Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, April 30, 2007

Various Movie Bits

So, there was movie announced today, it sounds pretty interesting. It's called Nottingham.

Nottingham is one of these revisionist takes on a classic tale. It's the story of Robin Hood, as told from the POV of the Sherrif of Nottingham. But, in this case, the Sherrif of Nottingham is going to be portrayed as a noble and just man, who's torn between his loyalty towards a corrupt Prince John, and the higher principles, yet illegal methodology, of Robin Hood.

It's going to be directed by Ridley Scott, the legendary director who brought us Alien, Blade Runner, Gldiator, Black Hawk Down and Kingdom of Heaven. His last film was the chick flick A Good Year. Playing the Sherrif of Nottingham will be...Russell Crowe.

In case you're curious, Scott's next film is American Gangster. It's based on the true story of a New York drug lord and Vietnam vet who built his criminal empire by smuggling in heroin from Vietnam in the coffins of fallen soldiers. Denzel Washington plays the drug lord, and Russell Crowe plays the intrepid FBI agent who brings him down. That'll be out this November.

Hey! How can you tell that the animated short film is making a comeback as a medium?

Disney's getting back into it!

That's right, in addition to all new animated films, Disney is now making animated shorts again. This project is the brainchild of the new head of Disney animation, John Lasetter. As Lasetter discovered as the head of Pixar, animated shorts are a great way to foster and nurture new talent.

The first new Disney animated short stars Goofy, and will be one of those classic "How To..." cartoons. You remember, where a dry narrator tells you how to do something and Goofy acts it out.

Goofy: How to Hook Up Your Home Theatre will be in theatres this fall, in front of whatever Disney film comes out this fall.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Latest Targ's Up!

This week's episode of The Targ is now ready for download! This week, it's Episode 47: Spider-Show. With Spider-Man 3 coming out this Friday, I talk all about the Spider-Man movies!

Give it a listen!

And I've got my lazy Sunday planned. I'm going to watch Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 to get up to speed.

I bought my advance ticket to Spider-Man 3 online last night. I'll be seeing it on Saturday at high noon. Naturally, I'll have my little digital voice recorder along, so all of next week's show will be live from West Edmonton Mall, culminating in my Spider-Man 3 review, recorded live during the end credits!

So if you think this week's is good, wait until next week!

Friday, April 27, 2007

My First Advanced Screening

"What are you doing?"

"I'm turning off my cellphone."


"Cuz I don't want it going off during the movie."

"Well, just put it on vibrate."

"No, I can turn it off."

"Dude, there's no point in turning off a cellphone. It defeats the purpose of having a cellphone."

"Please. I'm not that important. The world will get along fine if my cellphone is off for a couple of hours."

"God, what's with people like you? The whole point of having a cellphone is to stay in constant contact with the world! If you're going to turn it off, well then, you may as well just have a phone at home. Cuz turning off a cellphone is like leaving home and hoping no one calls. JUST PUT IT ON VIBRATE!"

"...I'm turning it off."

And that's the conversation my co-worker and I had as I turned off my cellphone, and we settled in to watch the special advanced screening of Next.

How this all came about was my boss entered a contest at the Edmonton Sun for tickets to the advanced screening. She couldn't go, so she gave them to my co-worker and me. Since it was all boss-sanctioned, that meant leaving work early and getting the company gas card.

This was my first special advanced screening, and I've got to say, my mind was blown. My co-worker's mind was blown, too. We're both graduates of NAIT, and the campus station where we cut our teeth, NR92, occasionally got tickets to these advance screenings. I never partook in those at NR92, mainly because I was still living in Entwistle, and the long commute at night made it...prohibitive. The closest one I got to seeing was the special advance screening for the new anime classic Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. I didn't go to that one because it was in the morning, and it would have meant skipping resume writing class.

Hmm...most of my classmates at NAIT routinely skipped resume writing class, and they got hired right out of school. I had perfect attendance, and it took me a year to find my first job. Damn. I really wish I saw Ghost in the Shell 2 now.

Anyway...I was totally geeking out the whole time, cuz I managed to catch a glimpse of Colin McLean. For those who don't care, Colin McLean has been the movie critic for CBC Edmonton forever. One of my earliest conscious memories of watching the 6 o'clock news was watching his review of the one with the whales. My co-worker was telling me I should go say hi and shake his hand, but I couldn't, cuz I'm just a big ol' chicken.

