Just forget the words and sing along

Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Movie Reviews For You!

Had a wonderful Saturday in the city. And from it, I've got two new movie reviews for you.

First up, Pixar whore that I am, I just had to run out and Wall-E. You'll find the review for that over at the main site.

Next up, I had to pick up a certain straight-to-DVD movies. For the OVA's, I tend not to do up a fancy review at the main page. I just review them here. So, without further ado, here's my review for the second Futurama OVA:

Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs

Directed by Peter Avanzio

Starring the voices of Billy West, Katey Segal, John diMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice la Marche, Phil laMar, Lauren Tom, David Herman, and special guest voices David Cross, Brittany Murphy, Stephen Hawking, and Dan Castellenta.

Backstory: I loved Futurama back in the day! I loved it when they announced a series of OVA movies. the first one, Bender's Big Score, was a fantastic return to form. How well would the second one fare?

Plot: It's one month since the end of Bender's Big Score, and Earth is still wondering what to do about the crack in the fabric of the universe that's opened up in the heavens. It's not too long before the brave Planet Express crew is sent on an expidition to investigate. However, our hero, Fry, is feeling pretty down. He just can't come to embrace his new girlfriend and her polygamist ways. Feeling lost and alone, Fry hurls himself into the crack, where he meets the planet-sized entity Yivo. Before long, Fry returns with Yivo's tentacles of love and spreads the word. Is Yivo really nothing but an entity of love, or are his machinations much more sinister? In various sub-plots, Bender joins the League of Robots, Kif and Amy finally get married, and the Professor and his arch-rival Wormstrum finally reach an understanding.

What I Liked: Bender's son. Stephen Hawking's laser vision. "Let's settle this like men of science!" A truly brilliant sci-fi re-interpretation of the Rapture.

What I Didn't Like: Sadly, it was a little lighter on laughs than Bender's Big Score.

Final Assessment: Bender's Big Score felt like a (straight-to-video at least) movie. This one does feel like three episodes of the show strung together.

3 Nibs

DVD Bonus Material: On this here DVD set, you also get:
  • Running commentary with crew and voice cast
  • Futurama: The Lost Adventure. The cut scenes for the Futurama video game, edited together and presented as a "lost episode." This also has a running commentary with the crew and voice cast.
  • The animatic for the first 1/3 of the film
  • Deleted scenes that never made it past the storyboard stage
  • David Cross, the voice of Yivo, explaining what his character's all about
  • the voice cast messing around in the recording studio
  • 3-D models of the spaceships
  • A Brief History of Deathball
  • The trailer for the third OVA, Bender's Game, due out this fall

Friday, June 27, 2008

Weird Al Returns

So I'm at work today, Facebooking with a friend at a sister station, and he writes this.

"So, are you going to go see Weird Al when he comes back in Edmonton in August?"

My instant response is, "HE'S COMING BACK?? WHY WASN'T I TOLD SOONER??"

Yup. "Weird Al" Yankovic is playing Edmonton on Saturday, August 2. His second show in Edmonton in a little over a year. This time, instead of a massive outdoor stage at the Capital Ex, he's playing in the acoustic perfection and air conditioned comfort of the Winspear Centre.

Granted, it's still his Straight Outta Lynwood tour, so odds are there'll be very little in the way of new material.

But still...to see him again.

I need to think about this.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dark Knight Bits

I spent my afternoon watching A League of Their Own. It was my sister's favourite movie when I was a kid, and she made the family watch it ad nauseam. So, when I was picking up some groceries the other day, and I saw the rare, out-of-print 2-disc special edition in the impulse buy section near the cashiers for just $10, I thought to myself, "What the hey?" It's still a great movie. I remember when it first came out, one critic described it as "the world's first chick flick/sports movie." I don't know about you, but I think the world needs more chick flick/sports movies. C'mon, CBC! Where's our Hayley Wickenheiser biopic?

It's funny. I'm the big movie guy in my family, but when I was a kid, I didn't have that one movie that I watched over and over and over until I had every line of dialogue memorized. For my sister, it was A League of Their Own. For my brother, well, he fell into all the Batman hype in the summer of 1989, so for him, it was Batman. But me, nothing. I'm sure you'd expect a Star Trek movie or a Star Wars film, but nope.

Speaking of Batman, we've got less than a month until The Dark Knight hits theatres, so the publicity is starting to go into overdrive.

In what I'm sure is no surprise, it was announced today that The Dark Knight will be officially dedicated to Heath Ledger.

Also, in front of The Dark Knight, we'll be getting the first trailer for one of the most anticipated comic book adaptations: Watchmen. I really should read that before the movie comes out.

