Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, August 30, 2004

I'm just thinking about action figures right now.

Today, I was browsing some of Drayton's stores on my lunch break and, in the SAAN store, I happened to spot one of the hottest new action figures out there: the Marvel Legends Phoenix figure. Naturally, I thought, "Should I buy this?"

I'm surprised I don't have any Marvel Legends figures in my collection yet. I mean, it's just a great concept for action figures. They take the comic character, make a super-accurate action figure of that character, and then make it as posable as possible. It's very much "back to basics." And it's proving to be insanely popular, making "super posable" the latest trend in action figures.

And Phoenix is a female figure to boot. Female figures still tend to be very rare. So, naturally, I'm drawn to the female Marvel Legends figures. Twice now, I've seen the Marvel Legends Elektra on shelves and thought, "Dude, I should get that. But not today. Next time." And of course, next time, she's gone. I guess this means I should go back and buy Phoenix. Next time.

Yeah, the scarcity of female action figures...I can't believe it still exists. It all goes back to the concept that little boys still see girls as being icky. Therefore, little boys do not want action figures of female characters. Too much like dolls and all that. Hence, when a female character does make it into action figure production, it tends to be short-packed. (That's action figure collector talk for "There's only one in a case of 12.") That means there's less female action figures on store shelves. That means collectors want them more. That means they're more valuable.

I'm curious now. How many female figures do I have in my collection? Let's do a quick grrl power tally here.... So, I have 81 action figures in my collection. Ladies, stand up and be counted! I have....

Mew Mew Strawberry [Tokyo Mew Mew]
Mew Mew Strawberry (civies) [Tokyo Mew Mew]
Lara Croft [Tomb Raider]
Arena Escape Padme Amidala [Star Wars]
Princess Leia as Jabba's Prisoner [Star Wars: Power of the Force]
Ensign Sato [Enterprise: Away Team]
Sub-Commander T'Pol [Enterprise: Away Team]
Jade [Shadow Raiders]
The Bride [Kill Bill]
Go-Go [Kill Bill]
Uhura [Original Star Trek]
Trinity Revealed [The Matrix]
Scarlett [G.I. Joe]
Scully [The X-Files]
AndrAIa [ReBoot]

So that's...15. 15 out of 81 is 18.5%. 18.5% of my collection is female! Is that politically correct? I'm not sure....

Next Issue...Total Babes!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Well, I got most of my planned writing done today. I wrote my latest column, episode III of my radio play trilogy, two radio spots, and a cover letter for my application to write for NAIT's paper this fall. It was tough, too. I was very easily distracted today. I seem to have lost my bow tie. I need to find it soon, too. It's an integral part of my Halloween costume. And, I'd like to play with Microsoft Access more. I'd sure like to design some kind of database program to keep track of collectable action figures....

Anyway, the column. This one is called The Nature of Evil:

"I’ve been called many names in my life. I’ve gone by many names in my life. But the one that always rattles me the most is “evil.” Perhaps it comes from having been raised on a steady diet of comic books, cartoons, and morality fables. Naturally, most little boys want to grow up to be Prince Charming, Superman, or Snake Eyes. Very few people want to be the Evil Sorcerer, Lex Luthor, or Cobra Commander. With these pop culture fables having formed the foundation of my moral compass, I have always tried my best to be the good guy. When someone points at me and accuses me of being evil, I often find myself, like Daredevil, just sitting in the shadows muttering to myself, “But I’m not the bad guy.” In essence, whenever I’m accused of being evil, I’m naturally consumed by self-analysis trying to figure out exactly what I did was wrong. "

I think this is a good one. Check it out, why don't you?

Next Issue...COMMTech chips and dip
Today was the episode of Teen Titans that I've been waiting for. Our dear Starfire is time-warped 20 years into the future, where the Titans have broken up. "Robin? I haven't heard that name in years. Now they call me...Nightwing."

But right now, though, I'm just frustrated with myself. I've got a week before back to school, and I've got so much writing I want to do still. I want to write one more episode of my supervillain-working-in-a-grocery-store radio play, about a half-dozen radio spots, and at least two proposals for my promotions. Given the time constraints, I think it's fair to give up on my 10 episodes of The Mountain Man. But those should be easy enough to produce. I should be able to write and produce them throughout the semester.

And I've still got to write this week's column, and spruce up my resume so I can apply to write for NAIT's newspaper. I'm going to be busy tomorrow. I want to be busy tomorrow. I just hope I've got the self-discipline to pull it off.

I was thinking about writing my latest column right now, but I'm just so sleepy. Work on creative projects until 4am...I don't know how you do it, Mr. Anderson.

Next Issue...Burnt Out by Day 1

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Well, I've got to share the day's biggest movie news. Kevin Smith has officially announced that he's not doing The Green Hornet anymore. Instead, his next film is....

The Passion of the Clerks.

Yup! Clerks 2, baby! He starts filming in January. He's got the original cast signed on to come back. The concept: it's 10 years later and Randall and Dante decide it's finally time to grow up and get out of the store.

Oh, and I've also been doing some reading up on Pokemon: Sapphire Edition now that I've finished it. Apparently, now that I'm the champion, as I wander around the Hoenn Region, Latias (the mythical pokemon and star of the fifth movie) is now unlocked. That means she pops up occasionally and I have the opportunity to catch her! Sweet!

Next Issue...Clerks 3?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I'm fascinated with liquor stores. For the past three years, I've threatened to write a column about this fascination. In Japan, I even found the perfect quote to start this column in one of my textbooks. It was from the Dhali Lama: "I go to department stores in the way that most people go to museums." I go to liquor stores like they're museums.