As for the movie itself, well, there's a review up now. Go read it!

One Week to Go

The unused Alex Ross Green Goblin design
Back in Y2K, when the first Spider-Man film was announced, the makers contacted the world's most famous comic book artist, Alex Ross, to do some concept art for the film...help re-design Spider-Man and the Green Goblin for the real world.

Now, in a lot of his sketches, Ross gave the Green Goblin a broadsword. Why? Well, Ross read a lot of fantasy novels, and figured a broadsword was a natural weapon for a goblin to have.

Watching some of the previews and commercials for Spider-Man 3, what do we see Harry Osborn armed with, as he takes on Spider-Man?

A broadsword.

As the folks at Pixar say, good ideas have a way of bubbling to the surface.

Unused Alex Ross Spider-Man design
I was reading an interview with Alex Ross when these sketches first came out. He said that, for a teaser poster, they should focus on Spider-Man's mask, or maybe even just the eyes. "The common practice it to use the chest logo," said Ross, "But let's be honest. the most iconic part of Spider-Man's costume isn't the chest logo, it's his mask."

You'll also notice that in the unused Alex Ross mask design, Spidey's got black eyes instead of the usual white. This was because, unsure that proper white lenses could be found in the real world, Ross chose black, thinking that if someone realistically made this costume in their bedroom, they'd just take the lenses out of a pair of sunglasses.

And, having to give credit where credit is due, I "borrowed" these images from the official Alex Ross website.

In other Spider-Man 3 news, it's being reported that, based on the advance ticket sales alone, Spider-Man 3 has already secured the #1 spot at next week's box office.

I haven't bought my advance tickets yet. I'm thinking about doing that this afternoon, and trying my first shot at this whole "buying advance tickets online" thing. I got a long way to go to see a movie now. I'd feel quite screwed over to go all that way to find that it's sold out.

I almost bought my advance tickets when I saw Next back on Wednesday (story behind that and movie review are forthcoming), but that was at Edmonton's North Edmonton Cinema. I want to see Spider-Man 3 at SilverCity in West Edmonton Mall.

Why? Because that's where I saw the first two. It's a continuity thing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

News Hound: Year One

Holy moly! It's my one-year anniversary!

I've officially been the news hound for the Athabasca radio station for one year now.

I've only been here a year, but I've already gone through so many titles. I was hired under the title of "news director." Someone in the company insisted on putting "broadcast journalist" on all my business cards. (On my business cards, I scribble out "broadcast journalist" before handing it out.) I tend to introduce myself as a "news hound." But, at the end of the day, I'm a reporter. That's the simplest and best way to describe it. (And it's what I write on my business cards to replace the scribbled-out "broadcast journalist.")

The fun thing about having been here a year is I finally feel "established." And by "established," I mean that a lot less people run away screaming when I whip out my digital voice recorder and say, "Can I get this on tape so I can play it on the radio?"

But still, I can't help but feel a little bit empty inside. After all, I got into radio to be an announcer. I first wanted to get into radio when I was 10 years old and saw Good Morning, Vietnam. When you look it at like that, I've been working towards being an announcer for 20 years.

I got my first real taste of announcing when I started doing my college radio show. When you look at it like that, I've been working towards being an announcer for 10 years.

I got serious about being an announcer when I first applied to NAIT. When you look at it like that, i've been working towards it for 6 years.

Am I announcing right now? No. I'm reporting. It is a little bit painful to know that your dream job...your goal for 20 years...is literally in the next room.

My goal right now is the same as it's always been: get into the next room.

But the past year has been a good life.

Good enough.

Since it is my one year anniversay, it's kind of appropriate that today sees the DVD release of WKRP in Cincinatti: The Complete First Season. Anyone my age who works in radio would be lying if they said that WKRP didn't have some influence on their career choice.

However, this DVD release has proven to be somewhat controversial. It's brought to the fore one of the big issues among DVD enthusiasts like myself, and that's the issue of music replacement.

See, as we all know, it's quite common these days for a TV show to use some contemporary music as part of the soundtrack. Hell, Smallville is often mocked for having Clark and Lana stare longingly at each other from across a crowded room while the latest pop ballad plays. Well, see, when you release that show on DVD, you've got to pay the music artists royalties. And, sometimes, those roaylties are so much, that it makes it prohibitive to a DVD release. That's why Ally McBeal has yet to be released to DVD...to release it, they've got to pay Vonda Shepard a boatload of money.

