Just forget the words and sing along

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Scream at the Heavens

Ya know, in life, things occasionally pop up, and they piss you off. They get under your skin. They irk you. You feel compelled to rise up, to take action, but ultimatly, you decide not to, because you come to the slow realization that no one knows what the hell you're talking about.

I've been coming to grips with a scenario like that over the past 24 hours.

Tuesday is the day where Athabasca's newspaper comes out, and like all small towns, the day of the local paper's publication is a rather big deal. Kind of stressful for me, because that's when I see how I'm doing against "the competition." But as everyone in the office constantly re-assures me, I'm just one reporter, where as the paper has 3, so I shouldn't be so hard on myself if one little sound bite falls beneath my notice. But I digress.

Yesterday's issue has something that really annoyed me. It was a political cartoon. I wish I had a scanner so I could show it to you. It portayed Maher Arar on a pile of money, with a huge-ass grin on his face. Someone off-panel asks, "Lottery?" Arar responds, "No! Compensation!"

Now, why did this annoy me? Because Maher Arar is a man who truly suffered because our government dropped the ball. Arar is a man who deserves his compensation. But this cartoon throughouly trivialized what Arar went through. This cartoon puts Arar on the same level as that moron who spilled hot coffee on her lap and sued McDonald's.

I looked at that and thought, "Wow. Talk about a low blow." I was really upset at this cartoon. I considered firing off an angry letter to the local paper, complaining about their lack of facts.

But then...something strange happened. I started sharing my anger with others around the office. And they were all like, "Wha? Who's Maher Arar? What happened to him?" I spent so much time explaining who Maher Arar is, and then explaining why the cartoon is so offensive, that I realized my anger was wasted.

The battle is lost before it'd even started. My arguments would be falling on deaf ears.

I'm still pissed off. But I"m getting over it. I just wish I could do more....

Monday, January 29, 2007

Wow. More coins

I've blogged it before, and I'll blog it again.

When it comes to pumping out commemerative coins, I really wish the Royal Canadian Mint would turn it down a bit.

Today, the Mint announced their plans for commemerative coins for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. There's going to be:

- 12 quarters commemerating Olympic sports (10 Olympic, 2 Paralympic to be specific)

- 2 more Lucky Loonies

- 3 quarters commemerating Olympic medalists.

The first Olympic sports quarter - commemerating curling - comes out on February 23rd. And then, the quarters will be slowly rolled out over the next 3 years. The two loonies will be coming out in 2008 and 2010, respectivly.

the Best Defence is a Good Offence

Here's the latest reason why I'm not a fan of the Conservative Party.

It's been talk all weekend that the Tories are preparing a whole new series of attack ads against the Liberal party and their new leader, Stephane Dion.

They're launching attack ads. Why the hell are the Tories launching attack ads?

1) Last time I checked, the Conservatives were still the ruling party in the government.

2) There's no election in sight.

So, why the hell do the Conservatives feel it necessary to run attack ads against the opposition?

Now, it's true, it is a minority government, and lots of folks have been talking that the government might collapse and we'll have another election this year. So, this could be seen as the Conservatives getting a free ride.

Another reason that the Conservatives are doing this has been given by the Conservatives themselves in various panel shows over the weekend. As we all know, the Tories are kinda paranoid about the press. So, they're saying they have to do this because the press has been giving Dion a "free ride" when it comes to environmental matters, so they needed to expose "the truth" about Dion.

And, of course, the Tories are acting all high and mighty, saying, "We're not attacking him! His own caucus is!" They say that because all of the "attacks" are taken from the Liberal leadership debate from back in November.

All I know is this is symptimatic of the same problems that the PC's have here in Alberta. There's something about the whole Tory mentality that doesn't like to be questioned. And in our form of government, where there's a full-blown opposition party, well, the Tories tend to take things personal kinda quickly.

Or maybe it's because the Tories were the opposition party for so long, and made such a career out of questioning the Liberals that they just can't stop themselves.