After I did some shopping at the Real Canadian Superstore today, I decided to check out the Real Canadian Liquorstore. As you know, all these stores are part of the Westfair Foods family, the same corporation that owns Extra Foods. Westfair Foods does something that no other grocery store does. Mainly, if you buy one item, it's a certain price. If you buy multiples of that item, you get them at a lower price. For example, one widget costs $1.99. But, if you buy six, you get them for $1.59 each. Get it? It causes no end of frustration to both the cashiers and the customers. "No, I'm sorry, ma'am, they're only that price if you buy six. You're only buying two." Most times, this'll actually encourage a person to go buy four more.

So, I'm browsing through the Real Canadian Liquorstore, and I notice something. Westfair Foods does this with alcohol, too. Things like one bottle of vodka is $21.99, but if you buy six, then they're only $18.99 each. One bottle of tequila was $24.99, but if you buy three, then they're only $21.99 each. I started reflecting on this....

Is it just me, or is this encouraging the overconsumption of alcohol? I mean, seriously, who buys six bottles of vodka at a time? It's certainly encouraging the over-purchasing of alcohol, and when you've got a lot of extra alcohol in the house....

I don't know. For me, it just seems a little off that Westfair Foods does this with an addictive substance. They don't do it with cigarettes, and certainly alcohol is just as addictive as nicotine. I think I found my first news story for news class. It'd be interesting to get a quote from ADACC to find out what they think, and from Westfair Foods' Liquorstore division.

Actually, this is my second idea for a news story. My first story is finding out why NATISA's president has changed his name. Again, I just find it a little odd that Dwayne Johnson was elected by the people, and now our president is Dwayne Williams. Same guy, different name. And a lot of people scoff at my theory that he simply got married over the summer....

But yeah, I played hookey from work again today. Got all registered to return to school this fall. And then I did a little shopping. Today's "I really shouldn't, but what the hell" purchase: Kill Bill action figures. I was always afraid that these would join the ranks of all those really cool action figures I saw in ToyFare, but never actually saw on a store shelf. Then, today, when I saw them in HMV.... I just knew I had to have them. I got the Bride and Go-Go.

I'm really running out of wallspace for my collection. I've said it before and I'll say it again: one day, I will have a house. And in that house, I will have a room. My entire action figure collection will adorn the walls, and in the centre of this room will be a desk with my computer on it. And it is there where I will write all my brilliant columns and novels and such. And I will call this room...the computer room! Because my computer's in it, you see.

Next Issue...Party Angela!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Well, folks, I've completed one of my big goals for the summer.

I've finished Pokemon: Sapphire Edition!

Sing it with me now:

Born to be a winner!
Born to be a champion!
Born to be a winner!
Born to be the very best!
Born to be a winner!

Of course, I couldn't have done it without my champion line-up of pokemon:

Kyogre - The mythical pokemon; a winged killer whale. My big gun. My most powerful. He just plowed through everything.

Treeko/Grovyle/Sceptyle - My first pokemon, which evolved to its final form. An ass-kicking grass type.

Aron/Lairon/Aggron - This guy, literally a rock. When endurance is the key, I just sent him out there and he takes a beating, just wearing down the other guy.

Shroomish/Breloom - A strange combination; part grass-type, part fighting-type, but all champion.

Seviper - The snake pokemon. Every move he has poisons you somehow. He rocks.

Torkoal - A big, fugly fire-breathing turtle. What's not to love?

And notable others that got me this far:

Psyduck/Golduck - One of my favourites from the show.

Anortih - My Jurassic Pokemon; cloned from a fossil I found in the desert. A rock/bug type who knows water attacks. Very cool.

Castform - This freaky pokemon was genetically engineered to control the weather. He actually changes form based on the weather. If it's raining, he's a water pokemon. If it's sunny and hot, he's a fire pokemon. If it's hailing, he's an ice pokemon.

Wurmple/Silcoon/Dustox - Mothra! A good warrior.

And that's it! As I said, even though I've now "finished" the game, it's not really over. I can now explore parts of the game that were previously unexplorable, and something called the "battle tower" has opened up, where I have to face seven trainers in a row. And, don't forget, the all-new FireRed and LeafGreen versions come out next week!

But until then, I"ll just enjoy being the Hoenn League Champion.

Sing it with me now!

Take a step and I'm on my way
Gonna start all over again!
I wanna be a hero! (Pokemon advance)
I'm on my way!
I wanna be a hero!
Gimme just one chance!
And the future will decide
If there's a hero buried deep inside
I wanna be a hero!

Next Issue...Time to Get a Life
Alrighty, folks, 2 big DVD announcement I want to pass along. Both of these come out on December 7, so mark you calendars!

Batman: The Animated Series - Volume 2 - Crap, and I don't even have vol. 1 yet! This four-disc set has 28 episodes, which I'm assuming makes up the second half of season 1. You get three featurettes entitled Robin Rising, Gotham's Guardians, and Voices of the Knight. Plus, there's running commentary on 4 select episodes.

But that's not all. With Batman: The Animated Series on DVD, you knew it was just a short time before....

Superman: The Animated Series - Volume 1 - Sweet! This 2-disc set has 18 episodes, which is pretty much the entire first season and the first few eps from season 2. For bonus stuff, there are two featurettes entitled Superman: Learning to Fly and Building the Mythology: Superman's Supporting Cast, plus running commentary on 4 select episodes, and the ever-growing pop-up trivia bits.

Remember, these both come out on December 7! They make great Christmas presents!

next Issue...Man of Paper

Monday, August 23, 2004

Ahh, one of those perfect evenings. There was just enough of an autum chill in the air that reminded me of times past, when I'd gather together a few friends from the neighbouring halls, head on down to a 7-11, and ask everyone, "So, how was your summer?"