So, here's where music replacement comes in. What happens is the DVD executives will go in, remove the expensive song, and replace it with a generic, made-for-TV sound-a-like. Sometimes, if it's done with care and the involvement of the show's creators, it can be pretty seamless. But, if it's done by just a group of random editors, it can wind up being a pretty brutal alteration of the creator's orignal intent.

Now, with WKRP, being set at a radio staiton and all, the music was rather integral to the plot and/or the jokes. So, many feared that WKRP would be savagely edited for DVD. And, today, they're being proven right.

Advance reviews from a month ago report very bland made-for-TV sound-a-likes replacing the classic rock of the show. Whole scenes where characters discuss the music being played are cut out altogether, and jokes where the music being played is the exact opposite of what's happening on screen just don't make sense anymore.

Needless to say, there's a lot of upset people.

the official statement from the folks who put it on DVD? "Well, we still think this is better than not releasing it at all."

Monday, April 23, 2007

Still Gotta Catch 'Em All

Left to right, Piplup, Turtwig, and Chimchar, the Pokemon you start with in Diamond and Pearl editions

Wow. I almost forgot to note that Sunday was when Nintendo released Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl Editions. The latest editions of the Pokemon games, and the first ones for the Nintendo DS. And with it, the fourth generation of Pokemon has begun!

Still wanna catch 'em all? The final total is now 493. Remember when there was just 151?

Of course, Diamond and Pearl have a whole bunch of new features. This is the first one where they have anatomical differences between male and female pokemon. No, we're not talking poke-privates dangling beneath Pikachu's legs. We're talking stuff like males having antlers and females not and stuff like that.

All Pokemon games take place in a geographic area loosely based on a Japanese island. Diamond and Pearl take place in Sinnoh, which is loosely based on Hokkaido. There's new villains, too. While on your pokemon journey, you also have to undo the evil plot of Team Galactic.

While in the city on Saturday, I also dipped into a discount bin and finally got Pokemon: LeafGreen Edition. I have just begun my second pokemon journey.

It's weird. Having gone as far as I can go in Sapphire edition, I'm starting all over. I forgot how tough the Pokemon games are in the very beginning.

But it's still so darn addicting.

That Which Makes Me Smile

We all need smiles on Monday mornings, so that's why I"m posting this commercail. I like this commercial for two reasons.

1) The music is so damn good.
2) She's pretty.

I like a lot of commercials for one or both of those reasons.

Oh, and as promised in this week's episode of The Targ, I've got my review of Grindhouse up.

Give it a read

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Latest Targ's Up!

Got the latest episode of The Targ up!

This week, it's Episode 46: Me Time. I took some "me time" yesterday. I tell you all about it, and share some of my favourite chill-out tunes.

Listen here!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Day in the City

Had another fantastic day in the city. Spent too much money, which always makes me feel guilty. But then, I remembered the words of my mother, who always had this to say to me after a day of fun and frivolity in Edmonton: "You work hard. You've got to treat yourself every once in a while."

And treat myself I did!

Finally got to see Grindhouse. Now, I know, I'm not one for scary movies. But hey, it was the latest from Robert Rodreiguez and Quentin Tarintino, so that deserved my money. And besides, from what I've been reading, this whole thing was set up as a theatrical experience. I really don't think this'll have the same impact on DVD.

As we all know, the film is a double feature. Rodriguiz gives us the zombie film Planet Terror and Tarintino gives us the car chase/slasher film Death Proof. I kind of like Tarintino's film more, mainly because I was raised on car chase movies like Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit. Critics are right. Death Proof has a great car chase.

But the entire 3-hour experience reminds me of the first Rodriguiz/Tarintino collaberation, From Dusk Til Dawn. You know how the first half of that film is kind of a moody, psychological thriller, and then the last half turns into that crazy-ass stuff with vampires?

Well, Grindhouse is like those two halves split into two films. Rodriguiz gives us crazy-ass stuff with zombies, and Tarintino gives us the moody, psychological thriller stuff.

And the fake trailers in between...my God. Too bad we're not going to get a sequel now. I really want to see Rob Zombie's Werewolf Women of the SS.

but it's just 3 really entertaining hours. 3.5 nibs.

Actually, I just finished watching the DVD I bought: Hellboy: Sword of Storms.

As we all know, with DVD having exploded like it did, so did the market for straight-to-DVD animated films. Actually, I like to use the anime term: OVA. Hellboy: Sword of Storms is the first in a series of Hellboy OVA.

