Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, December 31, 2005

I wish I had a digital camera today. Still no snow, but it was overcast, with a good centemeter of frost covering everything, and a hint of fog in the air. It was all very grey and ghostly.

Anyway, looks like just another New Years for me. Just another quiet evening at home.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Well, as there's only a day and a half left in 2005, everyone's starting to tabulate the "best of" lists and the "#1 of the year" lists. The first one came out today. It was the list of the top-selling DVDs of 2005. In case you're curious, the #1 DVD of 2005 was....

The Incredibles: Widescreen Edition.

The rest of the top 10:

2) Elf
3) The Incredibles: Full Screen Edition
4) Napoleon Dynamite
5) Shrek 2: Widescreen Edition
6) Spider-Man 2
7) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Widescreen
8) Shrek 2: Full Screen
9) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Extended Edition
10) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Full Screen

Here's today's pointless remake news.

It seems that Steven Spielberg is talking about doing a remake of...Mary Poppins. See, Disney converted Mary Poppins into a stage musical, which has been playing in London's West End since the spring. It's gotten rave reviews, even from the original Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews. It comes to Brodway in 2006. Anyway, Spielberg's plan is to use the original British cast of the stage show.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sat down today and watched Batman Begins from beginning to end. You know, I still think that's the best Batman film to date. But, before I watched Batman Begins, I watched a lot of the bonus material on Batman & Robin. On that DVD, Joel Schumacher flat-out apologizes for how Batman & Robin turned out. It's so sad it's funny.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about the 8 years between Batman & Robin and Batman Begins. It's actually quite a long and sordid tale. Not quite as long and sordid as how long it took for a Superman film, but I was there, reading the movie news for the past 8 years and how Batman Begins finally got made.

So, there it was. 1997. Despite making a ton of money, Batman & Robin was reviled by the people and critics alike. But still, a fifth movie was in the planning stages. The Scarecrow was going to be the villain. Joel Schumacher was going to direct again. But, seeing as to how Schumacher became the scapegoat for Batman & Robin, Schumacher said, "No thank you" and walked away. The search was on for a new director. It looked very much like David Fincher was going to take over, but Fincher opted to go make Fight Club instead.

Things kind of quieted down until 2000. Warner Brothers made the big announcement that they were going to develop and released two new Batman films, and thus jump-start the franchise. None of these would be sequels to the first four films; it would be a whole new franchise. The first one was going to be a live-action movie version of the new hit cartoon, Batman Beyond. Paul Dini (co-creator of Batman Beyond) was going to write it, and Boaz Yakin (of the hit Remember the Titans) was going to direct. The other one was going to be an adaptation of the classic story Batman: Year One, directed by Darren Aaronofsky (?, Requiem for a Dream) and written by Frank Miller (the comic genius who wrote Batman: Year One).

But, both projects never went anywhere. Batman Beyond dropped off the radar pretty quick, and the script for Batman: Year One was deemed "too weird." Some of the changes Miller made were to set it in the 1970s and to change Alfred from a stuffy British butler to a smooth-talking black pimp.

Don't forget, as all this was going on, the long, sordid story about making a new Superman movie was going, and it was time to have a crossover in our two stories. In 2002, Warner Brothers then announced that they were going to make Superman vs. Batman, featuring the two heroes squaring off. Wolfgang Peterson (In the Line of Fire, The Perfect Storm) was going to direct. But, there was quite an unexpected negative response to all of this, and Peterson left the project to go make Troy instead.

Warner Brothers was now getting desperate. Comic book movies were big again, thanks to Spider-Man and X-Men, and Warner Brothers/DC Comics was missing the boat. So, the WB decided to follow "the Marvel method:" get a hot indie director who's good with characters and stuff and pretty much trust their judgement. That led them to Christopher Nolan, the new darling boy of indie films thanks to Memento. Nolan signed on, and the first thing he did was get David S. Goyer to help him write it. Goyer is the biggest comic book nerd working in Hollywood right now, and he wrote all three Blade movies (and directed number 3). Following the "start of a new franchise" directive, they decided to fully tell Batman's origin...something that hadn't been done yet.

And the end result? Batman Begins.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

There's always one thing that's guaranteed to blow my mind when I'm leafing through the latest edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. And that's when I look up an older movie, only to find that Maltin has revised the review. This is actually quite a rare occurance, but it just happened to me as I was reading the brand new, 2006 edition. The movie? King Kong vs. Godzilla.

Here, let me demonstrate the revisions.

Here's the original review for King Kong vs. Godzilla, which has been in the same in movie guide for as long as I can remember. I transcribe this review from the 2005 edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. It's on page 753. Leonard Maltin gives King Kong vs. Godzilla two and half stars and says:

"All talk, talk, talk until the rousing finale, when the two monsters clash. Special effects are above average."

Now, let's flash-forward to the 2006 edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. Leonard Maltin believes now that King Kong vs. Godzilla is worthy of only TWO stars. And, the new review from page 694 says....

"Essentially a KONG remake, with Tokyo subbing for N.Y.C. and Godzilla showing up to make that mess even bigger. (Oh yes, there's also a giant octopus.) Third Godzilla movie-the first in color and in widescreen-was originally a clever satire of the worst excesses of TV journalism, but the U.S. version eliminates most of this (as well as Akira Ifukube's thrilling score), and adds awful new scenes with Michael Keith, Harry Holcombe, Byron Morrow, and Victor Millian. Still worth a look. (P.S.: Despite urban legend, only one ending was shot.) Japanese running time 98m."

So, what I'm curious to know is, when does Leonard Maltin feel that one of his reviews needs to be revised or revisited? Did Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong and last year's 50th anniversary of Godzilla spark a new interest in the two giant monsters, leading to a second look? Has viewing the original Japanese cut of King Kong vs. Godzilla given the American edit (presumably the one originally reviewed) a new flavour? I'd really like to know.

(Although, I do think that the new review really does over-use the parenthesis.)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Oh, and with my obsession for all things Bat, I guess I should answer one important question:

Did I get my much-hoped-for 2-disc deluxe edition of Batman Begins?

Yes. In fact, I got two! One from my brother and one from my parents. So, one is going to get exchanged for the 2-disc special edition of Sin City.

Haven't watched it yet, though, as I've been pouring through the big boxed set Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997. This long-awaited boxed set has the brand-new 2-disc special editions of all the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher Batman movies.

So far, I haven't even watched the movies yet, as I've been pouring through the bonus material. The first thing I watched on the Batman special edition was the long-lost Robin scene.

In case you haven't heard the tale, Robin was originally slated to make a cameo in Tim Burton's first Batman movie. It was in the script, the scene got storyboarded, but, as they were about to shoot the film, they decided to cut it as it was too expensive and not necessary to the plot. For the DVD, they took the long-lost storyboards and made an animatic to get some kind of sense of what the scene would have been like.

