Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hello? Is anybody out there?

I was watching that classic episode of Corner Gas last night where people get sick and tired of hearing Hank's ramblings, so they tell Hank to start writing them down in a blog. But then of course, no one reads Hank's blog, so Hank gets all upset. And then Brent, the only one who actually reads Hank's blog, starts writing up "Hank's blog cheat sheets" for everyone, so people can pretend they're reading Hank's blog and not upset Hank. Then, because he gets sick of everyone asking him for the cheat sheets, Brent starts posting the cheat sheets online, thus inspiring him to start his own blog. But then, no one reads Brent's blog, so Hank and Brent just start talking to each other.

Anyway, that led me to believe that the millions of people who don't read this blog are probably not wondering where I went.

Nothing spectacular, I'm still off on Christmas vacation. I'm trying to spend as much of it off the grid as possible...no blogging, no Facebook, and most importantly, no checking company e-mail and fretting about how the office is surviving without me.

But still, I'm getting bored as hell, so it's time to check in on things.

Over here, we have the latest "final nail in the coffin" for VHS. Back on Boxing Day, the last remaining distributor of video tapes in the USA closed its doors. That means no more new videos will be popping up in discount bins all across the USA.

Other "final nails" include the last video tape being put out by a major Hollywood studio (that was A History of Violence, back in '06) and JVC, the electronics company that first started selling VCR's, announcing that they are discontinuing the manufacture of VCR's.

And, if that weren't enough, the experts are saying that DVD will have gone the way of VHS inside of four years, to be replaced by Blu-Ray.

In other news, I managed to hit the city and see The Spirit. Yeah...um...well, it is a movie.

As we all know, it was the first effort from comic book legend Frank Miller, and he's still figuring out things like "editing." Some things really feel disjointed, some scenes run on too long and its, well, really something else.

At the theatre where I saw it, around halfway through the film, a young man screamed out "THIS MOVIE'S FUCKIN' GAY!" and stormed out of the theatre.

While I would not describe the movie as "FUCKIN' GAY!", it definitly is not quite up to par.

Miller has already announced that his next film will be an adaptation of the classic pulp fiction hero Buck Rogers, so lets hope he learns from his mistakes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Few More Trailers

Don't you hate it when you have trouble sleeping and eventually you think, "Screw it, I'll just get up early?" I'm having one of those mornings. Since I am up early, I'm wasting some time watching some movie trailers online and just catching up on what's going on in the world of animated movies.

First up, we've got the new trailer for Dreamworks' latest animated opus, Monsters vs. Aliens. The title pretty much describes it all. When aliens invade the earth, the government decides to unleash an army of monsters to battle the aliens.

The monsters are led by Susan Murphy, aka Ginormica, who's hit by a meteorite on her wedding day, causing her to grow to 49.75 feet tall. (There's a joke in there as to why she's no 50 feet tall, but I've forgotten it.) She's voiced by Reese Witherspoon. The other monsters are the Missing Link, voice by Will Arnet (GOB on Arrested Development). Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D., a mad scientist with the head of a cockraoch. He's voice by Hugh Laurie, House on House. And B.O.B., a blue gelatinous blob voiced by Seth Rogan.

Other characters include the general who collected the monsters, W.R. Monger, voiced by Keifer Sutherland, and the President of the USA, voiced by Stephen Colbert.

Now, I'm usually pretty cynical towards Dreamworks films, as they popularized the "talking animals making fart jokes" formula that is currently dominating animated films. However, I'll root for anything that's not "talking animals making fart jokes," so this one may be worth a look.

Speaking of rooting for anything that's not "talking animals making fart jokes," next up is 9. Based on the Acadamey Award nominated short film of the same name, 9 is about sentient rag dolls in a post-apocolyptic world trying to redeem humanity. Think of this as WALL-E's Goth brother.

Written and directed by Shane Acker, who wrote and directed the original short film, and produced by Tim Burton, 9 features the voices of Eijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, John C. Riley, Martin Landau, and Christopher Plummer.

Oh, and here's the original film on YouTube, in case you want a greater taste of what you're in for.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

Another Sunday, means another episode of The Targ!

This week, we've got Episode 2.15: An Adult Christmas, in which I lament what Christmas now means to me, seeing as to how I'm a responsible adult and all that. We also talk about which of Time Magazine's buzzwords of 2008 started in Canada, and Sunshine Girls! Yay, Sunshine Girls!

So please, head on over to the main site and give it a listen!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Or, you can click on that button above and go subscribe to the Targ in iTunes.

I should also mention that The Targ is going to be gone for the next couple of weeks...going away on Christmas vacation, and will be far away from all my recording dohickeys.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I see it's -40 in Athabasca this morning, so it's time to play another exciting game of "Will my car start?" Even with my car plugged in, she just refuses to start on one morning in the winter when we hit -40. Is today the morning? We'll see....

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Christmas Scrapbook

Ladies and gentlemen, Christmas can mean only one thing...Christmas movies!

So here's my latest YouTube endeavour. My Christmas Scrapbook follows me as I go around to a couple of Athabasca Christmastime events, and chronicle my adventures.

Not gonna lie...I'm a little disappointed with this one. Because I tried to smoosh the two events into one film, the whole project just never really gelled. As Lucas tells us, films aren't released, they escape. And this one got away on me.

Damn it! I never finished that thought in the intro...one of the many reasons why I'm not pleased. Oh, well. That's why Lucas invented special editions.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Good News/Bad News

First, the good news.

It was announced today that Tim Robbins has joined the cast of Iron Man 2!

Robbins will be playing Howard Stark, the father of Tony Stark, in flashbacks. Director Jon Favreau says that Howard Stark plays a very integral role in the plot, and in setting up the forthcoming Avengers film, which is why he wanted a really, really good actor.

And now, the bad news.

Majel Barrett passed away today.

I blogged about her just last week. The widow of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Barrett had numerous roles in all of Star Trek. She was the nameless first office Number One in the original pilot The Cage...she was Dr. McCoy's head nurse Christine Chapel on The Original Series...and she played Deanna Troi's mother Lwaxana on The Next Generation. She also voice the Enterprise computer in every series.

Barrett had been battling leukemia for the past few years. She was 76.

Last week, it was announced that Barrett would be reprising her role as the voice of the Enterprise computer in the new Star Trek movie due out in May. It has been learned that, yes, she did finish voicing the computer.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wolverine Trailer!

So, if you listened to this week's podcast, then you probably heard my rant about prequels...which leads into this latest trailer.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a friend of mine told me that the popular fanboy musings for adapting X-Men to the silver screen would be to start off with a Wolverine solo film, which would end with Wolverine joining the X-Men. And then, you make X-Men.

Well, in this day and age, the popular way is to do things backwards, which meant the Wolverine film would be saved for a prequel.

And it's here!

X-Men Origins: Wolverine hits theatres on May 1, and it tells the tale of Wolverine...his childhood in Alberta...his time serving in the wars...his fateful recruitment into the Weapon X project. Hugh Jackman has gone on record as reminding us that, when we first meet Wolverine in the first X-Men film, he's cage-fighting in a bar in northern Alberta. Says Jackman, the end of this prequel, you'll be able to believe that Wolverine walked out of the wilderness and into that bar.

In addition to Jackman back as Wolverine one more time, Liev Schreiber takes over as Wolverine's arch-enemy Sabertooth, Danny Houston is the young General William Stryker, Lynn Collins is Wolverine's one-time love Silver Fox, Ryan Reynolds is his Weapon X teammate Deadpool, and Taylor Kitsch plays the one X-Man that people have been clamouring to see, Gambit.

Gavin Hood, still best known for the South African drama Tsotsi directs.

May 1 is when it hits theatres.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Howard finally comes to DVD

I have fantastic news for all you Marvel zombies and George Lucas apologists!

Howard the Duck is finally coming to DVD!

For those who have blocked it from your mind, Howard the Duck was based on the Marvel comic of the same name, about a walking, talking duck who is stranded on Earth. The movie turned it into a sci-fi epic, with Howard battling giant, stop-motion animated scorpions set to invade the Earth. Jeffery Jones played the evil scientists possessed by the boss scorpion, Lea Thompson was his hot, human girlfriend, and Tim Robbins was the nerdy scientist who helped them out.

