Just forget the words and sing along

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Latest Targ's Up

Got this week's episode of The Targ up! This week, it's Episode 24: Halloweentown. Yup, a Halloween show, complete with Christmas music!

Give it a listen!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dinner at Jam's

When I was in Kumagaya, a popular hang-out for all the foreign teachers was Jam's American Diner. As one of my Yankee coworkers explained to me, "This is where you go for a burger when you get sick of McDonald's." It was the USA-themed bar and grill. We were having the welcome party for one of our new Yankee teachers there. When she walked in, she stared in awe at the juke box in the corner, the Harley-Davidson on the stage, and the walls covered with pictures of Elvis. I turned to her and said, "Kinda weird to see your own culture filtered through another, isn't it?" And she nodded.

So, it's in the spirit of Jam's, that I bring to you this video.

If you're thinking to yourself, "Wow. That looks like The Powerpuff Girls remade as an anime," you'd be right.

Back on July 1, Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z debuted on Japanese television. A co-production of Toei Animation and the Cartoon Network, it is The Powerpuff Girls re-invented as an anime...more specifically, the "magical girl" kind of anime, of which the best example is still Sailor Moon.

To answer your first question, Powerpuff Girls creator Craig McCracken had nothing to do with this. Those responsible are the entire creative team responsible for Sailor Moon. Seriously.

The revised origin goes like this. Ken Kitazawa is the son of the renowed Professor Utonium. One day, while experimenting with "Chemical Z" (a more potent form of his father's Chemical X), Ken lets loose the Chemical Z on a glacier, in an attempt to stop a weather machine. The resulting explosion unleashed several balls of light. Those who embraced the Dark Light became super-villains...several of which are anime re-creations of the Powerpuff Girls rouges gallery.

And three teenaged girls embraced the White Light. Given awesome superpowers, these three girls took the superhero names Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup, and use their powers to fight crime and the forces of evil...mainly, those who embarced the Dark Light.

Ya know what? For how everything got re-invented, and the new characters and all that, I'll just point you to the show's entry at Wikipedia, which has all that good stuff.

The long term plan is for the Cartoon Network to dub this some day and show it in North America...but if you can't wait that long, there's a whole slew of fan-subbed episodes up on YouTube.

But I just had to share this.

ooo! Before I go, it's just not an anime without a transformation sequence!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Life's Little Disappointments

In case you haven't heard, one of my favourite movies, the Nightmare Before Christmas, is currently back in theatres.

And, if that wasn't enough, Disney went through a special process to convert it into 3D. The 3D-ification process was developed by ILM.

But I'm not going to be able to see it. Ya know why?

Because it's only running in select theatres and, according to the website, the only select theatres in Canada are in Toronto and Montreal. Can't really afford to hop a plane to Toronto to see a movie.

But I'm still going to pick up the soundtrack album, featuring the songs of The Nightmare Before Christmas covered by Marilyn Manson, Fiona Apple, and Fall Out Boy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

It's Another Useless Fact

Here's today's useless fact:

Pele's Soccer for the Atari 2600 holds two video game firsts:

1) First soccer game for a console

2) First sports game endorsed by a pro athelete

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Latest Targ's Up!

Just your friendly reminder that this week's episode of The Targ is up.

This week, it's Episode 23: A Bit of This, in which I talk about Christmas albums, Participaction, and draw correlations between Disney's The Little Mermaid and sex toys. Yes, sex toys. I'm putting the "not safe for work" stamp on this one. Oh, and I pad it out with some songs I really like.

And I'd just like to say that, from a purely technical standpoint, this episode sets up the model to follow. It's only 15 minutes long, which I've been told is the maximum length a podcast should be before it starts getting annoying. It's only 6M, making it a nice, easy download. And, on top of it all, it's mildly entertaining!

So, yeah. It may not be my best in terms of content, but in terms of a technical formula for doing these things, this is the model to follow.

Listen to this formulaicly perfect, mildly amusing episode!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Playing Catch-Up

Wow. I was just delivered some information that I'm still trying to process. It's of a personal nature, and I've learned my lesson about sharing information of a personal nature on this blog.

