Just forget the words and sing along

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

DVD News for You

For the past few days, I've wanted to blog about special editions and extended cuts and the crime of double dipping, but I haven't, because it's going to be a long one, and I don't feel like sitting at the keyboard for that long.

Instead, I'm going to tell you that one of my favourite dead TV shows from the past year will be coming out on DVD. On October 16, you'll be able to pick up Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: The Complete Series. All 22 episodes on 6 discs. For bonus stuff, sadly, all you get is a documentary on the series, and a running commentary by series creator Aaron Sorkin on just the pilot episode.

Yeah, the show wasn't bang-zoom-spectacular, but it was still better than most of the other crap out there. I loved it.

And here's another bit of DVD news. Remember a few days ago I blogged that Disney has officially stopped making straight-to-DVD sequels to their animated classics? Well, the division that makes straight-to-DVD films hasn't been shut down completely. They'll still be making ORIGINAL straight-to-DVD films.

Original straight-to-DVD animated movies I can get behind. I have and enjoy both of the Hellboy animated movies, and I'm really looking forward to the PG-13 rated Superman straight-to-DVD animated film coming out this fall.

I can get behind any original idea, as long as the end product is good.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Latest Targ's Up!

Got this week's episode of The Targ up!

This week, it's Episode 54: Vinyl. I use my Dad's new toy - a USB turntable - to explore some of my Dad's old record collection. I also tell you why you'll never have to read a book again, and give you the Spice Report.

Give it a listen, why don't you?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Latest Movie Revies Up!

For those who only know this blog through Facebook, it may interest you to know that I have an official website, Chaos in a Box, and one of the many things I do over there is movie reviews! And I just put up two new ones!

First up, I just got home from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. In a nutshell, it's better than the first one, but still no where near as good as the X-Men and Spider-Man films. However, it does have a sense of fun to it, and in this era of brooding, angst-ridden superhero films, that made me enjoy it.

And secondly, a week ago, I finally got around to seeing Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Ehh...I still can't get on board with Pirates. I thought it was kind of like the Matrix Trilogy: it collapsed under the weight of it's mythology, leading us to an ending that I found mildly unsatisfying.

So, if you like, you can go read the complete reviews!

The Rape of Your Childhood is Over

Disney has finally, officially, pulled the plug on making straight-to-video sequels to all their animated classics. Several people have often referred to those sequels as being "a rape of their childhood."

Figured I should explain that right off the bat, lest people go, "What? RAPE? What?"

But yeah. The whole story...John Lassetter, the genius behind Pixar and the Toy Story movies and all that officially became the head of Walt Disney Animation about a year ago. Now, he's always thought that the sequels were a rape of people's childhoods as well, and made it his mandate to stop them.

It was always thought that The Little Mermaid III would be the last one, becuase it was around 80% finished by the time Lassetter took charge. It comes out in February of next year.

But then, a couple days ago, a report came out of Disney that Lassetter had just seen a rough edit of the upcoming straight-to-video Tinkerbell solo film called, appropriatly, the Tinkerbell Movie. Lassetter declared the film "an unwatchable piece of garbage" and "a threat to the Disney legacy." And he shut down the film. Pulled the plug completely. The film was 2/3 finished, and $30 million had already been spent on it.

That was the final bit of ammunition he needed, and the division that makes the straight-to-video sequels has been shut down.

So, looks will be spared The Lion King 9 and 3/4: Simba sits in for Meridith on The View

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Spice Report

Ever since I got to do the morning show in Athabasca a few weeks back, and reported this on the air with a fanatical fervor, I've been following this quite closely. What is it?

Spice Girls reunion.

And today, the old management group for the Spice Girls sent out a release saying there'll be an announcement on June 28 to address all this reunion talk.

That's right: an announcment of an announcement.

What's really fanning the flames is that, last week, long time hold out Sporty Spice revealed that, yeah, she's warming up to the idea, and she could see herself doing it now.