It was written and directed by Willard Huyck, a longtime George Lucas collaberator who wrote American Graffiti and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was produced by George Lucas's Lucasfilm.

Howard the Duck was a gigantic bomb, reviled by critics, and is often regarded as the worst thing that George Lucas had his name attached to. Yes, even worse than the prequels.

But it's finally coming to DVD on March 10!

Bonus features include a half-a-dozen featurettes about the making of the film. And yes, they got the involvement of George Lucas and Willard Huyck and Stan Lee.

Suggested retail price is $14.98, meaning it's going straight to discount bins.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

Wow. What is it about me? 5:30AM on Sunday morning, and here I am, up before the Sun.

The plus thing is, you get a new episode of The Targ way, way early!

Today, it's Episode 2.14: Antecedent Action, wherein I talk about prequels, Anne of Green Gables, and Wayne and Shuster. Yup, I'm hitting my CanCon with this one!

So head on over to the Targ and download this week's episode!

And don't forget to subscribe in iTunes!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's the little things....

So, there was an announcement today on the new Star Trek movie that made the trekkies go, "Hey...I never thought of that! But JJ Abrams did, and it was a smart move!" And that decision is....

Majel Barrett will be reprising her role as the voice of the Enterprise's computer!

Barrett, of course, has done the voice of the ship's computer in every incarnation of Star Trek...except Enterprise, which took place before they had talking computers. But thanks to time-travel wackiness, she got to voice the computer in a couple of episodes.

In addition, she played the nameless first officer Number One in the original pilot, "The Cage." She played Dr. McCoy's head nurse, Christine Chapel, on the original series, and she played Lwaxana Troi, Councillor Troi's mother, on The Next Generation and a couple episodes of Deep Space Nine.

Another interesting fact...she did the voices of darn near every female guest star on the animated Star Trek series!

Plus, she was the wife of Star Trek's creator, Gene Roddenberry.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Terminator: Salvation Trailer

Ah, this is a great time of year to be a movie geek. Not only are the theatres filled with all kinds of holiday blockbusters and Oscar bait, but those magical, wonderful trailers showing us the first glimpses of next summer's blockbusters start popping up.

The latest one is for Terminator: Salvation. Thanks to the time travel wackiness of the Terminator franchise, this serves as both a prequel and a sequel, as we finally get our first film about the Future War against the machines.

This is actually one where my interest is very, very slim. The Terminator franchise is one that can be put to rest in my books. The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day form a very nice 2-part story. While I found Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines to be fairly entertaining, it was wholly unnecessary. And I haven't even tuned in to the new TV show yet, The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Anyway, it'll probably satisfy my thirst for giant robot mayhem until Transformers 2 comes out in July. We should be getting our first trailer for that in February.

For the vital stats: Christian Bale takes over as humanity's savior, John Connor. Bryce Dallas Howard is his wife and second-in-command Kate Connor. Anton Yelchin, soon to be seen as young Chekov in Star Trek, is the young Kyle Reese. Sam Worthington is Marcus Wright, a man with a shadowy past who just might be the newest Terminator to hunt down John Connor. Helena Bonham Carter is Serena, the lead villian. And Austrian bodybuilder/Arnold Schwarznegger lookalike Roland Kickinger takes over as the T-800.

The director is McG, who gave us the Charlie's Angels films.

May 2009.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

It's Sunday! New podcast day! This week's episode of U62: The Targ is....

Episode 2.13: Ramble Ramble, where I finally offer up my thoughts on the Star Trek trailer, discuss European condom sizes, and share my Christmas plans!

Go give it a listen!

And here I am on iTunes!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Quantum of Solace Review Up!

I saw it over a week ago, but I finally put up my review of the James Bond flick, Quantum of Solace!

Go read it!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

It's time for another fantabulous episode of U62: The Targ!

This week's podcast provides a very unique experience. When I did this one, I was suffering from the worst headache I'd had in ages. I had taken close to the allowable limit of Tylenol. And, I figured I still had to put on a show.

The end result? Episode 2.12: Work Through the Pain

Go give it a listen!

And subscribe in iTunes!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Reason to Vote

So, today, the Conservative government unveiled a "fiscal update" to try to address concerns with the upcoming economic downturn.

What's getting a lot of press right now is that the Conservative propose to do away with one of the federal subsidies to political parties. I've blogged about this in the past...if a political party gets more than 2% of the popular vote, then they get $1.75 for each ballot cast for them.

Well, the Conservative want to scrap that. The Tories say that the political parties should set a good example, "pay their own bills" and that "the free ride for political parties" has to stop.

The opposition parties are pissed, of course. They're calling it an attack on democracy. They're accusing the Tories of trying to cripple the opposition parties financially. According to this article at the CBC, the subsidy accounts for 65% of the Green Party's revenues, 86% of the Bloc Quebcois', and 63% of the Liberals.

As we all know, the Tories boycott the Ottawa Press Corp, claiming that the Ottawa Press Corp has the Liberal bias. So, this evening, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was doing the rounds via satallite on local news casts, selling this to Canadians.

I saw Flaherty getting interviewed by Daryl McIntyre on CTV Edmonton. The issue of the subsidy came up, and McIntyre asked, "But there are those who argue this subsidy combats voter apathy...that people will still get out and vote for their party, knowing that even if their candidate won't win, they'll still have done some good by giving some money to their party. Do you really want to get rid of this weapon in the war on voter apathy?"

Flaherty burst out laughing and said, "I've run in 6 elections, and I've never heard of anyone voting for that reason."

Well, Mr. Flahery, I know you probably don't read my blog, but this subsidy is the reason why I've voted in the past three elections. I don't agree with you and a lot of your party's policies, but I do know that this is Alberta, and no matter how many times I vote against you, you're going to get in.

The only reason I vote is to make sure that someone else gets another $1.75 to try to bring you down.

If you get rid of this subsidy, I'm going to start staying home on election days.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Star Trek Trailer: Special Edition

So, Paramount just release a new "special edition" of the Star Trek trailer. What did they add?

Leonard Nimoy as Spock!

As cool as this is, I just can't help but think that Paramount did this just to appease the fans. Trolling the Star Trek message boards, the trekkies who were screaming, "THIS IS A TRAVESTY TO ALL OF STAR TREK! GENE RODDENBERRY IS TURNING IN HIS GRAVE!" are now saying, "Leonard Nimoy brought a tear to my eye. I'm now cautiously optimistic."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Review: Futurama: Bender's Game

You know I don't consider straight-to-DVD movies worthy enough to be given full-blown movie reviews at my regular site, so they get stuck getting reviewed over here in the blog. I picked up my latest straight-to-DVD epic this weekend, so let's get reviewing!

Futurama: Bender's Game

Directed by Dwayne Carey-Hill

Starring the voices of Billy West, Katy Segal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, David Herman, Kath Soucie and the man, the legend, Frank Welker.

Backstory: All right, the third of the four Futurama straight-to-DVD movies has been unleashed upon us! The first one was awesome, the second one was good but not great, what will number 3 hold?

Plot: It's life as normal for the Planet Express crew. The rising price of dark matter (the substance that fuels spaceships in the Futurama-verse) is getting ridiculously high. This leads Professor Farnsworth to reveal the truth: dark matter was once a useless, inert substance until his experiments turned it into fuel. The Professor still has a crystal that could convert dark matter back into a useless substance. The crew then goes on a perilous quest to Mom's dark matter mine to destroy the dark matter and thus ruin Mom's monopoly on starship fuel. Meanwhile, Bender starts playing Dungeons and Dragons with Cubert and his friends, and his imagination goes into overdrive, making Bender believe that he actually exists in a magical realm called Cornwood. These two plotlines collide when a massive surge of energy from the dark matter turns our universe into Cornwood. Now stuck in a magical realm, Farnsworth's crystal has become a magical artifact of "One Ring"-type power, and its up to the crew to quest through this land and destroy the crystal. Can they do it? In various other subplots, the Planet Express ship gets trashed in a demolition derby, Leela gets outfitted with a shock collar that zaps her whenever her thoughts turn to violence, and we learn the shocking truth about Mom's son Igner.