The scene took place immidiatly after the scene in Vicki Vale's apartment where Bruce Wayne tries to tell Vicki his secret, only to be interrupted by the Joker. The Joker shoots Bruce Wayne, Joker takes off, Vicki turns around to see Bruce Wayne is gone, Vicki opens the Joker's gift to see that it's a bouquet of dead roses. That's where it ends in the movie, but in the script....

We go to the roof of Vicki's apartment. Bruce Wayne is watching the Joker hop into a van and drive away. Not having the batsuit with him, Wayne dons a ski mask, hits a button on his belt, leaps from the top of the building, and lands on a mounted policeman's horse. Bruce kicks the mounted officer off the horse, and pursues the Joker on horseback. Soon, we see why Bruce Wayne hit that button. Alfred soon pulls up alongside the horse and tosses Bruce a nondescript package. Of course, it's the Batsuit. Bruce takes a moment to suit up, and now we've got Batman on horseback chasing down the Joker.

I know...straight out of the Dark Knight Returns, isn't it?

Anyway, Joker looks in his review mirror and sees that he's being chased by Batman. Up ahead, the Joker spots a part of Gotham City's 200th anniversary celebrations: a free, outdoor circuis. The headliners, the world-famous trapeeze act, the Flying Graysons.

Joker takes his van into the crowd. He tosses a grenade into the fireworks to be set off at the end of the show. The whole thing goes up in flames. Up on the high-wire, the supports come crashind down, and Mr. and Mrs. Grayson go plunging to their deaths. The only survivor: young Dick Grayson, wearing circus tights that are incredibly similar to his Robin uniform.

Angered at what he just saw and craving justice, Robin grabs a rope and swings down to street level, landing on top of Joker's van. Robin's now doing whatever he can to stop the Joker, as he bangs on the roof of the van screaming things like "You killed my parents you fucking bastard!" The Joker just responds with gunfire. Eventually, though, Robin's behaviour does the trick, and the Joker's van comes crashing to a halt.

Batman arrives, Batman and the Joker fight, Batman and the Joker have a bit of an exchange in which the Joker reveals his true identity to Batman, and the Joker slips away into the night. Batman, too, disappears into the night, and young, newly-orphaned Dick Grayson stands on the street, on the cusp of becoming Robin.

And they cut it because it was too expensive to shoot and not important to the plot.

But the little geek-out moment in this animatic? Of course, there were a few lines of dialogue between Batman and Joker that needed to be read. So, instead of just grabbing whoever was handy, Warner Brothers paid the extra dollar and got Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman on Batman: the Animated Series and Justice League) to read Batman's lines in his "Batman" voice, and Mark Hamill (the voice of the Joker on Batman: the Animated Series and Justice League) to read Joker's lines in his "Joker" voice.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Actually, based on my Christmas experience today, I'd like to make my first New Years Resolution:

Next year, I resolve not to make fun of my sister for giving me Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide for Christmas.

Now, you're probably thinking that I'm a really horrible person for making fun of my sister for the gift she gave me. But please allow me to defend myself

She's given me Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide for Christmas for the past 8 years.

8 years now, on Christmas morning, I open up my gift from my sister, and it's the newest version of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. It's on the cusp of becoming a family tradition.

And, all my jokes tend to revolve around stuff like, "8 years now. Would it kill you to be creative?"

The jokes themselves are becoming a tradition now, too. After she gave it to me for three years in a row, I started joking about it. This year, though, I started joking about it a lot earlier. December 1, I started joking about it. The few times I saw her this month, I was all like, "Oh, have you bought me the Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide yet?" and "Yup, gonna be sittin' around the ol' Christmas tree on Christmas morning opening up Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide because, you know, that's what you're giving me." And she'd get all indignant like, "Oh, that's what you think!" and "I'm not giving it to you this year. Nope nope." She almost had me convinced.

Anyway, after a month of jokes like that, she plopped her gift in my lap, I opened it up, and it was...Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. I looked up with a smug, self-satisfied look, and I saw that she actually had tears in her eyes. "I feel so bad for giving this to you, now!" she said. That never happened before.

Later in the day, we had serious words about it. I said, quite seriously this time, "Why can't you show any creativity?" and she gave defences like, "But it's such a reliable gift!" and "You're the easist person to shop for!" and "It's like our thing!"

She's still kind of mad at me. So, next year, I won't make any jokes about getting the new Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide from her.

Actually, I've been thinking a lot about this. My family's gotten so paranoid about getting me gifts, mainly because I'm very specific about what I want. The best example is DVDs. I'm a home theatre enthusiast. And for my DVDs, I get into specifics like, "I want the widescreen edition" and "I want the 2-disc deluxe edition, not the 1-disc regular edition." I'm certian that my family's convinced that, on Christmas morning, I'll probably hurl the DVDs I got across the room and go, "NO NO NO!! I wanted the 4-disc mega-ultra edition! This is just the 2-disc special editon! RARGH! MARK SMASH PUNY CHRISTMAS!"

So, I'm going to expand upon the resolution I originally made about making fun of my sister for giving me Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. My revised resolution is:

Next Christmas, I resolve to NOT make a Christmas wish list, erradicate all "want" from my mind, and just be grateful and enjoy whatever I get.

Oh, and yes, my latest column's up. This week, I ask Where Have All the Rhinos Gone?

" Well, we’ve got another federal election upon us. We started with a Liberal minority, and it looks like we will, again, get another Liberal minority. But, until the votes are counted that becomes a certainty, we’re going to be faced with a few more weeks of TV ads where the Liberals defend their record, and everyone else attacks the Liberals. It’s enough to drive a man batty. It makes one long for the good old days of the Rhino party."

Read it all!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to rebuffing my brother's suggestion that we go into Edmonton tomorrow and hit the Boxing Day Sales. I did that with him last year, and trust me, I used to think Shibuya on a Sunday afternoon was crowded....

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Well, my sister's now home for Christmas. She's living under this delusion that my cat and her hampster are going to co-exist peacefully. I don't think so....

And this news is a few days old, but I'm going to pass it along anyway. Bryan Singer has just hired Kevin Burns to do a documentary about Superman! Kevin Burns is an well-established documentarian whose other documentaries include Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy and Cleopatra: The Movie that Changed Hollywood.

This new Superman documentary will be called Look Up In The Sky: the Amazing Story of Superman and come out next year. Whether it'll be released on its own or as a bonus material on the upcoming Superman Returns DVD is still unknown.

I always wanted to do a documentary about Superman...actually, my grand scheme was to do a trilogy of documentaries, chronicling DC Comics' big 3: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Maybe, someday....

Friday, December 23, 2005

Well, I just have to share the one website I've been wasting a lot of time at lately: Al Lowe's Humor Site!