Oh, and one last thing I want to mention. If there's one thing I hate these days, it's the "animated film as a franchise." My argument is still the Shrek films. The first one is fantastic, the second one is gawd-awful, and the third one was merely OK. So, it saddens me to report that Dreamworks has just given the greenlight to....

Kung Fu Panda 2

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wonder Woman News

Hey! We got some news on the upcoming straight-to-DVD Wonder Woman movie!

As I've blogged about several times before, Warner Brothers and DC Comics are pumping out a series of straight-to-DVD animated movies based on various superheroes. The first one was Superman: Doomsday, which came out last fall. Second was Justice League: The New Frontier, which came out in the spring. Third is the Batman-anime Batman: Gotham Knight that comes out in two weeks.

And #4 will be Wonder Woman, due out this fall. There's a featurette about it on Batman: Gotham Knight, and as people are starting to watch said featurette, we're learning more about it.

It's already been known for some time now that Keri Russell will be voicing Wonder Woman and Nathan Fillion will be voicing Wonder Woman's love interest and damsel-in-distress Steve Trevor.

We got more members of the voice cast now! Joining them will be:

Virginia Madsen as Queen Hippolyta, ruler of the Amazons and Wonder Woman's mother.

Alfred Molina as Ares. The God of War is always trying to start World War III and gain himself some new worshipers. He's one of Wonder Woman's most difficult foes.

And, coolest of all, Rosario Dawson as Artemis. Gotta point out here that this is not the goddess Artemis, but the leader of a tribe of Amazons who set up their own colony in Egypt many generations ago. Artemis even briefly took on the mantle of Wonder Woman in the mid-90s.

I really hope this one is good.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Futurama II Out Today!

Of course, I have to take a minute to talk about the biggest DVD out today for all the geeks like me, and that would be Futurama: the Beast with a Billion Backs, aka "the second straight-to-DVD movie."

Picking up shortly after the events of the last film, Bender's Big Score, the Planet Express crew explores the tear in the fabric of space that opened up, due to Bender's time travel wackiness. Out of the tear emerges Yivo, a planet-sized tentacled alien with only one thing on its mind: sex. Yivo then proceeds to mate with our universe, and it's up to the Planet Express crew to halt its advances.

In sub-plots, Fry wants to get closer to his girlfriend, so he moves in with her...and her three other boyfriends. When that doesn't work out, Fry starts a religion dedicated to worshiping Yivo. Bender joins the mythical League of Robots, which does nothing but sit around drinking and bitching about humans. Kif and Amy finally get married, and the Professor's rivalry with Wormstrum finally comes to a head.

Special guest voices include David Cross as Yivo. Cross is still best remembered as Dr. Tobias Funke on Arrested Development. We've also got Britney Murphy as Fry's girlfriend, and Dan Castellenta (aka the voice of Homer Simpson) returning as the Robot Devil.

For bonus materials, there's a couple of running commentaries with the creators and voice cast, some bloopers from the recording sessions, a few deleted scenes that never made it past the storyboard stage, and a trailer for the third movie, Bender's Game, due out in the fall. But the best bonus feature of all is Futrama: the Lost Episode. What they did was they took the cut scenes from the Futurama video game, and edited them together into an episode.

That's the one on the top of my shopping list today!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Incredible Hulk Review

Well, it's time for the first update to Chaos in a Box since I got my new computer. The website templates seem to have successfully made it to my new computer...I've got the FTP programs and the HTML editors that my friends recommend, so let's get to it!

A little more than a week ago, I went to see The Incredible Hulk.

Read my review!

What's dominating the movie news right now....

One movie that's in development right now that I'm really curious about is Nottingham. As the old saying goes, "The villain is the hero of his own story," and that's the premise behind Nottingham. In this revisionary take of the Robin Hood mythos, the Sheriff of Nottingham is actually a noble lawman, stuck serving a corrupt king. And Robin Hood...not the virtuous soul we've come to know and love. It's coming to us from Ridley Scott, who gave us Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and most recently, American Gangster. Russel Crowe has long been attached to be the Sheriff, Sienna Miller just signed on to play Maid Marian, and it looks like Christian Bale will be signing on to play Robin Hood.

Speaking of Sienna Miller, let's not forget she's playing the villainous Baroness in the now-filming live-action movie version of G.I. Joe. And it looks like the film is going to have a subtitle. The name....

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dance Around the World

I first discovered the whole YouTube thing when my sister sent me this now famous viral video:

Thanks to Wikipedia, I was able to do the reading up on that dancin' fool. Matt Harding is his name. He was a video game designer, who was growing a little despondent over the popularity of first person shooter video games. One day, he sarcastically made a comment where they should make a first person shooter where the object is to "kill everyone on Earth." When his bosses actually liked that proposal and decided to make it, Harding decided to quit his job, cash in his savings, and travel the world.

