Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, May 23, 2011


I've still got no Internet at home...Telus keeps telling me that my street has never, ever been wired for phone service.  But when I plug a phone into the wall, I get a dial tone.  What the h?

I think my next step will be talk to with my landlord...he's always been a do-it-yourselfer, so perhaps he wired in the basement suite wrong.  Maybe that dial tone I keep hearing is a neighbour's signal I'm picking up by accident. 

I should get my mind off it...go see a movie.  For a while now, I'm been seeing ads for the "UltraAVX" things at Cineplex theatres, and I've been wondering what it's about.  So, I've been doing some digging.

Essentially, "UltraAVX" is the Cineplex brand name for the "luxury theatre" concept I've been hearing about.  You've got super-wide, overstuffed recliners for your theatre seats.  It's got reserved seating...that means each seat has a number, and you are assigned a seat.  They say the screen takes up the entire wall, and they boast the most state-of-the-art digital projectors and sound systems. 

Cineplex prices are currently thus:

$12.75 for a regular 2D film.

$15.75 for a 3D film.

$17.75 for UltraAVX

Is it really worth a full $5 more for this experience?  Maybe I'll treat myself to one this summer just to see for sure. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Thoughts on the Smallville Finale

Despite the fact that I’m a bit of a comic book geek, and I’ve always leaned towards DC, I’ve never been more than a casual fan of Smallville. At the outset, it seemed like a good idea: Clark Kent’s teen years, as his powers first start kicking in and he starts out on the path to becoming Superman. But, like a lot of people, I found the whole “will they or won’t they” romance between Clark and Lana Lang to go on for too long and get too drawn out and annoying as hell. Plus, those early seasons really fell into a “monster of the week” kind of format, and it got formulaic really quick.

As I’ve blogged many times before, what brought me back – what was the one thing that made Smallville compelling to me – was watching Lex Luthor’s descent to the dark side. Every heartbreak, every twinge of paranoia that his best buddy Clark was keeping something from him, the pressure from his father to be this great modern-day conqueror/captain of industry...it was all adding up and serving to blacken his soul. And because it was episodic television, that descent to the dark side was painfully slow. Lex Luthor was what made that show for me.

And, well, because my earliest conscious memories of television are of watching The Dukes of Hazzard, it was also kind of neat to see Bo Duke as Pa Kent.

When Lex Luthor left, I pretty much gave up on the show completely. I’d tune in whenever I heard that some classic Superman villain was being introduced with a new twist, or some other superhero was making a guest appearance. I think the last time I actually sat down and watched it was last year’s epic 2-hour episode with the Justice Society of America. I heard that this was the final season, so I figured if I was going to watch just one last episode, it may as well be the final episode.

So, apparently, Clark Kent and Lois Lane are getting married. Or, they aren’t now, as Lois has decided not go through with it so Clark can be free to be a superhero. Clark’s not buying it. And the first 45 minutes of this 2-hour final episode is nothing but the “will they or won’t they” romantic crap that made this series so grating in the first place. What is notable, though, in order to start his new life with Lois and as a hero, Clark has decided to cut ties with his past completely, and this is not sitting well with the spirits of his two father: Jonathon Kent and Jor-El.

Apparently, the big bad for this final season was none other than the personification of all evil in the DCU, Darkseid, and he’s possessed Oliver Queen, and Oliver is seeking to sabotage the wedding. He’s replaced Clark’s wedding ring with one made of gold kryptonite, which has the power to permanently remove Clark Kent’s powers.

So, the wedding is going ahead, Chloe notices that Oliver, in his role as best man, has gotten a different ring for the groom. So, she stops the wedding, the church is evacuated, and Clark Kent and Oliver Queen throw down and Clark drives the evil from Oliver. They look up into the sky to see Darkseid’s home planet of Apokalypse descending on the Earth. End part 1.