All I know is that these attack ads are paranoid and unwarranted.

Here, I found one on YouTube already:

They start airing during the Super Bowl, in 6 days.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Latest Targ's Up!

Got this week's episode of The Targ up! This week, we've got Episode 36: Romance and Junk. In it, I share some of my views on, well, romance and junk.

Give 'er a listen

Thursday, January 25, 2007

T-U-R-T-L-E Power!

I've made it now secret that I'm getting kind of jazzed about the new computer animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. I've been waiting for some kind of announcement as to who'd be voicing the Turtles. I've read in many interviews with the director that he didn't want celebrities voicing the turtles, so I was expecting a lot of voice actors. And since I like cartoons and follow the careers of certain voice actors, I was waiting to see if it was anyone I'd recognize.

Leonardo is being voiced by James Arnold Taylor. One of Taylor's best-known roles right now is that of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoon.

Michelangelo is being voiced by Mikey Kelley, who's done a bunch of stuff I'm not really familiar with.

Raphael is being voiced by Nolan North, a soap opera actor, who also did the voice of Henry Pym/Ant Man in the Ultimate Avengers straight-to-DVD movies.

Donatello is given voice by Mitchell Whitfield, a perpetual guest star on many TV shows.

March 23. I'm counting down the days!

Wow! I can't believe I found a picture of this online. This is one action figure that came out when I first started collecting, but was never able to find it.

Now, you're probably asking yourself, "How did this train wreck happen?" Quite easy, really. Back in the early-1990s, Playmates Toys held the toy licenses for both TMNT and Star Trek. Ya just knew it was a matter of time before someone held up his hand in the board room and said, "Hey! How about we stick in the Ninja Turtles in Starfleet uniforms?"

Wow. Reminds me of a line from The Simpsons: "Remember ALF? He's making a comeback...in POG form."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The List of Oscar Picks

There you go, super happy fun gang. My complete list of Oscar picks is up!

Check them out!

Oscar Nominations!

One of the best things about working in a news room is the Oscar nominations coming down the news wire as soon as they're announced!

Everyone's already offering up their lists and their predictions and all that, so, as always, I'm going to offer up my picks in my favourite category...the category I've been able to successfully predict every year since its inception...Best Animated Film!

This was one of the most cutthroat years for Best Animated Film, as we had the maximum number of qualifying films for a 3-nomination year. The 3 nominees for Best Animated Film are:

Happy Feet
Monster House

The one nomination that surprises me is Monster House, seeing as to how reviews were kind of "meh" and it did similarily at the box office. I'm still tempted to rent it, though. The nerds online say that Monster House is a throwback to all the great kids adventure films of the 80s, like The Goonies.

Anyway, my "never wrong in the five years this category has existed" prediction for Best Animated Film is....

Happy Feet

Why? It's cleaning up at the box office, and the reviews are mostly positive...two factors that always guarantee a win in this category.

As always, when I'm off work, I'll have a complete list of nominations and my picks in my favourite categories over at my main site.

I love the new Doctor Who

Have I mentioned lately that I love the new Doctor Who? Seriously, that show rocks. Last night's fare, an episode entitled Love & Monsters, was one of the best to date. Don't beleive me? Here's a clip:

Is that not some of the most brilliant sci-fi you've ever seen?


Nerd that I am, one TV show I do enjoy is Smallville. As I've blogged in the past, what makes that show compelling for me isn't watching Clark Kent grow up to be Superman, but rather, Lex Luthor's painfully slow descent to the dark side. Sadly, I haven't been watching Smallville all season, because the Athabasca cable company doesn't have a channel that carries it.

Until last night, when I stumbled across it as I was heading off to bed.

So, naturally, I had to stay up late to watch one of the most anticipated episodes of all season, Justice.