(Incidentally, the game based on his proposal is Destroy All Humans!)

That first dancing video was spliced together from his home movies on his trip. It became a viral video hit in 2005, and Harding got his 15 minutes of fame. Stride Gum decided to sponsor him in making a second video, which went online in '06.

Now, two years later, his third dancing around the video has gone online, and is so popular, it's crashing YouTube:

Damn. I find these videos to be awe-inspiring. Just about everyone I know gets inspired to do more traveling because of them.

I'm going to do it someday, and I'll make my own video. I've even got my music already picked out.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Computer Update

In case you're wondering how I made out with my POS USB hub, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

I took it back to Staples yesterday, fully expecting a fight. I was expecting to have to raise my voice, demand to speak to a manager, and I was fearing that the whole incident would end up on some website like Not Always Right.

But no! I walked into Staples the other day, walked up to the customer service desk, told them in a very calm, reasonable voice that their POS hub cost me my flash drive and my MP3 player, and I'd like my money back.

The clerk looked in my shopping bag, where I had carefully collected the hub, every cord that came with it, and every scrap of packaging that it was in. "Do you still have the receipt?" she asked. I fished it out of the bag, and handed it to her. "I see you paid for this by debit. May I have your debit card please?" I handed it to her, she swiped my card, handed me my card and my receipt back and said, "There you go, sir. Full refund."

I was pleasantly flabbergasted. I'll probably keep shopping at Staples because the customer service was so friendly and reasonable. However, I won't buy any of their store-brand computer accessories anymore.

Now, I know some of you were pushing that I should also scream and yell and get my flash drive and MP3 player replaced. I decided not to. Seeing as to how they were freebies that I got two years ago, I figured my claim would be dubious, and so I decided not to pursue that matter. Besides, I read the fine print on the warranty that came with the POS hub, and it said right there, "Not responsible for any damages this may cause if it's defective." So I figured that would be a battle I couldn't win.

As for replacing my damaged goods, I've already picked up a new USB flash drive. I was sharing my tale of woe to a friend and he pointed out that The Source was having a sale and I could pick up a 4G one for $30. Since that was a great deal, I went and snapped one up. Seeing as to how my old one was just 512M, this new one has been a great help with the file transfers from my old machine.

I'm starting to wonder why I'm bothering with the file transfers, cuz I just know that next payday, I'll be buying a spool of blank DVDs and using my new machine's DVD burner to burn most of it to DVD and file it away. But whatever.

As for replacing my MP3 player, well...it's my birthday, two weeks from Monday. :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Take the good with the bad

As they said once on one of my favourite TV shows, "Every moment of pleasure in life must be paid for with an equal amount of pain." Unless, of course, you're into the whole bondage thing, because then the pleasure is nothing but pain, but I digress.

24 hours ago, I had my moment of pleasure. A half-hour ago, I had the moment of pain.

The pleasure: This is my first blog entry from my nice, new computer. I bought a Dell online. It arrived yesterday afternoon, and I had a delightful day carefully putting it together, making sure everything was just so, and firing it up for the first time.

I had the usual reaction I always do to new computers. The screen is sharper and clearer. It's so much faster. Once I had it all set up and all my accessories working, I called it a night and went to bed.

The pain: over the weekend, in anticipation of my new machine, I bought a USB hub. A nice, new 7-port 2.0 hub. I hooked it up today. Everything was looking really good.

Then I plugged in my flash drive.

I wasn't able to read anything off my flash drive. And it got really, really hot. And smelled like burning metal.

Curious, I unplugged my hub, re-connected it, and this time, I tried my MP3 player. Same thing...it wouldn't read the player. It got really, really hot, and it smelled like burning metal. Plus, there was a really loud pop when I plugged it in.

The hub was getting really, really hot, too, and I was really getting worried. I tried my flash drive and my MP3 player in my laptop, and it came up, "Warning! Power surge detected in USB ports."

I facebooked my more computer-savvy friends to confirm my suspicions.

I outlined what happened and then asked my friends, "Is this USB a piece of shit and did it fry my flash drive and MP3 player?" And my friends said, "Yup."

Damn damn damn.

So, the pleasure: new computer!

The pain: my new USB fried my flash drive and MP3 player.

I bought the hub at Staples...I'm going to try to return it this weekend. It says right on its warranty, "If you think it's defective, return it and you'll get a full refund."

Not sure what to do about my flash drive and MP3 player, though. The flash drive was a promo item I got through work. The MP3 player was a hand-me-down from my brother.