What I Liked: There's a stronger plot in this one...it doesn't feel as episodic as The Beast with a Billion Backs. And there's something truly magical about George Takei screaming, "You ruined the franchise, Bakula!"

What I Didn't Like: The whole "Futurama" resurrection novelty is starting to wear off, and it feels like the creators aren't trying anymore. Let's hope they put their best foot forward for the fourth and final straight-to-video film.

Final Assesment: A good, solid Futurama outing.

3 Nibs

DVD Bonus Material:
  • Running commentary with the voice cast and crew
  • Animatics
  • Futurama Genetics Lab: Play "If They Mated" with the Futurama characters!
  • Dungeons & Dragons & Futurama: Featurette about making the film
  • How to Draw Futurama in 83 Simple Steps
  • 3D Models with Animator's Commentary
  • Deleted Scene
  • Blooperama 2: See the voice cast blowing their lines in the recording booth!
  • Bender's Anti-Piracy Warning
  • Trailer for the fourth and final film, Into the Wild Green Yonder, due out in the spring.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Newest Targ's Up!

Sunday morning. The promise of a new day. The promise of a new week. The promise of pancakes for breakfast. The promise of...a new episode of U62: The Targ!

This week, it's Episode 2.11: One Sad Panda. This panda is sad because Pushing Daisies got the boot. But, there's good stuff, too! I debate whether I should apply to be an Olympic torchbearer, and the epic crossover I've been waiting for since I was 8 years old has finally come to pass: MASK and G.I. Joe!

Click here to listen to it!

Click here to fine the Targ on iTunes!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Two Animated Films

My new favourite website is Trailer Addict. it's like YouTube, but it's all movie trailers, and they're all hi-res and in their proper aspect ratios. it's cool. And a couple of trailers just went up for two animated films coming out in 2009. They're not going to be the biggest animated films, but they're definitely the ones I'm most curious about.

First up, Coraline. Based on the children's novel by Neil Gaiman...brought to stop-motion animated life by Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and Giant Peach. Selick has been working on this for a long time...Selick himself bought the movie rights back in 2003...a year before Coraline was published! Gaiman was also involved in the script stage...not deeply involved, but always offering Selick his notes and input.

About the only thing that I don't like about this is when I read the history of the animation studio that made it, Laika Animation House. If you didn't buy Nike before, this'll really turn you off. Laika Animation House was originally Will Vinton Studios, the home of Will Vinton, who's patented Claymation process was quite famous in the late 1980s. But then, Phil Knight, founder of Nike, wanted to get into the animation biz. Knight bought Will Vinton Studios in a hostile takeover and fired Vinton. Vinton then sued Knight to get his name taken off the studio. I think Vinton's feelings can be summed up in the name of his new animation studio: Will Vinton's Free Will Entertainment.

Knight then hired Selick to be the new resident genius, and Coraline got to be their first project.

Dakota Fanning voices Coraline, Teri Hatcher voices the succubus-like Other Mother, and Keith David is the Cat.

Next up...one of the world's most beloved anime and manga franchise comes to computer animated life...Astro Boy. This is the second film to be put out by Imagi Studios. Imagi's first film was the computer animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Astro Boy looks to be in a similar mold...while the animation isn't mindblowing from a technical standpoint, it'll be quite faithful to the source material.

The creative genius behind this one is David Bowers. Bowers started as an animator in the UK, working on such cult-classic toons as Danger Mouse and Count Dukula. He then became a storyboard artist for Dreamworks, where he worked on Prince of Egypt, the Road to El Dorado and Shark Tale. He then went home to the UK and to work for Aardman Studios, where he was a storyboard artist on Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and making his directorial debut with Aardman's first CGI film, Flushed Away.

The celebrity voice cast includes Freddie Highmore as Astro, Nicholas Cage as Dr. Tenma (the scientist who built Astro), Bill Nighy (Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean films) as Dr. Elefun (the professor who raises Astro after Tenma's death), and, in roles that haven't been revealed yet, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Donald Sutherland, and Eugene Levy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The NAAW Discovery Zone

It's been a while since there's been something in Athabasca cool enough for me to film, but it finally happened a few days ago.

For those who don't have an AADAC in their community, this has been National Addictions Awareness Week. To celebrate, our local chapter of AADAC did this thing called the Discovery Zone, where all the facilities of the Athabasca Regional Multiplex were open for folks to try out.

So, here I am, goofing around at the NAAW Discovery Zone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Pushing Daisies" is Pushing Daisies

Well, I just had my heart broken.

It was just announced that Pushing Daisies has been canceled.

I've blogged a few times and mentioned in my podcast how friggin' AWESOME I thought this show was. But, I guess like most shows I love that are quirky and different and distinct, it wasn't meant to be....

If I may borrow the show's catchphrase, "The facts are these...."

Pushing Daisies was actually quickly climbing in the ratings when it first premiered a year ago, and was on its way to being a hit. But then, tragedy. The Writer's Strike. The ninth episode of its first season -- which aired almost a year ago -- wound up being the season finale.

And that seemed to have killed the momentum the show had. When it had its season premiere this year, it just wasn't catching on like it did last year.

Around two weeks ago, they finished filming the 13 episodes that were ordered for this season, and we all began waiting to see if it would get the full season pick-up. But, with the declining ratings, it didn't look good. And today, the word came...the show was done.

About the only people who are celebrating this are fans of Heroes. Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller was writing for Heroes in its first season, but then left when Pushing Daisies got picked up. Many Heroes fans say the show started declining in quality when Fuller left. And, Fuller said two weeks ago when they finished filming #13, that he'd gladly return to Heroes if the show wound up getting canceled.

But, all is not lost. Fuller has already said that he'd like to wrap up the show's loose ends -- and maybe even continue the story -- in graphic novel form, so there's always that.

And a soundtrack album is due out on December 16, so you know I'll be picking that up.

The only question now is when do I buy it on DVD? The complete first season came out back in September. Should I buy it now and wait for season 2 to be released? Or wait until season 2 comes out, and then buy the whole series in one fell swoop?

And I still say "Olive Snook" was one of the best names for a TV character ever.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Childhood Nostalgia Overload

Being the action figure collector that I am, this has been a good couple of years. Thanks to 80s nostalgia and all that, everything I played with as a kid has been re-made and re-released in collector's editions, allowing me to buy everything that I wanted as a kid but couldn't get.

One thing that I've really been enjoying are Hasbro's 25th anniversary re-releases of G.I. Joe figures. The Joes I played with as a kid, on shelves once again, for around the same price. I've got Snake-Eyes. I've got Cobra Commander. I've got the Baroness. For a while, it seemed as though life was good. They've even been making popular characters from the comics and cartoons who were never made into action figures before.

Then my other G.I. Joe collectin' buddy sent me this picture he found online, and I went into 80s nostalgia overload. Code name: Specialist Trakker.

Yes, that is Matt Trakker, the leader of MASK reborn as a member of G.I. Joe.

According to Matt Trakker's file card, in this new G.I. Joe/MASK merged universe, MASK is now an elite division withing G.I. Joe, similar to Battle Force 2000 and Tiger Force. MASK's enemy VENOM is now an elite division of Cobra. And once again, they do battle.

All I can say is this is totally awesome. I have yet to walk into one of those collector's specialty shops and spend around $50 on a figure, but I just might have to do it with this one.

I just hope that Hasbro takes it to the next logical step, and at least produces Miles Mayhem, the leader of VENOM, as a Cobra agent.

Beauty and the Beast: 3D Special Edition

Well, the Walt Disney Company keeps finding new and exciting ways to rape your childhood.

It was announced today that Disney will be taking their 1991 classic animated film Beauty and the Beast and converting it to 3D.

The original directors, Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, are on board with this. They're going to supervise the "3-D-ification" process, which is going to be carefully done using the original digital files that Disney has carefully archived and preserved over the past 17 years.

They figure it'll take 10 months to convert it to 3D.