Let me bring you up to speed: the creators of Smallville have been bending their rule of "no superheroes in costume" in rescent season, as over the past two years, we've had Clark Kent cross paths with Bart Allen (who, in the comics, just picked up the mantle of the Flash), Arthur Curry (Aquaman) and Victor Stone (Cyborg of the Teen Titans). Well, things came to a head this season with a 10-episode arc featuring Oliver Queen. In his third appearance, Queen showed up in his classic green tights and introduced himself as Green Arrow. Turns out Queen's old prep school classmate Lex Luthor has a secret project going called Section 33.1, where he's been experimenting on humans with superpowers to figure out what makes them tick. Queen doesn't take to kindly to this, so he went all vigilante to shut Luthor down. Quite early on Queen discovered Clark Kent's powers, and invited Clark to join him on his quest.

And now, the rest of the story....

Clark runs into his old buddy Bart Allen, and Bart's got a secret. Turns out Bart's now working for Queen, and using his super-speed to steal intel from Section 33.1 instillations. Well, Luthor eventually sets a trap for Bart, Luthor captures Bart, and Luthor proceeds to experiment on the fastest man alive. Clark discovers this, tells Queen, and Queen opens a door to reveal that Arthur Curry and Victor Stone are also in his employ, travelling the world, doing good, and shutting down Lex Luthor. Queen doesn't have a name for his team yet, but he's leaning towards the Justice...something. Clark then joins the team and "the Justice...something" goes off to rescue Bart and shut down this particular 33.1 instillation.

Yeah, that's right, the Justice League was on Smallville.

Needless to say, this episode was one massive geek-fest, as it was filled with references to the Justice League, climaxing in the end, when all 5 memebers walk away from the exploding building, and it recreates the opening shot of the opening credits sequence to the Justice League cartoon.

I really, really enjoyed it, and I can start watching Smallville again.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Latest Targ's Up!

Wow! Acccording to the stats, my 1200th post is the announcement of this weeks episode of The Targ. I'm offering up Episode 35: Hopeless Addict. I just bought lots and lots of new DVDs, ande I offer up some reviews.

Listen, if you please

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Night Rants

Just browsing through Wikipedia, as I'm bound to do when I'm bored, and I came across this interesting fact.

Now, about 6 or 7 years ago, when DVD first started getting mainstream, a lot of my friends were floored when I explained to them that the whole concept of the special edition DVD actually started with special edition Laserdiscs, going all the way back to the mid-1980s.

The very first running commentary was recorded for a special edition Laserdisc of King Kong back in 1984. It was by film historian Robert Haver. These were the first words ever spoken on a running commentary:

"Hello, ladies and gentlemen, I'm Ronald Haver, and I'm here to do something which we feel is rather unique. I'm going to take you on a lecture tour of King Kong as you watch the film. The laserdisc technology offers us this opportunity and we feel it's rather unique — the ability to switch back and forth between the soundtrack and this lecture track..."

Not quite "Watson, come in here. I need you," but it has its place in history.

Speaking of DVDs, have I ever mentioned that one of my favourite premiums these days is the free DVD?

I got Blast from the Past from Kraft Mac and Cheese. I got Spy Kids out of Fruit Loops. I don't like popcorn that much, but the other day, I bought a box of microwave popcorn for a free DVD containing episodes of Las Vegas, Miami Vice, Battlestar: Galactica, The A-Team and Magnum PI.

Now, even though these are freebies, I treat them with the same care and respect that I treat all my DVDs. I even buy empty DVD cases from Staples, and use my incredibly primative Photoshopping skills to make incredbily primative covers.

The first free DVD I ever got was from the final issue of Total Movie magazine. Total Movie was truly an idea ahead of its time. It was a movie magazine, and each issue came with a free DVD, loaded with theatrical trailers, featurettes from about-to-be-released DVDs, and some of the hottest independent short films circulating the 'net.

As I said, the DVD is from the final issue, dated April 2001. For theatrical trailers, there's Tomb Raider, Shrek and Memento. For DVD previews, there's a featurette from Gladiator and the blooper reel from Dogma.