But still, I am really, really pissed.

And now, the new problem. I'm beginning the task of transferring old files from my old computer onto my new computer. I told you about my problem with my old laptop...it just keeps running and running and the hard drive just keeps filling up and filling up. This making it difficult in the file transfer. I couldn't figure out how to get the network working so I could just transfer things over the network, so I went with old method of copying everything to CD and walking the CDs across the room.

My computer's telling me that it can't burn CDs because of how little space is left on my hard drive. And I've deleted pretty much everything, except for the files I need to transfer.

To delete the files, I need to burn them to CD. To burn the files to CD, I need to delete them.

Ya know, when we have computer problems like this at work, I turn to my co-workers and say, "Haven't we learned the lesson of Jurassic Park? This is what happens when you rely too much on computers! Today, this problem. Tomorrow, there'll be rampant velociraptor attacks in the streets!"

I need a Slurpee.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Stan Winston Passes On

My day just got really sad.

While perusing some news stories online, I just discovered that Stan Winston passed away today.

You know me, I love my science fiction movies, and most of them are possible because of Stan Winston. Winston and his crew were pioneers and industry leaders in make-up effects and animatronic creatures.

He first made his name known by doing Arnold Schwarznegger's make-up and the animatronic Terminator skeletons in The Terminator. He went on to make the aliens in Aliens, the creature in Predator, all manner of killer robots in Terminator 2, plus all of the robots in one of my favourite sci-fi films, A.I..

But let's not forget the animatronic beasties he made that kicked the most ass...the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and its sequels.

He worked with one of my favourite directors -- Tim Burton -- three times. He did Johnny Depp's make-up and the animatronic scissor hands in Edward Scissorhands, the Penguin's make-up and some animatronic penguins in Batman Returns, and the make-up effects and a few animatronic big fish for Big Fish.

He worked until his dying day, with his handiwork currently in two of the biggest films this summer: Iron Man's armor in Iron Man and the crystal skulls in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. He had already begun work on James Cameron's next film, Avatar, due out next year, and once again providing killer robots for Terminator 4.

Winston was 62. He died of multiple myeloma.

Here's the official website of Stan Winston Studios, where you can find out all about his work.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

Well, gang we have reached an era!

For this week's episode of The Targ, I hit you with Episode 100: Mr. Worf, Fire! Who would have thought that this would have lasted 100 episodes? I take some time in this one to reflect on the past 100 and wonder exactly how I got to this point.

And I also thought that this would be the best time to take a break. So this week's episode also serves as a season finale. That's right, The Targ is taking a summer vacation. Time to reflect and ponder the future course of this here show. Will I stop playing music and make it 15 minutes worth of talk? Will I change the name and completely re-launch it as something new? I don't know yet...these things need to be decided.

But I do know that we'll be back and big as life this fall! We'll be officially re-launching on September 8...Star Trek Day.

So have yourself a great summer, and see you in the fall!

But first, listen to that 100th episode

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Night Ramblings

Holy crap!

After seeing a few of the commercials, I finally had to confirm it online.

One of the celebrity judges on the upcoming CBC reality TV show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? is none other than Captain Jack Harkness!

That show just might be worth watching!

So I finally have the entire run of Star Trek: The Next Generation on DVD.

I finished Season 5, of which one of the highlights is Unification, aka "The two-parter with Spock." Watching that episode brought back a fond memory.

At the height of its run, TNG was on when I was in junior high. I had fully latched onto Star Trek, and was running full bore down the path to nerd-dom. Needless to say, I had become an object of ridicule...par for the course, as it were. My school had this thing called USSR: uninterrupted sustained silent reading. Every day, for 15 minutes, the whole school would shut down and everyone would read. Because I was such a hardcore trekkie, at every USSR I would lose myself in the latest Star Trek paperback.

This one particular week, my English teacher was gone and we had a substitute teacher. To every 14-year old girl that was in the ninth grade with me, he was just the dreamiest teacher ever to walk into a classroom. They were all fawning over him, crushing on him, stuff like that.

And then...Friday. Star Trek was on that night, and I was all anxious to see Unification part II, and see Picard's adventure with Spock. As USSR drew near, I pulled out my Star Trek paperback and started finding my place.

Well, Mr. McDreamy Substitute Teacher saw my paperback, and his eyes grew wide. "Dude! Star Trek!" He flashed the Vulcan salute and said, "Tonight's the one with Spock! Is that going to rock or what?" and we spent a good five minutes debating all things Trek.

If you listened really carefully, you could the heart of every 14-year old girl in that room breaking. If you took a picture of the class, you would see a lot of fawning eyes filling with dread.