Beauty and the Beast: 3D Edition will be hitting theatres in 2010.

Is 3D really the next trend in filmmaking? Or is it as Spielberg predicts, and just a kneejerk reaction to the rising popularity of DVDs and home theatres?

Time will tell.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WALL-E and Wonder Woman

Just want to take a moment to remind everyone that Wall-E is on DVD today! I'm planing on running into the city and picking it up this weekend when I go see the new James Bond and start on the Christmas shopping.

Wall-E is one of those DVD's that's almost worth buying just for the bonus features. This is the first 2-disc special edition of a Pixar film since The Incredibles. You get the usual assortment of deleted scenes, running commentaries, and a new, original animated short film. But the centerpiece among the bonus features is the film The Pixar Story.

The Pixar Story is a feature length documentary that hit theatres last year and was quite critically acclaimed. As you can gather from the title, the movie is the history of Pixar, chronicling its journey from the computer animation R&D division of Industrial Light and Magic to the #1 computer animation studio today. It was written and directed by Leslie Iwerks. Iwerks is the granddaughter of Ub Iwerks, the legendary animator.

But yeah. I've heard good things about The Pixar Story.

And we finally have a release date and DVD stats for DC's next straight-to-DVD animated film Wonder Woman.

I've been enjoying the DC straight-to-DVD animated films so far, and I'm really looking forward to this one. Well, a release date of March 9 has just been locked in. It'll be available in both single-disc and 2-disc special editions. On the 2-disc special edition, you'll be getting this for bonus features:

Wonder Woman: A Subversive Dream - A featurette about Wonder Woman's origins and evolution through the comics.

Wonder Woman: The Daughters of Myth - A featurette on the actual Greek legends of the Amazons and how much of it is worked into the Wonder Woman universe.

Running commentary with DC president Gregory Noveck, producer Bruce Timm, director Lauren Montgomery, and writer Michael Jelenek.

Bruce Timm's Top Picks - 4 Wonder Woman-centric episodes of Justice League.

Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess - Your standard "making-of" featurette.

Sneak Peak - A trailer for the next straight-to-DVD animated film, which is still TBA.

March 9!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Wait is Over: The Star Trek Trailer

Back home, I've got this very interesting book. It's called Star Trek: Phase II -- The Lost Series. For those who don't know, Paramount actually considered making a new Star Trek TV series back in the late-1970s. It was to be called Star Trek: Phase II and be the flagship series of a new Paramount TV network.

But then two things happened to turn Star Trek: Phase II into the next incarnation of Star Trek. Paramount canceled their plans for the network, and Star Wars hit at the box office. Wanting a sci-fi franchise for the big screen, the pilot episode for Star Trek: Phase II was filmed and released in theatres as Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Anyway, Star Trek: Phase II -- The Lost Series details all the extensive conceptual and pre-production work that went into the Star Trek series that never was.

In the book's epilogue, the authors pose a "What If?" What if Star Trek never became the pop culture icon it now is? What if Star Trek were just another fondly remembered TV show from the 1960s that is just now being resurrected and turned into a movie? They paint a scenario where Star Trek is remade as a big budget action film with Arnold Schwarznegger as Captain Kirk, Nicholas Cage as Spock, and Whitney Houston as Uhura.

It sounds a little ridiculous, and it kind of was. But still, that question has rattled around in my head for some time. What if Star Trek never became the pop culture icon it now is? What if Star Trek were just another fondly remembered TV show from the 1960s that is just now being resurrected and turned into a movie?

It seems that JJ Abrams and the makers of the new Star Trek film are trying to answer that question. To me, that question sums up what they're trying to do.

Part of me thinks that this trailer is fan-freakin'-tastic. I've always wanted to see a Star Trek film that was truly epic in size and scope, and it looks like we're finally getting it.

The other part of me is flashing back to the pilot episode of Enterprise. There's a scene in the opening where Trip and T'Pol are in decontamination, 3/4 naked, and rubbing a medicinal ointment on each other. Never had my friends and I seen such gratuitous nudity in Star Trek! We couldn't help but feel that it wasn't...right for Star Trek.

As cool as I think this trailer is, I've still got a quiet little nagging voice in the back of my head going, "This isn't right for Star Trek."

Going back now to Star Trek: Phase II -- The Lost Series, the point that the authors were trying to make with their "What If?" scenario was that they attributed Star Trek's longevity with the fact that Star Trek has always been able to change and adjust to the times.

But has Star Trek truly adapted to the 21st Century? Or is it just catering to fads?

We'll know for certain on May 9

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

Another Sunday, another spine-tingling podcast for you!

This week, it's Episode 2.10: Stuff I Like. I urge you to save Pushing Daisies, I give an update on the Captain America movie, and talk about how this has been a great weekend for geek!

Go give it a listen!

Or, you know, you can click here to go subscribe in iTunes

Wow...I can't help but notice that, when I'm struggling for a title for a podcast, I always stick the word "stuff" in the title. I'm starting to think I should go back to a naming convention I used in high school, when I was writing computer programs in my spare time. I would always title experimental programs "stuf," with the number of f's indicating which project it was. Untitled project #1 was "stuf," project #2 was "stuff," project #3 was "stufff," and so on.

I think I should use that for when I don't know what to title a podcast....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reflecting on Indy

Just another Saturday night alone at home, so I got the DVD player running. I'm watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull again. I dunno...I thought it was good, but not great. For me, it hit all the fanboy expectations and presented pretty much everything I wanted in a fourth Indy outing. The only thing it didn't have was someone like Jet Li playing the grown-up Short Round. Maybe if they make that fabled fifth Indy....

But the one thing that really struck me as odd when pouring through the DVD's bonus material is exactly how long George Lucas has wanted to make this film. Apparently, having the crystal skulls be the artifacts that Indy hunts down is an idea that's been in his head for a long, long time. When I first discovered the Internet and movie gossip sites around 10 years ago, I kept reading that George Lucas wanted the fourth one to be about Indy meeting aliens in the fabled Roswell UFO crash, and that Lucas wanted to call it Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars. In one of the featurettes, Lucas talks about coming up with the title, and what's the first thing Lucas says? "Originally, I wanted to call it Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men." And, the Roswell crash does a play a part in the plot of the film.

And then Spielberg also mentions how long Lucas had been pursuing this idea. Spielberg says he was almost convinced to do it...but then Independence Day came out, and Spielberg said, "George, I don't want to do aliens now! This movie, Independence Day, has taken the alien concept as far as it can go!" And then, Spielberg spends a good 5 minutes gushing about how much he loved Independence Day. Now, I'd known for some time that Spielberg delayed his remake of War of the Worlds because he realized it would be far too similar to Independence Day. But dude, ID4 came out 12 years ago! Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has been kicking around since at least 1996!

Hearing all this stuff really makes me want to seek out the Frank Darabont script. We all know the story, right? About 5 years ago, it was announced that Darabont would be scripting Indy 4. Darabont directed The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile...he also has his Indiana Jones cred, having written and directed a couple episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. So, Darabont wrote his script...and Lucas found it unsatisfactory and rejected it. When Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out back in the summer, Darabont's script was finally leaked online. Many Indy fans deemed it a lot darker...and infinitely better.

But actually, one thing I read about on the message boards that is really confirmed in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is how thematic films scores seem to be on the decline. You know what I mean, right? I'm talking about how individual characters have their own theme, and they get played quite prominently when that character appears.

However, Indy has a great thematic score. Mutt Williams has this theme...since he's Indy's son, it's kind of like the Indiana Jones theme played backwards. The crystal skull also has a nice, eerie theme that's played whenever its power is unleashed. Plus, themes from films past are used quite frequently in the score. When the Russians raid that big government warehouse in the beginning - the warehouse that we know to the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant - we hear the Ark's theme played again. Whenever Indy talks about his recently deceased father, we hear the Holy Grail's theme from Last Crusade. It really is quite a good score...I'm surprised I don't own it yet.

I wonder if they are going to make that fifth film...when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull hit, many were quick to point out that, back in the day, Lucasfilm signed the deal with Paramount for 5 Indy films. Will we get the fifth one? Will I get to see Jet Li play the grown up Short Round?