Part 2, our heroes have gathered and are determining what to do. Tess Mercer – who is, apparently, Lex Luthor’s sister, is heading off to help our heroes but is mysteriously abducted. As I said, casual fan, so a lot of this continuity is lost to me. They make a plan. Clark talks with the spirit of Jonathon Kent, saying he was wrong to try to turn his back on his past, and he needs his father’s guidance more than ever. Pa Kent says that yes, Clark does need his father’s guidance on this...his other father, Jor-El. So, does Clark head on up to the Fortress of Solitude, get Jor-El’s advice, become Superman, and start kicking ass and saving the world? Nope. He goes looking for Tess.

Tess, as it turns out, was abducted by Lionel Luthor. I thought he died, but as I said, I’m pretty much just tuning in. Turns out Lionel has been cloning a new body for Lex (they wrote him out of the show by killing him off), but the one thing they still haven’t gotten right in this new clone body is a heart, so they seek to harvest Tess’s. Tess, however, kicks ass, frees herself, and shoots her father in his shoulder as she makes her escape. Lionel’s body, slowly losing life, crawls towards the currently lifeless body of Lex. Darkseid appears to Lionel, and Lionel sells his soul to Darkseid so Lex may live.

In his search for Tess, Clark goes to the burnt-out ruins of Luthor Manor. Remember those scenes in the show that quickly became cliché, where Clark would burst into Lex’s office in the Manor and confront Lex with the details of Lex’s evil plan, and Lex would just sit there all smug and evil? Well, we’re treated to one last one. As I said, Lex was always the most compelling character to me, so I was looking forward to this. Lex goes on to state his new philosophy, that he once thought people were defined by their friends or families, but he finally accepts that people are defined by their enemies, so he dedicates his life to being an enemy of Clark Kent’s. I half-expected him to quote the Joker from The Dark Knight: “I expect we’ll be doing this dance for years.” And Clark’s final line to Lex seemed somewhat poignant: “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you, Lex.”

Finally, Clark’s going to go to the Fortress of Solitude! He goes back to his old barn in Smallville to get the crystal that activates the Fortress, but he’s confronted by Darkseid, possessing Lionel Luthor’s body. Darkseid knows Clark is the only one that can stop him, and Darkseid throws Clark through a wall. Clark freezes in midair, and we retreat into his mind where he talks with Jor-El. We’re treated to a montage of all of Clark’s heroics throughout the series, and Clark finally understands that these were trials from him to prove his worthiness as a hero. Jor-El says Clark has been a hero all along. We then come out of this astral plane, and see that Clark did not freeze in midair...he’s floating.

That’s right, after every other Kryptonian who arrived on Earth and figured it out instantly...after every evil entity that possessed Clark was able to figure it out instantly...Clark Kent finally figured out how to fly. He takes out Darkseid with a flying punch, and flies north to the Fortress of Solitude.

In the Fortress, Clark communes with Jor-El and realizes that he must also accept his Kryptonian heritage to become the hero he’s destined to be. Jor-El admits his pride in his son, and says that Clark is ready. Jor-El says that while it’s Clark’s Kryptonian heritage that gives him his powers, it was Clark’s life in Smallville that made him a hero. The spirit of Jonathon Kent appears to present Clark with...the suit. Clark suits up, finally becomes Superman, and flies off to save the world.

Hey, what happened to Tess after she escaped from Lionel? Turns out she tracked down Lex in the Luthorcorp offices. Brother and sister have on last moment, in which Lex kills Tess. But, with her dying breath, Tess smears a neurotoxin on Lex’s face. This toxin will wipe out all of Lex’s memories. So Lex’s knowledge of Clark Kent’s powers...Lex’s tragic childhood...all of it, gone from Lex’s memories. I was really starting to wonder how they’d get rid of Lex’s knowledge of Clark Kent’s true identity, so I’m glad they remembered to do something about that in this final episode. With his memories gone, and nothing but a dark heart remaining, Lex Luthor looks out at the world. The gravitational forces of Apokolypse being so close to Earth smashes some of the letters in the “Luthorcorp” sign on the roof of the Luthorcorp tower. The remaining letters spell out “Lexcorp.”

We catch up with Superman. He saves Air Force One, and Lois Lane is on board, so she gets to break the story of Superman’s revelation to the world. Superman hurls Apokolypse into the darkest reaches of space. And Superman looks down on the world and prepares for his destiny. We never see Superman in close-up, though...just in wide shots, with his cape flapping in the breeze.