Spectacular idea.

Most of you also know that I love trains. So here's a little bit of news I think is cool.

Via Rail has just launched a new service called the Snow Train Express. It's essentially a commuter train, running weekend skiiers out from Edmonton to Jasper and back.

You can buy all your lift tickets on the train, and it includes your reservations at Marmot Baisin.

Since it cuts right through Entwistle, I'm going to have to head home for a weekend to see if I can catch a glimpse.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Compare and Contrast: Two Comic Book Movies

Let's take a look at two of the biggest movies that'll be hitting cineplexes in 2007.

First up, the one that'll rule it all, Spider-Man 3:

And next up, another sequel based on a Marvel comcis, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer:

Now, here's three reasons why Spider-Man 3 will be, hands down, the better film.

1) The time involved. Spider-Man 3 started film in January of 2006 to come out in May of 2007. They took their time, doing re-shoots, crafting the speical effects, and doing everything to craft an ideal film. Fantastic Four 2 started filming in August to come out in June. 16 months for Spidey, vs. 10 for the FF.

2) Location filming. Both of these films take place in New York City. Spider-Man 3 was filmed in New York City, Cleavland, and on soundstages in Hollywood, all to create an idealized New York. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was filmed completely on location...in Vancouver. No offence to Vancouverians, but Vancouver is not an idealized New York City.

3) The talent behind the camera. Sam Raimi, director of all three Spider-Man films, loves Spider-Man, hands down. Tim Story, director of both Fantastic Four films.... Now, no offence to Mr. Story. He's made a couple of good films, but Mr. Story is very much a "working director." Not much passion for the source material. He's just handed the script and gets to work.

Doesn't really matter. I'm just a sucker for comic book movies, and I'll be first in line for both. Just that I've got bigger expectations for the wallcrawler than for the world's greatest superheroes.

Spider-Man 3 hits on May 4.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is June 15.

Oh! I almost forgot the third Marvel comics movie this year. It's one month to Ghost Rider

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Latest Targ's Up

Got this week's episode of The Targ up!

This week, it's Episode 34: Music to Change Continents By.

See, my friend Jo is moving from Scotland to Australia. Her Internet gets disconnected this week, and she jets off a week from Monday. Anyway, I promised her something special to drop into her iPod and listen to on the plane.

This...is that episode.

Give it a listen

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Little Mosque on the Prairie

I feel I have to take a moment to offer up my review on the latest Canadian pop culture offering, couretesy of the CBC. It's been gaining a lot of headlines around the world, because it's, apparently, the first sitcom about Muslims. Yup, I'm talking about Little Mosque on the Prairie.

When I first saw the commercials, I thought, "Hmmm...." When they started showing commercials with actual clips from the show, I started thinking, "Huh. This looks kinda like Corner Gas with Muslims." But I was intrigued enough to tune in for episode one last night.

The show takes place in the small Prairie town of Mercy. The Muslims in the town have finally gotten their own mosque (they're actually leasing the parish hall from the Anglican church, and that becomes a plot point). So, of course, a lot of the humor comes between the culture clash between the Muslims and the rednecks. And, culture clash between the older, more traditionalist Mulims, and the younger, more liberal Muslims.

The main character is shaping up to be Amaar, once a successful Toronto lawyer. He had himself a spiritual awaking, and moved out to Mercy to be the mosque's imam (according to the exposition in the pilot, an imam is a Muslim preacher). Naturally, of course, he's the one caught between the rednecks and the Muslims...and, being a younger, more liberal Muslim, he also finds himself at odds the older tradtionalists.

Those who are hoping for a South Park-style skewing off all the negativity towards Muslims will be sadly disappointed. If anything, as sitcoms go this is very...conventional.