As soon as I find out, you'll be the first to know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2012 Trailer

Roland Emmerich. Around 10 years ago, I proudly called him one of my favourite directors. And that was just because he made one of my favourite movies...Independence Day. Say what you will, but it's still probably one of the best-made films of the "event picture" genre. Hell, on the DVD bonus features for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Steven "God's gift to filmmaking" Spielberg gushes over ID4.

Then Emmerich did the Americanized Godzilla...a flawed Godzilla film, to be sure, I still watch it from time-to-time. And let's not forget that he spawned the science-fiction franchise known as Stargate.

I still really enjoy those three films...I think it's because that a key in all those films is, as the climax approaches, it falls to the super-geek to save the day. Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day...James Spader in Stargate...Matthew Broderick in Godzilla.

But then...the allure of Emmerich wore off. He made the Mel Gibson American Revolution epic The Patriot. then he split with his creative partner Dean Deviln. Then he just kind of disappeared.

He returned in 2004 with the disaster epic The Day After Tomorrow. He seems confident that he's found his formula now...epic disaster films.

After attempting to branch out with the caveman epic 10,000 BC, he's going back to his well for another epic disaster film, 2012.

Many ancient cultures -- the Mayans in particular -- predict that the world will end in the year 2012. So, in 2012 the epic disaster is...the Apocalypse.

The super-nerd who saves the day is John Cusack.

July 2009.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The New Enterprise! / Batman vs. Batman

Well, gang, here it is. The most anticipated picture from the new Star Trek film. The fans have been demanding to see this from day one, and today it was unleashed on the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the newly redesigned starship Enterprise...no bloody A, B, C or D.

I'm liking it, except for a few minor quibbles. The nacelles look a little off and the neck covers too much of the drive section, but other than that, it's fairly faithful to the original Enterprise on the original series.

Oh, and don't forget. The new trailer is going to be in front of Quantum of Solace this Friday. Paramount has already announced that it'll be going online in hi-def Quicktime on Monday morning.

So, Christopher Nolan and Warner Brothers are about to be dragged through the courts. The makers of the Dark Knight are being sued by the city of Batman, Turkey.

It seems that the makers of the Batman films never got permission from the city of Batman to use the name "Batman." "There is only one Batman in the world," says Huseyin Kalkan, the mayor of Batman. "The American producers used the name of our city without informing us." Kalkan also maintains that the makers of The Dark Knight are responsible for several unsolved murders and a high suicide rate, because The Dark Knight had a negative impact on Batman's residents.

The official statement from Warner Brothers is that the first they heard of this was through the press, and that they'll wait until they're officially served before commenting further. And, as many geeks have pointed out, nowhere in this lawsuit do they name DC Comics, who've published Batman comics for almost 70 years, or Bob Kane, who created Batman back in 1939.

Doing some looking online, the Turkish city of "Batman" gets its name from the nearby Bati Raman Mountains. Apparently, "Bati Raman" is commonly shortened to "Batman."

Here's the complete story.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Joe Jonston doing Captain America

Well, Marvel Studios is just trucking along with adapting their comic book characters for the big screen.

Today, Marvel announced that they've signed Joe Johnston to direct the movie version of Captain America. Some of Johnston's previous films include October Sky, Jumanji, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Johnston was Spielberg's first and only choice to do Jurassic Park III. Johnston's next film will be a re-make of the classic 1940's horror film, The Wolf Man.

We don't have a writer yet, but Marvel has made it clear they want it set in World War II, with Captain America fighting the Nazis and his arch-enemy, the Red Skull. And Johnston truly is the right guy for the job in my mind, as Johston also did that other "superhero in World War II" film, The Rocketeer.

So, to re-cap, here's everything that Marvel has on the go:

May 2010: Iron Man 2. Jon Favreau is coming back to direct.

July 2010: Thor. No director yet, but rumor has it Kenneth Branagh is close to signing.

May 2011: The First Avenger: Captain America. See above for all the deets. Here's hoping they change that title.

July 2011: The Avengers. No director signed as of yet.

And let's not forget.... That's everything that Marvel is doing in-house. They've still got a lot of their characters sold to other movie studios right now. 20th Century Fox has the big Wolverine solo film coming out in May, plus Fox is also planning a re-boot of Daredevil. And, Sony also wants to give us a fourth Spider-Man film.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Latest Targ's Up! Latest Movie Review Up!

Well, it's another Sunday, so that means another episode of U62: The Targ!

This week, we've got Episode 2.9: Witty Title TBA. We talk about The Graysons, Up and I continue obsessing over cataloging my DVDs.

Listen here!

And, it's been a week, but I finally have my review up of Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

You can read that You can read that right here.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Up Trailer

So, the new trailer for Pixar's next animated epic, Up, went online today....

Gotta say...Pixar's been rather secrative about this one. Maybe it's because of the Disney merger and they weren't able to start the promotional blitz until now. That's one might eye-catching trailer, though.... It doesn't give me goosebumps, the way the trailer for Wall-E did.

As I said, there's still not much known about this. The creative force behind it is Pete Docter, who directed Monsters, Inc. and the English dub of Howl's Moving Castle.

All questions will be answered May 29.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Ever-Expanding Catalogue

I've spent the past 24 hours, hunched over my keyboard in an obsessive fervor, cataloging my DVDs.

For quite some time, I've been wanting to get some kind of DVD database software for my computer so I can get my DVD collection into some semblance of order. A friend of mine was showing off his DVD cataloging program around 6 or 7 years ago, and I thought it was really cool. All you had to do was punch in the barcode on the back of the DVD, and it would automatically download all the DVD information. I forgot what it was called, though, so I've been looking for programs that let me do that.

And I think I found it with DVD Profiler. I'm really enjoying the program...I'm tempted to spend the $30 registration fee to unlock all the features. I've got all my DVDs in the system now...all 283.

So I can now pour through the latest additions in my stockpile!

When I went into Edmonton back on the weekend, I had to pick up The Incredible Hulk: 3 disc Special Edition. I did like this new, Edward Norton Hulk. Granted, it has its flaws. The plot is formulaic as hell and Liv Tyler comes across as so sleepy for most of the film...but it does have a lot more of that "Hulk SMASH!" action that we all know and love. I couldn't help but watch it in the theatre and think, "My God! Why can't a Superman movie have a climactic battle like this?" I think I was thinking that because the movie version of the Abomination looked kind of like Doomsday.

It's nicely loaded with bonus features...there's a whole slew of deleted scenes. We get a lot more of Betty's boyfriend in the deleted scenes, who is revealed to be Doc Samson.

All things considered, I really hope we get a direct sequel to The Incredible Hulk. They did a fantastic job of setting up the Leader to be the villain.

I also snatched up Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. When it comes to that film, I'm kind of like Butters from South Park. While everyone is going on and on about how Lucas & Spielberg raped Indy, I'm just standing there going, "I thought it was OK." Before I went to see it, I read an interview with Lucas. Lucas said that the Indy films always drew their inspiration from the movie serials of the 1930s and 40s. However, Indy 4 was set in the 1950s, and the movie serials were replaced with science-fiction B-movies. So, Lucas said, his intention with Indy 4 was to do it in the vein of a science-fiction B-movie. When you have that in the back of your mind, it's a bit easier to take.

But still, save the aliens for Star Wars, Lucas!

I got the 2-disc special edition, but I haven't even touched the bonus features yet. I'm looking forward to them.

And the third DVD I got was Sold Out: A Threevening with Kevin Smith. As I'm sure you can tell by the title, this is #3 in the An Evening with Kevin Smith series. I've actually never seen the first two on store shelves...I always had to special-order them online. So when I saw Sold Out on the store shelves, I knew I had to snatch it up.

The first An Evening With Kevin Smith was edited together from performances Smith did at a half-a-dozen colleges across the USA. An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder was made of two shows: one in Toronto and one in London. The third one is a complete Q&A that Smith did in his hometown of Red Bank, New Jersey to celebrate his 37th birthday. (Because, as we all know, the number 37 has a special significance in Clerks.)

