Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Viva Las Vegas

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly rant about one of the many DVDs I possess.  Today, we get to what's generally considered one of Elvis's greatest films, Viva Las Vegas.  This review is originally dated August 27, 2011.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - A Hard Day's Night

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, what started as a feature on my podcast and has become a rambling series of blog entries.  Today, we get to one of the greatest films in rock and roll, the Beatles classic A Hard Day's Night.  This entry is originally dated August 20, 2011.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - A League of Their Own

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I try to find meaning in my sad, lonely existence by watching DVDs and blogging about them.  Wow, that sounded funnier in my head.  Imagine "Weird Al" Yankovic saying that in his trademark over-the-top way, and you'll get what I was going for.  Anywho, on this week's installment, we get to my sister's favourite movie, A League of Their Own.  This entry is originally dated August 13, 2011.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Chocolate Lady Was a Soldier

I've tweeted this tale, I've shared it on Facebook, and I told it on the air, so it's time to blog it for posterity.

In case you haven't heard, the federal government is spending $28 million to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.  You probably saw the TV commercials, because they were running non-stop during the Olympics.

If you haven't been to the movies in a while, this spot is also being shown in theatres as part of the pre-show.  I was catching a movie about a month ago, when this spot started playing on the big screen.  When Laura Secord made her appearance (at about 0:25 in the spot), I heard the guy behind me turn to his buddy and say....

"So...the chocolate lady was a soldier?"

Oh, God.  I had to bite my tongue to stifle my laughter.  Did he not pay attention in Social?  Did he not even see the heritage moment they made about her?

That still makes me laugh every time I think about.  "The chocolate lady was a soldier."  Sounds like the tagline for a blaxploitation film. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Perusing the new Blu-Ray releases today, and I see that The Royal Tenenbaums hits Blu-Ray today.

That's one of the movies where my memories of the events leading to me seeing the film are more vivid than the film itself.

Long story short:  I had a job interview in Vancouver.  After the interview, I met up with my best friend's girlfriend's best friend and we went to see it.

Closest thing to a date this old geek has ever been on.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my little series of blog entries where I watch a DVD in my collection and just rant on it.  Today, we get to the first James Bond film, and it's the most controversial one.  We're looking at On Her Majesty's Secret Service.  This review is originally dated June 12, 2012.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Tubes and Tourists

I originally come from a little town called Entwistle.  It's a nice little town.  Former Prime Minister Joe Clark once called it a "flyspeck on the map."  During the railway boom at the turn of the century, it was rumored to have the biggest brothel west of Winnipeg.  I've always felt that Entwistle, though, was a town of opportunity.  It lays right along the Yellowhead Highway...exactly halfway between Edmonton and Edson.  It also lies at the intersection of the Yellowhead and Highway 22, bringing lots of traffic north from Drayton Valley.  Back in the 1990s, Transportation and Travel Alberta gave a lot of highways in the province cute nicknames to bolster tourism.  Highway 22 became the Cowboy Trail.  At the intersection of the Yellowhead and the Cowboy Trail is Entwistle...my home.

And it was that talk of tourism where I first began to see the opportunity in Entwistle.  At the crossing of such two major highways, and all that traffic coming through, all Entwistle needed was a good tourism hook to get people to pull off the road for an hour or so and spend some money.  Around 20 years ago, the provincial government was nuts for tourism projects.  You might recall that, it was 20 years ago, that lots of communities across the province began building the world's largest such-and-such to be their tourist attraction.  I used to see all those "world's biggests" being built on the news and started daydreaming about what Entwistle could build to be tourist attraction.  Little did I know that the proper tourism opportunity was always there, right in front of me.

Flowing through Entwistle is the majestic Pembina River.  Entwistle sits on the border with Pembina River Provincial Park.  The park and its campground was always rather popular.  It has this wonderful little beach at a bend in the river, and it was the perfect place for cooling your feet on a hot day.  But for as long as I could remember, it was a very popular spot.  It was always crowded, and my earliest memories of the park are of cars parked along the highway because there was no room left in the park.  And floating down the river was a multitude of tubes.

The Pembina as it winds through Entwistle has always been popular with tubers.  Get yourself an old inner tube, and just lazily float down the river.  You can even do it completely within the park.  When my brother and I would do it, we'd start at the beach and then float down to the campground's "E" loop.  It was fun.  But, there were always those braver than us, who would venture further up the river, to the massive railway trestles, and set out from there.  One of the most popular places to start your journey was a patch of Crown land behind the Entwistle Cemetery.