Let's just say a day I never thought would come has come.

But let's talk of happy things here. I tell ya, one of the TV shows I really love right now is the new Doctor Who. We're two episodes in to season 2 on the CBC, and I just love it. If you enjoy sci-fi, the new Doctor Who is something that's decidedly different.

I mean, last night, they went back in time to Victorian times, and they had to save Queen Victoria from a werewolf. There was one episode I missed last season that involved fighting zombies alongside Charles Dickens.

And that's what makes the show so cool. From it's mere premise, it's all about going anywhere and doing anything.

I'll admit, I tried to watch a few of the classic episodes from the 70s and 80s and could never get into it. It always struck me as kind of weird. But I'm loving this new version, and when I catch the old one in reruns, I give it a chance.

Long story short: watch Doctor Who, Mondays at 8 on CBC. 8:30 in Newfoundland.

And even though I'm getting rather obese, this little bit of news made me smile. And icon of Canadian pop culture is making a comeback.

As their latest weapon in the war against childhood obesity....

the Conservatives are bringing back Participaction!

That which introduced "Just Do It" into our lexicon before Nike co-opted it...that which introduced Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod into our cultural landscape...yes, Participaction is back, baby!

Participaction was a Crown corporation founded in 1971 to try to get Canadians more active and healthier. The plug was pulled back in 2001, simply as a victim of government cutbacks.

This new Participaction will have a new twist though...instead of being a Crown corporation, the Conservatives are going to contract it out.

As long as the contract doesn't go to McDonald's. That would seem...counter-productive.

Hee hee! I can hardly wait to hear the new PSAs on the radio! There was this one back in 1998 involving sexy running shoes that I played constantly on the original Chaos in a Box.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Latest Targ is Up!

I got the latest episode of The Targ!

This week, it's Episode 22: The Weird Al Show 1. I celebrate Weird Al's new album, Straight Outta Lynwood, by playing nothing but cuts from the new album!


Give 'er a listen!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Under the Sea

Movie poster for the Little Mermaid...my #3 movie poster of all time.
I'm sure it'll come as no surprise that I ran out and bought the 2-disc special edition of The Little Mermaid last week. I more or less had to...I already have the 2-disc special editions of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Those four films together represent the massive resurgance in animation that dominated the 1990s.

Actually, I have a happy memory of The Little Mermaid. It represents the first time in my life a woman called me "cool."

The year was 1997. Disney had just re-released The Little Mermaid to theatres. Kinda mad at myself for having missed it the first time in theatres, I decided to go see it. I was still at Augustana, and I would be seeing it at Camrose's classic old single-screen theatre, the Bailey.

I was just chillin' in the common room, when an accquaintance of mine walked in. She was off to see her boyfriend and we made small talk. She asked if I had plans for that evening. I said I was off to see The Little Mermaid.

Her eyes grew wide in awe. "You are so cool, Mark!" she said. "I know of no other man who would willingly go to see The Little Mermaid!"

It was quite a feather in my cap that night.

Anyway, Disney did another stellar job with the 2-disc special edition of The LIttle Mermaid. If I have a complaint, it would be that they neglected to include the trailer for the 1997 re-release...one of the few trailers that gives me goosebumps.

Oh, well. To celebrate, here's 5 Fun Facts about The Little Mermaid:

  1. The Little Mermaid was Disney's last animated film that was painted and photographed by hand. After The Little Mermaid, Disney switched to the CAPS system, which did all of that on computer.
  2. The Little Mermaid was Disney's first animated film in years in which the animators filmed extensive live-action reference footage. (Live-action reference footage is when the animators have actors act out the scene to get a better idea of how to animate it.) In the live-action reference footage, Ariel was played by Sherri Stoner, who went on to write and do voices for Animaniacs.
  3. Ursula the Sea Witch was based on Divine, an obese female impersonator who's a mainstay of the films of John Waters.
  4. Walt Disney had originally planned to do The Little Mermaid back in 1940, but the project was scrapped. When they decided to do it in 1989, the animators actually dug out and took a look at all the concept art that was done in 1940.
  5. Grimsby, Prince Eric's servant, was voiced by Ben Wright. Wright was also the voice of Roger, Pongo's owner, in One Hundred and One Dalmations. Wright actually had to remind the Disney animators of this fact when he was hired.