And here’s where things turn into total fan service.

The traditional score of the series fades away. They start recycling the classic John Williams score from the Richard Donner film. We flash forward seven years, and see that this entire episode has been a bedtime story that Chloe was reading to her young son. Apparently, Chloe married Oliver and is in the throes of living happily ever after. (I have to put on my Continuity Cop cap and point out that Green Arrow’s one true love is Black Canary, but whatever.) With her son down for the night, Chloe phones her cousin Lois Lane in Metropolis.

Lois Lane is an ace reporter at the Daily Planet. Perry White is angry as usual as Lois is missing her deadlines. Lois dispenses some advice to the recently-hired Jimmy Olson.

(“Hey,” you might be thinking. “Jimmy Olson was a regular character a few seasons back, and they killed him off. What the what?” Well, in Jimmy’s final appearance, they revealed that he was actually the older brother of the real Jimmy Olson, and the younger Jimmy decided to take his older brother’s name and follow in his legacy. Lois reaffirms this by telling Jimmy he’s got a long way to go to fill the shoes of his big brother.)

We see a shot of a TV monitor that announces Lex Luthor has just been elected President of the United States. Lois bumps into Clark in the hallway, and we learn that they’ve been putting off their wedding for the last seven years, because Clark always gets called away to perform superheroics...but they’re good to go for tonight! Just then, a Daily Planet staffer yells out that terrorists are threatening to blow up a building in downtown Metropolis. Clark tells Lois he might be a few minutes late, and runs up to the roof.

The classic John Williams Superman theme kicks in. Clark Kent goes through the classic transformation of removing his glasses and tearing open his shirt to reveal the Superman logo. We hold on the logo, and the end credits roll in the style of the classic Richard Donner film.

And that’s the end of Smallville. It was pretty good. Not going to lie, I stood up and cheered when Clark finally discovered how to fly. The references to Darkseid, and all the other references to the Superman mythology, as always, made me squee. But that first 45-minutes was a painful reminder of why the show started getting on my nerves.

It’s over now. Maybe someday I’ll pick up the DVDs and acquaint myself with the show properly. But all in all, it was a good ride.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thor Review

I got a text from a friend the other day lamenting that my online presence has become somewhat scant as of late. I haven’t done the podcast in about six weeks, and my blog entries are become fewer and further between. Well, that’s all easy enough to explain.

For those just tuning in, I currently have no Internet access at home. My upstairs neighbours used to let me use their Internet connection. I’d give them $20 a month, and they’d give me the password for the wireless router. Well, they moved out almost two months ago, and I haven’t been able to get my own Internet connection yet. The reasons for not having it back are about 80% my own procrastination, and 20% poor customer service from the only ISP that serves Athabasca when I’m able to get them on the phone.

It’s kind of interesting that this situation is very similar to the one that caused me to start this blog. Around 8 years ago or so, my laptop crashed, and I had no way to get online at home. Maintaining an online presence was very important to me back then, so I went to Blogger, which was the popular blogging service among my friends at the time, and got myself a blog. I figured it would be quick and easy to update at libraries and Internet cafes and thus maintain my online presence. 8 years later now, and I’m still blogging.

So maybe it’s time to bring this blog back to its original purpose...something quick and easy to update at the library until I get my connection back at home. Although, if you really are craving some kind of Internet-based entertainment from me, I find that Facebook and Twitter are really quick and easy to update from my BlackBerry. I’m still very active at those social networking sites, so you might want to consider friending me or following me.

But yeah...not much to write home about. I had a wonderful day in Edmonton today. With the weather getting really warm right now, I figured I needed a new pair of shoes for walking around. I’ve always wanted a bigger memory card for my digital camera, and when I spotted an 8G card on sale for $10, I snapped one up. Oh, and I wanted to see Thor.

Since I can’t update my website, let’s blog my review of Thor!


Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Idris Elba, Colm Feore, and Jamie Alexander
Man o man, superheroes have dominated the box office for the past few years, and because I’m a sucker for all the superhero stuff, I try to see them all. And now we have issue 2 of Marvel’s big crossover event. Issue 1 was Iron Man 2 last year, issue 2 is Thor, issue 3 is Captain America coming out this July, and issue 4 is going to be The Avengers, the gigantic superhero team consisting of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, coming out next summer. So, does Thor work on its own, or does it have the same problem many had with Iron Man 2, which was too much set-up for The Avengers?

In the mystical realm of Aasgard, the gods of Norse mythology reside. As Thor is about to be crowned king by Odin, Frost Giants attack, and Thor decides to wipe out all the Frost Giants. This leads to a new war with the Frost Giants, and for this insolence, Odin strips Thor of his powers and banishes him to Earth. On Earth, Thor experiences a bit of culture shock as he gets used to being depowered and this simple Earth-dwellers, but with the help of the three astrophysicists studying the wormhole he fell out of, he begins to adjust. He even falls in love with one of them, Jane Foster. Meanwhile, in Aasgard, Loki takes advantage of the situation to seize the throne. But Loki knows that, should Thor ever return, it ruin his plans. Can Thor regain his powers, save Earth, and then reclaim the throne of Aasgard?

What I Liked:
Aasgard looks amazing. I’m constantly blown away at what computer animation is doing these days to create these otherworldly realms. The acting, too, is incredibly good, with Chris Hemsworth being wonderfully boisterous and then very sorrowful as Thor. The comedy, I’m glad to report, is not as stupid as the commercial play it out, and it does provide some very good laughs. And Loki is a very intriguing villain, but that does lead into....

What I Didn’t Like:
Loki is a very complicated villain, and as such, it’s tough to get a handle on what his evil scheme is. The film does drag a little bit when it comes to Earth. And the romance between Thor and Jane...well, it just happens so fast that it’s almost unexpected. It’s almost one of those, “We have to, I guess, because it happens in the comics” kind of things.

Final Verdict:
A very satisfying, if somewhat clichéd, superhero yarn. A friend asked where this ranks with the other Marvel films, and I’d say it’s on par with The Incredible Hulk.

3 Nibs

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Star Wars Blu-Ray Specs!

Well, today is Star Wars Day.  For those who aren't in the loop, May 4th is Star Wars Day because Star Wars fans the world over will be tweeting "May the Fourth be with you." 

I don't know, dude.  When it comes to being a Star Wars fan, I'm just burnt out.  I really can't care any more.  I blame the Clone Wars movie.  God, that movie was so bad....  I've been told the series has gotten a lot better, but the movie sucked so much, I've never bothered to tune in. 

That being said, though, I did pre-order my set of set of Star Wars Blu-Rays as soon as Lucasfilm announced it back in January.  The specs --  the listing of all the bonus features -- wasn't announced at the time, saying that they would be announced at a later date.  Well, Lucasfilm chose Star Wars Day to be that later date.  Here's what you're going to get on the 9-disc "Infinite Saga" set of the Star Wars films. 

Disc 1: The Phantom Menace - The original running commentary from the DVD, and a new running commentary made of archival interviews with the cast and crew.

Disc 2: Attack of the Clones - The original running commentary from the DVD, and a new running commentary made of archival interviews with the cast and crew.

Disc 3: Revenge of the Sith - The original running commentary from the DVD, and a new running commentary made of archival interviews with the cast and crew.

Disc 4: A New Hope - The original running commentary from the DVD, and a new running commentary made of archival interviews with the cast and crew.

Disc 5: The Empire Strikes Back - The original running commentary from the DVD, and a new running commentary made of archival interviews with the cast and crew.

Disc 6: Return of the Jedi - The original running commentary from the DVD, and a new running commentary made of archival interviews with the cast and crew.

Disc 7: Star Wars Archives: Episodes I - III -- Deleted scenes, concept art, interviews with the cast and crew, featurettes on the making of the prequels...everything to do with the prequels is on this disc.

Disc 8: Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV - VI -- Same thing as Disc 7, only all pertaining to the original trilogy.