Once again, it's a very solid, very entertaining DVD. If you liked Smith's stories about Prince and writing a Superman movie, you're going to love his story about filming his scenes in Live Free or Die Hard and Bruce Willis.

For bonus materials, you get a ton of deleted scenes. the main show is made up of Smith's half-hour long answers...the deleted scenes are 5-minute long answers, still just as entertaining.

So that's what I'm working my way through right now. I've got to pull myself away from the keyboard now. I'm getting a horrible headache from staring at this monitor.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Futurama III out Today!

Just have to take a moment to acknowledge one of the biggest DVDs out today.

Futurama: Bender's Game is the third Futurama straight-to-DVD movie! The creators have called it their first real foray/swipe at Lord of the Rings and other epic fantasy tales.

The plot involves Fry and the rest of the Planet Express crew being transported into a magical realm as they try to solve the galaxy's shortage of dark matter...dark matter being the fuel that powers spaceships. In the magical realm, Leela gets turned into a centaur named "Leegola," and Fry gets turned into a Gollum-like being dubbed "Frydo."

For bonus materials, you get a running commentary with various members of the crew and voice cast, the "Futurama Genetics Lab" game, the featurette "Dungeons & Dragons & Futurama," which points out how the whole thing was inspired by D&D, a blooper reel, and a trailer for the fourth and final Futurama straight-to-DVD film, Into the Wild Green Yonder, due out in the spring.

Yeah, that's what that movie needs...MORE footage -- Mego Spider-Man complaining about the extended director's cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

I share that quote because it's my reaction to the biggest WTF? DVD release of today...

The 2-disc, extended edition director's cut of...Waterworld!

This new cut of the film now runs 3 hours and 20 minutes long, adding 40 minutes back into the film. Apparently, we get a lot more character development and a lot more plot and people are starting to say that yes, it actually is a better film.

But still, I don't think the world was clamoring for this one.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

New Targ's Up!

Well, it's Sunday, so that means I have a new episode of U62: The Targ!

Not gonna lie...kinda phoned it in this week. Just didn't have much to talk about. I brag about my new massage chair, Athabasca's new Canadian Tire, I wonder about the correct pronunciation of "Calgary,"...oh! And I review Zack and Miri Make a Porno!

Give it a listen!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tennant Leaves Who

Well, I was having a bit of a rough day, and things just got a little bit darker.

David Tennant announced today that he's stepping down from the role of Doctor Who.

Tennant gives a multitude of reasons as to why he's stepping down, but the one that stuck with me is that he said it's best to give it up while it's still fun, and before it becomes a chore, which I think is good advice when it comes to any job.

Here's the BBC's official article, so you can read all the reasons for yourself.

Sadly, though, this comes as no surprise...it was already announced several months ago -- nay, almost a year ago -- that there would be no season 5 next year. Instead, to better accomodate Tennant's schedule, next year, instead of a whole season, they're just going to do 5 TV specials. (From what I gather, "TV specials" is British TV speak for "TV movies," lest you think the Doctor's going to be hosting some singing and dancing variety thing.) So when they finally come back for that fifth season in 2010, we'll have a new Doctor.

I think I've blogged several times before that Doctor Who was one of those aspects of geek culture that I always had difficulty getting into. I always found it low-budget and kind of cheezy, and that early-electronica theme song just weirded me out.

I guess you could say my "gateway Doctor" was the now-infamous American-made TV movie. For those who don't know the story, when the BBC put Doctor Who on hiatus back in 1989, rather than end it all together, they thought that they'd shop around the franchise to various other production companies, to see what fresh eyes could bring to the franchise. The Fox Network in the USA thought they'd give it a shot, and they produced a Doctor Who TV movie in 1996 in the hopes of starting an American-made series. The film didn't do well enough to go to series, but I watched it, and I liked it.

And then, when this new series debuted in the year 2005, I tried it again, and was once again hooked.

So, there we go. I'll probably stick with the show, because it's still one of the most unique sci-fi shows on right now, but Tennant will forever be my first.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

Time to herald in the new week with a new episode of my podcast, U62: The Targ!

This week, I have Episode 2.7: Brilliant, But Cancelled. This one is stuffed full of rants about Doctor Who, Sports Night, Speed Racer and all things television-related.

Go give it a listen!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Changing Face of the Media

It's been a couple of weeks, but I'm still dwelling on my Facebook spat with my learned colleague at Athabasca's newspaper about "journalistic integrity" and "whatever you say on Facebook is open for criticism" and stuff like that.

It came to the fore this week because I was made aware of a story that's currently causing shockwaves through the Edmonton Oilers fandom.

Long story short: the Oilers have banned bloggers from their press box.

The details, as I understand them. It was the Oilers' home opener a few weeks back. A reporter was there, covering the game for a news organization called Sports Ticker. In his spare time, he also blogs about the Oilers on an Oilers-centric blog called Covered in Oil. He thought, while he was in the press box covering the game, he may as well open up Blogger and do a liveblog on the home opener.

Well, apparently, he wasn't too impressed with the Oilers performance in the first period, and his liveblog was quite a swear-filled rant. The Oilers organization caught wind of this, shut him down, gave him the boot, and has decided to ban bloggers from the press box.

Again, going back to my earlier argument about journalistic credentials being a cheap commodity...the Oilers revealed that they are flooded with requests from bloggers to have access to the press box so they can cover the game. In fact, I read about this at the blog of Edmonton Journal columnist David Staples, which is now dedicated to the Oilers. Granted, I'm no hockey nut, but I enjoy Staples' writing, so I read it.

Many argue that our Covered in Oil blogger got the boot not because he was a blogger, but because of the content of his blog. When I was going to NAIT, the TV news instructor taught us that sports journalism is the only kind of journalism where a bias is expected. The reporter is always expected to root for the home team. You start being too critical of the organization and, well, stuff like this happens.

However, it does reflect that changing face of the media in our information age. Many years ago, when I first started developing my online presence, a friend and I were chatting about how these "online journals" were going to change things. It was always hoped that blogs would shed light on so many news stories that usually don't get picked up by the mainstream press. I read a study about a year ago that said, sadly, that's not the case, and that all most blogs are doing right now are regurgitating wire stories.

But still. Let's look at it. You don't have to spend four years to get some fancy journalism degree anymore. You don't have to get hired on by a newspaper for backing. All you have to do is get online.

Another thing they taught me at NAIT: reporters don't get any special privileges. They have the same rights as anybody.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Money for Milk Jugs

A long time ago, when I worked at that wretched hive of scum and villany known as Extra Foods, my co-workers and I quite frequently pondered this question.

and that is, how come you can't take your plastic milk jugs to the bottle depot and get money back for them?

It's a question I still find myself pondering, especially here in Athabasca, where the place you take your milk jugs to be recycled is up at the bottle depot. I toss my milk jugs in the big recycle bin out front, and then head inside to drop off my empty bottles and get me some comic book money.

Well, I guess the provincial government must have heard me.

One of the coolest things about my former job as the news hound is that I still get all the provincial government news releases in my inbox. And today, the government announced that Alberta will become the first province in the nation where you'll be able to take your milk containers to the bottle depot and get your money back.

Along with this, the deposits you have to pay are going up. It'll now cost you a dime for a container less than a litre, and a quarter for those a litre or more.

That means you'll have to pay a quarter deposit on a milk jug, but you'll get a quarter back!

You can start taking your milk jugs to the bottle depot on June 1, 2009.

Here's the official government news release.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

You know the drill. Sunday morning. New podcast.

Episode 2.6: My Heroes

Updates on Weird Al and Kevin Smith.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Stockpile

It's quite well known that I love DVDs. I can't help myself. It's almost like an addiction. Sometimes, I fear I have too many. The only time I really feel disgusted with myself is when I have a whole bunch of new DVDs. I get this little stockpile of new DVDs next to my TV, and sometimes, it takes me a while to get through them.

So I'm spending this weekend going through the stockpile.