For those who've never heard of him, Al Lowe is a world-renowned, critically-acclaimed, and award-winning video game designer and computer programmer. His biggest claim to fame is the cult-classic Leisure Suit Larry series of games. (Although, he had nothing to do with last year's Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.)

Anyway, Lowe is largely retired now from the world of video games. And you know those jokes that people always e-mail to you? Lists of raunchy jokes? Obscene yet funny pictures? Crazy commercials from around the world? Well, Lowe seems to have made it his mission - or at least his hobby - to compile all these jokes into an online, searchable database.

And the end result is Al Lowe's Humor Site! It's a work in progress, with new stuff added every month or so.

He even offers up hints and tips and "behind-the-scenes" stories on some of the classic video games he's made.

Al Lowe's Humor Site! Check it out!

Acutally, you know, now I can confess my dirty little secret.

After years of mocking reality TV and avoiding reality TV...

I got hooked on a reality TV show.

And, in true Mark fashion, I got hooked on one that tanked.

The show was...The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.

It all started out innocently enough. My mother, a big Martha Stewart fan, wanted to check out the first episode out of curiosity. And then I had to see what happened next week, and the next, and before you knew it, I was hooked!

Anyway, the final episode was Wednesday night, and we saw budding young publishing magnate Dawna get hired to be Martha Stewart's Apprentice. Dawna's prize was a brand -new car and a job in Martha Stewart's empire with a $250,000 US/year salary. The job? She's in charge of Martha Stewart's new magazine.

If there's one thing I've got to hand it to, though, it's Mark Burnett's style. For those who don't know, Mark Burnett is regarded as being the god of reality TV, having Americanized Survivor and creating The Apprentice. He is such a master of editing. He knows exactly how to edit this reality to generate a sense of suspence and wonder.

He's a good editor, that Burnett.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I'm farily certain I've ranted on this before, and I'm going to again.

One of the big movie promotional tools right now is the "production video blog," where, every couple of weeks or so, you can watch online a brand-new behind-the-scenes featurette of a big blockbuster-y movie currently in production. Peter Jackson popularized this by doing it for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and King Kong. Bryan Singer was doing it for Superman Returns, but they've become few and far between now that filming's done. And, Sylvester Stallone just started one for Rocky 6.

But, Kevin Smith geek that I am, I've been glued to the one that Smith's been doing for Clerks 2. And, you just have to go watch the latest one.

See, Kevin Smith just had the first-ever screening of Clerks 2. He screened it to close friends who would offer up honest opinions about what he cooked up. Who were these close friends?

Quentin Tarintino and Robert Rodriguiz.

So, want to see the director of Kill Bill geek out over seeing Randall and Dante on the big screen again? Want to see the director of Sin City offer up some tips on editing the black-and-white scenes?

Then head over to The Official Clerks 2 Website. The video you want to watch is called The Good, The Bad, and The Man.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

There we go! Found some wall space to mount my Corpse Bride action figures...with my Christmas shopping done, I got everything wrapped and under the tree today.... That's what you call a good day.

Anyway, it is Tuesday, meaning new DVD day! What's new and good and makes a great last minute Christmas present:

Serenity - WOO!! Firefly: the Motion Picture for you to enjoy! My god, why wasn't this a mege-hit? Anyway, for bonus stuff, you've got a running commentary from writer/director Joss Whedon, a few cut scenes, and a trio of featurettes. Available in widescreen, full screen, and UMD.

The Brothers Grimm - The latest from cult director Terry Gilliam, which kind of whimpered into theatres in the end of August. Matt Damon and Heath Ledger are the titular brothers, whose adventures fighting monsters and other mystical apparations eventually become a bunch of fairy tales. You got a Gilliam running commentary, some cut scenes, featurettes, and more.

Chicago: Razzle Dazzle Edition - The mega-hit musical from three years ago, in a brand-new, more-loaded 2-disc special edition.

Four Brothers - The hit action movie from the summer about four adopted brothers who go in search of their adopted mother's killer, only to uncover a good ol' fashioned conspiracy. Running commentary by director John Singleton, cut scenes, featurettes, and more. Available in widescreen, full screen, and UMD.

Santa's Slay - A made-for-cable horror/comedy. The joke: Santa Claus is actually a demon, who lost a bet to an angel and had to deliver toys to every child in the world on Christmas eve for 1000 years. Well, Santa's finally paid back his debt, and he's letting loose with a killing spree! WWE Superstar Goldberg plays Santa. I mention this for the exact same reason it made headlines in Edmonton: it was filmed completely on location in Wetaskawin. You know...where cars cost less. It's got a running commentary, cut scenes, bloopers, and more.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Yay! I got my Christmas shopping done today.

In order to get Mom's gift, I had to venture to Lee Valley Tools. Lee Valley tends to sell mostly hardware, gardening tools, and various woodworking supplies. But this is no Home Depot. No, Lee Valley sells the fancy-shmancy Martha-Stewart-Living kind of hardware, gardening tools, and various woodworking supplies. They've also got all kinds of neat gadgets, and I will admit that today, I was very tempted to get some of their old-fashioned tin Christmas tree ornaments.

But their stores always struck me as being very odd. Firstly, there's pretty much no stock on the shelves. Rather than a store, they have what could best be described as a showroom. They have a limited amount of their stock on display, and everything has a catalogue number on it. They've got stations set up all over the place where their catalogue is on display, along with all kinds of order forms for you.

What you do is, you wander throughout the store, leaf through the catalogues, and fill out your order form. When you've got your order placed, you take it to the friendly person at the customer service desk, and the person will disappear into the back room and get your stuff. The person will then show it to you so you can confirm that it's what you want, and then the person will stick your stuff on a conveyer belt, where it'll be taken down to the cash registers, where the cashier will ring you up.

It's very odd when you're not used to it.

And then, I had to go out and indulge. I went browsing through Zeller's where I bought myself some of McFarlane Toys's absolutly beautiful Corpse Bride action figures.

That was a bit of a mistake, though. Here, in my room, I am officially out of room to mount action figures. I need to get my job in radio, because I need my own house, so I can put all my action figures in their own room.

Let's see here....


So, a growing industry in Australia is kangaroo ranching. Tourists are always asking to try some kangaroo meat, so they finally started butchering kangaroos and serving them up.

Problem is though, people are still kind of attached to kangaroos, and seem them as being a very cute animal. To see "kangaroo meat" on the menu just turns them off. So, Australia's Food Companion International decided to invent a word with the definition "kangaroo meat." After interviewing 2700 people over 41 countries, they came up with "australus."

