Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Time for Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly gaze at something in my home video library because I really don't have much of a social life.  This time out, we're doing the second in Robert Downey Jr's take on the world's greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.  This entry is originally dated June 24, 2012.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Targ New Year's Special: 35% More!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Man, o man, I just can't seem to find the time to do this anymore.  But I've got stories to tell, and I like being on the radio, so why not bust out a podcast?  Time for a new episode of U62: The Targ!

I've already talked on the various social media about how awesome Star Wars Identities was.  But, that's not the only thing I did at the Telus World of Science.  I also took in an IMAX documentary and saw my first ever planetarium show.  And, I also tell some tales of my Christmas vacation, such as finally getting my holy grail of Star Wars action figures, and sampling some very tasty treats I got for Christmas.

So check out my New Years Special:  35% More

Click here to go download it!

Head here to subscribe in iTunes!

Be a fan in Facebook! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring -- Extended Edition

Welcome to this week's edition of Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I go through my DVDs, watch one, and blog about it.  This week, we start on Peter Jackson's extended editions of his epic trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.  Yup, it's the Fellowship of the Ring.  This entry is originally dated June 17, 2012.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Star Wars Identities Link Collection

So, if you're my friend on Facebook or if you follow me on Twitter, you know that, back on Thursday, I went to see Star Wars: Identities at the Telus World of Science.  And I loved it!  So I just thought I'd take a minute to collect all the links I've been posting to the social networks.

Now, Star Wars Identities is more than just a wide collection of props from the Star Wars films on display.  The educational component is they explore everything that goes into creating our identity:  our upbringing, the influences of friends and mentors, life events that come along and change things...stuff like that.  And they use the story arcs of Luke Skywalker from the original trilogy and Anakin Skywalker from the prequels as their prime examples.  The interactive component is you wear this special wristband, and along the way, you have to make certain life choices.  And at the end, you get to see the Star Wars character you created.

This is me.  This is me in Star Wars.  This is the character I created.

To read my character's bio, just click this link! 

But that's not all.  I also had my camera along and took lots of pictures.  I took lots of video, too, and edited it together into a little home movie.  So, here it is, my little film, entitled Mark Goes to Star Wars Identities.

This video is lovingly dedicated to my friend Kenten, because only he would give me the idea of doing a Red Green/Star Wars mash-up.

I do have a gigantic, epic length blog entry planned talking about my impressions and reflections on, not just Star Wars Identities, but my first trip to the Telus World of Science in about 15 years or so.  Hopefully that'll be up in the next day or so...getting it finished is top of my to-do list for this Sunday. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin: Superman -- The Animated Series

Welcome back to another edition of Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly look at one of the many, many, many movies in my home video library.  Today, it's my recent attempt to tackle a TV series.  It's the classic 1990s cartoon Superman: The Animated Series.  This is originally dated in my notes as June 10, 2012.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Scarecrow's Oscar Picks: 2013 Edition

Scarecrow's Oscar Picks!

Well, it's that time of  year!  The Oscar nominations were announced a few years ago, so it's time to do what I've been doing since I started blogging in the late-1990s.  It's time for me to do my Oscar picks!

Now, as I've been doing since the late 1990s, I tend to do my Oscar picks in the categories that I care about.  I mean, you're going to get all kinds of speculation for the big ones like Best Picture and Best Actor and Best Actress and stuff like that.  So, when I started doing this, I started by focusing on the categories that I care about:  Best Original Song and Best Visual Effects.  So let's take a look at what we've got.

Best Visual Effects

The nominees are:

Wow, lots of good choices there.  I think that, when it comes to The Hobbit, the Academy will probably do what they did with The Lord of the Rings.  They'll save all the awards for the third and final film.  So that's probably out of the running.  Snow White and the Huntsman, didn't see it, can't speak to it.  And as much as I loved The Avengers, I really don't think there's anything new and groundbreaking visual effects-wise.  However, the one that the critics keep coming back to...the one that they keep raving about the effects in, is Life of Pi.  Everyone's taking about it's use of 3D, and how a combination of a real tiger, animatronics, and CGI is all coupled together to bring the film's tiger to life.

My Prediction:  Life of Pi

Best Original Song

The nominees are:

This category has gotten tougher and tougher for me to call.  The main reason why I started predicting this one back in the 1990s was because, in the 90s, Disney animated films ruled this category.  But I don't think a Disney movie has been nominated in this category for a great many year.  Most of these songs, I have not heard.  I'll try to link all the nominees up there to the song on YouTube.  But let's see..being a James Bond fan, I thought Skyfall the song was pretty good.  Ted was from the creators of Family Guy, and I see that Everybody Needs a Best Friend was done by all the composers who work on Family Guy.  They've done some good songs, it would be nice to see them win.  But still, the critics generally love Les Miserables, and with people saying the film was shunned because it didn't pick up nominees for  Best Director, so I'm sure a lot of people will go for that one.