If anything, those who are portrayed with negative stereotypes are the small town rednecks. Especially the character of Fred Tupper, who's the announcer on the small town radio station, and the main "voice" of paranoia towards Muslims. Working at a small town radio station myself, I find it highly doubtful that a small town radio announcer would be able to get away with the sh*t that this Tupper fella says about the new mosque.

My final assesment: it's a cute little show. While the subject matter may be groundbreaking, the plots aren't.

For those who missed the premiere last night, it's going to be rerun tonight at 8 on the CBC. Next week, it moves to its regular timeslot, Mondays at 9.

Hey, look! It's the official website! Click to read a far better description of the show.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

2 Avatars and an Idiocracy

Wow. Got lots of really cool movie news today. Let's start with the big one.

After all these years, James Cameron is finally back in the director's chair. Cameron, of course, the man responsible for such classic films as Titanic, Aliens, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Cameron's next film is called Avatar. It's a gigantic sci-fi film about a war on an alien planet. And, the thing is, it's being done all motion capture, like The Polar Express.

That's kind of why Cameron has been taking it easy since Titanic 10 years ago...he's been waiting for the technology to catch up.

James Cameron's Avatar hits theatres summer 2009.

But wait! That's not the only filmed named "avatar" in development.

It's also been announced today that M. Night Shyamalan will be writing and directing a live-action movie version of Avatar: The Last Airbender

For the un-initiated, Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the hottest cartoons on TV right now. It takes place in a very Asian world full of martial arts and mysticism. Key to this world is the art of "bending," martial arts that involve the manipulation of your four basic elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

This world has been conquered by the Fire Nation...those people who can firebend. Our adventure focuses on Aang. The airbenders have been hunted to extinction, except for Aang. And, it turns out that Aang is the Avatar...the only one who can master all four kinds of bending, and thus bring peace to the land. So, Aang is off on a quest to master all forms of bending.

Aang is joined on his quest by Katara, an aspiring young waterbender, and Katara's brother Sokka. Sokka can't bend...he's just a plain ol' warrior. And, of course, they are pursued by the agents of the Fire nation at every turn.

I'll admit, I watch the show. It's probably the best attempt by an American cartoon to duplicate all that's good about anime. It has a fairly in-depth ongoing story, and some very appealing characters.

And now, the man still best known for The Sixth Sense is going to be writing and directing a live-action trilogy about it.

No word on when film #1 comes out.

Plus, I have to take a moment to highlight one of the bigger DVD releases of the day.

Idiocracy is out on DVD today. Idiocracy is the latest project from Mike Judge, the man who gave us Beavis and Butt-Head, King of the Hill, and the cult-classic comedy Office Space.

For those who haven't heard of it, Idiocracy was Judge's comment on the dumbing down of society. It follows the adventures of Private Joe Bauers (played by Luke Wilson), an average joe. Bauers gets caught up in a government experiment, where he's frozen for 500 years. He wakes up in the future and discovers that, thanks to the dumbing down of society, the USA is now filled with morons. The President is a masked Mexican wrestlers, Starbucks is now called "Starf-cks," where you purchase sexual favours, and the #1 film is Ass, which is just a picture of a butt for 3 hours. It won 7 Oscars. Surrounded by this Bauers quickly becomes the smartest man on Earth, and proceeds to find a way back to the past.

Well, what can I say? In test screenings, the film was so offbeat, that no one knew what to make of it. It sat on the shelf for 2 years. It finally got a very limited theatrical release back in the fall (only in 6 cities), and it unceremoniously gets dumped on DVD today.

But, from what I read online, it's just freakin' hilarioius.

Give it a rent. I'm going to.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Latest Targ's Up!

Got the latest episode of The Targ up. This one is Episode 33: Hippity Dippity. I run into an old friend at West Edmonton Mall, extol the virtues of Clone High, and say hi to my Mom, who's now a listener!