I want some Silly Putty. I don't know why. I just have this weird urge to play with some. I'm sure we've all heard the tale: developed during World War II as a rubber substitute. When it didn't turn out like expected, an entreprenurial guy in the lab started selling it as a toy.

Heh. "Rubber substitute." Put your mind in the gutter and chuckle along with me. Ya know, I'm sure, out of the six billion people on this planet, at least one man has said that to one woman: "Yeah, baby, I know I forgot to stop by the drugstore. But I got some Silly Putty from my brother's toy box. Ya know, it's a rubber substitute."

Today's strange movie news: Ellen DeGeneres will be playing God! DeGeneres has won the title role in a remake of Oh, God!. This was a rainy afternoon movie that was on TV quite a bit when I was a kid. For those who've never seen it, it's a comedy about a guy stuck in a rut who's approached by God. Seems that God's started to fret that we've all forgotten about him, so God gets this guy to be his new messenger. Think of it as precursor to the more-recent Bruce Almighty. In the original, George Burns played God and John Denver played the guy.

Anywho, with DeGeneres on board, the quest is on for a writer and a director. They start filming next year, when DeGeneres is on hiatus from her talk show.

Next Issue...Why, God?

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Firstly, latest column's up! this week I tell you How to Change the System:

"I had a brilliant idea the other day as to how change the system for the better. Yes, I’ve rallied against the system for a few years now, and I’m starting to get tired of the taunt from those in charge: “Well, I’d like to see you propose an alternative!” This, of course, has replaced the previous taunt of, “Well, I’d like to see you do better!” because that led people to do things like run for office and actually do better. This idea has to do with reforming our education system."

Find out how to change the system right here!

And, my good news for the night. I e-mailed YTV to find out if and/or when they'll be premiering the new cartoon Justice League Unlimited, aka the "re-branded" Justice League cartoon. Well, YTV replied. Look for it Friday, September 10 at 9 pm Eastern and Pacific time. I tell you, Justice League rocks!

Next Issue...For the Man Who Has Everything
Why did I quit playing Pokemon? I plugged it into my Game Boy Advance and fired it up again tonight. Man, I am so close to finishing it.

Well, not really. Pokemon is one of those games that never really ends. You can keep running around the Hoenn region, capturing more pokemon and battling other trainers until the end of time. I'm defining "finishing it" as defeating the Elite Four and becoming the pokemon champion. When I stopped playing it about two months ago, I kept getting my ass kicked by the third of the Elite Four.

But tonight, I defeated the third and the fourth of the Elite Four...but that wasn't the end like I thought it would be. Then, I have to go on and fight the current reigning champion, and them I'm the champion. And in the "twist ending," it's revealed that the current reigning champion is Steven, this character who's been helping you out and giving you free stuff througout the game. I feel somewhat guilty about this, though. My strategy seems to be simply overworking my most powerful pokemon and using him to squish anything that stands in my path.

That's a very poor strategy, mainly because if my opponent gets off a lucky shot and takes out my most powerful pokemon, I'm toast. I don't like having just one big gun. Ideally, all 6 of my pokemon should be big guns. But, as it sits, I've got one big gun, four medium guns, and one small gun.

But hey, once I'm the champion, I guess I can keep playing and making eveyone a big gun until the end of time.

I still wish I had a friend with a Game Boy Advance and Pokemon: Sapphire or Ruby Editions. I long to battle a real opponent....

Anyway, time to go to bed. I'm heading down to Red Deer tomorrow to see Opa and Oma and return the currently-visiting German relatives. I was hoping to write this week's column in a late-night burst right now, but I'm just so sleepy. Here's hoping there's a column tomorrow.

Next Issue...Hoenn League Champion?

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Whew! I've got quite a few bits of news from the past few days, and now, I can spit it out.

Firstly, book news. Micheal Moore is going to have two new books coming out this fall. The first one, entitled The Official Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader, is the official companion book to Fahrenheit 9/11. It'll share more material that never got into the movie and give the whole story about how he got his facts. The second one is entitled Will They Ever Trust Us Again? and it'll be a collection of letters Moore's gotten from soldiers in Iraq who are critical of the war. Both books will be out in October, to co-incide with the DVD release of Fahrenheit 9/11.

Not to be outdone, my favourite anti-Moore site is already accusing Moore of falsifying the letters that Moore has gotten, or at least heavily editing them to show Moore's point of view. So, this anti-Moore site has sent out a request for letters from soldiers in Iraq who are in favour of the war, so they can compile their own book.

And now, I've got some big DVD announcements.

Firstly, coming out on November 30 is Daredevil 1.5. This is a brand-new director's cut of Daredevil that'll have an additional 20 minutes of footage that was originally cut. This is going to be a single-disc DVD. The only bonus materials will be a featurette about making the director's cut, and a new running commentary with writer/director Mark Steven Johnson and producer Avi Arad. I've got a hunch that the teaser for the Elektra movie will be on the disc, too, but that's just a hunch....

The bigger news. Also coming out on November 30 is the DVD of the #1 film of the year, Spider-Man 2. This is going to be a fully-loaded 2-disc special edition, featuring....