So what'll this reunion be? Speculation started last year, cuz it was the 10th anniversary of their first album. Rumors say it'll be anything from a couple of new songs for a greatest hits CD, all the way up to a new world tour.

We'll find out on the 28th.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Must be Thursday...Could Never Get the Hang of Thursdays

Wow. I'm re-discovering "Weird Al" Yankovic's latest album, Straight Outta Lynwood.

For those who didn't know, Straight Outta Lynwood came with a DVD, containing the entire album mixed down in 5.1 channel surround sound. Even scored a Grammy nomination for Best Surround Sound Album. So, I'm listening to the surround sound mix right now.

It's really cool. He occasionally drops a certain instrument, or the back-up singers in the rear channels, and you're like, "Whoa! Where'd that come from?"

I might be buying more albums on DVD now.

Now here's some news that's making me overjoyed.

Spy reports are coming in from the set of The Dark Knight (aka Batman Begins 2) that Cillian Murphy has shown up on the set, and he's reprising his Batman Begins role of my favourite Batman villain, Dr. Johnathan Crane, better known as the Scarecrow.

So now, people are wondering, how big a role does the Scarecrow have in this film? A patsy for the Joker? A sub-plot about his latest scheme? My personal preference: a pre-credits sequence, where Batman ties up the loose ends from the first film.

The Dark Knight is scheduled for theatres in June of 2008.

Over on the Marvel side now comes a report today that Samuel L. Jackson has just filmed a cameo as Nick Fury for the live-action movie version of Iron Man, due out in May of 2008.

Of course, I have to take a moment to acknowledge the biggest geek news of the day, the trailer for Blade Runner: The Final Cut.

Never been able to get behind Blade Runner...it's kind of like a certain lite beer to me: tastes great, less filling. However, I do have to acknowledge it's fascinating release history.

For those who don't know, Blade Runner is a classic, 1982 sci-fi film from Ridley Scott, same guy who did Alien, Gladiator, and American Gangster, coming this fall. But, the movie studio executives found it be kind of confusing, took it out of Scott's hands, and re-edited it, gave it a happy ending and other crap. Needless to say, it didn't do so well at the box office, and Scott was upset.

Flash forward 10 years. Blade Runner is on its way to becoming a cult classic. The movie studio starts selling a workprint (movie talk for "rought draft") to theatres, and calling it a director's cut. Naturally, Scott is pissed, because he had no involvement in it whatsoever, meaning it wasn't a true director's cut.

So, the studio brings in Scott to do a proper director's cut. But, Scott's still not happy. The project turns out to be rushed, underfunded, and, to top it all off, Scott was busy making Thelma and Lousie, meaning he couldn't devote himself 100% to the project. Blade Runner: The Director's Cut officially hits theatres in 1993. Once again, it doesn't do so well. Once again, Scott's not happy.

Jump forward to Y2K. Scott is once again Hollywood's golden boy, thanks to the success of Gladiator. And, with the exploding DVD market, the movie studio approaches Scott about doing a final, authoritative, final edit of Blade Runner, for the super-special-edition-DVD market. Scott gladly jumps on board.

This time, Scott is able to focus his complete attention on it. He's hands-on for the whole thing. He even gets to go out, shoot new footage, and make some new special effects. The goal is to have it in stores for 2002, the film's 20th anniversary.

but...one of the film's original producers steps forwards. Claims the movie rights have reverted to him. Film can't be released until the courts sort this out.

Flash forward to last fall. The movie studio announces that the court case is settled, and they now own Blade Runner lock, stock and barrel. To celebrate, they re-release Blade Runner: The Director's Cut to DVD in a brand-new, animorphic, beatiful picture.

And they announce that Blade Runner: The Final Cut will be coming out in the fall of 2007, in a 4-disc ultimate mega special edition with all 4 edits of the film (original, Director's Cut, Final Cut, and European, which was a little different) and more bonus materials than you can shake a stick at.

There's even talk of a brief theatrical re-release. We'll find out for certain when fall draws closer.