In about the past five years or so, knowledge of the Pembina River in Entwistle and how great it is for tubing has exploded into the mainstream.  A few locals decided to take advantage of it.  They opened up a business called Pembina River Tubing.  They rent tubes to the tourists and run a shuttle bus out to that patch of Crown land.  Their business is on an old lot in Entwistle that used to house a junkyard.  Business is good, and it's good to see.  Finally, someone found a tourism hook for Entwistle and how to make some money off it.

"Damn you, Mark!" you might be saying.  "You haven't been to Entwistle in years!  You don't know how bad it is."  Granted, my view of the tubing company is biased.  For you see, Pembina River Tubing is located, literally, right across the street from my parents' house.  So most of what I know about the comes from my parents.  And my parents have long shared my desire for Entwistle to find its tourism hook.  They love having the tubing company there.  In a small town, where growth is rare, this new business offering new employment opportunities is a breath of fresh air.  And when it comes to have such a busy business for neighbours, my parents will say never will you find nicer neighbours.  The owners are always dropping in to make sure that everything is fine and they're not disturbing the neighbourhood too much.

And they know that the Pembina River is their lifeblood.  They routinely patrol the Pembina River, looking for those who may have fallen behind.  They even formed a group called Friends of the Pembina, who patrol the river and clean up the trash.  Yup.  As far as my parents are concerned - a couple of lifelong Entwistle locals - Pembina River Tubing is doing everything right.

But there are those who don't think so.  My mother always says nothing gets her blood boiling like reading a little Facebook group called the Pembina Interest Group.

The Pembina Interest Group is dedicated to trying to keep the tubers out of Entwistle.  When the locals opposed to the tourists first rallied together under this banner, their goal was to shut down Pembina River Tubing.  They blame Pembina River Tubing for bringing the tubers to town.  I don't think that's how it happened.  I personally believe the mass influx of tourists began further back that that.  I believe it was the one-two punch of the Wabamun Lake oil spill, followed by Wabamun Lake Provincial Park being closed for renovations.  Wabamun Lake is very popular as a weekend getaway for Edmontonians, and with their lake access cut off, they began venturing farther west looking for a new weekend destination.  And they found Entwistle.  As I said earlier, for as long as I can remember, the river has been popular with tubers, so naturally the new tourists would want to try it themselves.  Like all good entrepreneurs, Pembina River Tubing didn't create the demand...they saw the demand and rushed to fill it. 

I guess the Pembina Interest Group also came to the realization that Pembina River Tubing is not to blame.  Over the past month or so, their shift has focused to the Entwistle Cemetery.  As I mentioned earlier, a very popular staging area for people to launch their tubes has been a patch of Crown land behind the cemetary.  And the only way to access this land is to drive through the cemetery itself.  Needless to say, what was once a very quiet country road has now became a very busy thoroughfare, as people drive down the road, through the cemetery, and to the Crown land.  My memories of the highway next to Pembina River Provincial Park being clogged with parked cars is now applicable to the cemetery road.

It does trouble me that the Entwistle Cemetery has become somewhat of a major thru road, but since the only information I'm getting is from the Pembina Interest Group, I can't help but wonder how much of it is hyperbolic.  Most of the "spy photos" they post on their Facebook group are of the multitudes of cars parked on the Crown land.  Despite their allegations, they have yet to post a photo of people parking on the graves, picnicking on the graves, peeing on the graves, having sex on the graves, or any other disrespectful behaviour to the graves that they allege happens. 

But if what they say on their Facebook page is true, they have been sending those photos to the Edmonton media.  They must have finally caught someone's attention, because back on Monday, I noticed stories about the tubers in Entwistle in the Edmonton Journal, on Global TV, and on CBC Edmonton.  And there I got to hear from Parkland County.  Entwistle, you see, dissolved their village council about 10 years ago and became a hamlet in Parkland County.  That's been adding to the Pembina Interest Group's frustrations, as the seat of power is all the way in Stony Plain, and they feel the west end of the county is being neglected.

In the news stories, they county officials say that a new road will be built over the winter to bypass the cemetery, and this should once again preserve the cemetery's peace.  Off the record, I can tell you that my parents are about to lose their neighbours.  Pembina River Tubing has acquired a parcel of land on the south side of Entwistle, and hopes to build some permanent facilities closer to this new road.  So accommodations are being made.  But it's not enough for some.  There are those who won't be happy until every last tuber is gone from Entwistle.  And that saddens me.  Their logic eventually boils down to selfishness.  After you go through the hyperbole of graves being vandalized and Pembina River Tubing being a blight on the community, you find, "Tubing on the river used to be our little secret...we want it to be our secret again."

That's long been my frustration with small town living.  So much opportunity, but no desire to pursue it.

Perhaps that can be best summed up by a discussion I saw on the Global TV Facebook page about this news story.  Let me paraphrase:

Tourist>>  I don't know what Entwistle's complaining about.  Build some restaurants, build some motels, get rich off these people.