- A running commentary with director Sam Raimi, star Tobey Maguire, and producers Avi Arad and Grant Curtis
- A technical running commentary with the special effects folks
- Blooper reel
- Pop-up trivia facts about the film
- 4 webisode featurettes from the film's official website
- The music video for Ordinary by Train
- A 12-part documentary about the making of the film
- A featurette all about Peter Parker and the evolution of his chracter
- A featurette on Doc Ock and adapting him for the big screen
- A featurette about the female characters of the film
- A multi-angle look at the climactic final fight at the pier
- And an art gallery, where you can look at Alex Ross's opening credit artwork without any nasty opening credits getting in the way

And, that's not all. Besides this, they're also releasing a special Spider-Man 2 Gift Set, a big box set where you get all this with the DVD:

- An exclusive artwork portfolio, where 25 comic book artists have drawn images inspired by the film
- A "From Concept to Screen" portfolio, where pre-production art is placed side-by-side with the final image in the film
- A collection of postcards featuring the film's movie posters
- A reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #50; the "Spider-Man No More" issue.

And here's some DVD news for my brother. On November 16, Paramount will finally release Top Gun: Special Collector's Edition. Yup, a 2-disc special edition of Top Gun. When my brother and I were kids, this was one of our favourite films. Since we were raised on G.I. Joe, enjoying Top Gun was a latteral move. Anyway, all the bonus stuff you get:

- Brand new animorphic widescreen digital transfer of the film and a brand new surround sound remix.
- Running commentary with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Tony Scott, writer Jack Epps, and real-life Top Gun pilots Captain Mike Galpin, retired Admiral Pete Pettigrew and Vice Admiral Mike McCabe
- 6 documentaries about the making of the film, tracing it from pre-production to its cultural impact
- 4 music videos from the film's soundtrack
- a vintage Tom Cruise interview
- a vintage featurette
- storyboards with commentary by director Tony Scott
- 7 TV spots

And now, it's bedtime

Next Issue...Too Many DVDs!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Hey, here's today's interesting bit I read in the paper. I've got to start keeping track of this stuff again so I can talk about it on the radio.

It's the 25th anniversary of the Happy Meal! Yes, McDonald's has been corrupting our youth for 25 years now.

It's interesting to read about how it was developed. It was a marketing guy at McDonald's who was just fascinated by his son's breakfast routine. Every day, his son would eat the same cereal, and every day, his son would always stare intently at the cereal box. No matter how often his son read that box, he would always read it again the next morning. So, this marketing guy came to this conclusion: kids like to be entertained while they eat. So, he packaged a McDonald's kids meal the same way you package a box of cereal: put it in a colourful box and stick a free toy at the bottom.

Test marketed in '77, went nationwide in '79. Now, it's in every McDonald's in the world.

Next Issue...I quit!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Well, I had a very fun day of playing hookey today. I went to Silver City to watch Spider-Man 2 again, and made the sad discovery that it was only playing in IMAX. So, after seeing that IMAX was just fifty cents more than regular price, I saw it in IMAX.

Ahh, IMAX. Once a novelty at science museums, it's now entering the mainstream of movie-going. When they first started showing first-run films in IMAX, they simply used lenses to blow up the picture. People started to complain, though, that doing so distorted the picture. So nw, they've developed a special digital process that blows up the picture and causes little to no distortion. And it's becoming quite popular.

Probably my favourite incident involving these IMAX releases has to do with Catwoman. Warner Brothers was planning on doing an IMAX release, but when it started bombing, they figured that creating an IMAX print just wasn't worth it. Several theatres had already begun promoting it, too, by showing movie posters boasting the tagline "CATch her in IMAX."

Since I was paying off my tuition, I also foolishy spent too much money. Don't worry, most of it was spent doing my back-to-school shopping. I blew all my money today on DVDs:

Justice League: Starcrossed - The big final episode! I purposly didn't tape it when it was on in June because I knew the DVD was coming. This is just a cool episode.

1984 - The movie version of my favourite book. Yes, the book is better than the movie, but this is about as perfect and adaptation as you can hope for.

Futurama: Season 1 - I've been eyeing this for a long time, and when I saw it in HMV with the price tag, "$22.99, marked down from $42.99," I knew the time had come. I've seen these episodes so many times that I'm just going to launch straight into the running commentaries on these episodes. Apparently, John DiMaggio, who does the voice of Bender, is just hilarious.

Next Issue...JLU

Monday, August 16, 2004

Hee hee! I'll admit, despite my fascination with the Olympics, I'm not watching much of the coverage on TV. I read the scores in the paper the next morning. So, right now, I'm giggling like a schoolgirl over the big news.

For the first time since NBA players have been allowed to play at the Olympics, Team USA has been beaten.

They lost, 92 to 73, to Puerto Rico. People have been predicting this, apparently, since the first Dream Team in 1992. Fact is, NBA players are evolving to be more style than substance, and it's starting to catch up with them.

Plus, we've got some sad movie news coming out of the Chicago Wizard World Convention. Kevin Smith has officially announced that he is NOT directing The Green Hornet. He figures that he's just not the guy to do a big budget action film. He is still writing it, however. Smith also said he'll be announcing his next project in November.

Next Issue...Kato Strike!

Sunday, August 15, 2004

First things first. Latest column's up! This week, we've got Losing the Magic:

"That’s what it’s all about really. Not so much magic as it is faith. We as a society are losing our faith. For me, personally, this all goes back to Christmas movies. Compare the original Miracle on 34th Street with its 1994 remake. In the original, Santa Claus is saved when he starts getting all these letters addressed to him, and postman after postman delivers them into the courtroom. “Since the government recognizes this man as Santa and delivers Santa’s mail to him, this court must also recognize him as Santa,” says Santa’s lawyer. And the judge agrees. There’s a leap of faith involved in that. But in the 1994 remake, Santa’s lawyer instead makes a very long, boring speech about the nature of faith. No parade of postmen delivering letters here. We couldn’t make the leap of faith that our letters get to Santa anymore. Instead, we had to be told what faith is."