I wasn't too big on the film, but you gotta respect the history.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Laugh for the Day

You know, there occasionally comes a news story down the wire that, while I think it's funny as hell, I just know that if I were to read said news story, it would probably get us some angry phone calls in conervative ol' Athabasca. Like this one that came down today.

According to a recent study conducted by Emory University, when a man looks at pictures of naked women, the first thing he looks at is...the woman's face. The hypothesis for the man's eyes going there first because he wants to figure out if she enjoys being naked, and facial expression is the best way to do that.

Also worth noting is that women stare at pictures of naked women for much longer periods of time than men do.

Ya know, there's tons of dirty jokes there, but I can't pick one right now, so just go make your own.

You know what? The world needs more peppy, upbeat, TV theme songs. Seriously. Watch this classic opening sequence, listen to that theme song, and it's impossible to not smile.

(Facebookers, click here to watch it)

Equally as good and peppy is the update from the mid-1990s.

Guy who posted it won't allow embedding of it, ya gotta follow the link.

But what blows my mind the most? The live-action movie version, coming next summer from the creators of The Matrix.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Boys and their Toys

A little more than 6 years ago, I bought my DVD player. DVD hadn't quite gone mainstream yet...it was still seen as a toy for movie geeks like myself. But I always said to myself, "This is it, now. It's a slippery slope. Won't be too long until I get a surround sound system."

Last year, when I started working up here in Athabasca, I bought a nice, medium-sized TV, mainly because my little 10" screen which had been my constant companion since my college dorm days just no longer cut it. I got my new TV all set up and said, "Gotta get that surround sound system now, so I can fully appreciate it."

Finally bought my surround sound system back on the weekend. I was blessed with a tax refund that was a little bit more than I thought it'd be, and thought I should by myself something nice. I had it narrowed down to either the sound system or a digital camera. I asked my family for their opinions, and my mother and sister said the same thing: "Your birthday's in three weeks. Get the sound system."

I followed the same pattern I always follow when buying electronics like this. I spent months of careful planning, preparing a budget, shopping around, and following the sales. And, when I finally chose the day and store, I walked into the shop, threw out my plan, and bought the one that was really shiny.

But yeah. After work yesterday, I went home and finally sat down and hooked it up. Took me two hours to do, but that's only because I was really persnickity about speaker placement and stuff.

And then, I fulfilled one of my dreams with a surround sound system.

I popped in The Transformers: The Movie. The whole place shook when Unicron spoke. Then I thought that it's probably not healthy to have the subwoofer cranked up that loud, and turned everything down to a reasonable volume.

Spent the afternoon watching 10 minute snippets from a ton of my favourite films, just to break in the sound system. I watched Titanic hit the iceberg...watched the Burley Brawl from The Matrix Reloaded...the rescue of Palpatine from Episode III...the climax of Back to the Future...and, what I've used to break in every TV and/or sound system since I was 14 years old, the destruction of Praxis from Star Trek VI.

After work today, I'll be breaking it in proper. I went to HMV and hit their "2 for $30" bin and picked up some 2-disc special editions that belong in my library. Actually, I was a little shocked at HMV. Now they have a 2 for $25 bin, a 2 for $20 bin, even a 2 for $10 bin! But what I was after was in the 2 for $30 bin.

First up was the 2-disc special edition of Pulp Fiction. Pulp Fiction...I managed to catch the end on TV a few months back and thought to myself, "Wow. I forgot what a great movie this is." The 2-disc special edition, which has been out for quite a few years now, is fully stacked. You've got cut scenes, a documentary about the making of the film, various gushing reviews of the film. Probably the coolest feature is this episode of Siskel & Ebert. See, back when Pulp Fiction won the Oscar, Siskel & Ebert did this special episode all about Quentin Tarintino, declared him the greatest filmmaker working today ("today" being 1995) and went on and on about how Tarintino was ushering in the new era of independent cinema. That whole episode is on this special edition. The only thing the disc lacks is a Tarintino running commentary.