My Prediction:  Les Miserables

Best Animated Film

It's funny...I just wrote up a Fishing in the Discount Bin for Chicken Run, and as the urban legend goes, this category was created because the Academy felt guilty about not being able to give Chicken Run anything.  I started predicting this one when the category was new 11 years ago, and I was still running down to the theatre to see every new animated movie that came out.  Which reminds me...I think I'm due for another Animated Film Catch-Up.  Anyway, the nominees are:
Wow!  I've seen three out five nominations this year!  I think that's a personal record.  This seems like a category that'll be too close to call.  While Brave really didn't gel for me, Pixar is an Oscar darling.  I missed The Pirates! in its theatrical release, but I still really want to see it, because it's from the UK's Aardman Animations, which is another Oscar darling.  And ParaNorman, while it fizzled at the box office, got a lot of love from the critics.  With this one, though, I'm really leaning towards Wreck-It Ralph, because when I went to see it, I found it to be very pleasantly surprising, so maybe the Academy will feel that way, too.

My Prediction:  Wreck-It Ralph

And, as always, just to sell out and be mainstream, let's do the big one, shall we?

Best Picture

 Wow, I have seen a grand total of one of these films.  That would be Django.  I still don't like the fact that they increased it from 5 films to 10 films.  Well, it's not 10 films anymore.  It's "as many as their needs to be."  The goal was to open it up and include more mainstream films, so people would stop going, "Oh, those are all films I've never heard of."  And, well, all that seems to have happened is we get more films that no one has heard of.  So I think I'm just going to pick a name out of a hat here

My Prediction:  Les Miserables

The Oscars are on February 24 this year.  Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, is the host.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Astro Boy

And here we go again with Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly look at one of the many DVDs in my video library.  Today, we conclude our retrospective on the films of Imagi Studios with their second, and sadly, final film, Astro Boy.  This entry is originally dated June 9, 2012.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Django Unchained Review is Up

My review of Django Unchained is now online!

Head on over to my main site to check it out:  www.chaosinabox.com

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Obtaining the Holy Grail

Well, Christmas vacation 2012/2013 is coming to a close.  I took 2 weeks off for my Christmas vacation, rather than my usual 1 week.  Around the middle of November I got an e-mail from the boss, informing me of my unused vacation days and asking me to use them up.  I was taken aback, usually because I get that e-mail in the middle of January and I take a week off in February to use them up.  But everything seemed to be moving ahead of schedule this year, so I proposed doubling my Christmas vacation to get those unused days off the books, which everyone around the office seemed to be OK with.

And boy, do I know how to cap off a vacation or what, because for my final day (yesterday), I made...A DENTIST'S APPOINTMENT!  Yup, got my teeth cleaned.  I made the usual small talk with the hygienist, which usually revolves around why a guy from Athabasca goes all the way to Spruce Grove to see the dentist.  Quite simple really:  every time I start asking around Athabasca, the dentists in the area keep telling me they're not taking new patients.  So finally I said, "Screw it, I'll keep going to my regular guy."

Besides, it gives me a reason to take a day off work, and as we've already established, I have a real problem with not using up my vacation days.  

So, with a mouthful of clean teeth, I was off to Edmonton to spend all those lovely, wonderful Christmas gift cards.  First stop:  Wal-mart.  For you see, I was in need of a new pair of shoes.  Now that winter is in full swing, I wearing snow boots, of course, but what to do when I get to work?  I don't like wearing the snow boots around the office, because wearing them all day, the feet got hot and sweaty -- and not in the good way.  So I like to slip off the boots and wear some more comfortable footwear.  I know some colleagues at some of our sister stations have been known to wear slippers or Crocs, but a few years back a memo was sent out, saying that such footwear is officially frowned upon.  My solution:  cheap, $10 runners.  And my usual pair of "office runners" had become worn down to just nothing.  Seriously, it was like binding my feet in rags.

After I got my new shoes, and a few shirts I liked, I fell back into old habits and headed to the toy section to see if there were any new action figures I wanted to obtain for my collection.  And yes, there were.  A few years back, they started this group of Star Wars figures called "The Vintage Collection," where the packaging is designed to look like the original Star Wars figures from the early-80s, and I'm a sucker for that retro stuff.

Aurra Sing, in retro packaging.

I remember the summer of 1999, when me and most of my friends were in a cloud of new Star Wars stuff, thanks to the release of The Phantom Menace.  For those few of my friends who dove head-first into the new Expanded Universe stuff that came along, they were quick to tell me that Aurra Sing - a character with barely a second of screen time in Episode I, was quickly becoming a rising star in the Star Wars fanfic community.  So, with all those memories of my friends telling me about the awesomeness of Aurra Sing, I figured I should grab her action figure.

Ashoka Tano, in retro packaging.

As I've blogged before, I never really got into the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Seeing the very-bad movie version that started the series was when I officially declared myself burnt out on Star Wars.  Although, my friends who've stuck with it tell me it's gotten a lot better as the TV seasons wore on.  As such, The Clone Wars is vastly under-represented in my collection.  But, from what I did see, I do know that Ahsoka Tano is one of the stars of the show, being the Jedi apprentice of Anakin Skywalker.  She's a tragic character without knowing she's tragic...as we all know from the events of Revenge of the Sith, she's going to die.  As she's not in Revenge of the Sith, she'll probably die in the final episode of The Clone Wars.  But she'll live forever, encased in carbonite blister packaging.