Here's the whole thing!

Now, just to get this on paper. I've been doing some more plotting for my radio show this fall. One of the first things I'm going to have to do is set aside an afternoon, park myself in a studio, and transfer some of my favourite songs on cassette onto CD. We don't have a cassette player hooked into the mixing board, so this is what I have to do if I want to get the campus grooving to that 1990 classic, Turtle Power.

And I had another great idea for splitters tonight. They're doing these ones on Joe FM right now that I want to rip off. They go like this:

Announcer: Hey! Have you seen (movie that JOE gave away passes to)?
(play sound clip from movie)
Announcer: Alright, now back to the music. This is 92.5 JOE FM, playing anything.

So, I'm going to do this for Chaos in a Box, only using sound clips from my favourite short-lived TV shows that I now own on DVD. Mainly, Clerks: The Animated Series, The Tick, and The Critic. For example....

Me: Did you ever watch the Clerks cartoon?
Randall: If you were Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and could therefore sleep with any woman on the planet, who would you choose? Me? I'd choose Liv Tyler.
Me: I loved that show. Now back to Chaos in a Box.

And before I go, one last gasp for my weekend of animation. Ain't It Cool News just posted some really cool concept art for Disney's upcoming animated film Rapunzel Unbraided. It's really cool art, but that title just screams "Shrek knock-off."

Next Issue...Wowie
I've been having too much fun doing nothing today. And I really should write a column or two. But instead, I've been cruising around Lake Wabamun and watching lots and lots of TV.

Oh, here's something I've been meaning to mention for a while. Even since Smallville first came on, people have been asking when other DC characters will appear on the show. Well, it was announced a few days ago that, this fall, Smallville will be receiving a visit from...

The Flash!

Now, the interesting thing is, since there have been a dozen heroes to wear the mantle of the Flash, the question is which Flash will be on the show? The Flash we're going to have is Bart Allen. Bart Allen is the great, great, great, etc. grandson of Barry Allen, the Silver Age and most famous Flash. Bart hails from the 31st Century and was thrown back in time because it was the only way to counter his superspeed from superaccelerating his aging. So, he's a teenager in our time blessed with the power of superspeed, and he fights crime under the name of Impulse.

And another thing happening on Smallville this fall that Superman fans have been waiting for: Lois Lane is coming to town! Smallville character Chloe Sullivan has occasionally hinted in the show that her cousin his Lois Lane. Last season's season finale featured the (apparent) death of Chloe. So, Lois Lane is going to come to town and investigate Chloe's death or disappearance. The actress playing Lois Lane is signed for 13 episodes, so that means she's going to be around for at least half the season.

Interesting fact: the character of Chloe Sullivan was originally going to BE Lois Lane. But, there was a deafining uproar from the die-hard fans (or, continuity whores, as Rick Berman calls them). They screamed at Warner Brothers, "No! You can't do that! Every facet of Superman continuity has made it clear that Clark Kent's high school sweetheart was Lana Lang! To have teenage Lois Lane and teenage Clark Kent go at it would be blasphemous!" So, the WB conceeded to the fans.

Next Issue...Write the damn column!
Well, my list of reviews of the past two years worth of animated films is up. Check them out right here!

Next Issue...Next Column
Well, I'm done my day of animation. I've written the reviews, but I'm kind of sleepy right now. So, I hope you don't mind, but I'll upload them in the morning.

Next Issue...Enjoy the review!

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Well, my day is going great, thank you very much. I've been watching my animated films all afternoon. I've got my big bottle of Dr. Pepper, a large bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, and I'm just watching DVD after DVD. When I described that as a fun way to spend a day, my American co-workers back in Kumagaya found it to be the most repulsive thing a man can do.

Anyway, I'm done the Disney animated films, and I'm moving onto Dreamworks this evening. I'll do full reviews later tonight, but here's what we've got so far:

Lilo & Stitch - I was surprised at how good this actually was. It's been a long time since I found genuine heart and soul in Disney animation. 3.5 Nibs.

Treasure Planet - Put this next to The Black Cauldron and Atlantis as a worthy attempt to make something a little more grown-up and action-oriented. I say "worthy attempt" because, like the first two, it still comes short of being something truly cool. Amazing animation, thought. 3 Nibs.

Brother Bear - I felt rather "meh" towards the whole thing. It was good, but.... Felt like we'd seen it all before. However, I did laugh my ass off whenever Tuke and Rutt (that is, the moose re-incarnations of Bob & Doug McKenzie) were on screen. I'm still hovering between 2.5 nibs and 3 nibs for a final rating.

And now, supper's on the stove!

Next Issue...DreamWorks

Friday, August 13, 2004

Well, I'm all set. Today, I popped the lock on the money I had stowed away to cover my tuition. I'm playing hooky from work on Tuesday to run into NAIT and get that all paid off. So, I guess it's official. I'm going back for year 2.

Anyway, I've made good on my threat. This weekend, I'm going to catch up on all my animated films. I'm going to write reviews for all of them, but before that, I'm going to list here my pre-conceptions about each film. First, on the Disney side:

Lilo & Stitch - I read a lot of cautious optimism online about this one. This was Disney's last big hope to break away from "the formula." The second - and last - film made completely in their Florida animation studio. It came out shortly after I left for Japan, so advertising for it was getting pretty heavy before I left. I managed to catch the "making of" special on TV and immidiatly dismissed it as a knock-off of The Iron Giant. Mr. Anderson told me that Neil Gaiman actually thought it was a pretty good movie. (Actually, according to Mr. Anderson, Gaiman's review was along the lines of, "Wow, it didn't suck.") It came to Japan in March of 2003, and I had no desire to pay Japanese movie prices to see it.