The other one is the 2-disc special edition of Fight Club. I used to have Fight Club, but it wasn't mine. It was a long-term loan. Back in 2001, I had a friend who loved Fight Club so much that she ran out and bought the 2-disc special edition as soon as it came out. Only problem was, she didn't own a DVD player yet. Since I was her only friend with a DVD player, she said I could hang onto it until she got one. She finally got a DVD player, and I gave it back to her, in 2005. But still, ever since, it felt like there was a gap in my colleciton....

So, now that I'm getting my home theatre more or less how I want it, the question is, what's the next step? Where do I go from here? I think, by then, it'll be time to get one of those little digital satallite dishes. No offence, but cable TV here in Athabasca is kind of crappy. I miss Space, Teletoon, and the Comedy Network.

But until then, I can make the walls shake with Unicron.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

WALL-E Trailer

Had to post this before heading off to the big city today. It's the trailer for WALL-E, Pixar's animated epic for the summer of next year.

I dunno.... This teaser's kind of weird, seeing as to how the first two thirds of it is WALL-E and Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton talking about the glory days of Pixar. But it still gives me goosebumps, and in my books, that's the sign of a good trailer.

Rather than YouTube it, go see it hi-def QuickTime.

You'll be able to see this teaser in front of Ratatoulie in a couple of weeks.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Latest Targ's Up!

The newest episode of my podcast, U62: The Targ is up!

"But Mark!" you're saying. "It's 2 days early! Does this mean you're taking off for the weekend again?"

Yes. Yes it does.

This week, or next week, really, we've got Episode 53: More Memories of Kumagaya. As I noted in my podcast around this time last year, June is the anniversary of my year in Japan. I left in June 02, and came back in June 03. So, once again, I'm sharing a few stories of my adventures in the Far East, and playing some of the songs that always take me back to that lost year.

Give it a listen!

And hey! I've got some bonus materials! I ripped off some anime theme songs to open and close the show this week. Here are the anime opening and closing segments that match up to the music!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

CliffNotes on DVD

Wow! Remember when you were in high school, and you had to read a book? Remember NOT reading the book and renting the movie instead? Or just reading the CliffNotes?

Well, now you can do BOTH!

MGM has just announced a series of DVDs called CliffNotes Ultimate Study Guide Editions. It's the DVD of a book you have to read in high school and they come with the CliffNotes! All for the low, low price of $14.95! Some of the DVD/CliffNotes combos include:

- Wuthering Heights
- Of Mice and Men
- Moby Dick
- Les Miserables
- Henry V

They all come out July 24, just in time for back-to-school shopping.

Suddenly, I'm reminded of the words of an English prof I had in university. "Please don't use CliffNotes. I'm not against using a study guide...it's just that the school library has much, much better study guides than CliffNotes."


So, it was announced yesterday that Supergirl will be joining the cast of Smallville in the fall. The specific version of Supergirl they'll be using is Kara Zor-El, the best-known "Superman's cousin" version.

Where as our young Superman is not quite fully powered yet on Smallville (the most notable power still missing is flight), Kara will show up all fully powered, able to fly and everything. When Clark Kent asks her about this, her snide comeback? "Girls mature faster than boys."

No word yet on who'll be playing Kara. Casting has just gone out.

In the fall, Smallville begins it's 7th season. It's also rumored to be the final season, as the creators have said they only planned for 7 years.

so, let's see. For other heroes on the show, we've had the Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, and now, Supergirl. For the final season, we've got to have the one that people have wanted since the beginning.

I can see it now. Some snooty society thing. Clark Kent and Lex Luthor are doing their usual thing, when they're interrupted by some man dressed in black. Luthor turns to Clark and says....

"Ah, yes where are my manners? This is an old prep school classmate of mine. Clark Kent, meet Bruce Wayne."

That's the one we've been wanting from day one.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday, Monday

"I don't get it," my brother said to me at a recent family function. "Every guy on the radio has a Facebook thing or a MySpace page or a blog or something.... Why are you radio announcers all over the place online?"