Local>>  Pfft!  We already have motels and restaurants.  We don't need more.

Much like the oil and gas that drives this province, tourism is a resource.  And like all resources, it must be properly developed and managed.  What's going on back home is almost a Fort McMurray situation.  They've become a boom town, and now their struggling to keep up.  And sitting there screaming, "TUBERS GO HOME!" is the wrong way to go about it.

Steps are being taken.  That new road around the cemetery is a good thing.  But why stop there?  Why not take that patch of Crown land and develop it into a proper campground?  Built a proper boat launch for the tubers.  Set up some camping stalls so they'll stay longer and spend more money.  And with a park comes park rangers...the more law enforcement that the Pembina Interest Group says is needed.  In a way, that is where the Pembina Interest Group is doing a good deed.  They say on their group that every weekend their filing more and more complaints with SRD, the RCMP, and most other law enforcement agencies.  The more complaints will show the greater demand for officers of the law.

As it has for most of my life, Entwistle sits at a crossroads, literally and figuratively.  At the meeting of the Yellowhead and the Cowboy Trail, so much potential lies.  And as always, I wonder, can that potential be developed?

Further Reading:

The Official Website of Pembina River Tubing

The Pembina Interest Group on Facebook

The Edmonton Journal's article on Entwistle's massive influx of tourists

Here's Global TV's story on the tourists

And here's CBC Edmonton's story on the matter.

And here's a picture of the beach at Pembina River Provincial Park, which best matches my memories.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Doctor Who: Series 7 Trailer

A friend of mine once called me a fan of Doctor Who from the beginning.  I'm not so sure that can be said, because the show started 14 years before I was born.  For folks of my generation, I think you can call yourself "a fan of Doctor Who from the beginning" if you started watching it in reruns on YTV around 1991 or so.  Yeah...I remember in the early-1990s, YTV started showing reruns of Doctor Who with a lot of hype.  I was into it back then.  I'd always catch the last 5 minutes or so because it was on right before Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I remember watching the First Doctor stuff...it was always at the end, he'd be in the TARDIS control room, delivering the moral of the story, and I'd think, "This is it?  The famous Doctor Who?  Just some old guy in a room speechifying?  Shut up and get to Ninja Turtles!" 

As I blogged before, the first time I opened my heart and gave it a chance was 1996 American-made TV movie, and I loved it.  YTV had stopped showing it by then, so I'd have to wait 9 years before the revival began.

I tuned in to catch the revival, the Ninth Doctor stuff, and I was hooked...well, from about halfway through the first series.

And now we're getting ready for Series 7 of this revival.  If you haven't heard yet, they decided to split the series in half again.  They're going to show the first 5 episodes this fall, take a break for the annual Christmas special, and then show the remaining 8 in the spring.

I've been reading some of the borderline-spoiler info that's going around online, and then, a few days ago, this promo image was released online.

OH...MY...GOD.  That just looks so awesome!

So what do we know so far?
  • The premiere episode is going to be called Asylum of the Daleks.  The second one is going to be called Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.  The third one's going to be called A Town Called Mercy.
  • Celebrity guest stars!  Ben Browder, star of Stargate SG-1 and Farscape, shows up in an episode.  David Warner, who's done so freakin' much, is going to be in an episode.  And the original Emma Peel herself, Dame Diana Rigg, pops up.
  • They filmed in the USA again!  They did some location filming in New York City.
But of course, the sad news, as has been known for some time now, is that this'll be the final  series for Amy Pond and Rory Williams.  The first 5 episodes will be the farewell arc for Amy and Rory, and the Doctor's new companion will be introduced in the Christmas special.  The new companion will be played by Jenna-Louise Coleman.  We don't know here character's name yet, but rumour is it's Clara.

No word yet on the premiere date...the BBC likes to keep that pretty close to the vest.  But rumour is it'll be at the end of August.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Why Kevin Smith is My Hero

Yesterday was the birthday of my hero, Kevin Smith.  I was thinking about posting something on Facebook, but would have been long and rambling and more appropriate for the blog.  But I'd already posted a blog entry yesterday, and I like to limit myself to one entry per day.  So that's why I'm a day late.

As I've blogged a bit in the past, I'm a fan of Kevin Smith's.  I love his work.  How I came to be a fan is a rather common story, if the DVD bonus features are to be believed.  There I was, in my freshman year of college.  It was just a quiet Saturday night in the dorms, and I was hanging out in the TV lounge.  And I tell ya, that was a perfect place to experience new movies.  It wouldn't be too long before someone would come into the lounge with some videos and go, "Hey, mind if I watch this movie?"  And one night like that, a guy came into the lounge with a little movie called Mallrats.