Even though they sponsored the search, the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia currently has no plans to start using the word.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Latest column's up! Today, I want to say Hey! It Doesn't Suck!:

" If there’s one thing you should know about me by now, it’s that I love the movies of Pixar. I think that they are some of the funniest and well-thought-out computer animated films out there. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, I feel rather concerned when I watch the trailers for their next film, Cars. It’s the latest one from John Lassetter, the Pixar genius who gave us both Toy Stories and A Bug’s Life. In fact, it’s his first time in the big chair since Toy Story 2. What gives me cause for concern is that, in the trailer, most of the jokes seem to be falling flat. It’s not quite popping like other Pixar films. This, invariably, leads to heated debates as to whether this will be Pixar’s worst film. And, there’s something that always comes up in these debates that upsets me. "

Read it all!
OK, just another lazy Sunday afternoon. I should sit down and write an article for the website. Yes, I do have one written already, but I need to write one anyway, if I want to maintain my "three weeks ahead" scheme.

Problem is, I'm so uninspired right now. I've got no good ideas for articles. Maybe I can write one based on what just happened to me....

I was flipping around, and on one of the many cable channels I get, I noticed that The Big One was on. The Big One is Michael Moore's third film, his second documentary, and, probably my favoruite film of his. It was filmed mostly in 1996, as he was on his book tour to promote his first book, Downsize This! It shows him doing book readings and crashing the heads of big corporations that just happen to be in the cities he's passing through. It all culminates in Portland, when he actually gets to go hang out with Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight.

In essence, it's a movie version of Downsize This!, as he follows up on a lot of the points he makes in the book. It also serves as a final episode to his mid-90s TV show TV Nation, simply because it looks and feels like unaired TV Nation segments compiled into a film.

As I watched it, I couldn't help but smile. THIS was the Michael Moore I had fallen in love with. This was back at a time when he still used humour to make his points, and he didn't beat you over the head with his message. Don't get me wrong, I also enjoy Bowling for Columbine and Farenheight 9/11 had its good points, but in those films, Moore's humour was gone. His wit seems to have been replaced with bitterness and sarcasm.

Maybe, in the end then, Michael Moore only works best in 10 minute segments, produced in one week, like on TV Nation. In that timeframe, he doesn't have the time to do his trademark suggestive editing or research dubious statistics to back him up. That's when he comes across like me, and when his "regular Joe" imagine is genuine. In those cases, he's just a normal guy asking the simple questions that we can't seem to get an answer to. And when he doesn't get an answer, he falls back on the joke.

That's the Michael Moore I love.
Dude! I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier!

Ever since I started watching Saturday Night Live, something about the late hour wreaks havoc with my memory, and I find that, on Sunday morning, I'm struggling to remember what I watched the night before.

So, what I'm going to do is keep running notes on SNL, and post it here on my blog! How about that?

So, let's start with the Saturday, December 17 episode. Guest host: Jack Black.

A Holiday Message from Dick Cheney - Little kids asking "Santa Cheney" for an extension to the Patriot Act, drilling in Alaska, and all other kinds of Republican chicanery. Ends with George W. asking for an Xbox 360.

Opening credits.

Jack Black's opening monologue. He sings his rejected King Kong theme song.

The fake commercial: the Stuart Little Mouse Removal Kit. A little convertable-shaped mouse trap.

First segment - OK, so this family is Christmas shopping, they're in a crowded restaurant, but the only available table is next to the door, and every time the door opens, they're blown over by the wind. Lame-ass slapstick dominates.

Appalachian Emergency Room - The ER of a hillbilly hospital. Always good. Gratuitious cameo by Johnny Knoxville.

YES! A Robert Smigel cartoon! - Christmastime for the Jews. The Jews all party on Christmas because there's no Christians hogging everything. It's a doo-whop song, with stop-motion animation a la Rankin/Bass.

Channel 5 News Team Photo - The Channel 5 News TEam is taking their new promotional photo, in which they all point at each other, and Jack Black gets all pissy that no one's pointing at him. Not too bad. "I'm just trying to get some finger lovin' up in here."

Oh. An SNL Digital Short Film - "Lazy Sunday" Gangerster rap about two guys sleeping in on Sunday morning, then going to see Chronicles of Narnia. Hilarious.

Musical guest #1: Neil Young - Or, as I like to call it, "Time to raid the fridge."

Weekend Update with Tina Fey and Amy Pohler - I LOVE YOU, TINA FEY!! Oh, er, um, I typed that. "Just a reminder, there are 7 shopping days left until 'Holiday.'" And a gratuitious cameo by Tracey Morgan.

Debbie Downer - Debbie ruins Christmas for Santa.
Santa>> How'd you like an Easy Bake oven for Christmas?
Debbie>> Better not. My Barbie might try to stick her head in it.

Brokeback Planet - A human and an alien are standed on a deserted moon together. The alien reveals he has both male and female genetalia and proceeds to throw itself at the human. Not as funny as you'd think.

2 A-Holes Buying a Christmas Tree - the name says it all. Quite clever, actually.

State Spelling Bee Finals - A student blanks on the word "business," then just rambles off an unending list of letters. Funnier than it sounds. Then Jack Black shows up with his ol' Tenacious D partner and it turns into a musical number.

Oh, Neil Young's back. Time to get a drink.

And, end credits roll. Next time they're live is January 14, with guest host Scarlett Johannsen.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

There! It's a day late, but my King Kong review is up!

Read it!

Friday, December 16, 2005

So, tonight was the first English-language leaders debate in the Federal Election.

I hate to say this, but none of the leaders really impressed me tonight. The only highlight was in the closing comments, when Paul Martin got all empassioned about Canada, turned to Gilles Duceppe and started yelling, "You're not going to break up my country!"

But other than that, nothing. I kinda wish we could have an old-school debate. Just Liberal vs. Conservative. No one else. Cuz let's be honest. Who else is allowed in the federal leaders debate right now? The Bloc. My Dad constantly questions why the Bloc is in there. "They'll never form a government! Why are they there?" is my father's constatn refrain.

Of course, the same argument could be applied to the NDP. Yes, they are a federal party with candidates in every riding, but let's be honest. There'll probably never be a federal NDP government in my lifetime.

So, c'mon. Paul Martin vs. Stephen Harper. One on one. Battle to the death of a political career. THAT'S a debate I want to see.

Oh, and don't forget, there will be another set of debates in this election. they go down on January 9.

Here I am, all Olympic obsessed, yet I'm constantly forgetting that the next Winter Olympics are in February. Has it really been 4 years already?

Anyway, there was an article about it in the Edmonton Journal a few days ago. As it was reported back in the spring, Roots, the original supplier of the Olympic uniforms for Team Canada, lost the contract to the Hudson's Bay Company. It was actually no skin of Roots's nose, as Roots still has the contracts for Team USA and the British Olympic Team.

But, now, the team uniforms have been unveiled, so the Journal sat down with their fashion department and they compared the Bay's Team Canada uniforms to Roots's Team USA uniforms.