"What do you think we're doing while the music's playing? We're screwing around online," I told my brother.

Well, I'm all tickled. Over the weekend, we got a big update on Pixar's slate for the rest of the decade. As we all know, Pixar is the animation studio that brought us such brilliant films as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Their next one, Ratatouille, comes out at the end of the month. But here's what they have next.

For 2008, their animated epic is called WALL-E. Taking place 2700 years in the future, it's about a robot (the titular WALL-E) who's been given the task of cleaning up the over-polluted Earth. But then, one day, he meets an alien probe, who is a hot girl robot, and he leaves his post to go tooling around the galaxy with her. Now, what makes this interesting is that they just announced that WALL-E won't have a voice. He will express all his emotions and feelings through sound effects. The man providing the sound effects is Ben Burtt, who did the same thing for R2-D2 in all the Star Wars films. This one is the brainchild of Andrew Stanton, who made Pixar's biggest hit to date, Finding Nemo.

In 2009, Pixar gives us Up. This one is being described as "a coming-of-old-age story." It's about a weird 70-year old man who befriends a cluelss forrest ranger, and they have all kinds of wacky mis-adventures. This one comes to us from Pete Docter, the guy who did Monsters, Inc. Docter says it's about a hero who "travels the globe, fights beasts and villains, and eats dinner at 3:30 in the afternoon."

And then, in 2010, it's Pixar's most controversial film to date: Toy Story 3
. Controversial in that people like me don't think we need a Toy Story 3. But, Pixar policy has always been they'll only do a sequel if they have a really good idea, and they tell us that they have a really good idea for Toy Story 3. The man behind this one is Lee Unkrich, a long-time Pixar editor who served as co-director on Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo.

Speaking of all this animation, on Friday, my final DVD came!

I opened up the mailbox to find my copy of Lupin III: Castle of Cogliostro. For those who don't care, Castle of Cogliostro was the first film from the greatest living animator living today, Hayao Miyazaki. I now have the complete Miyazaki collection!

Since Miyazaki cut his teeth on TV animation, it only makes sense that his first film was the feature film version of a TV show. In this case, it's one of Japan's most famous anime franchises, Lupin III.

In the film, our gentleman theif Lupin III gets a tip that he might finally be able to complete a heist that ended badly in the start of his criminal career. But when he arrives in the country of Cogliostro to carry it out, he discovers a princess locked in a tower and decides to play the part of hero.

There's an urban legend in anime circles that Steven Spielberg declared it one of the greatest action films ever made. And it is a pretty darn exciting film.

Anyway, I now have every Miyazaki film on DVD. As promised in a podcast several months ago, I will now watch them all and review them for the website!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Latest Targ's Up!

Got my latest episode of my podcast, The Targ all online and ready for your listening pleasure!

This week, it's Episode 52: Big Party in River City. I come to you live from Red Deer, as I take you to my sister's college graduation!

Give it a listen!

And, in case you're curious, I'm already planning next week's episode. June, as always, is the anniversary of my year in Japan, so I take a moment to commemerate the anniversary. I did so last year. I wasn't planning on ever doing a sequel, but I still a few stories to tell and a few songs to share, so next week, another celebration of Japan!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Year One

It's kind of weird, but kind of satsifying to be in my position. When I was hired, I was told that people only last at our radio station for about a year before moving on to bigger and better things. Reporters at the newspaper only last for around 10 months or so before being moved on. So here I am, at 13 months, the long-time vet in the Athabasca media.

I was reflecting on this the past couple of days as I covered Athabasca University's convocation. I mentioned it last year. AU's students from all across the world converge on Athabasca to have their moment across the stage and get their degrees. That kind of hammers home what AU tries to achieve. That AU is real. That it's a full-blown university, easily on par with the province's other universities.

But that's a blog entry for another day.

No...I'm just recalling how far I've come as a member of the press here. Being a reporter, I had to go to the front desk in the campus's main building to check in and get my press pass and all that. I remember last year. Having only been here a month, it was the first big thing I was to cover. I walked up to the receptionist, and this coversation played out.