Right now, I'm nearing the end of the first season of Sports Night. So I'm one of those people that thinks Aaron Sorkin is just one of the most brilliant writers in Hollywood right now. He wrote such classic films as A Few Good Men and The American President. His forays into television include The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Sports Night was his first venture into television. So, when they released Sports Night: The Complete Series -- 10th Anniversary Edition a few weeks back, I dipped into my savings and snatched it up.

For those who don't remember, Sports Night was quite critically acclaimed in its initial run, but it never really found an audience. It just barely made it through two seasons. However, I was one of the few watching it in its initial run, and I was hooked.

Well, actually, I did miss around the first half of season 2. You know, how sometimes, you miss your favourite TV show for a few months? And then, you sit down one evening, eager to catch up on what you missed? Usually, one of two things happens. You've completely lost interest, and the show now bores you, or you find the show has gotten bad and you think, "God, I'm glad I stopped watching this."

Sports Night had that rare third option. I started watching it again halfway through that second season and thought, "My God. This is a brilliant show! I forgot how amazing it is! I must start watching it again!" And you do.

Sports Night takes place at the fictional Continental Sports Channel (i.e. TSN), and it's all about the behind-the-scenes goings-on at their nightly all sports-news show Sports Night. (i.e. SportsCentre)

And it's just a great show. I'm watching it again on DVD, and once again I'm thinking, "My God. This is a brilliant show! I forgot how amazing it is!" It's been 10 years since I've seen most of these episodes, and a lot of the characters' monologues are still burned in my mind. Watching these DVDs...has been serving to remind me of those whole monologues.

Sports Night rocks, and I suggest you pick it up.

I also finally broke down and bought The Black Cauldron on DVD. The Black Cauldron is one of my favourite Disney animated films. My VHS copy is getting pretty worn out, and when I saw it in the discount bin, I knew I had to strike.

I explained to a friend one time why it's so rare to find Disney animated films in the discount bins. Mainly, it's because of their "Disney vault" strategy. Most of their animated films on DVD go out of print and thrown in the vault before they become discount bin fodder. So I counted my lucky stars when I saw The Black Cauldron for only $10.

Many cool things about the DVD. Firstly, it's in widescreen. Disney has only made three films that were designed and optimized for a widescreen format: Sleeping Beauty, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and...The Black Cauldron. So I'm finally seeing it the way it was meant to be seen.

And it's got a few neat bonus features on it, too. It has a still gallery. At first, I thought it would be the usual assortment of publicity photos. But the still gallery actually turned out to be quite an extensive collection of concept art, character designs, and such forth.

I completely geeked out when there was a whole gallery dedicated to Tim Burton's character designs. You know Tim Burton...one of my favourite directors, gave us such classics as Beetlejuice, the 1989 Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish and, most recently Sweeny Todd. Well, he actually began his career as an animator at Disney. He did a lot of character designs and concept art for The Black Cauldron. And, as the legend goes, when the Disney bosses rejected it all, Burton grew disillusioned with animation and decided to go make live-action films. I always wanted to see his Black Cauldron designs, and now I have.

There's also pictures of the Black Cauldron ride at Tokyo Disneyland. I went on the Black Cauldron ride at Tokyo Disneyland. To be confronted by an animatronic Horned King and an animatronic army of his Cauldron Born (i.e. undead army)...well, I think that was the one day I geeked out the most.

And I know have pictures.

So, again, The Black Cauldron on DVD, highly recommended, especially if you can snatch it up for $10, and I sadly don't think we'll be getting a 2-disc special edition any time soon.

Oh, and lest you think that all I get is obscure stuff, I picked up Iron Man, too.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Zack and Miri Almost Here!

Kevin Smith fanboy that I am, I'm counting down to Zack and Miri Make a Porno, less than two weeks away. However, even though it's almost here, Smith is still running into trouble with the ads.

You remember the poster, right? They got the two stick figures on it, and it says, "Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks made a movie so titillating, we can only show you this drawing." It was designed to avoid controversy, but it's now creating controversy.

Several cities are refusing to put up the posters in their bus shelters for ads. The argument is the stick figures make kids think it's a kids movie, so it's not going to be long before the kids start saying to their parents, "What does 'titillating' mean?" and "I wanna see that Porno movie!"

So, the solution is, they've come up with yet another poster. They've removed the title, and re-worked the tag line so now it reads, "Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks made a movie so outrageous, we can't even tell you the title."

Man, I hope it's a good movie. I've read nothing but good reviews so far.

Here's the original news article.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pictures to get any red blooded Trekkie excited.

2008 has been a frustrating year for Trekkies. We got the first teaser for the new Star Trek film in front of Cloverfield. We were told the second trailer would be coming in front of Indiana Jones Gets Raped by Lucas & Spielberg, and thus would begin a massive promotional blitz for the film's eventual December release.

But then, tragedy struck. Paramount actually saw a rough cut of Star Trek. Paramount deemed the film to be too...good. It was amazing! It was fantastic! It was so good, that they weren't going to waste it as a Christmas release. It was summer blockbuster worthy! The release date got moved from Christmas 2008 to May 2009. Not only would we have to wait six more months for the film...we'd have to wait six more months for the promotional blitz.

There was no trailer in front of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. No promotional blitz started up. When asked about it in interviews, the actors would say how they were sworn to secrecy, and that they couldn't say anything.

The Trekkies were growing desperate for anything--ANYTHING--new about the film. But nothing came.

But, the light is now at the end of the tunnel. With the new film slated for May 2009, that means the six month promotional blitz begins NOW. It's already been announced that the long-awaited second trailer will be in theatres next month, most likely in front of Quantum of Solace.

And the first photos from the film went online yesterday!

I'm going to share my favourite photo...you can find the others online. He were are, on the new bridge of the Enterprise, showing us our first clear shot of the new crew.

From left to right, that's Anton Yelchin as Chekov, Chris Pine as Kirk, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Karl Urban as Bones, John Cho as Sulu, and Zoe Saldana as Uhura.

I like it so far, but it's vaguely reminiscient of Galaxy Quest.

That new trailer can't get here soon enough.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fighting Voter Apathy

Well, here it is, the big election night. I've got the TV tuned to the CBC, and they're already predicting another Conservative government. The only question now is minority or majority. In my home riding of Fort McMurray--Athabasca, they're already declaring a victory for the Conservatives.

Needless to say, I'm kind of enjoying it this year. I'm at home, in my jammies, watching the coverage on TV. The past couple of elections -- the municipal one and the provincial one -- I've been down at the station, covering things live and broadcasting results as soon as they're known. A good portion of me is relieved that I'm not doing that anymore.

Now, in the past, I ran across a couple of people who proudly told me that they refuse to vote. Their reason? "No one worth voting for." A common debate on our system is whether you vote for the person or the leader. Well, these people are choosing neither.

So then, may I make this humble suggestion? Why not vote for the party?

Did you know that political parties get federal funding? It's true! If the party gets more than 2% of the popular vote, then they get $1.75 for every ballot cast for them. It came to light around two or three federal elections ago, when the Green Party was finally on the cusp of breaking 2%.

So I suggest you ask yourself which party is most worthy of your donation of $1.75? Is there a party that you think is feisty and earned your $1.75? Then vote for them!!

And another thing too...look to see if there are any fringe parties in your riding. Communist Party? Marijuana Party? Natural Law Party? Don't you think that candidate would be tickled pink if they actually got a vote cast for them?

So, if you think there's no one worth voting for, I suggest casting your ballot for a fringe party! If you believe your vote to be wasted, then why not use it to make a Marxist-Leninist candidate's day?

I dunno...I'm just being silly. My point is, VOTE!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Music to Play Hockey By

Well, I'm proud to say that I went out there and I voted in most important election this nation has ever faced. I'm also proud to say my candidate won! I am, of course, talking about the election for a new Hockey Night in Canada theme song!

(I also lament that that's the last time I'll be able to use that lame set-up for talking about the Hockey Night in Canada Anthem Challenge)

But on Hockey Night in Canada, they revealed that the new theme song is Canadian Gold, written by Beaumont music teacher Colin Oberst. Oberst wins $100,000 up front and a cut of the royalties. Plus, his song is now the official Hockey Night in Canada theme song.