Now, I don't run out and buy a lot of OVA films. But two factors made Hellboy: Sword of Storms worth checking out.

- Rather than some cheaply made spin-off, this was done with the co-operation and creative input of Hellboy's creator Mike Mignola, and writer-director of the live-action Hellboy movie (and the Oscar-nominated Pan's Labyrinth) Guillermo del Toro.

- Supervising director Tad Stones has been keeping a really good blog about the making of the series that I'm kind of addicted to reading.

Anyway, Hellboy: Sword of Stroms is really good. A pair of Japanese demons are on the warpath, and Hellboy gets zapped back to ancient Japan, where he's stuck on a odyssey to stop them.

It was really good...very entertaining. And it'll tide us over until the second live-action movie comes out next year!

In case you're curious, the second OVA, Hellboy: Blood and Iron comes out in June.

American OVA: it's not just for Disney sequels any more!

Also grabbed some new Star Wars action figures for the collection.

I'll admit, I don't buy as many Star Wars figures as I once did. When I first started, I said that I'd limit myself to just my favourite characters. And now, I pretty much do have all my favourite characters. Unless they come out with a new Darth Vader varient that I figure I really, really need, then there's really not much for me.

And then today, in Toys R Us, I stumbled across something I read about but hadn't seen on the shelves yet. The Star Wars Comic Packs.

These 2-packs of figures contain 2 Star Wars action figures, as they appeared in the Star Wars comic books! And each pack comes with the issue of the comic book that inspired that look.

I got the Darth Vader/Rebel Soldier 2-pack, with issue #1 of the Star Wars: A New Hope comic book adaptation, and the Chewbacca/Han Solo disguised as a Stormtrooper 2-pack, with issue #3 of the Star Wars: A New Hope comic book adaptation.

They're really cool. I wonder how those Marvel comic book artists back in 1977 came up with these designs. Darth Vader's got beady red eyes, the Stormtrooper armour has light blue highlights, and Chewbacca looks fairly teddy-bear like.

But they're great new additions to my collection!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Two Weeks to Go

As I said last time, when I first discovered this Internet thing, a live-action Spider-Man film seemed nigh-impossible. And now, the third one comes out in two weeks!

When they were writing the screenplay, director Sam Raimi said that they'd decided on a theme for the film, and the difficulty then became finding a villain to go along with that theme. Well, I think it's safe to say that the theme is "vengeance."

- New Goblin Harry wants revenge on Peter Parker

- Spider-Man wants revenge on Sandman

- Venom wants revenge on Spider-Man

I'm still kind of curious to see how this multi-villain set-up is going to work. Many agree that the beginning of the end with the Batman films was trying to work multiple villains into one movie.

Meanwhile, the film had its world premiere in Tokyo back on Monday. Reviews are starting to pop up online. I'm avoiding them, as they've all got heavy spoiler warnings, but so far, they're ranging from "pretty good" to "better than #2."

Two weeks seems so far away....

Oh, yeah. There's another Marvel comics movie coming out this summer. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Ol' Morpheus himself, Laurence Fishburne, is going to be doing the voice of the Silver Surfer. It was originally thought that Fishburne would be voicing Galactus, but those reports were wrong.

Nerds are upset over how Galactus is going to be portrayed. Reports say that gone is the classic, kilometers-tall giant. Now, the purple planet eater will just be a giant, mysterious cloud.

Reviews from early test screenings are starting to circulate online. On that one, the reviews are ranging from "fetid pile of dog vomit" to "claw your own eyes out bad."

June 29th for that one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Fighting for Love and Justice

I was just randomly typing things into YouTube last night, and I found this. I'd always been curious to see this.

Sailor Moon always gives me weird feelings. And not for the obvious reason.

It was the fall of 1995. I was done high school and finished a very greuling summer job. And I had no idea what was coming next.

I spent most of my days on the couch, watching TV. I had no plans. No ambitions. Nothing.

And then YTV began hyping the hell out of this new cartoon, Sailor Moon.

I started watching it. I was instantly drawn in by its complex mythology. What can I say? Sailor Moon became my soap opera. I started planning my days so I'd be home in time to catch it. I was devouring everything I could get my hands on in regards to the show. And since this was still a pre-Internet time, it was tough to get my hands on stuff.

A few months of doing nothing but sitting around on the couch eventually led my parents to hand down an ultimatium: get a job or go back to school. My applicaiton to Augustana was in the mail the next day.