Me>> Umm...hello.
Her>> Can I help you?
Me>> Uh, yeah. I'm the reporter with the radio station....

She got very excited at the mention of that. "RADIO STATION!! Which station? CBC? 630 CHED?"

Me>> Ummm, no. The station here in town.

Her look of excitment quickly switched to one of disappointment. It's like in those teen comedies, when the prom queen opens the front door to see that her blind date isn't the captain of the football team, but is, instead, well, me. With a heavy sigh, she gave a press pass and a media kit.

And now, we flash forward one year. Now, it plays out like this.

Me>> Hey, Dianne!
Her>> Hi Mark! Here's your package.
Me>> Thank you kindly.

It's not bad. Not bad at all.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Kevin Smith's Next Two Movies

Well, my hero, Kevin Smith, has just revealed the title of his next movie.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

It's about two friends who've known each other since high school, and when their 15 year high school reunion comes up, and when the real world intrudes, they decide to make some money by making pornographic films.

Smith calls it a "bawdy sex comedy with heart" and "Chasing Amy mixed with Clerks II with a bit of Boogie Nights and Bowfinger thrown in."

Smith hopes to start filming it in February...right after he finishes his horror movie, Red State. Red State should hopefully start filming in the fall.

In the meantime, it sure looks like cartoons of the 80s are the new hot commodity in Hollywood.

Transformers comes out in a month, it's been announced that a live-action He-Man is in development. And today, it was announced that work has begun on a live-action....


It'll be from Warner Brothers.

Call me when they finally get to GI Joe.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The 2012 Olympic Logo

Well, yesterday, the organizers of the 2012 Olympics in London, England unveiled the official logo of the games, and many agree: it's fugly!

Tessa Jowell, England's minister in charge of the Olympics, says it's "an iconic brand that sums up what London 2012 is all about -- an inclusive, welcoming and diverse Games that involves the whole country." The official website says it's "is dynamic, modern and flexible. It will work with new technology and across traditional and new media networks."

According to the BBC, 83% of Brits just don't like it. One message board called it makes them embarrased to be English.

I still want to go, though.

Monday, June 04, 2007

More on Augustana's New Library

Well, after yesterday's post about my old alma matter of Augustana University College (now the U of A: Augustana Campus) getting its new library, I had to e-mail the dean and get more information.

Well, he's the dean now. Back in the day, he was my PoliSci 210 prof.

Anyway, he told me that the groundbreaking ceremony was almost 5 weeks ago, and that they've almost got the basement dug. That big funding announcement was for "Phase II," and that'll begin construction hopefully in the summer or fall of next year. He tells me that he can see the construction from his office, and he hopes to see those orange construction fences for quite some time.

For those of you who aren't Augustana alumni, let me explain the significance of the new library. When I was a student there in the late 1990s, there was a sign on campus saying, "Future Site of the New Library." And that sign was there for sooooooooooooooo long that, well, to be blunt, it became a joke. It became one of those things that would never happen, like the seas boiling dry, or Carla Roberts going out with me.

but yet, there it is now. finally being built. And, not where the sign stood for all those years.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Yay for Augustana!

Hey hey! Big news for all my fellow Augustana alumni.

They're finally building their new library!

At Augustana's convocation last week, the MLA for Camrose made the big announcement that the government is kicking in another $16.8 million, bring the library fund up to $30 million.

The new building will be called the "Augustana Forum and Library." Besides hosting the library, it'll also host a slew of new offices for the admin, and have big, public spaces for people to hang out. AND, huge-ass new computer servers. More work for Arlo!

Here's the official news release at the Augustana website.

Now, cross your fingers that I'll be able to break a similar story for Athabasca University. AU has benn lobbying for months for some government funding to expand their campus up here. Since this announcement was made at Augustana's convocation, maybe there'll be some announcement at AU's convocation...?

Just thinking out loud here.