Treasure Planet - I find the history of this film fascinating. It's the longtime pet project of Disney animators John Musker and Ron Clemmens, the dynamic duo who made The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Waaay back in 1985, they pitched this idea and The Litte Mermaid to Disney. Disney approved both ideas and wanted Little Mermaid made first. So, Musker and Clemmens made it, then Disney ordered them to do Aladdin next. So, Musker and Clemmens made it, then Disney ordered them to do Hercules next. So, Musker and Clemmens made it, and Disney finally allowed them to make Treasure Planet. So, I'm really interested to see how it came together.

Brother Bear - This one kind of slipped under everyone's radar. I first heard about it online in 2000 or so. Apparently, one day, Michael Eisner called the head of feature animation into his office and said, "I've got a great idea for an animated film. The Lion King with bears instead of lions. Make it happen." Information kind of dribbled out over the years. Joaquim Phoenix was voicing the lead...Phil Collins was doing the songs.... When I read a cast list and saw Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas doing voices, I knew immidiatly what was going on. "What animals have Bob & Doug McKenzie been re-incarnated as to be the comic relief?" Then I saw the trailer, and saw that Bob and Doug were moose. The main reason I want to see this is for new Bob and Doug McKenzie foolishness.

But that's not all! I'm also catching up on DreamWorks' animated films. With former head of Disney animation Jeffery Katzenberg as one of DreamWorks' founding fathers, there was a lot of hope that DreamWorks would have the best shot to take down Disney as the king of animation. But, after only four traditionally animated films, DreamWorks made the decision that traditional animation is dead and started focusing on CGI. So, their last two films were....

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron - When I first saw the trailer on the Shrek DVD, I thought it was the most mindblowing piece of animation I'd ever seen. It hit theatres shortly before I left for Japan, but I had no desire to see it. All the TV ads made it seem so...meh. The reviews called it "a politically correct western." But still, it is very unique in that it's told from the horse's point of view...and the horse never speaks. I sure hope I like Bryan Adams, though, as he did all the songs on the soundtrack.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas - The last traditional film for DreamWorks. It actually got pretty good reviews. Even Trouble, the great defender of mythology, liked it. Actually, her exact quote was, "Once you get past the fact that they completely fucked with the Sinbad legend, it's not too bad." Yeah, she's like that when it comes to stories based on ancient legends. She still wants to nuke Disneyland because of Disney's "liberal adaptation" of the Hercules legend.

And that's going to be my Saturday.

next Issue...Animation Overload.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

What I love the most about being home alone is I can rent all the weird movies I want to see and watch them without parental objections. There's none of Dad's heavy sighs, I can just enjoy the show. Tonight, I finally rented Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman kind of slipped in under everyone's radar. When it had its premiere screening at last year's San Diego Comic Con, everyone said, "What's that? They made another Batman straight to video movie?" And yes, they did. It finally came out in October of last year to little to no fanfare. Heck, it took this long for a local video store to finally get it in. And so, I finally got to see it.

The plot is simple enough. Gotham's three biggest gangsters - Carlton DuKane, Rupert Thorne, and the Penguin - have joined forces to manufacture and sell illegal weapons. But, they find they have an enemy: a new crimefighter in Gotham City calling herself Batwoman. Batwoman seems to have a real vendetta against these gangsters, and goes on a very destructive rampage to bring down their criminal empire. Naturally, with such destruction on her mind, it's only a matter of time before an innocent gets hurt. So, in comes Batman to figure out who Batwoman is and why she's hunting down these mobsters. Our three prime suspects: Kathy DuKane, Carlton DuKane's daughter; Roxanne Ballantine, a rising star in Wayne Enterprise's R&D division; and Sonia Alcana, a rookie detective in the GPD. Things escalate when the mob brings in Bane to hunt down Batwoman. So, the question becomes, who will unmask Batwoman first: Bane or Batman? And who is Batwoman?

All in all, this is not bad. It's no Mask of the Phantasm or Return of the Joker, that's for sure. But it's just fun. An entertaining hour and fifteen minutes. I forget how many eyeballs this warrants on Mr. Anderson's rating system, but it's the rating that says, "If you see it on your friend's coffee table, borrow it." For me, that'd probably be about three nibs.

And hey. You just gotta love a Batman story where 90% of the characters are female.

And I have to mention the best bonus material on the DVD: a 6-minute long Batman animated short entitled Chase Me. It's completly silent. That is, no dialogue. And all it is is Batman chasing Catwoman. It is just very cool. That short in itself is worth 4 nibs.

Oh, and I also rented the special edition of E.T.. You can really tell where the new special effects are because, suddently E.T. gets very, very animated. Other than that, it's still a good movie.

Next Issue...Mystery of the Batmark

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Today's pointless trivia bits:

- South Park is animated using Maya, the computer animation software developed for and used to animate Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

- As of January 2003, The Simpsons is now 100% computer animated.

I was thinking the other day. I've mused many times that we need a website to do critcal reviews of fast food. Yeah, we're all well aware that it's bad for us, but does it taste good? My schemes always revolved around doing a vast website covering every fast food restaurante with a vast network of critics, each assigned to a specific fast food place.

But, yesterday, I thought, "Why don't I just do it myself?"

I won't be like the guy who made Super Size Me, and gorge myself on everything on the menu in a month. When I go to a fast food place, I'll jot down a review of what I ate, and post it on my website. This'll take years to compile something comprehensive, but it'll be a start.