But yeah. As good a show as Sailor Moon is, it always reminds me of those days where my life was quite literally going nowhere fast. It is a relic from the one stage in my life where I can quite accuratly say I was accomplishing nothing.

Nowadays, my fandom in Sailor Moon only seems to pop up in moments of despair and despondence.

So, as you can imagine, I had another brief flare-up of Sailor Moon-mania during my days at Extra Foods. I remember that the first movie was dubbed and released, and renting it after work one night. I was so inspired by that moviesthat I sat down and wrote the most brilliant paragraph I'd ever written. I'd hoped to turn it into the most brilliant column ever for my website, but I never did. Nothing I wrote measured up to the brilliance of that first paragraph. I'm fairly certain I deleted it in my last hard drive purge.

So you'd think that when I was in Japan and the whole thing started going sour, I would have been deep into Sailor Moon again, what, being so close to the source and everything. But, no, actually. There was a lot in Japan to keep me entertained and distracted without falling back on old habits.

But I'll never forget discovering Sailor Moon on Japanese TV. It was on at 6:30 on Sunday morning. Nothing said "Japan" more than seeing Sailor Moon on Japanese TV. And, on Japanese TV, it looked so much like, say, the Spider-Man cartoon from the 1960's. It was so scratchy and beat up, in a manner that says, "Yeah, this TV station has been showing this forever."

And I was only up at 6:30 on a Sunday twice: once to hit onsens in the mountains with friends, and the other to hit Tokyo DisneyLand. As I said, lots of things besides Sailor Moon to keep me entertained and distracted in moments of despair.

But I still got a smile out of going to Toys R Us in Japan and seeing a complete aisle of Sailor Moon toys...much like the Barbie aisle here in Canada. And the video store, where there was a wall in the cartoon section that was floor-to-ceiling Sailor Moon. Every episode ever.

I'm still kind of ashamed to mention that I was once into Sailor Moon. There's lots of weird perceptions out there.

I was told this story of a female fan at Augustana. She was showing off her collection of Sailor Moon merchandise and detailing her love of the characters to a Japanese foreign student. This Japanese student just looked at this otaku like she was from Mars and finally said, "You know that only dirty old men like that show this much, right?"

When I admitted my love of Sailor Moon to one of my co-workers in Japan (she was an American, not Japanese), she just looked at me quizically and said, "Sailor Moon...isn't that just a porno with all the sex scenes cut out?"

No. No it's not.

But there you have it. It's considered by many to be a show that perverts watch. It reminds me of a time I was consumed by emptiness.

But I still look in on the adventures of the Moon Princess from time to time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tune In! Turn On! Hulk Out!

Well, the second Incredible Hulk movie is closer to filming. It was announced yesterday that Edward Norton is going to be our new Bruce Banner.

For those still asking, "Wow, what happened to Eric Bana?" well, it's like this. Already at movie #2, they're doing a reboot of the franchise. This one promises to be closer to the comics and more action-packed than the first film.

Louis Leterrier is directing. He's best known for those Transporter films. The Hulk himself will once again be CGI, but this time provided by special effects house Rhythm and Hues.

They start filming in June for a June 2008 release.

Hey! It is new DVD Tuesday, so I have to take a moment to acknowledge the double-dip of the week.

Spider-Man 2.1 hits store shelves today. This new, extended cut of Spider-Man 2 boasts 8 minutes of new footage you weren't allowed to see in theatres! There's also a new running commentary with the writer, a new running commentary with the producers, a featurette about making the extended cut, and a sneak peek at the third movie.

On store shelves now!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Latest Targ's Up

Got this week's episode of The Targ up! This week, it's Episode 45: Drive. I've been told that a good way to practice your announcing is to narrate what you see while you're driving. And that's exactly what I did as I was driving home from Entwistle last week!

Listen up!

Friday, April 13, 2007

3 Weeks To Go

Wow. 11 years ago, when I first discovered the Internet, the first words I typed into a search engine were "Spider-Man movie." And now, a third Spider-Man film comes out in three weeks! We've come a long way, baby.

What amazes me is we're this close to the release, and I still know very little about the plot. I know Sandman is a villain, Eddie Brock as Venom eventually comes along for the ride, and Harry Osbron finally follows in his daddy's footsteps.

And Gwen Stacy pops up!

But I still have very little idea as to what actually happens.

I guess I'll know in three weeks.