Hey! Look what I found on YouTube! It's the 1997 re-release trailer! You would have seen this in theatres in front of Hercules:

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

This is a story 'bout a guy named Al....

Well, hopefully, by now, you've heard the news.

"Weird Al" Yankovic's latest album, Straight Outta Lynwood, made its debut on the Billboard charts at #10. It's officiall the first top 10 album of Weird Al's career.

The first single, White and Nerdy, debuted on the Billboard charts at #28, making it the highest-charting Weird Al single since Eat It, all those years ago.

I've had my copy for a week now, and I've listened to it non-stop. It's at least as good as his last one. And musically, it's very strong. Very hummable...easy to sing along to.

But of course, the best part is the bonus DVD. Six music videos, each one animated. Hands down, the best one is the video for Close But No Cigar, which was animated by John Krikfalusi, the Ren and Stimpy guy.

Most fascinating is the featurette of Weird Al making the album. It's nothing but raw footage of Weird Al in the studio, singing, directing other musicians, and hunched over a mixing board. We've all known that this version of Weird Al must exist...but to finally see it is endlessly fascinating. However, it loses six points for the cheezy final shot of Weird Al's baby daughter looking at Daddy through the studio glass.

Highly recommended.

Of course, along with Straight Outta Lynwood, i got my copy of The Weird Al Show: The Complete Series.

For those who don't remember, let me refresh your memory. Weird Al had been going around Hollywood for years pitching a sketch comedy show that would showcase his humour. Then, enter the CBS Network, who felt that, with some tweaking, this Weird Al show would make a good addition to their Saturday morning line-up. Around this time, new laws were passed, increasing the percentage of children's programming that had to be educational. So, CBS decide to tweak Yankovic's program even more to make it educational.

The end result? The Weird Al Show, a kids program so sterile and preachy that not even the target audience of 5-year-olds would watch it.

I just finished watching the 13th and final episode. My God, I forgot how preachy the show was. You're literally beaten over the head with a moral every 2 minutes. But a lot of Weird Al's trademark humour still shines through, which is why it's still popular with Weird Al's fans.

I'm going to have to go back and watch all 13 episodes again with Weird Al's running commentary. Apparently, in the commentaries, Weird Al vents a lot of his bitterness at how the show was tweaked to death.

But it's just great.

And over the weekend, I got to do something I'd never done before.

I experience "Weird Al" Yankovic on vinyl.

I showed up at home for the Thanksgiving weekend, and Dad was showing off his latest purchase. After being turntable-deprived for almost a decade, Dad bought himself a brand-new record player. And, he was waiting for his technologically-adept son (me) to come home and hook it up to the stereo. I had it set up in a matter of minutes, and the house was rockin' to Dad's vintage collection of Wilf Carter and Johnny Cash records.

And when Dad got bored with that, I was hit with an inspiration. I ran down to my room and dug out the only "Weird Al" Yankovic record I own.

The year was 1998. The world was still reeling at Ginger's departure from the Spice Girls. Junior high lovers were slow dancing to that Aerosmith song from Armageddon. And Augustana Univeristy was rocking out to the sweet sounds of Chaos in a Box. It was a slow night during the show, so I started digging through an old tub of 45s slated for disposal.

(For those who are too young..."45s" are those smaller records with a big hole in the middle that were used for singles.)

I reached into the tub and randomly pulled out....

the single for I Lost on Jeopardy.

Since those 45s were going to be thrown out anyway, I took it home that night.

And it sat.

Until that Thanksgiving weekend when I cranked it up on Dad's new record player.

That was really cool.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Latest Targ's Up!

This week's episode of The Targ is up!

The latest show is Episode 21: The Bat Show. Nothing but songs from the Batman movies!

Give it a listen!