Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, March 30, 2013

All the Times I Bought Snake-Eyes

While I was going through some of the photos on my digital camera, I came across a bunch of pictures of some of my favourite action figures in my collection.  I took them when I was home at Christmas, which is where the bulk of my collection is still in storage.  I had planned on writing a bunch of blog entries about these characters and why I bought them so many times, but it kind of got put on the back burner.  But, since I was gifted with a day off from work, and I found the pictures on my camera, I figured I should sit down and write the one entry I always planned on doing.  And that's my many purchases of the G.I. Joe ninja commando, Snake Eyes.

Snake Eyes, hands down, was everyone's favourite G.I. Joe growing up.  Larry Hama, who wrote the original G.I. Joe comic books and wrote the backstories for pretty much every character, always attributed this to the fact that, because he's completely masked and has a mysterious past, pretty much anybody could project their own self onto him.  That being said, though, Snake Eyes did have a rich history in the comics.

Snake Eyes was the all American boy, who grew up to serve his country by joining the Army.  While on patrol in Vietnam, his helicopter was shot down, and rather than run to safety, he stayed behind to rescue his team-mate Scarlett.  Though Scarlett was safe, the cost was high to Snake Eyes, as the helicopter crash would up horribly burning his face, and damaging his vocal cords, rendering him mute.  This is why he is always masked, and why he never speaks. 

The tragedy continued, though.  Upon returning to the States, he was informed that his parents and beloved twin sister were killed by a drunk driver.  With no family, and very despondent, Snake Eyes' best friend Tommy Arashikage invited Snake Eyes to come home with him in Japan, and offered him a place in the Arashikage family business.  Of course, the family business turned out to be a ninja clan.  Snake Eyes quickly took to the ninja training and excelled in all his studies, but the ninja master's perceived favourtism of Snake Eyes quickly made Tommy jealous.  In an act of jealousy, Tommy killed their ninja master and escaped into the wilderness.  Despondent over the loss of his new family, Snake Eyes returned to the States, and lived in seclusion Sierra mountains, until General Hawk recruited him for a new military unit that was being put together...G.I. Joe.  And as for Tommy, he fell into a life of crime, became a mercenary, and was eventually hired by Cobra, where he took the name Storm Shadow.

(But not really.  As was eventually revealed, the drunk driver that killed Snake Eyes' parents and sister was Cobra Commander's brother, so in typically twisted comic book villain logic, Cobra Commander blamed Snake Eyes for his brother's death.  Cobra Commander hired Zartan to kill Snake Eyes, but Zartan missed and killed the ninja master instead, framing Storm Shadow in the process.  Storm Shadow infiltrated Cobra to try and find the master's true killer.  Once all this came to light, Storm Shadow defected and fought along side his friend Snake Eyes once gain.  But I digress.)

As awesome as he was, I never had Snake Eyes when I was a kid.  My brother and I found him in Zellers one night, and we pooled our money to get him, but since my brother was the bigger G.I. Joe fan, Snake Eyes was always mixed in with his G.I. Joes, and I rarely got to play with him.  So, when I started collecting action figures, and G.I. Joe started making a big resurgence about 10  years ago, getting Snake Eyes was high on my list. 

And, of course, I went a little bit overboard.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Wolverine Trailer

So here I am, chillin' out with my pants off, because I have curtains in my apartment now so I can do that, when I get a Facebook message from my cousin.  "Hey, I may have missed it," says he, "but what did you think of the trailer for The Wolverine?"  And it occurred to me that I hadn't blogged about it yet, so I should, because that's kind of my thing.

The latest in the long and storied X-Men franchise comes out this summer, The Wolverine, following the solo adventures of everyone's favourite Canadian mutant, once again played by Australian Hugh Jackman.  I was thinking about this the other day...Wolverine has essentially become Jackman's James Bond.  I can't think of any other franchise that's kept the same actor for the same iconic character for so long.  And not bad for a guy who kind of stumbled into it.  As has been well documented now, Bryan Singer's first choice to play Wolverine in X-Men all those years ago was Russell Crowe, but Crowe passed.  Then, Singer hired Dougray Scott, but he was playing the bad guy in Mission: Impossible II, and when filming on that one went long, Scott had to pull out.  So it was down to #3 choice, Hugh Jackman, who was still primarily known in Australia as a song-and-dance man.  Jackman accepted the role, it turned him into a global superstar, and the rest is history.