And we're also looking ahead to 2008!

Next year, Marvel Comics finally gives us the movie version of Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.

to your right, you're looking at the first picture of the Iron Man armor, 1.0.

For those you don't know Iron Man's origin, Tony Stark is a billionare industrialist and all-around super-genius. He goes to the front lines in Vietnam to see how well his new hardware is working in the field, when he's captured by the Communists. He actually gets shot in the attack, and has a bullet lodged dangerously close to his heart. They lock up Tony Stark with one of the world's most brilliant physicists, and they're forced to work on the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. But, instead, they build a special armored suit that'll serve two purposes: keep Tony alive, and get them out.

That picture is the suit they build in the Communist lab. Tony's friend gets killed in the escape attempt, and Tony decides to keep and refine the armored suit and become a superhero.

That armor pictured is the first one that Tony and his friend slap together to escape. It goes without saying that it gets upgraded to Iron Man's well-known red and gold armor as the film goes on.

May 2008!

Oh, and I should mention that, for the new millenium, Vietnam has been replaced with Afghanistan and the Taliban are replacing the communists.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Ya know, as much as I love to follow politics, I hate talking about politics. No matter how well prepared I am for a debate, I find I get flustered quite easily, and all my brillaint arguments escape.

That being said...there was something in Ottawa today that I just want to give my two cents on.

You've probably heard this by now. Belinda Stronach is leaving politics. She will not be seeking re-election at the end of her current term, and is going back to the family business.

Now, I'm one of the few west of Ontario that believes that Belinda Stronach really got screwed over by the press. In every interview with her that I saw, she always came across as quite intelligent and, unlike a lot of other MPs, actually knew what she was talking about. It came as no surprise to me that she crossed the floor and joined the Liberals...in all those interviews I saw, she always did seem kind of Liberal.

Did she get screwed over just because she was a woman? Hell yes. In her early days, the only reason why she was comapred to Paris Hilton was just cuz she came from money. And despite all the outrage towards her defection from the Tories to the Liberals, it wasn't as two-faced or opportunistic as some others I can think of.

As far as I'm concerned, we lost a good MP today. Wow, I can't believe she was in office for just 3 years.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

One of the Ways I Got Screwed Over in High School

For the past few days in Canada, the news has been dominated by the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial. I've enjoyed reading online about how it was one of the major offensives in World War I, the very large role the Canadians played in the battle and, seeing as to how Canada never had a war for independence, World War I and Vimy Ridge are the closest we have in our history.

Too bad I learned none of this in high school.

I've written several times in the past of the horror that was Seba Beach, the school where I spent grades 10 thru 12. Seba Beach had some of the nicest, kindest, and best teachers in the school division. But the students - my classmates - had given up a long time ago. Having given up on a future, but drilled into their heads that they needed a high school diploma, they were kind of running out the clock until graduation.

About a year or so ago, I ran into my old English teacher, who told me that I was the last one. "Mark, you were the last one at Seba with the glimmer in his eye, that desire to learn, who wanted to make something of himself. You were the one who made teaching at Seba worthwhile."

Too bad my Social 10 teacher didn't feel the same way.

It's Social Studies 10 where the brunt of Canadian history is taught, and I had the worst case scenario for learning history. My teacher was fat old Mrs. Pierce. She wasn't even a real teacher. She was the guidance councillor, drafted into being a teacher because the school was shorthanded. She didn't want to be in the class, therefore none of us wanted to be in the class.

All she did was stand at the front of the class and recite an endless list of names and dates. And she'd say everything three times, so we'd have enough time to write down.

I didn't learn of the sacrafice of the soldiers at Vimy Ridge, or what it meant in Canada's assertion of independence. All I learned was:

Vimy Ridge. April 9, 1917.

Vimy Ridge. April 9, 1917.

Vimy Ridge. April 9, 1917.

I didn't learn anything about what Vimy Ridge actually meant until around this time last year when, after talking with a friend who felt similarily screwed, he recommended the book Canadian History for Dummies. I checked it out at the library, and was enthralled. Got a little ribbing from my mother, too. "You're no dummy!" she said. I replied that I was just simply working my way up to Pierre Berton.

A lot of Mrs. Pierce's information was out-of-date, too. the last thing she taught us was that Canada needed two things to fully become independent:

Patriation of the Constitution.

Patriation of the Constitution.

Patriation of the Constitution.