The verdict? Roots just fell back on what they've been pumping out for Olympic uniforms since 1998, while the Bay stepped to the plate and actually pumped out some stylish and fucntional athletic clothes.

So, yay Bay! But nice try, Roots.

Acutally, I've walked by Roots in West Edmonton Mall many times but never stopped in. I should stop in next time. From what I've seen on TV, Roots makes nice hats.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Well, I had a rather good day of Christmas shopping. Got just about everyone. As with every year, Mom and Dad remain...elusive.

I'd like to go into much further detail, but I can't without spilling the goods on what the bro and sis got. And, for all I know, they read this.

But, thought circumstances and events I can't explain right now, I managed to walk home with a free copy of The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Pumpkin King for my Game Boy Advance. I always forget how addictive video games are until I get a new one....

And I had my heart broken today, too. You've read of my obsession with getting the 2-disc deluxe edition of Batman Begins for Christmas, and how I've almost written off getting it. Well, as I was doing my shopping today, I was there in HMV in West Edmonton Mall and they had a grand total of 3 copies left on the shelf. O, I was so very tempted to buy it.

But I didn't.

I mean, for all I know, I am getting it for Chrsitmas. See, for about the past 12 years, I have gotten very good at figuring out what my presents are. I don't even have to shake the box anymore. Just one glance and I can say, 'Oh, thanks for the ________.' To counter this, my mother has gotten very good at disguising what I'm getting. How good has she gotten?

Well, last year, I didn't know she gave me Spider-Man 2 on DVD until two days AFTER Christmas. She hid it in an empty chocolates box. She even went so far as to carefully piece the factory seals back together so it looked like an unopened box of chocolates. I opened it up on Christmas morning, saw what I thought was a brand new box of chocolates, and set it aside. Two days later, I went out and blew some of my Christmas money on Spider-Man 2, and when I got home....

Mom>> What DVD did you buy?
Me>> Spider-Man 2
Mom>> What was wrong with the one I gave you?
Me>> What?
Mom>> I said, what was wrong with the Spider-Man 2 DVD I gave you?
Me>> But Mom, you didn't give me the Spider-Man 2 DVD. You gave me a box of chocolates.

And she stormed off in anger.

I opened up the box of chocolates, and there it was. Spider-Man 2 on DVD.

So, for all I know, I AM getting Batman Begins on DVD, and I'm just being set-up for a repeat of last year.

Ahh, Christmas paranoia.

Oh, and I took a break from Christmas shopping to see King Kong. It is very, very, very good. But not perfect. There's an inordinate amount of screen time devoted to some supporting characters without any kind of payoff, and some of the computer animation does look decidedly phony. But other than that, it's a hell of an entertaining ride. 3.5 Nibs. Full review tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I've got to share this bit of news before going to bed.

A scientist down at the Universersity of Oklahoma has devised an equation that predicts whether a movie will be a hit or not. He says he's been working on this for seven years and has analyzed more than 800 movies.

How it works is he assigns seven criteria to a film:

- the film's rating
- competition from other films coming out around the same time
- strength of cast
- genre
- special effects
- whether it's a sequel or not
- number of screens it plays on

The whole thing is then calculated by a neural network computer, and it drops the film into one of nine categories. the worst category is "flop" (the movie makes less than $1 million) and the best is "blockbuster" (the film makes more than $200 million).

After testing this equation on a number of films, it's right 37% of the time, and it's off by one category 75% of the time. This scientist is currently in negotations with a Hollywood studio to get more funding to make this equation more accurate.

Wow. And you thought a lot of movies felt manufactured before....
King Kong is out today, and as I watch the TV spots and read glowing review after glowing review, I'm thinking one thought:

When they do that live-action movie version of The Transformers, they simply MUST get WETA Digital to do the special effects. I'm convinced now that motion capture would be the way to go to bring the Autobots and Decepticons to life. Have two stuntmen duke it out in front of a blue screen, then turn it into Optimus and Megatron duking it out in a city street. It's just that simple.

Besides, we also know WETA can do the vast, helicopter shots of ancient civilazations. Best examples are the 1930's New York in King Kong and just about any castle in The Lord of the Rings. Can you imagine using those artists to render a digital cityscape of Cybertron?

WETA to do The Transformers. It's the only right choice.

Actually, as I think about it, I sure hope that the Americans attempt to remake Godzilla again. They can do it now, and do it right. I remember when they were first making Godzilla back in 1997. The makers were so happy. They were going around boasting, "Yeah, Godzilla's not going to be a man in a suit anymore. He's going to be computer animated! Motion capture all the way!" But then, near the end of 1997, they said, "Umm, yeah, motion capture really isn't where we want it to be in order to do the stuff we want to do. It's just going to be regular computer animation."

Besides, as I do more reading on the American Godzilla, I'm starting to get more of a sense of what went wrong. Essentially, the American film wasn't made by people who love Godzilla. Toho Studios - the Japanese studio that owns Godzilla - gave the makers of the American Godzilla a list of all the character traits that Godzilla has. Think of it as Godzilla's character description. The list had the note, "Follow these instructions to make sure that Godzilla's character shines through." And the American makers went, "Yeah, fuck this," and threw out the list. Thus creating a very out-of-character Godzilla.

So, yeah. If another attempt is made at an American Godzilla, then the maker must love Godzilla as much as Peter Jackson loves King Kong.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

First, I've got to send out a special warning to everyone I sent a Christmas card to. I'm starting to get word that the enclosed CDs - entitled "the 2005 Year in Review Broadcast" - are showing up smashed all to heck. If your CD shows up smashed, and you have an overwhelming curiosity about what an unemployed wannabe jock can whip up in his basement, then let me know, and I'll fire off a new copy just as soon as I can.

Anyway, it's tough to be sad when it's my favourite day of the week - new DVD day! Here's what's out today:

Sin City: Recut - Extended - Unrated - Now here's what I'm talking about! The Robert Rodreiguiz/Frank Miller ultra-violent masterpiece gets a 2-disc ultimate edition. You get a passel of running commentaries, all kinds of featurettes, and a limited edition reprint of the graphic novel Sin City: The Hard Good-Bye.

Airplane: the "Don't Call Me Shirley" Edition - The classic 1980 comedy finally gets a mega-special edition DVD. Running commentary, cut scenes, and retrospective interivews. While all you guys were watching slasher movies, THESE were the kinds of R-rated films I was raised on: raunchy comedies where the punchline was a topless woman.

The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Fifth Season - Hello! I think I just discovered what I'm getting my brother for Christmas.

the 40-Year Old Virgin - The biggest comedy of the summer, and the one that many have joked is my life story. Available in both the theatrical and "unrated director's cut, with footage you weren't allowed to see in theatres!"

