerks cartoon.

Speaking of the Clerks cartoon, I was reading at some Justice League websites that an upcoming episode of Duck Dodgers features Daffy Duck getting his hands on a Green Lantern power ring and becoming the new Green Lantern. Special guest voice Kevin Smith as the REAL Green Lantern.

Oh, while at my brother's house, I also managed to catch a documentary about the Alien movies. Did I tell you this? The first one, Alien, is getting a huge 25th anniversary theatrical re-release this fall. In theaters in time for Halloween! It won't be a special edition or anything like that, just digitally restored.

And, after 10 years of rumors or so, they're finally making Alien vs. Predator. It's being written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the same hack behind such cheezy sci-fi/fantasy films as Mortal Kombat, Soldier, and, most recently, Resident Evil. His tale is set in present-day Antarctica, which most are already loathing, because the original A vs. P comic (and video games) were set in Alien's future, on a desert planet. Or was it a jungle planet? I forget.

Next issue...Da da da da da da My Sweet Heart!

Friday, September 05, 2003

Today's topic for discussion:

Mr. Anderson, on the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion: "Stuff like Evangelion is written for the same age as TV drama is, or South Park. And it demands a mature audience."

Most of my students, on ANY anime program I'd bring up: Ranma 1/2, Slayers, Bubble Gum Crisis, Akira, etc.: "You know, it's all meant for kids."

The question: What differences must lie between two cultures for one to view something as being for "a mature audience" and the other to view it as being "meant for kids?"


Wednesday, September 03, 2003

yay! So, last night, I was finally able to watch the season finale of Enterprise, entitled The Expanse. It's already been dubbed "the second pilot" by some, as they hope to really make over Enterprise to boost ratings in its third season. For those who have no interest whatsoever in Enterprise, here's what happens:

A mysterious probe arrives in Earth orbit, lets loose with a weapon of mass destruction, carves a trench in Earth from Florida to Venezuala, then self-destructs. Unsure what to make of all this, Enterprise is recalled to Earth by Starfleet. On they way home, Enterprise engages with those wacky time-travelling Suliban, and their leader, the mysterious shadowy man from the future, wants to talk with Captain Archer. "FutureGuy" tells Archer that the aliens are called the Xindi, and that, in the 26th Centruy, Earth will wipe out the Xindi homeworld. Somehow, the Xindi of the 22nd Century found this out, and seek to destroy Earth long before Earth destroys them. Naturally, the Suliban want Archer to stop the Xindi, as this kind of screws up the Suliban Temporal Cold War. Archer returns to Enterprise and they continue on their way. Just as they enter the Solar System, Enterprise is attacked by a Klingon Bird-of-Prey! (See, throughout season 2, Archer really pissed off the Klingons, mainly a captain named Duras.) Naturally, the Bird-of-Prey is commanded by Duras, and he wants to drag Archer back to the Klingon homeworld to answer for his crimes against the Empire. Archer says no, space battle breaks out, Enterprise is saved by some other Starfleet ships.

Back on Earth, Archer analyzes the wreckage of the Xindi probe and, thanks to some tips from FutureGuy, proves that it utilized technology from 400 years in the future. Since the Vulcans have proven time travel to be impossible, they instantly brand Archer a nut. The Vulcans also warn that, based on the coordinates the Suliban gave Archer, the Xindi homeworld lies in "The Delphic Expanse," a region of extremely unpredictable space. Most ships disappear. The ones that do come back face terrible damanges. The Vulcan ambassador tells of a Klingon crew that returned with their bodies turned inside out -- and still alive. The Vulcan ambassador even shows Archer the last footage from the last Vulcan ship that went in -- terrifying scenes of Vulcans going insane and murdering each other with their bare hands. Undaunted, Archer volunteers to take Enterprise into the Delphic Expanse to hunt down the Xindi.

The Vulcans protest this action. They even order T'Pol to be recalled to the Vulcan homeworld. But T'Pol is...confused. She has been on Enterprise too long. She is convinced that, now more than ever, they will need her as a science officer. But still, the Vulcan High Command orders her back to Vulcan. Luckily, Enterprise will pass close to Vulcan on the way to the Delphic Expanse, so they'll get to take T'Pol home.

Since the Klingons really took a pounding on Enterprise the NX-01 gets completely retrofit with new weapons, including the new, experimental, "photonic torpedoes." And a corp of Earth military forces. With their new weapons and crewmen, Enterprise sets out for the Delphic Expanse. They have another scrap with Duras outside of the solar system, which lets them test out the new photonic torpedoes.

As they near Vulcan, T'Pol tells Archer that Enterprise needs her now more than ever, and that she's resigning from the Vulcan High Command to stay with Enterprise. Archer steers Enterprise away from Vulcan and heads for the Expanse.

At the edge of the Expanse, Duras appears one last time with two other birds-of-prey! Space battle ensues. Enterprise destroys Duras' Bird-of-Prey, and presumably kills Duras. With nothing left dragging them back, Enterprise enters the Delphic Expanse....

All in all, it seemed a lot like The Search, the classic Deep Space Nine episode that brought us the Dominion. I really don't know what'll happen on next week's premiere, The Xindi.

Oh, and if anyone out there has a copy of last year's season premiere, Shockwave, Part II I still want to know how Archer got back to the past and how Hoshi wound up topless.


Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Greetings from the NAIT computer commons! I had my orientation this morning, and then they gave us the afternoon to "explore the campus." Naturally, I explored my way to some lunch, then thought I'd check my e-mail. Actually, this is good. It's helping to numb that part of my brain that's saying I made a horrible, horrible, mistake.

Actually, right now, I'm going goofy trying to get news out of Kumagaya. Apparently, one of the foreign teachers at my old place of work snapped and quit. I found out when a former student e-mailed me the other day. She just casually ended her message with, "Oh, and the substitute teacher leaves this week and we get our new foreign teacher." I REALLY want to know who snapped and quit. The vindictive part of me is really, really, really hoping it was my successor.

And in very happy news.... When I was in Japan, I watched this anime called Tokyo Mew Mew. It was the cutest Sailor Moon rip-off you ever did see. It was on every Saturday morning, and I'd always watch it before I went to work. And, as with most Japanese cartoons, it had one of the bounciest, most fun closing credits themes you ever did hear. On really great Saturdays, it would bounce around in my head all day. Average Saturdays, it would bounce around until lunchtime. Bad Saturdays, it was gone after the 5 minute meeting. Anyway, last night, after months of searching on Kazaa, I finally found the MP3 for the closing credits theme. I finally found out the title of it, too. "Koi Wa a la Mode." When I reflect on my time in Japan, it is the theme song. I just love it so!

Sadly, Tokyo Mew Mew hasn't come out on DVD here in North America yet. Last time I was in Comic King, I saw the manga is starting to come out, so I should pick it up. *sigh* I can't believe I left Japan without buying the soundtrack album. I must have seen it on store shelves a dozen times. I did, however, pick up some of the action figures for my collection.

Next issue...Return to School Days