Disc 9: Star Wars Documentaries: A collection of documentaries about the saga, including new ones made for the Blu-Ray, and old ones getting re-released for the first time. The documentaries include:

  • Star Warriors - This 90 minute documentary chronicles the 501st Legion Star Wars fanclub/service organization
  • A Conversation With the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later - This half-hour is a round table discussion with George Lucas, ESB co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, ESB director Irvin Kirshner, and composer John Williams, as they reminisce about ESB. Filmed last year, before Kirshner's death.
  • Star Wars Spoofs - A 90 minute compilation of all the Star Wars spoofs out there, including clips from the Simpsons, Family Guy, and yes, even Weird Al's complete music video for The Saga Begins.
  • The Making of Star Wars - The original TV special from 1977
  • Empire Strikes Back: SPFX - The original "making of" TV special from 1980
  • Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi - The original "making of" TV special from 1983
  • Anatomy of a Dewback - A chronicle of the making of the new effects for the Special Editions. Originally released on StarWars.com when the Special Editions hit theatres.
  • Star Wars Tech - A special from 2007, analyzing the technology of the films and how close it is to reality.
When the Blu-Rays were originally announced back in January, we were given the vague release date of "September 2011."  Well, we now have a specific release date:  September 16.  It'll be released in three different boxed sets:  the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, and the "Infinite Saga," which is the nine-disc monstrosity outlined above.

Oh, and the original theatrical editions are NOT on the discs, so, make the usual protests. 

Monday, May 02, 2011

Alpocalypse Track Listing!

The countdown continues to Weird Al's new album, Alpocalypse, and I'm buzzing with the excitement that only a new Weird Al album can bring.  Just perusing the Internets, and I'm finding that the track listing to Alpocalypse has been released!

Ah, looking over this track listing, I'm taken back to my childhood, leafing through my brother's Columbia Record House catalogues, reading the track listings for all those Weird Al albums and wondering what the songs were about.  "Is this a parody of that?"  "That song's got a strange title...I wonder what it's about."  "Man, I wish Mom and Dad would raise my allowance so I can actually buy these and find out!" 

Now, a lot of these songs will look familiar.  And that's because, as Weird Al has been saying for a while now, all the songs from his 2009 digital EP Internet Leaks are on this album.  So, the album is, like, 50% new material, and 50% 2-year old songs. 

So let's take a look here!

1)  Perform This Way - His aforementioned (and already blogged-about-by-me) parody of Lady Gaga's Born This Way.

2)  CNR - Part of Internet Leaks, his White Stripes-style song about acting legend Charles Nelson Riley.

3)  TMZ - No idea if this is an original or a parody, but will obviously be about the gossip-mongering website.

4)  Skipper Dan - My favourite from the Internet Leaks collection, about a gifted young actor and the only gig he can get:  working on the Disneyland Jungle Cruise ride.

5)  Polka Face - With a title like that, this is obviously the requisite polka medley.

6)  Craigslist - The first one released as part of the Internet Leaks collection, his Doors-tribute about the classified ad website.

7)  Party in the CIA - Many Weird Al sites are already agreeing that this is most likely a parody of Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus.

8)  Ringtone - Also from the Internet Leaks collection, all about annoying ringtones.

9) Another Tattoo - And now the confusion of my youth.  Parody or original?  I have no idea. 

10)  If That Isn't Love - One thing Weird Al does is twisted love songs, so I'm guessing this is an original.

11)  Whatever You Like - The only parody on the Internet Leaks collection, a parody of T.I.'s Whatever You Like.  Given the economic downturn, our singer can now only afford to by his girlfriend "whatever she likes" down at the Dollar Store.  (Fun trivia fact:  the only Weird Al parody that has the same name as the original.) 

12)  Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me - Based on the title, we know what the joke is.  But again, parody or original?  I'm not sure.

Oh, and also revealed that, following the model of his last album Straight Outta Lynwood, the album will come with a DVD, featuring animated music videos for 10 of the 12 songs on the album!  The only ones not getting music videos are Perform This Way and Polka Face

June 22!  Now available for pre-order on Amazon!