I'll also have to change my fast food diet. Like most people, I tend to have my favourite burger at every restaurant. To do this, I'll have to scrap that and make an effort to have something different every time I go.

I think this'll work.

Next Issue...First Review!

Monday, August 09, 2004

Well, I'm home alone for two weeks, as the folks are off showing the German relatives the wonders of Alberta. I was thinking about enjoying my time at home by renting several dozen porn movies, but I think instead I'll just catch up on my Disney animated films. I swung by the video store today, but sadly, Lilo & Stitch was out. So, I'll keep looking back throughout the week.

And I'm once again resuming one of my internal debates. One of my favourite animes when I was in Japan was called Galaxy Angel. It was on every Sunday morning at 9:30, and I'd watch it whenever I was up that early. Anyway, back in the spring, they finally began importing it. Vol. 4 has just been released. So, I"m naturally wondering if I should begin collecting the whole series. Start with Vol. 1. What do you think? Should I get it?

Next Issue...Today's Menu
Well, the day I've been worrying about for the past two weeks has come. I got the bill for my NAIT tuition in the mail today. Actually, I'm pleasantly surprised. It's a full $500 cheaper than I thought it'd be. So, first step now is to go to the bank and unlock the special savings account I tucked the tuition money into. (I locked it away so I wouldn't accidentally spend it on DVDs.) But first, I've got to beg the boss for a day off next week so I can go into NAIT and pay it in person.

Anywho, I feel like mentioning this movie news. There's a movie in development right now called Zarutha. It's based on a childrens book by Chris Van Allsburg, the same guy who wrote Jumanji. And, just like Jumanji, Zarutha is about a cursed board game. This time, the board game is sci-fi based, and it flings a family's home into deep space, where the family proceeds to have a series of adventures. Tim Robbins is playing the father in this family, Jon Favreau (he directed the Will Ferrel movie Elf and was paired with Vince Vaughn in a bunch of indie films) is directing, and Stan Winston is bringing the aliens to life. They are saying it is a sequel to Jumanji "in spirit and themes only."

Truth be told, Jumanji is still on my list of "movies to check out out of morbid curiosity." It's a short list. The only other movie on it right now is Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

Next Issue...Jarutha

Sunday, August 08, 2004

First things first, got the latest column up. This week's is Oil & Vinegar:

"I do crazy things at work when it gets slow. It’s probably stuff I shouldn’t do. Because we are in the produce section, the salad dressing is right next to us. I’ve been compelled to do this for as long as I can remember. You should try this at home. It’s a lot of fun. What you do is you get yourself a bottle of a good oil & vinegar salad dressing. I find Italian is the most common. Set it down in front of you. Shake the hell out of it. Then, watch it separate. Better than a lava lamp."

Read it all!

Next Issue...Romancing the Phone
I really should be writing my latest column, but I just feel like doing nothing right now. I'm watching this biography of Drew Barrymore on TV right now. I'm still curious about that 20th Anniversary Special Edition of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. I should get out and rent it sometime soon.

Here's a little tidbit about E.T. According to the Internet Movie Database, Steven Spielberg and E.T. writer Melinda Matheson did consider a sequel to E.T.. The working title was "Nocturnal Fears," and it was going to be about Elliot and his friends being abducted by aliens! These aliens would have been the arch-enemies of E.T.'s race, and E.T. came charging to the rescue. In this film, it would have been revealed that E.T.'s true name was "Zreck."

My favourite joke about an E.T. sequel comes from the classic cartoon Freakazoid!. We were on the set of E.T. 2. Elliot, now a teenager, is making out with some chick on his couch. From behind the couch, we see E.T.'s trademark hand and glowing finger reach up. He taps Elliot on the shoulder and says, "Elliot, I'm back!" Elliot just says, "Get lost! I'm in the middle of something." And then Steven Spielberg is kidnapped, and Freakazoid comes to the rescue.

Anyway, on TV yesterday, I managed to catch a little bit of the very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. That is still high on my list of films that deserve a fully-loaded 2-disc super-special edition DVD. I mean, do you know the story of how that film was made? Even though TMNT was one of the biggest fads of the late-1980s, no studio in Hollywood wanted to touch the live-action Ninja Turtles film. Finally, the only studio that committed was a small indie studio called New Line Cinema, whose only mainstream success at that time was A Nightmare on Elm Street and its endless string of sequels. When Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hit theatres in the spring of 1990, it was a massive hit. It became one of the top 3 films of 1990. Thanks to the profits from that film, New Line Cinema went from a little indie studio to the major Hollywood studio they are today. Even with the massive The Lord of the Rings trilogy under its belt, New Line Cinema still counts Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as one of the most profitable films in the studio's history.

So, yeah. The Turtles built a studio. That at least should deserve a 2-disc special edition. All I ask is a running commentary with director Steve Barron, and TMNT creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

Next Issue...Next Column

Saturday, August 07, 2004

OH, here's some DVD news for Mom, because this is one of her favourite movies.

Disney has just announced a 2-disc, 40th anniversary special edition of Mary Poppins. The film is digitally restored and in its original widescreen aspect ratio. For bonus materials, you get an all-new hour-long documentary about the making of the film, new interviews with the cast and crew, an all-new animated short based on a P.L. Travers short story, a long-lost cut musical number called Chimpanzoo, and an all-new running commentary with stars Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and composer Richard Sherman. The big release day is December 14.

Next Issue...A Spoonful of Salt

Friday, August 06, 2004

We've all read the news by now: Ralph Fiennes is playing the evil Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I feel like mentioning it if only because I'm getting sick of reading the headline "He Who Shall Not Be Named...Has Been Named!"