Establish a charter of rights and freedoms

Establish a charter of rights and freedoms

Establish a charter of rights and freedoms

It wasn't until university and Professor Bateman's course in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that I learned that all that had happened in 1982.

So I still have this repressed anger that I got screwed out of a proper education on Canadian history.

I kind of hope I can make it to France someday. It would be neat to see Vimy Ridge, and just try to further my own education.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Comic Book Movie Bits

So, today, everyone is geeking out about this superhero film in development called Super Max. It's being written by David S. Goyer. It's making lots of noise if only because it sounds very un-formulaic.

Here's the set-up: Green Arrow is arrested of a crime he didn't commit. Stripped of his trademark costume and trademark bow and arrows, he's thrown into a super-maximum security prison for supervillains. Surrounded by many of the greatest b- and c-list super-villains in the DC universe, Green Arrow has to team up with a few of these super-villains (some of which he put away) and find a way to break out of the prison.

Kinda like Smallville, it's a superhero tale where everyone wears regular clothes and goes by their real names. And while Green Arrow is the hero, they're quick to tell us that it's NOT a Green Arrow movie.

No word yet on when it'll be released. Hell, they're just writing a screenplay, so it might never be released.

Meanwhile, over on the Marvel Comics side, we've got DVD release details for Ghost Rider.

As is quite common these days, there'll be single-disc edition with the theatrical cut, and a 2-disc extended edition, featuring 15 minutes of footage you weren't allowed to see in theatres!

Common to both DVDs will be the documentary Spirit of Vengeance: The Making of Ghost Rider, a running commentary with director Mark Steven Johnson, and a second running commentary with director Gary Foster. The 2-disc edition also has a documentary called Sin and Salvation, chronicling Ghost Rider's history and evolution in the comics.

Also, as is the way these days, it'll also be released on Blu-Ray and UMD.

It hits store shelves on June 12.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, Family Dog

I've been wanting to post this for a while, and since there's no Targ this week (just got home from my Easter break), tonight seems like the night to do it.

I'm sure I've mentioned that one of my favourite filmmakers working today is Brad Bird. Bird was fascinated by animation ever since he was a child. He started making his first animated short when he was 11, and finished when he was 13. This got the attention of Disney, and he got to spend his weekends hanging out with Disney's legendary Nine Old Men. After high school, he went on to the California Institute of the Arts, and their world-famous animation program. His classmates included John Lasseter and Tim Burton. After school, he got himself at job as an animator at Disney. Eventually growing disillusioned with what he was animating at Disney, he went on to work in television, a gig that eventually got him the job of "executive consultant" on The Simpsons. With the explosion of animation in the 1990s, thanks to Disney's resurgance, Bird was eventually hired on at Warner Brothers Feature Animation, where he wrote and directed my all-time favourite movie, The Iron Giant. After that film, Warner Brothers ended their feature animation department, and Bird got a call from his old classmate John Lasseter to join the crew at Pixar. The first film Bird made with Pixar was the Best Animated Picture winning The Incredibles, again, serving the role of writer and director.

And that brings us to the present day. Bird's next film with Pixar, Ratatouille, hits theatres this summer. In some early interviews for Ratatouille, Bird's been hinting that he'd like to try his hand at live-action next. And, occasionally, I read snippets online of his pet project, a sci-fi/film noir/comedy called Ray Gunn. Think Sin City mixed with Blade Runner, and featuring characters named "Venus Envy."

But we're going back to the beginning. After he left Disney and before The Simpsons. In that period - the late 1980s - Bird got a job with Steven Spielberg. Spielberg was putting together an anthology show called Amazing Stories. Think The Wonderful World of Disney, only except Walt Disney, it's Steven Spielberg. And, as one of his first TV gigs, Bird got himself a job as a writer on Amazing Stories.

And, it was on Amazing Stories, that Brad Bird finally got to write and direct something by himself. In effect, it was first film. It was this animated episode of Amazing Stories that established Bird as one of the rising young stars of animation. To this day, many still hold it up as the best episode ever of Amazing Stories.

And thanks to the miracle of YouTube, I finally got a chance to see it.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present, Family Dog.

Written and directed by Brad Bird.

Executive produced by Steven Spielberg.

And featuring character designs by Tim Burton.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Here's some miscellany about Brad Bird:

- In addition to The Simpsons, he also got to be an executive consultant on the Critic and King of the Hill.