Godzilla: Final Wars - HELL YA! When alien invaders unleash an army of giant monsters to conquer the world, humanity turns to their only hope - Godzilla. The Big G's 50th Anniversary film finally comes out on North American shores, be it straight-to-DVD at least. It's not on my Christmas wish list, but I won't turn it away. Also available in UMD.

The Island - The one summer blockbuster I was mildly curious about, but missed in the theatres. Ewan McGregor learns that he's a clone, escapes from the Island, and goes in search of the original. Running commentary, featurettes, all that good stuff.

King Kong: Peter Jackson's Production Diaries - This limited-edition 2-disc set contains all 54 of the behind-the-scenes featurettes produced for the King Kong website. Think of it as the DVD bonus stuff wihout the film.

Kronk's New Groove - Disney's straight-to-video sequel to The Emperor's New Groove.

Valiant - The mega-bomb computer animated film about pidgeons in World War II. Bloopers, storyboards, games, all that good stuff.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Yay Christmas!

Spent my evening watching "Corner Gasmas," better known as "The Christmas Episode of Corner Gas." The CTV hype machine has been in overdrive plugging this. The way series star/creator Brent Butt tells it, a lot of Saskatchewan residents are quite peaved that they've yet to do an episode set in winter. So, the end result was a Corner Gas Christmas episode..."because YOU asked for it!"

I wish I could say that they really made something special with this episode...that they really did something above and beyond...but they didn't. I don't know. I've just kind of been feeling down about Season 3 of Corner Gas. It's like, at this young stage in a TV show's life, it's already gotten repetitive. I'm just starting to go, "OK, Brent's wry, Wanda's sarcastic, Hank's clueless, Oscar's a grouchy idiot, Lacey doesn't fit in...I GET IT ALREADY! MOVE ON!" I'm almost reminded of what David E. Kelley said upon Ally McBeal's cancellation after 5 years: "Character-driven shows don't last very long, as people get sick of the characters. In fact, I'm suprised [Ally] lasted this long."

So, yeah. Despite the hype and the constant plugging, "Corner Gasmas" was just a typical episode. Although, it did feature the first mention of Wanda's kid since the first season. In a typical sitcom subplot, Wanda was trying desperatly to get her kid this season's "must have" toy.

And, according to the show, this season's "must have" toy are the "TransFarmers," mighty robot warriors who turn into farm animals.

Now THAT was clever.


I got to put up and decorate the Christmas tree yesterday. It was the first time I got to do it in three years.

Three years ago, I couldn't because I was in Japan. And, for the past two years, Mom would do it by herself when I was off at school.

So, yesterday, when she announced that she'd be doing it, I excitedly asked, "What can I do to help?" "You can stay out of my way!" my mother growled. So, I pouted my lip and whimpered a little, and she let me do it!

I love decorating Christmas trees. I can hardly wait until I have my own place and my own tree to decorate. I figure I'm going to do it completely in blue lights. And black ornaments. Black is a very unorthodox colour for a Christmas tree ornament. Blue lights and black ornaments on a green tree. Very trippy.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Latest column's up! This week, I tell you about the Justice League of Star Trek:

"As we all know, there won’t be any new Star Trek movies. At least for a while. But, when Nemesis was about to hit theatres, and there was all kinds of coverage, I did happen to read an interview with Nemesis co-writers John Logan and Brent Spiner. They mentioned that, yes, they had a bit of a concept as to where to go for the eleventh film. Logan mentioned that the idea they had involved a concept that had been much rumoured by the fans: a movie with an “all star team;” a crew consisting of characters from The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. Spiner added his two cents by saying, “It would be the Justice League of Star Trek.” So that just got me thinking. If I were to create my “Star Trek All-Star Crew,” who would it be?"

Click here to find out who's on my team!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ah, I'm all depressed right now, as I'm slowly coming to accept a certain truth.

I don't think I'll be getting Batman Begins for Christmas.

I know what you're thinking. "But Mark," you say, "I was down at Future Shop the other day and they've got thwacks of copies!" Well...no. See, being the ultra-fussy guy that I am, I'll accept nothing but the 2-disc deluxe edition.

And, most every place has been sold out of the 2-disc deluxe edition since November. I guess I should have run out and bought it the day it came out, but I was thinking, "No. I'm unemployed. Save your money. If there's one DVD coming out this quarter that deserves 'running out and buying right away,' it's Episode III."

So, while I have Episode III, I don't have Batman Begins, which I actually liked a little bit more. Looks like I'll be rushing and buying it online on Boxing Day. They always have it online.

Speaking of 2-disc deluxe editions, here's one movie I thought would never get its two-disc deluxe edition.

Coming out on January 10 (too late for Christmas) is Good Morning Vietnam: Special Edition. For bonus stuff, there'll be a whole thwack of featurettes, Robin Williams' unedited monologues, and the original teaser and trailer.
Remember that episode of The Simpsons where it was felt they had to update Itchy and Scratchy, so they added the new character, Poochie the Dog? Don't you love it when life imitates art?

Next year - 2006 - is going to mark the 80th anniversary of Winnie the Pooh. So, as part of their 80th Anniversary merchandising blitz, Disney is currently developing a brand-new Winnie the Pooh cartoon.

But, gone is Christopher Robin. Christopher Robin is being replaced with a 6-year old girl. This currently nameless character is being described as a "redheaded tomboy who's into extreme sports."

According to a Disney spokesperson, it was decided that "these timeless characters needed a breath of fresh air."

Well, I'm going to be tuning into this new cartoon. I'm going to love to see this new character jump in and start singing: "My name's Poochie D and I rock the telly!/I'm a half Joe Camel and a third Fonzerelli." Sometimes, you just can't help but slow down for the train wreck.

Click here for the complete story.

Oh, by the way, in a move that I figure would be enough fresh air, this new toon is going to be completely computer animated.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Did somebody say "flip-flop?"

No sooner did it leak about the Alberta Legislature's "special exemptions" to the new anti-smoking law did the Alberta government spin around and revoke all these special exemptions for the Legislature. Minister of Infastructure says that the change was made because of "great leadership." I now quote the six o'clock news directly:

Smart-Ass Reporter>> Wouldn't "great leadership" have been doing this six months ago, when the people originally asked for it?

Lyle Oberg>> No. Great leadership is what we did today. Listening to the concerns of the people, then acting on it.

The Torys calls that "great leadership." Most every other media outlet calls it "caving under public pressure."

Anyway, here are some DVD announcements that made a lot of people smile.

When Warner Brothers first started releasing Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series in the big super-deluxe boxed sets, most everyone said, "This is great! But where's Justice League? And Batman Beyond?"

The answer is...March 21.