Those young ladies learned that Mr. McDreamy Substitute Teacher had a fatal flaw. He was a nerd like me.

That's the day that I learned that the geek shall inherit the Earth.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Little Mosque in the USA

I just saw George Strombolopilis talk about this, and I had to go online to confirm it.

The Fox Network is going to produce an American version of Little Mosque on the Prairie.

WestWind Pictures, the company that makes Little Mosque, signed the deal with the Fox network earlier today. they say that the American version is going to be largely the same, just set in an American prairie town. It'll most likely be a mid-season replacement next year.

I guess I'll have to give Little Mosque another chance. I watched it off and on in its first season and was largely underwhelmed. As sitcoms go, it was surprisingly...conventional. If their goal was to show that Muslims are the same as everyone else, they succeeded overwhelmingly. Now they should have some more wacky adventures.

And in some happier news, Sports Night is returning to DVD!

Like a lot of people, I thought Sports Night was a damn brilliant TV show. It was the first TV product from Aaron Sorkin, who went on to give us The West Wing and Studio 60. It came out on DVD 6 years ago, but it's long since out of print.

Well, a brand new 10th anniversary edition is coming on September 30! My calendar is circled.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's Just a Song

Once again, I feel compelled to comment on the biggest story sweeping Canadian pop culture by now.

It's been all over the papers today, and I'm sure you've heard by now, that CTV swooped in yesterday and bought the theme song to Hockey Night in Canada.

Let me sum up the issue through my own eyes.

Late last week, the people representing Dolores Claman, the writer of The Hockey Anthem (the proper name of the Hockey Night in Canada theme, according to Wikipedia), leaked to the press that the CBC's current contract for using the song had lapsed, and that the CBC was preparing to ditch the song and have a contest to find a new one. The CBC quickly replied that negotiations were still ongoing, and that the contest was merely a plan B. The CBC went on to say that they had offered $1 million to flat-out buy the song.

The deadline was 5PM Friday, at which nothing happened. The CBC announced Monday morning that they'd bring in a mediator to settle things, but it was too little too late. Shortly after, it was announced that CTV had swooped in and bought the Hockey Anthem outright. CTV isn't saying how much they paid, but the CBC has said that, in their negotiations, Claman's people were asking between $2.5 and $3 million.

CTV's subsidiaries, TSN and RDS, will now use the Hockey Anthem for all their hockey broadcasts. CTV proper will use it as part of their 2010 Winter Olympic coverage.

People are now crying that the CBC didn't do enough to keep the song, to which I say, the poor CBC can't win for trying. I'm sure that if the CBC did meet the asking price of $3 million for the song, we'd all be crying right now about how the CBC is wasting the taxpayer's money on a TV show theme song. Some say that, because of the outstanding lawsuit between Claman and the CBC, that no agreement would ever be reached.

You didn't know about that? Yeah, around four years ago, Claman sued the CBC for back royalties on the song. See, CBC started selling it as a ringtone, using it for things like Don Cherry's hockey DVDs, and Claman says that she's owed roaylties for all those uses. So, she sued the CBC. That case is still before the courts, by the way.

I don't know. I'm just starting to think that maybe the CBC's not entirely to blame. David Staples, a writer for the Edmonton Journal that I've always liked, wrote a blog entry defending the CBC. After all, it was Claman's people who announced to the public that negotiations were underway...it was Claman's people who stirred up the national fervor. Some are starting to say that it was a shrewd business move designed to drive up the price.

Staples has another good point...what else will CTV use it for now? I mean, I was watching a bit of Canada AM before work this morning, and the weatherman was playing it to start his weather forecasts...the business reporter was using it to start of his business news...come on, CTV, treat it with the respect that you claim the CBC didn't have.

My big concern is what the CBC is going to do next. I really hope that the CBC doesn't go ahead with their plans to hold a contest to find their next theme song. I think the CBC should take a cue from the Yankees and their sports coverage. For the NFL on NBC, NBC got John Williams to right the theme music. That's right, Mr. Star Wars Music wrote the jingle for the NFL. Still with NBC, the theme for NBC's NBA coverage was written by everyone's favourite new age pianist, John Tesh. My point is, CBC, get a world-renowned professional to write the new theme.

It actually came to me when I first hatched this plan. Do you know who would be a great choice? Howard Shore. Shore is a film composer who'll forever be known for writing the music for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. He's got TV props. He was the first bandleader for Saturday Night Live back in the late 1970s, and he wrote the theme song for Late Night with Conan O'Brien. AND...he's Canadian to boot! Howard Shore is the guy to write the new Hockey Night in Canada theme. But I digress.