Now I was off to Best Buy, to start spending my Best Buy gift cards.  I already had one Blu-Ray picked out.  As you know, I'm a huge fan of the folks over at Pixar.  And, in late fall, they released their second compilation of the short films, entitled The Pixar Short Film Collection Volume 2.  So, of course, Pixar junkie that I am, I knew I had to get it.  That was the only one I was planning to get, but as you may recall, I blogged a few months ago that, as part of the Skyfall hype, pretty much all of the James Bond films are now being released to Blu-Ray.  And I saw the brand-new Blu-Ray release of the Timothy Dalton Bond The Living DaylightsThe Living Daylights was the one I had earmarked to be upgraded to Blu-Ray next, as I have the basic edition DVD with no bonus features.  And there was the shiny new Blu-Ray, loaded with all the bonus features...for just $6.99!  How could I say no when the price was so ridiculously low?

New DVDs in hand, it was now off to West Edmonton Mall to catch a movie the way it was meant to be seen...on the big screen.  I just wasn't going to let my Christmas vacation end without catching a movie.  (While I'm at it, apologies to my mother, who was really hoping I'd take her to see Les Miz before going home.  Being the only one in the family who actually takes time to go to movies anymore, most all of my family waits for me to come visit so they have an excuse to go to the movies.)  But before I was off to the movies, there was a small side trip.

As I blogged a couple of weeks ago, my Holy Grail of Star Wars action figures has been the McQuarrie Concept Stormtrooper.  Every time I got to the city, I swing by the comic book and collectible shops to see if one is in...and to see if the price is something I can afford.  Many years ago, when I started this action figure collecting hobby, I said I'd never pay more than $20 for a figure.  And, if you've never been to a comic book and collectibles shop to buy an action figure, let me tell you, they are rarely less than $20 in those places.  Now, as you'll recall in that blog entry from a few weeks ago, one of my shops in West Edmonton Mall had the McQuarrie Concept Stormtrooper for $25.  Just $5 more than my self-imposed limit, when such a limit made sense to a 14-year old kid working part-time in a grocery store.  So I sucked it up and walked away, because I guess I don't like spending five extra dollars to be happy.  I fully expected it wouldn't be back when I returned.

I returned and...it was still there.  And, even better, it had been marked down to the "Mark can sleep at night" price of $19.99.  I could not believe that it had been marked down to less than $20.  Not even the clerk could believe it when he rung it up for me!  "I paid a lot more than $19.99 for mine on eBay," he grumbled, as he placed it in a shopping bag.

So, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me a great sense of joy and accomplishment to reveal to you my Holy Grail of Star Wars action figures...the McQuarrie Concept Stormtroooper.

The McQuarrie Concept Stormtrooper.

It's a Stormtroooper!  With a lightsaber!  And a shield!  How awesome is that?

As great as it would have been to call it a day after that, there was one last thing left to do.  I went to see Django Unchained.  The latest from Quentin Tarantino, as he offers up his rendition of the Spaghetti western.  Set 2 years before the Civil War, Jaimie Foxx plays Django, a freed slave who becomes a bounty hunter and goes after the ruthless plantation owner that bought his wife.  Christopher Waltz, the German actor who won an Oscar for Tarantino's last film, Inglorious Basterds, plays Dr. King Shultz, the dentist-turned-bounty hunter who frees Django, and becomes Django's partner, best friend, and mentor in the bounty hunting trade.  And Leonardo diCaprio plays the ruthless plantation owner. Calvin Candee.

The usual Tarantino flourishes are there, in the dialogue and the blood.  My God, the blood...probably Tarantino's bloodiest film.  Not his most violent...but definitely his bloodiest, as each gunshot just sends out geysers of blood.  Probably his most cameo-filled movie too, as Tarantino loves bringing out these fondly remembered actors from TV and exploitation movies and giving them one more shot.  The one cameo I was pleasantly surprised to spot was Tom Wopat, Luke Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard, showing up as a Texas marshal.

(Another Dukes of Hazzard reference I kept getting...it's established that Calvin Candee's plantation is in Chickasaw Country...in The Dukes of Hazzard, Chickasaw County was Hazzard County's neighouring county.)

If I have a complaint, that would be that this is the first Tarantino movie where I felt it kind of dragged in places...it felt about a half-hour too long.  It was like Tarantino was allowed his indulgences a little too much.

All in all, though, a very entertaining film, and another great addition to the Tarantino filmography. 

And that's it!  Christmas vacation 2012 draws to close, and I'm back at work on Monday.  I'm buff, I'm tan, I'm well-rested.  I should take vacations more often. 

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - TMNT

Time again for Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly look at one of the many DVDs in my collection.  This time around, I attempt to get all serious and analytical, but the film I choose to do it with is TMNT, aka the computer animated Ninja Turtles movie.  This entry's originally dated June 8, 2012.