I will admit, when I first heard about the CBC's plans to turn choosing a new HNIC theme song into just another reality TV show competition, I thought it was lame. But then when I saw the recap show a few weeks back when they unveiled the five finalists, I realized that once a professional music producer got through with them, they all sounded pretty good...and kind of the same.

Except for Oberst's, which had a very different flavour to it. The bagpipes at the beginning really set it apart.

So, here it is...Canadian Gold

Meanwhile, across the street, CTV is waving their arms around, jumping up and down, and going, "Hey, remember us? We bought the original Hockey Night in Canada theme song and we're going to use it as the theme song for NHL on TSN now! Remember when we did that? Remember how cool you thought we were? Remember?"

Well, when the CBC was in the midst of announcing the winner of the Anthem Challenge, CTV made the announcement that they signed a deal with several of the country's top bands. These top bands will be recording their versions of The Hockey Anthem and CTV will be using them for their NHL on TSN broadcasts.

The first band to record their own rendition is Simple Plan. NHL on TSN will start using the Simple Plan version on October 18.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

No Targ This Week

It's a story as old as time itself...or, at least as long as I've been doing my podcast.

A long weekend is here. I've gone home for said long weekend. Well, not really home. I'm in Red Deer, because that's where the bulk of the family moved to and so it's become the hip, happenin' place to have family gatherings.

Anyway, in my rush to get everything together, and in going to see Kevin Smith, I never got around to recording an episode of U62: The Targ this week.

Don't worry, we'll be back next week!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Democracy in Action

I try to avoid talking about my life in this blog, mainly because I've heard one too many horror stories about people getting fired because of stuff they've written in their blogs coming back to haunt them, but something happened today, that I just have to get off my chest.

As you may recall from Monday's blog entry, Athabasca had its all-candidates forum on Monday night. Just scroll down a little, and you'll see that I chose not to go. It was being hosted by the Athabasca Peace Initiative, and as part of their planning, they were going to ask most of the questions, because they felt, "it's important the right questions are asked." And, if there was time at the end, they'd open it up to the floor for other questions. That, and, early in the campaign, several candidates said that they probably wouldn't come because of how geographically huge the Fort McMurray--Athabasca riding is. To me, it seemed, the only reason to go would be to see who showed up.

The first person I ran into on Monday seemed to confirm my suspicions. From his point of view, the only folks who showed up were "every old hippie in Athabasca" and that it quickly degenerated into an angry crowd demanding that the troops be brought home from Afghanistan. From the way he talked, it sounded like it happened like I thought it would, and that I didn't miss much.

The second person was my learned colleague who works for Athabasca's newspaper. He read my blog entry from yesterday and was none too impressed with my preconceptions. Of course, he was at the all-candidates forum, covering it for the paper, and he found the Athabasca Peace Initiative's format to be "the most logical and best way to present the issues that are of actual importance instead of letting candidates 'tow the party line.'"

He then went on to say that he found it disappointing that I "brandish a 'press pass' yet failed to attend, let alone report on something that affects people, especially when it's politics, especially when it's a snap election and especially when the election is next week." Naturally, I found this statement to be a personal attack on the two years I spent working as the news director for 850 the Fox. It was nuts to you, and the flame war was on, as I proceeded to defend my record as a reporter.

My career politician mother told me when I was a kid that you should never get into an argument with someone who believes themselves to be morally superior to you, because they'll always twist your words to prove their point, and the more you argue, the more ammunition you give them. "When they attack your integrity, or your ethics, or anything like that, it's best to make a brief statement and let your record do the talking," my mother said. And today was one of those days when I should have listened to my mother. After a few hours worth of flaming, it started becoming obvious that I bought a knife to a gun fight, so I made my brief statement and made a hasty exit.

And it's all documented on Facebook for you to read.

The crux of his argument was my press pass. He kept dismissing it as a phony credential. In my final days as the news director, Athabasca was hosting a provincial junior hockey championship. As it had been a hectic week for me, I neglected to phone ahead and let the organizers know I was coming to cover it and arrange a proper press pass and all that. I shared my tale of woe with the manager in my office, and he went to his computer and printed off a generic press pass for me. He slipped his business card in the back and said, "If they hassle you, just show them my card and have them call me." Of course, my worries turned out to be for nothing, because all the organizers recognized me and when I approached the front doors, they just waved me in.

However, I thought this generic press pass was kind of cool, and I kept wearing it to events in my final days as a reporter, and I've kept wearing when I go out to events in Athabasca.

And, according to my learned colleague, it's a phony credential, and I should stop misrepresenting myself, and I sully the reputation of upstanding reporters like him when I wear it.

I'm sure then that, my learned colleague, the fine upstanding reporter that he is, knows the importance of knowing the whole story before rushing to print.

Choosing not to go to the all-candidates forum was a difficult decision for me. There were several events going on in Athabasca on Monday night, and instead of going to the all-candidates forum, I went to my regular, first Monday of every month date. I went to planning meeting for the Magnificent River Rats Festival.

You've seen me blog about it in the past. Heck, you've probably seen my movie about it on YouTube. When I first started in Athabasca as a reporter, I was told that it was one of the meetings that was regularly covered, so I went to all the meetings. For two years. When I got my promotion from reporter to morning show host earlier this year, the company asked me to keep going, but this time, I would be the station's official representative. Granted, it's merely a symbolic gesture. I have no real power to, say, promise the River Rats a zillion dollars in free advertising. But I do have one power there.

Freed from the confines of journalistic impartiality, I can now vote on stuff. I can now speak up and share my ideas. I can now take an active role in the planning of the festival. And this being the first meeting for the planning of the 2009 festival, this is when all the important stuff was decided. Ticket prices...whether the festival should be on Canada Day (a Wednesday next year) or moved to the weekend before...whether the festival director could be authorized to bring in [name of really cool classic Canadian rockers withheld because they're still in negotiations]. And I raised my hand to vote in each and every one of those issues.

And, truth be told, when I was deciding the ticket prices for the festival, I felt more like I was making a difference than I would have sitting in the theater listening to a bunch of old men debate the issues.

But then really, that's become the real issue, hasn't it? Am I still a reporter -- the impartial observer -- or have I become an active participant? Does wearing the press pass to film the River Rats festival for my YouTube videos make me a fraud as a reporter? I'm reminded of the first words of my news professor at broadcast school, who said that journalism is unique in that it's a profession that has no credentials. Lawyers need to pass the Bar exam. Here in Alberta, teachers need to be certified by the ATA, but journalism has nothing comparable. There's no independent organization to certify reporters. Anyone can be a reporter.

So what is the definition of credentials? When I highlighted my experience in student media, my learned colleague wasn't impressed. "School time is play time," he said, so I'm sure he'll be the first to dismiss education as a credential. Is it being backed up by a major company? If so, my boss's business card nestled in the back of that press pass, stating I work for the second-largest radio broadcaster in the nation, should be enough. Is it having the permission of the organizers of the event your covering? Hey, that's easy, just a couple of phone calls and you're in. Is it experience? If that's the case, then my two years as a reporter in Athabasca should be more than enough to qualify me to cover Athabasca events. Truth be told, journalism credentials are easy to come by.

No, the question here is job titles. Can I keep calling myself a reporter, if it's no longer the job I'm being paid to do? And the answer is...no.

If my evening at the River Rats shows anything, it's that I've made the jump from impartial observer to active participant. I have violated the very core of being a good reporter. I am no longer an impartial observer. So, it's time to hang up the press pass. It's a job that I've moved on from. I think I'll take that press pass and frame it...hang it on my trophy wall, next to my last Japanese business card and my hardhat from that summer on a gravel crusher crew.

The brief statement I used to end the flame war and make my hasty exit was thus:

"Six months from now, you'll have moved on to some daily newspaper in some city, and Athabasca will just be that mark at the beginning of your resume. And I'll still be in Athabasca. And that will be best for both of us."

But he should know this.

When he comes back in the summer to enjoy the Magnificent River Rats festival, and he starts whining that ticket prices went up by $10, he can blame me.

Because I voted.

And he didn't.