Or maybe CBC should resurrect the original theme for Hockey Night in Canada. As has been widely reported by now, CBC started using The Hockey Anthem in 1968. According to my research (which was just Wikipedia), before 1968, the theme for Hockey Night in Canada was a march called Saturday's Game. I'm trying to dig up a snippet of it to hear what it sounded like.

I'm just about ranted out on this subject, so I'll leave you with just one last thing. On Friday night, I was watching the news, and the CBC managed to dig up the producer of Hockey Night in Canada in 1968...the man who personally chose The Hockey Anthem to be Hockey Night in Canada's theme song. When he was told that the CBC would be ditching the song, do you know what he said?

He just shrugged his shoulders and said, "It'll be forgotten in five years."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Indiana Jones Review is Up!

Hey! Did I mention that I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull yesterday? Well, I did, and I've got a review up over at the main page.

Long story short: it hits all the right fanboy notes, while not being as epic as the original trilogy. I give it 3.5 nibs.

Go read my whole review!

Latest Targ's Up!

Another Sunday morning, and it's another new episode of The Targ!

This week, it's Episode 99: I Like to Score. My obscure film scores arrive in the mail, so I crank them up and geek out over the composers. I also give props to KFC over their agreement with PETA, and tell you about my sexy new glasses.

Give it a listen!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Yay, Dad! / Hockey Night no More

Dad gets his award from the government men
If you don't mind, I'm just going to take a moment here to be proud of my Dad.

You know how when you watch the 6 o'clock news, and the weatherman says, "The coldest town in Canada yesterday was this town, which had a high of -40!" Ever wonder how they get those temperatures? Well, Environment Canada has an army of volunteers all across this land who record those temperatures.

For 20 years now, my Dad has been the volunteer for Entwistle, Alberta.

If memory serves, we started doing it all those years ago because it met the requirements for some badge my brother wanted to get in Cub Scouts. I was in Cub Scouts, too, but I didn't want no part of it. I was a lazy Scout and was never too motivated to earn badges and all that...I still don't know how I earned the five I did earn. But I digress.

The calls were made, we volunteered, and the government came out and put one of their official monitoring stations in our backyard. When my brother got his badge, my Dad and my brother just kept doing it. When my brother moved out, the torch was passed to me and I started doing it. Then I when I moved out, Dad started doing it solo.

So the government men came out a few days ago to give Dad his 20 year service award and thank him for all his hard work. While 20 years seems impressive, Dad says there's still a long way to go. According to Dad, there are some people who have been doing it for over a hundred years, and it got passed down through the family.

So, congratulations, Dad!

And while we're blogging, I guess I should also take a moment to talk about the big story sweeping Canadian pop culture right now.

After 40 years of using it, the CBC has decided to dump the theme for Hockey Night in Canada.

See, the theme song is not owned by the CBC. It's owned by some agency. The contract between the agency and the CBC ended at the end of this hockey season. Shortly after the Detroit Red Wings hoisted the cup, re-negotiations began. And then, a few days back, the agency released a note to the press saying that the CBC had decided to dump the theme and negotiations had ceased.

The CBC said, "No! That's not the case!" Petitions were started. Facebook groups sprung up. Angry phone calls were made to the CBC. However, as of Friday night, the CBC said that they decided to stop using it, and they're starting up a contest to find a new one.

There's no doubt that the Hockey Night in Canada theme is part of our pop culture fabric. I mean, I could already hum it when I was 9 years old, and I wasn't a hockey guy at all. I don't think I'd even watched Hockey Night in Canada before that point.

It's a brave new world, that's for sure.

Friday, June 06, 2008

To See with Eyes Unclouded

One of my most heartbreaking days in Grade 4 was the day I was told I need glasses. My teacher suspected something was up as I kept moving my desk closer and closer to the blackboard. Finally, she sent me down to the school nurse to have my eyes checked. I broke down in tears when I admitted that I couldn't read the eye chart at all.

A few weeks later, I was back in class, sporting a pair of prescription lenses. By that time, I had gotten used to the idea that I would forever have this blemish on my face.

Time passed, and my glasses just became...there. No different than anyone else, if only for the fact that I had to reach to my nightstand and put them on every morning.

I had the same pair of glasses for, according to my best estimate, 17 years. I know I got them in junior high for certain. For the past few years, my family had been on my case pretty seriously to get a new pair. But my constant response was, "Why? I can see just fine." The truth was, I couldn't. I knew that it had also been 17 years since my last eye exam, and I was probably due for something a little stronger.