You know, as I watch some classic TV lately, I'm wondering why CBC hasn't jumped on the DVD bandwagon yet. One of my new cable channels is showing Degrassi Junior High in reruns. I'm certain there's people out there who would buy Degrassi Junior High: The Complete Series on DVD. And lots of other old CBC titles, too. You just know that Road to Avonlea: The Complete First Season is just begging to be released. And where's the big boxed set of The King of Kensington, still regarded as the #1 Canadian sitcom of all-time? What spurned this on was catching Seeing Things in reruns. If it has the cult following that the Internet says it has, then Seeing Things deserves a DVD release.

Who remembers Seeing Things? One of CBC's biggest hits of the 1980s. It was rather unusual. How can I describe it.... Imagine if Haley Joel Osmet from The Sixth Sense grew up to be George Costanza from Seinfeld, and got a job as a crime reporter at a big city newspaper. While using his ability to see dead people to solve murders, he gets himself wrapped up in an Ally McBeal-style love triangle with his estranged wife and a Crown Prosecuter. Yeah, that's it. The Sixth Sense crossed with Ally McBeal. And our hero is George from Seinfeld.

Right now, I'm just frustrated. We had some guests earlier today, and my parents were bragging about the Governer General's Award I won in high school. I really wish they'd quit going on about that hunk of bronze I got nine years ago. It's nothing special. They give them out like candy. Randomly pick five of my classmates from Augustana; hell, five students on any college campus, and they'll have one too. Did I ever mention that I really, really, really hate my awards for acadmeic excellence? They're all so utterly pointless. Look, doing your homework and passing your tests is nothing that deserves an award. All an award for academic excellence does is unfairly single out a kid for doing what he's going to school to do. It makes him an object of ridicule. Let's be honest, they were originally established to be little more than a self-esteem boost to high school punks who can't get laid. I want to take every award I've ever gotten and just burn them. They're all so fucking pointless.

I hope my kids are nice and stupid. At least that way they'll be normal.

Next Issue...Governor General's Award...Cheap!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Wow, here's a particular evil being hoisted upon us by DreamWorks.

Shrek 2 hits DVD on November 5; a Friday. It'll be a single-disc edition. That means no bonus material about the making of the film. Now, also on that day, they'll be releasing a box set of all the Shrek films. That set will include an exclusive bonus disc containing all your bonus features for Shrek 2.

Are you getting this? If I want to get the bonus materials for Shrek 2, I have to buy Shrek again. That's just stupid.

Next Issue...Boycott
Spent my morning watching Cardcaptors. It's this anime that's on TeleToon. It premiered several years ago with a big marketing push, but now I can actually watch it. As with a lot of anime, it was the climactic showdown. And it was at the Tokyo Tower. Ya know, I never went to the Tokyo Tower. Sure, I saw it on the horizon lots. Was in the general area several times. But I was always warned against going to it. "It's just an overpriced, tacky tourist trap," I was warned. So, I never went.

Also doing a little more research on Tokyo Mew Mew. This is the one anime I watched every Saturday morning when I was in Japan. It's currently being dubbed and will be on Fox kids this fall. I forget the proper term for "anime for girls," but Tokyo Mew Mew is an "anime for girls." They figure this'll be the biggest launch for an anime for girls since Sailor Moon first burst onto the North American scene some 9 years ago.

And, Tokyo Mew Mew is generating some controversy among die hard anime fans. For it's North American release, the show is being retitled Hollywood Mew Mew. The die hard geeks are going, "But, as soon as people see the Tokyo Tower, they'll know it's not Hollywood!" I don't care. It's being imported by 4Kids Entertainment, the same folks who import Pokemon, so I think we're OK.

I'm still wondering how to reply to that announcer who e-mailed me yesterday demanding a thank you. We were warned in class how diplomatic snafus like this just may cost us jobs someday. So, I need to craft a proper diplomatic apology/thank you. The only thing that really pisses me off about stuff like this is why the hell did he sit and let it stew for 2 friggin' weeks?

Next Issue...The Apology

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

A few quotes from the past about my smile:

"When you stop smiling, Mark, there is something cosmically wrong with the universe." - An old friend in university.

"I love this boy! He just doesn't stop smiling! When things are getting too tough here, all I've got to do is look at his smile!" - A rather attractive fellow trainee when I started training with the company in Japan.

"Are you OK, Mark? This is the first time I've ever seen you not smiling." - One of my instructors at NAIT, when I was having a REALLY bad day.

"I've never seen you smile before. Stop it. You're scaring me." - One of the department heads at IGA.

And now, I'm wondering how to reply to something. A few weeks back, I e-mailed a radio announcer who spent some time in Japan about how he got there and how it was. He answered my questions for me. Now, three weeks later, this announcer has e-mailed me again, all pissed off that I never wrote back to thank him for his answers.

Damn. He must have worked for AEON.

Next Issue...Lord of the Unknown Tower

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Nothing witty to say tonight, folks! Just the latest column, Head Office Boys:

"Remember that classic episode of The Flintstones? Fred was tired of always being bossed around by Mr. Slate. So, one day, Fred was complaining about this to the Great Gazoo, and Gazoo snapped his fingers and said, “OK, Fred, you and Mr. Slate have now switched places. You are now the boss!” Well, while spending his first day as boss, Fred thought it was great. He bossed around Mr. Slate and made Mr. Slate feel as miserable as can be. But then, Fred discovered that the boss has to answer to an even more powerful boss, and that boss was even meaner than Mr. Slate ever was. Fred asked the Great Gazoo to switch things back, and Gazoo did. Fred learned a very important lesson that day about the business world: shit runs downhill."

Read it all, baby!

Next Issue...The Time