That's the day Warner Brothers releases Batman Beyond: The Complete First Season and Justice League: Season 1.
Well, let's take a break from the federal election to share the latest scandal erupting in Alberta. First, though, let me take a moment to set the historical context.

Back in the spring, a rookie Tory MLA stood up and presented his private members bill: a 100% ban on smoking in the Province of Alberta. Sadly, the bill didn't pass, but there was surprisingly a lot of support for it. So, it wasn't long before the Torys introduced their watered-down version: a ban on smoking in all public buildings where children are present. The goal was to make it lienient enough so people could still light up in their favourite bars and bingo halls. Ralph Klein even stood up and went on the record as saying, "Even the Alberta Legislature will be a 100% non-smoking building."

Well, that bill passed, and it's scheduled to fully become law on January 1. But now, as the public is reviewing this law, they've noticed some fine print. The law actually reads that there will be no smoking in all public buildings where children are present...

...except for the Alberta Legislature offices of the Tory MLAs. And a special smoking section of the Alberta Legislature cafeteria. And a special smoking lounge in the Alberta Legislature.

Oh, we've been assured that all these exceptions in the Alberta Legislature are following the letter of the law, and that they'll all have "No Children Allowed" signs posted on the front doors.

But still, the entire province is screaming "double standard."

Yeah, and things aren't going much better for Ralph Klein today. You may remember that it was about 4 years ago that Ralph Klein had his drunken altercation with some homeless people in a homeless shelter and swore to give up drinking. In his annual year-end interview, published today, Klein let slip that he got so drunk over the summer that he had "one hell of a hangover," leading most to believe that Klein has gone back to his ol' heavy-drinkin' days.

Well, I'm never doing that again.

I'm going to ruin a surprise for you. I got my Christmas cards together and sent out today. And, tucked inside each one is a special CD...my "2005 Year in Review Broadcast." 13 of the suckers went out, and I was in for a delightful surprise at the post office.

Turns out a conventional 50¢ stamp isn't enough for a Chrismtas card with a CD inside. I had to upgrade to the 85¢ stamps. Oh, and to send the Christmas cards with CDs to my friends in Japan and Scotland, and even one to my German relatives, well, that cost me $3.40.

When all was said and done, I had to drop $25 in postage for 13 Christmas cards.

So, yeah. I don't think I'll be sending out CDs again next year. Instead, I'll just do a more conentional newsletter, and on it will be instructions on how to download my Year in Review broadcast.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I really need a drink of water. Those $1 stamps aren't self-adheisive yet, and they need a lot of licking.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Got some bits of Kevin Smith news that I found while going around the web this morning. First up, in a recent interview, Smith divulged these bits about Clerks 2:

- He's finished putting together his first rough cut, and it clocks in at 1h 49m. He's not done editing yet, and he expects the final cut to come in at around 1h 40m.

- They hope to have the world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, but it won't be screened as part of the competition.

- It'll hit theatres in August of 2006.

- The goal right now is to release the film unrated.

So there!

And there's also a quick bit of comic book news in the world of Kevin Smith. Today is when, at long last, the fourth issue of Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do hits store shelves!

For those who don't follow Smith's comic work, let me bring you up to speed. About three years ago, when Spider-Man was ruling the movie theatres, Marvel Comics signed Smith to do a 6-issue Spider-Man mini-series. The end result was Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do, in which Spidey re-teams with his old partner the Black Cat to take down a mysterious crimelord called "Mr. Brownstone."

Smith wrote three issues and then...nothing. He got sidetracked making Jersey Girl. Three years, now, people have waited for issue 4. And, in his downtime earlier this year as he was waiting for his funding to come through for Clerks 2, he finally sat down and wrote issues 4, 5 and 6.

So, today, after a three-year hiatus, the adventure FINALLY continues.

It should also be noted that, three years ago, Smith was also writing a Daredevil mini-series for Marvel called Daredevil: The Target which similarily got sidetracked. Well, Smith has finally finished writing that, too, and the final issues of that will finally be out next year.

Smith has also said that, in the future, if he writes more comics, he's no longer going to write issue-by-issue. If it's going to be a 6-issue mini-series, he'll sit down and write all six issues at once, thus getting it done with.

What can I say? He's taken a lot of heat in the comic book world for taking a three year break in the middle of a top-selling mini-series.

Oh, and here's a last minute Christmas gift for me, if you haven't bought me anything yet.

Remember that nice big, 10-disc boxed set of The Matrix Trilogy that came out last year? And it cost around $90? Well, I see in an ad in today's Edmonton Journal that HMV now has it marked down to a nice, cool, $40.

And they've also marked down Firefly: The Complete Series to $30.

Think about it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wow. I went a whole day without saying something. This is odd.

Watched Star Trek V: The Final Frontier a few days ago. You know, as reviled as that film is in the Trekkie community, you can't deny one thing. The opening scene of Captain Kirk climbing the mountain, only to be interrupted by Spock on his jet boots has truly entered Star Trek iconography.

The big question in this house is when are we going to get our Christmas lights up? We've been hit with a cold snap for the past few days, making it just unbareably cold to be outside. We're all kicking ourselves for not hanging them two weeks ago like the rest of the town. You know, when it was freakishly warm outside.

Anyway, it's Tuesday! New DVD day! What's out today that's new and good?

Fantastic Four - The latest Marvel comics epic wannabe. You get a running commentary, some behind-the-scenes featurettes, the music videos, and a few cut scenes. Available in both widescreen and full screen.

Cinderella Man - Ron Howard's critically adored, crowd-pleasing, yet sadly bombing, boxing movie that came out back in the summer. Based on a true story, with Russel Crowe playing a down-on-his-luck boxer in the Great Depression who manages to battle his way back and become the champ. Available in a single-disc "movie only" version, and a 2-disc super-special editiong.

The Dukes of Hazzard - One of my favourite TV shows from my childhood re-imagined as a dick-and-fart joke comedy. Cut scenes, bloopers, music videos, and featurettes abound. Available in both the PG-13 theatrical version and the "unrated director's cut."

The Star Wars Trilogy - Did you miss it when it first came out a year ago? Re-released without the fourth disc that contained the documentary Empire of Dreams, thus making it a pinch cheaper.

Meanwhile, over on the animated side of the street....

Batman: The Animated Series vol. 4 - Containing all of the "new look" episodes that debuted in 1997. Available on its own, or bundled with volumes 1-3.

Garfield and Friends: Volume 5 - The one my sister has on her Christmas wish list.

The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special - OH MY GOD!! I haven't seen this...ever! Two Earth children fall through inter-dimensional portals, wind up on Eternia and Etheria, and employ the help of He-Man and She-Ra to get them home in time for Christmas. Retrospective documentary, the script, and tons more!

The Polar Express - Last year's big Christmas movie.