Of course, chatting about this with my friends, they'd occasionally ask questions like, "So, have you ever considered contacts?" To which I say, no, I haven't. Contacts were an option that was never really presented to me, so it's one I've never really considered. Besides, I still have the image of a person cupping their hand over their eye in a panic and screaming, "NO ONE MOVE! I lost a contact!" and everyone crawling around on the floor looking for them. Contacts just seem to be too much bother. Besides, in this day and age of corrective laser surgery, contacts just seem like a halfway solution.

In answer to your next question, I would have the corrective laser surgery in a heartbeat. Too bad it's not covered by a lot health plans yet, so it'll be many heartbeats until I've got the money saved up.

So that meant a new pair of glasses. I started the process back in the fall, by heading to the doctor and getting a new perscription. I finally went to the shop the other day to get my new pair.

It's weird. As I said, I had that same pair for at least 17 years. With them, I saw the shimmering northern lights, the sun rise on Mt. Fuji, and the complete, original runs of 3 Star Trek series. They were constant companions. But now, I have a new companion.

And the world has never looked better.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Must Be Thursday....

Let's do another news that only I care about update:

The International Olympic Committee announced earlier today the 4 finalists to host the 2016 Olympics. The four finalists are:

  • Chicago, USA
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

These four finalists get 16 months to plead their case. The host city of the 2016 games will be announced on October 2, 2009.

Granted, I don't know much about global politics, but I kind of hope it goes to Rio de Janeiro, because the Olympics have never been held in South America.

Hey, what's my favourite director, Tim Burton, up to?

Rumors have been flying the past few days that Burton was recently approached by his ol' buddy Johnny Depp to do a movie version of the classic TV show Dark Shadows.

For those who don't feel like clicking on the link to Wikipedia, Dark Shadows was a soap opera popular in the late 1960s. It was unique in that it drew its inspiration from Gothic horror novels. Plots frequently featured werewolves, ghosts, zombies...hell, the lead character was a vampire!

Needless to say, it's become a cult classic. It spawned two movies in the early 1970s. There was a revival in the early 1990s that, while being popular, only lasted one season. And, it was a huge influence on Goth culture.

Which is where Johnny Depp and Tim Burton come in, because they are both fans of the show. In fact, Depp's own production company currently holds the movie rights, and Depp has alegedley asked Burton to direct. Depp himself wants to play that lead character vampire.

Of course, there's nothing official yet. As for what Burton is officially doing right now, he's hopping on the performance capture bandwagon to give us a performance capture version of Alice in Wonderland, and then he'll be producing a stop-motion animated version of his 1980s short film Frankenweenie.

Big news happening with the development of Disney's straight-to-DVD Tinker Bell movies.

Disney's Tinker Bell Movie has had one of the most storied productions of all of Disney's straight-to-DVD movies. Rumor has it that there have been two dozen versions of the script, a dozen different directors, and Disney has poured more than $50 million into the project.

And then, John Lasseter, the head of Pixar, was put in charge of Disney Animation. While he was not in charge of the straight-to-DVD unit, he started becoming deeply involved anyway. Like a lot of people, he thought that the straight-to-DVD sequels were a blight on the Disney legacy. When Lasseter took charge, he saw a rough cut of The Tinker Bell Movie and declared it "unwatchable." It was thought that Lasseter pulled the plug on the project.

Which is why it came as a shock a few months back when Disney and Pixar announced their upcoming animated film slate, and revealed that there would be not one, but four straight-to-DVD Tinker Bell movies. The first one is due out in October.

But that's not the news.

The news is that it was recently announced that Brittany Murphy was fired as the voice of Tinker Bell.

Murphy was announced with much hype and fanfare back in 2006 to give voice to Tink. So, again, surprising.

The new voice of Tinkerbell will be Mae Whitman, whom my fellow Arrested Development geeks will recognize as Ann, George Michael's girlfriend. Yes, her.

Replacing an overpaid celebrity for someone lesser known? That's a classic Pixar move.

These might be good after all.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Computer and New Nightmare Before Christmas DVD!

I really have to start getting serious about my new computer. I just ran Disc Clean-Up and only freed up 1G. There has to be something wrong with my computer. It just sits there, doing nothing, and yet, the hard drive gets fuller and fuller...spy ware, a virus, something's filling it up. And yet the scans say nothing.

Which is why it's time for something new. I said I'd blow my tax refund on a new machine, and it's time to do so. As I've blogged previously, I really just wanted to go to CompuSmart in Edmonton and get my ideal system on a one-stop shopping trip, but CompuSmart is no more.

The trend right now are these little Mom & Pop computer stores that build-to-order. I've talked to family and friends about which Mom & Pop store to go to, and everyone tells me that the one in their neighbourhood is the best. Each Mom & Pop store is unique and differnt, but they all seem to build Acers.... And of course, lots of my friends also own Dells, that's what we use at work, and they seem pretty reliable.