Giver a listen

Saturday, January 06, 2007

DVD Maniac

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was watching a TV special about collecting. And said TV special said that there's only one form of collecting that leads to a diagnosable psychological disorder: book collecting. Book collecting can lead to what the professionals call "bibliomania," which is a flat-out obsession with books. Bibliomaniacs have been known to do things like break into libraries and make off with the books.

But, after watching that, I wonder if there are other variations like that. For example...can someone be a DVD-maniac?

I often wonder if I suffer from some form of DVD mania. When I first bought my DVD player, 6 years ago this month, I went nuts buying DVDs. You know how, at HMV, they have those cards? Buy 10, get the 11th free? Yeah, i got the card for the DVDs. Filled up one in a week. The free disc I got was the 2-disc mega-ultimate edition of The Sound of Music. What can I say? It's tradition in my family to watch it every Christmas. Getting it for free on DVD seemed logical. I watched it just two weeks ago during the holidays. Shut up.

Anyway, back in those days, it was quite common for me to blow a whole paycheque on DVDs. And, I know, if I don't watch myself, I could quite easily revert to that.

In my current home of Athabasca, I only tend to get down to Edmonton at least once a month. And, each time I do, I wind up blowing at least $100 on DVDs. I know. I"m horrible. At least I still have enough to buy groceries and pay the rent and all that stuff.

I just came back from Edmonton. On this trip out, I bought the 2-disc mega-ultimate edition of Superman Returns (was holding back on that one in case someone felt like giving me a DVD for Christmas). That was the primary goal of this mission...but then, I started sifting through HMV's "2 for $30" bin. Out of that, I grabbed Fantastic Four and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...two DVDs I wanted for Christmas last year but didn't get. And then, as I wandered through West Edmonton Mall, I stopped in at Zellar's and got The Simpsons: Kiss and Tell. This DVD contains 4 episodes of The Simpsons, focusing on the love between Homer and Marge. What possessed me to buy that? One of those 4 episodes is the "Weird Al" Yankovic one.

And my DVD collection continues to grow. Next time I'm in Zeller's, I'll have to buy another bookcase. The one I have is just about full.

I don't think I'm a full-blown DVD maniac, though. I mean, I haven't plotted any big movie rental store heists or anything like that. At the very least, I'm not as a bad as a friend of mine.

It was Y2K. I was down visiting an old college buddy in Camrose. The Camrose Wal-Mart had just opened up, and it was the biggest thing to hit the Rose City since they dammed that creek to make Mirror Lake.

I was hanging out with my buddy, and there, on his coffee table, was the brand-new DVD release of the Mel Gibson historical epic, Braveheart. It was one of the bigger DVD releases of the day.

Me>> Dude! You got Braveheart!
Him>> Yeah! Isn't that great? I went into Wal-Mart on opening day, and some stock clerk messed up and put it out on the shelf! I got it a week before anyone else!
Me>> But, dude, that was all three months ago. Why is it still in its shrink wrap?
Him>> Oh, well, I just haven't had time to watch it yet.

Last time I saw him about a year ago, it was still in its original shrink wrap. Unopened. 6 years it sat, unopened and unwatched.

Well, i can tell you, that all my DVDs are open and watched. I don't collect for the sake of having.

Well, except for those Pokemon movies. Gotta catch 'em all, after all.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Eat the Rich

It's a slow minute at work, and I just have to take the time to share this news story that came down the wire.

I share it mainly out of nostalgia...10 years ago now, in my time at university, I knew people who read a statistic like this and be enraged by it...no doubt, it would lead to a scathing editorial in the Dag, and a protest, if the Social Justice Club were up to it.

I also do it because a part of me, a remnant from university, is kind of enraged by it.

As I post this, it's just after 9:46 AM on January 2. What's so significant about this time and date?

By this time, the top 100 corporate executives in Canada have made as much money as your annual salary.

The top 100 corporate excutives in Canada have made, in their first 46 minutes of work in 2007, as much money as you will make all year.

By the close of business, they will have quite easily have made more money than you will all year.

All collage aged folks out there...start your protests.