Star Wars Clone Wars vol. 2 - Chapters 21 through 25 of the hit toon, filling us in on what happened between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

Superman: The Animated Series vol. 2 - The first half of season 2, which also includes the epic 3-part team-up with Batman, World's Finest.

And, my most wanted DVD of the week:

Gargoyles: Season 2 Volume 1 - The first half of the second season, showing us Goliath and the clan battling evil in New York. Includes new interviews with the creators, and a running commentary on the 4-part episode City of Stone.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Latest column's up! This week's rant is about Tourism:

" And, of course, it was déjà vu all over again this past August, when we went on vacation in David Thompson Country. David Thompson Country is this forgotten gem of the Canadian Rockies. It’s a stretch along Highway 11, extending from Rocky Mountain House to the Banff National Park border. Along the way, you’ll find the typical mountain views, a variety of pretty little campgrounds, and the centerpiece, Lake Abraham, the reservoir formed by the Big Horn Dam. But we were heading to the fabled David Thompson Resort. "

Read it all, homies!

Actually, I'm a little disappointed in myself. I didn't sit down and write a column today. My goal of forever staying three weeks ahead seems in jeopardy. I can still stay ahead, as long as I sit down in the next few days and write one. Don't let me forget, OK?

Been thinking alot about the future of the column and the website and all that. As I'm sure I've made clear many times, I've really grown to loathe all the pop-up ads and banners that Angelfire crams on my website, and as soon as I get a real job in radio, I'm going to shell out for proper server space.

But then what?

As my radio unemployment grows longer and longer, I'm really starting to like the idea of doing a podcast. For those who don't know, a podcast is an Internet radio show, varying in length from 15 minutes to half an hour, and usually available in MP3 format. Hence the term "podcast." iPod owners have taken to dumping these into their iPods for the radio experience.

What really makes them grow prominence is the new Internet trend of RSS, or "really simply syndication." It works like this. You have a fancy program on your computer called an "aggregator." You click on a website's link labeled "RSS Feed," and now, your aggregator goes to work. Whenever there's new content on that website, your aggregator will download it so you can read, listen, or watch it at your leisure. Some people are even rigging their aggregators and iPods so new podcasts are always automactically downloaded into the iPod.

Anyway, because of all this, podcasts are growing in popularity. A lot of them are made by amateurs in their basements. And, because of this, they sound like shite.

And, as one of my former NAIT instructors said, "You should do one, Mark. You can make one that sounds professional, and a lot better than what's out there. Maybe even get a sponsor, and drop a few ads in it."

It's an idea that has a lot of appeal. But I don't know how to make this RSS thing work. I look around, though, and the RSS thing doesn't seem to be an issue to some people. They just throw it up on their websites with, "Click here to listen." In that case, I can do that.

And, of course, there's always the issue of server space. When converting to MP3s, a stereo, CD-quality file works out to 1M per minute. A 15 minute podcast would be around 15M, which is almost everything I've got on Angelfire.

but I still think it's the way to go someday.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I mentioned the other day that McDonald's is having their annual hockey cards promotion. I was reflecting on that when a thought occured to me.

The collectables market has ruined childhoods.

This one time a year is pretty much the only time that a kid can get his hands on hockey cards. I mean, you can't run down to the corner store anymore and buy a pack of hockey cards for a buck. Now, you have to go to some sportscard store and pay $3.95. It's become this exclusive thing.

It's the same thing with comic books. You can't do like when I was a kid anymore You can't run down to the drugstore and grab the latest Spider-Man off the newsstand. Now, you have to venture into a comic book store, where they sell it to you triple-bagged with warnings of not to open the bag, lest you ruin its resale value.

(I've got to talk to my aspiring comic book artist friend about this, who follows the industry. Do comic book artists like or dislike the fact that all comic books are sold in the direct market now? Are they upset that the medium doesn't reach a mass audience any more, or, because people have to go so far out of the way to grab the latest issue, do they think that they're finally being treated seriously as an art form? Gotta talk to him....)

I guess I"m just pissy about this because, as I've ranted before, I'm starting to see the same thing happen to action figures. Although, I'm learning more since when I wrote my initial rant.

I finally found out the proper reason why toys sold in the secondary market are so expensive. (The "secondary market" is buying toys in comic book and collectable stores; the "primary market" is, of course, Toys R Us and Zeller's and such.) Toys that are designed and sold directly through the secondary market are made in fewer quantities. Fewer of anything always drives up the price. So, that's why when you buy a DC Comics Superman figure at a comic book store, it'll cost $25, as opposed to $7.99 for a Mattel Superman figure at Toys R Us.

That still doesn't explain why I pay $7.99 for an Episode III figure at Toys R Us, but $25 for THE EXACT SAME FIGURE at Comic King. But it's a start.

Let's see...anything new on the campaign trail today?

The Conservatives unveiled their healthcare platform today. I'm not to sure about it. It's not that I'm not too sure about my opinion, I just don't know all the specifics.

The Bloc Quebecois raised eyebrows the other day. BQ leader Gilles Ducepe suggested that Quebec should have its own national hockey team to enter in international sporting events. For example, at the 2010 Winter Olympics, you could quite possibly see Team Canada vs. Team Quebec. This actually isn't new for Ducepe. Before the writ was dropped, he was also running around saying Quebec needs its own army and intelligence agency.

Actually, speaking of the BQ, they were quite savage on Royal Canadian Air Farce tonight. They re-enacted Paul Martin going to Rideau Hall to get Governor General Michelle Jean to disolve the government and call an election. Of course, when Maritn shows up at Rideau Hall, Jean goes all ape-shit. "Why the hell are you having a Christmas election? No one wants this!" Martin responded in kind. "You seperatist bitch! I made you Queen of Canada! Now grant me this!"

The segment ended with Jean putting a "Vote Bloc" lawn sign in front of Rideau Hall.

It was quite mean-spirited.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's that time of year again. McDonald's is giving away hockey cards! Do you know that McDonald's has been giving away hockey cards for 14 years now? I'd sure like to know what the longest-running fast food promotion has been.

The big news on the campaign trail today was that the Conservatives promised to slash the GST from 7% to 5%. Ah, yes. Promises about the GST. Because it worked so well for the Liberals 12 years ago.

If there's one tradition from Japan that I'm working to try to incorporate into my daily life, that's the thank-you gift. In Japan, a simple thank you card doesn't do. No, you have to give an appropriate small present.

For the past few weeks, one of my old instructors from NAIT has been kind enough to let me sneak in after hours to use the equipment to beef up my demo and such. I figured it was time to present some kind of thank you gift.

My instructor collects PEZ dispensers.

He's also a Star Wars nerd.

So, when I was at the Super A over in Evansburg the other day and saw one last Boba Fett PEZ dispenser hanging there, I knew I'd found my gift.

He loved it.