- Was once attached to do the animated movie version of Curious George. When the film finally came out a year ago, I read in interview with one of the film's producers, who described Bird's work on the film as "absolutly brilliant", but Bird left the project to go do The Incredibles.

- Family Dog was turned into a TV series in the early 1990s. Bird had nothing to do with it, even though he was offered it. In Bird's opinion, it wouldn't work as a series. And since the series only lasted 2 episodes, Bird was right.

And may as well end this Brad Bird love-fest with the new Ratatouille trailer.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Completly and Utterly Ridiculous

This all started a few months ago. When there was nothing on TV one Saturday night, I stuck Die Hard with a Vengeance into the DVD player.

When I first bought the Die Hard Trilogy on DVD some 5 years ago, when my DVD player was new and I was first gripped with the DVD madness, I was thrown into quite a quandry. "Am I buying the Die Hard Trilogy because I like these films, or because they're just the hot DVD right now?"

All these years later, I don't regret buying them. At their core, the Die Hard films are genuinly entertaining.

And, while it didn't make my top 5 summer blockbusters that I'm looking forward to, a big part of me really wants to see the long-awaited fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard, coming out on June 27. If I were to expand my list of summer blockbusters I'm looking forward to to 10, Live Free or Die Hard would make the top 10.

This time around, John McClane is no longer with the NYPD. Now, he's a world-weary agent with Homeland Security. And this time, he's doing battle with a group of hacker/terrorists who want to shut down all the computers in the USA, launching another dark age. McClane has to team up with a hacker he'd been extriditing, and things get worse when the hacker/terrorists kidnap McClane's daughter and hold her hostage. And...he even has to turn to Kevin Smith for help. (Yup, Smith's still procrastinating by acting and not giving us more cool movies. If I remember correctly, Quentin Tarintino went through this phase.)

Die Hard 4.0 (its overseas title) is being directed by Len Weisman, the man who gave us those Underworld movies.

I was looking forward to it...until I saw the new trailer, which went online today.


I've seen my fair share of ridiculous action movies in the past, but this is the first time ever that I was laughing my ass off at how over-the-top ridiculous it is.

I'm always very forgiving when it comes to suspension of disbelief. But this is the first time where, not even I can suspend my disbelief.

This new trailer is just so...freaking...ridiculous. It's so ridiculous, it's fallen off my top 10.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Trails and Trailers

Have you ever walked by something every day of your life, and then, one day, you see it in a different light and everything makes sense?

The railroad was pulled out of Athabasca around 15 years ago. And it's always remained a mystery to me as to how trains got into Athabasca. For you see, Athabasca is at the bottom of a valley. It's surrounded by steep hills on three sides...and a river on the fourth. So I've always kept my eye open for some evidence of how the trains got in.

And then one day, as I was roaming around town, I was crossing a bridge over the Tawatinaw Creek. Now, out in the creek there's this large mound of dirt, just enough growth on it to make it seem natural. But, on this day, there there was just enough snow on the mound that I could make out a trail...a trail that extended far back into the bushes. "Of course!" I exclaimed.

I had finally found the remains of the rail bed.

The upside to this was, not long after, I finally found the trail head for the Trans Canada Trail.

We've all heard of this project, set-up to commemerate the 125th anniversary of Canada. A hiking trail all across this nation. As of 2007, the only province that's completed its part is Prince Edward Island. And, following PEI's example, most sections of the trail are...abandoned rail beds.

Now, there's a leg of the Trans Canada Trail that starts in Edmonton and goes up to the territories. And that leg slices through Athabasca. And, again, it's built on the old rail bed.

I found the trail. It's really cool, actually. It's a street in Athabasca that gets narrower and narrower until it turns into a hiking trail. And then it just goes into the bush...forever.

I'm going to have to hike it in the summer. See if I can make it to the neighbouring hamlet of Colinton...a hearty, 12km hike, according to Google Maps.

Of course, once I got to Colinton, I'd think I'd call a friend to drive me home to Athabasca.

In the meantime, check out this sweet new TV spot for Transformers. I love that mid-air transformation with Starscream!

I know, a lot of my friends and fellow TransFans have given up hope for this film...but not me!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Latest Targ's Up!

This week's episode of The Targ is up! This week, we've got Episode 44: Movie Day! I go on location to give you reviews of TMNT and 300 LIVE from the movie theatre!

Gotta admit, my little voice recorder impressed me. I was afraid the blaring end credits music would drown out my harsh whisper. But it didn't!