I hereby declare I'll have my new machine by the end of June.

In the past, I've often decried against the crime of DVD double dipping. I've already bought it once, I should never have to buy it again! I only succumb to the double dip when it's a movie I really, really like and/or there are enough bonus materials to warrant buying it again.

So I will be succumbing to the double dip on August 26, when I run out to buy Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: Collector's Edition.

Granted, The Nightmare Before Christmas got a really nice single-disc special edition about 7 or 8 years ago. But this new edition is a 3-DISC special edition! For bonus materials, you get:

- a brand new, anamorphic widescreen transfer for the film.
- an all-new running commentary with writer/producer Tim Burton, director Henry Selick, and composer Danny Elfman.
- 4 featurettes: The Making of The Nightmare Before Christmas, the Worlds of The Nightmare Before Christmas, What's This?: Jack's Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour, and Introduction to Frankenweenie!
- Tim Burton's Original Poem, as read by Christopher Lee.
- storyboard to film comparisons
- deleted scenes
- the original trailers
- a gallery of movie posters
- Tim Burton's classic short film Vincent
- and a brand new introduction by Tim Burton.

Disc 3 of the set will contain the electronic copy. This is a new trend that's popping up on DVD. The electronic copy is the film already rippped and saved as a movie file, so that way you can copy the file right onto your iPod without any unneccessary ripping, and it's all legal.

For those who have already made the Great Upgrade, it's also being released on Blu-Ray.

And for the ultimate fans, there'll also be a special gift set, where in addition to the 3-disc special edition, you also get a limited edition, hand-painted bust of Jack Skellington, complete with a sound chip so it plays voice clips from the film.

August 26.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Monday Morning Catch-Up

At work, I've got these Justice League action figures on my desk. Wonder Woman is the only one that came with a base so you can stand her up, what with her tiny, dainty feet and all that. I came in this Monday morning to find that the figures had been knocked over. Happens all the time...the janitors probably just bumped the desk while dusting. Sadly, though, I found Wonder Woman's base had gone missing, and she now had no way of standing up.

So I grabbed this little bit of Athabasca University swag I had lying around my desk, wrapped her kung-fu grip around it, and now she can stand on her own two feet. She's actually more stable than she's ever been.

Only downside is, Wonder Woman now looks like she's working her way through college.

I do so love my fast food, so I feel I've got to highlight this story going around.

KFC Canada and PETA have now reached an agreement to make KFC in Canada more animal-friendly.

Some of the new initiatives KFC is undertaking is they're going to use "controlled atmosphere killing" to slaughter chickens. According to the news, "controlled atmosphere killing" is gassing them to death, which PETA calls the most humane way to slaughter a chicken.

KFC also has to form an animal welfare advisory panel to make sure that these things are carried out.

the one thing that I'm most interested about is they also have to introduce a vegan-friendly, faux-chicken item to their members. Being a fast food junkie who has sampled the vegan alternatives from time to time, I'm actually excited about that.

Once again, this is just KFC Canada. While other KFC's around the world have decided not to cave to PETA's demands, KFC in Canada went, "hold on here, let's here what they have to say," and had seven months of negotiations. they were able to do this because KFC in Canada is owned by a different company that KFC in the USA.

So, there you go! KFC in Canada is now the most humane fast food place.

Here's the Canadian Press's story on the matter.

Here's PETA's official statement.

And hey! My collection of Tim Burton films on DVD is finally going to fill in a very notable gap.

Beetlejuice is finally getting a special edition DVD!

Beetlejuice: 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition hits store shelves on September 16. It has a brand-new anamorphic widescreen transfer, and a new 5.1 surround sound mix. It's kind of scant on bonus materials, though. All you get is an music-only track, the original trailer, and 3 episodes of the Beetlejuice cartoon.

Now all I need are special editions of Mars Attacks! and Sleepy Hollow and my collection will be complete!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

So, a few weeks ago, I went down to Red Deer for a family function, and I used Blooger's new "Future Post" function to automatically put up a blog entry saying, "Hey, I'm in Red Deer, so no new episode this week."

Today, I use my future post powers for good! I am once again in Red Deer for a family function, but this time, I recorded this week's episode of the Targ in advance, posted it before I left, and I am using the future post function to say, "It's ready for download!"

That's right, I got this week's episode of the Targ up!

This week, we've got Episode 98: The Art of Mediocrity. In this one, I get ready to sit down and watch all 10 Pokemon films, start wondering about where to get that new computer, and tell the tale of Tama the Station Master.

Give it a listen!