And I loved that film.  There it was, a group of characters, talking and making jokes about Star Wars and comic books and stuff I liked!  I'd never seen myself represented on screen before.  It was a pretty funny film, too.  According to those aforementioned DVD bonus features, that's kind of way Smith has stopped jokingly apologizing for the film.  It found its audience in home media.  And through that, it became the perfect gateway film.  People would like it, and search out more films by him.

That's exactly how it was with me.  At around that time, I was just discovering the Internet and searching out more about movies.  So I started learning more about Mallrats and the guy who made it.  I found out he made a movie called Clerks, which I remember Siskel & Ebert raved about in my final days of high school.  He just had another movie come out called Chasing Amy, which sounded pretty good from what I was reading.  It was a few more months before I saw those two films.  The local video store had a 2-for-1 special for college kids, and one night, it was me in the TV lounge with some videos, asking if I could watch them.  It was a double feature of Clerks and Chasing Amy, and from that point on, I was hooked for life.

But there's a fine line between being a fan of someone's work, and declaring them your hero.  What makes Kevin Smith my hero?  Well, for that, I have to recount the story of how Clerks came to be.

Smith has told the story many times.  There he was, in the early-90s, working minimum wage shit jobs, and trying to figure out what to do next with his life.  As he always was a movie geek, he went out to see a movie one night...a little independent film from Richard Linklater called Slacker.  At the end of the film, Smith said, "If that's a movie, then I can make a movie."

With most people, that's where it ends.  They have that thought, and then they go back to their lives.  But not Smith.  Something in Smith's brain changed that to, "If that's a movie, then I will make a movie."  He went off to the Vancouver Film School, but determined that they weren't teaching him anything that he couldn't learn from Laserdisc running commentaries.  He dropped out, and did it early enough in the semester that he actually got a refund on his tuition.  He took that refund, along with an insurance settlement, sold his comic books and Laserdiscs, and juggled credit card debt, to raise the $27,000 budget for Clerks.

He recruited his pals who graduated from the Vancouver Film School to be his crew.  He got a lot of his buddies to star in it.  He set it in the convenience store where he worked.  He'd work all day and film the movie all night.  When that was done, he managed to find a distributor for it, it got in the famous Sundance Film Festival, was picked up by Miramax, and Smith became one of the indie darlings of the 1990s.

That's why Smith is my hero.  People are too damn content to sit back, watch something, and go, "Pfft.  I could do that."  Smith is one of the few who actually got off his ass and did it.

And that's something that kind of carried over into my life.  When I was in college, the happiest was when I was doing my college radio show.  After college, working a variety of minimum wage shit jobs, listening to the radio on those long drives to and from work, and thinking, "That's being on the radio?  Pfft.  I could do that.  I know I can do that.  I did that."  So after finishing conquering the self-doubt, I went and did it.  And I'm still doing that to this very day.

That's the lesson I hope you take from this.  Be like the guy who made Clerks.  Don't be content to just sit back and say, "I could do better."  Actually get off your ass and do better.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - MegaMind

Fishing in the Discount Bin time!  A series inspired by a friend of mine who said, "You know what I'd like to see you do, Mark?  Watch one of the many DVDs in your collection and just go off on it!"  So that's what I do.  Today, we get to the one DreamWorks animated film that made me drop my money and go see it in the theatre in a long time...MegaMind.  This review is originally dated March 13, 2011.  

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

New Skyfall Trailer!

In case you haven't heard, 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise.  Such a milestone must be marked.

I look back and try to remember my first exposure to James Bond.  I think it was seeing Roger Moore on an episode of The Muppet Show.  They did a massive James Bond spoof, and I was instantly enamored.  Later that week, we were renting movies, and my brother and I begged our parents to rent us a James Bond film.  My Mom wouldn't let us get the infamously-titled Octopussy, so we had to settle for the unofficial Never Say Never Again.

I'm not sure what this has to do with anything.  All I want to do is blog about the new trailer for the latest Bond film, Skyfall, and I'm avoiding my usual preamble because I pretty much covered everything when I blogged about the first trailer a few months ago.


Looking good!  I love how this looks.  Just some flat-out action.  We're starting to get more glimpses of the plot, too.

I'm also looking forward to this because, along with a new movie, we're also going to get the latest round of DVD and Blu-Ray re-releases of the films.  I complained a year ago that I seem to have worn out my copy of The Spy Who Loved Me...something I didn't think possible with a DVD.  So I'm looking forward to getting a replacement.

Of course, if I had money to burn, I'd probably get Bond 50...a gigantic boxed set of every James Bond film, along with a disc of new bonus features to commemorate the 50th anniversary.  And yes, they just announced, the box is designed to have an empty slot for the eventual DVD release of Skyfall.

Skyfall hits theatres on November 8.