In a way, this particular film has been a pet project of Jackman's.  Ever since he accepted the role of Wolverine and began researching the character, he's been dying to tell the tale told in the epic 1982 Frank Miller mini-series about Wolverine settling down in Japan, adopting the code of the samurai, and finally finding inner peace.  But, of course, Wolverine always seems to run into trouble and he gets caught in the middle of ninja battles and yakuza wars.  And before you know it, Wolverine is once again proving that he's the best there is and what he does, and what he does isn't very nice.

Getting this particular Wolverine adventure to the big screen took some doing.  The always knew they wanted to do it as a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but when the reaction to that film was kind of "meh," there was some doubt about continuing with Wolverine's solo franchise.  But people still love the character, so they went ahead and started developing the sequel.  Jackman brought in his old buddy Christopher McQuarrie to write the script.  McQuarrie, of course, is Bryan Singer's longtime writing partner, who scripted The Usual Suspects and Valkyre.  And for a director, Jackman asked another one of his buddies...Darren Aronofsky, who directed The Wrestler and Black Swan and, where Jackman met him, The Fountain.

But, that kind of fell apart.  They wanted to film it on location in Japan.  Makes perfect sense.  But, filming on location in Japan would have taken Aronofsky away from his young family for about a year, and he didn't want to do that.  So Aronofsky pulled out.  And then the tsunami hit Japan a couple years ago, and that kind of frightened the producers away from filming in Japan.  So the search was on for another for a new director and a new location.  Much like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, they finally settled on filming in Jackman's homeland of Australia, and for a new director, they got James Mangold, who directed the Oscar winners Girl, Interrupted (the film that made Angelina Jolie a star) and Walk the Line (the Johnny Cash biopic).

So, the film itself.  In the official plot description we've been given, they tell us it takes place after X-Men: The Last Stand.  After the events of that film, he's been walking the Earth, finding himself, when an old figure from his past invites him to Japan.  Where's the line that the studio handed out that's incredibly cheezy:  "Vulnerable for the first time, and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel, but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than ever before."

Jackman, of course, is back as Wolverine.  Japanese model Tao Okamoto plays Mariko, the beloved that Wolverine settles down with.  Will Yun Lee plays Wolverine's Japanese enemy, the Silver Samurai.   And, the trailers have confirmed it, Famke Jansen puts in a cameo as Jean Grey. 

I know people were kind of worried about this, because, well, the film comes out this July, and we're only getting a trailer at the end of March.  The fact that they were holding off for so long really started making people think that the film is going to be crappy.  Well, let's take a look at and see.

Well, let's get back to my cousin's original question, shall we? What did I think of it?  My reaction is somewhat...well, I'm underwhelmed.  I'm looking at this trailer and going, "Meh."  I'm just getting a real, "Been there, done that" vibe from this trailer.  It's not getting me fired up.  Looks like, for the plot, we're getting the whole "Hero loses his powers, and finds that he's still a hero without them" trope that we saw in Spider-Man 2 and Superman 2, and most other superhero sequels. 

So, yeah.  I'm just not feeling it with this one.  But I'll still probably check it out, because I'm a sucker for all things superhero.

The Wolverine hits theaters July 26. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Extended Edition

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the many DVDs in my collection.  Today, we finally finish of the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings with The Return of the King.  This entry is originally dated August 5, 2012.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What's on my PVR?

Well, here I am now, all settled down in Westlock and beginning the latest chapter in my life.  And right now, that latest chapter includes exploring my new cable company and all the brand new channels they offer!  When the cable guy came to hook me up a week ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see he dropped off a PVR.  I didn't know I ordered a PVR.  Needless to say, with this brand-new technology, I wanted to break it in by recording tons and tons of random crap.

I was thinking about starting a new series of entries where I'd sit down, clean out my PVR and reminisce about what I'd recorded.  But, as the week went on, I figured that probably wouldn't be such a good idea.  I mean, I really don't think the world needs to see me geek out about the latest DC Comics B-lister that popped up on Arrow, or that I like 2 Broke Girls, or that I have a fascination with the Disney sitcom Shake It Up, which I'm sure, in some parallel universe, could be seen as the prequel to 2 Broke Girls.

In short, why blog about TV when you can watch TV?

But still, there's a few things I recorded and watched this past week, and with nothing better to do on this Sunday morning, I thought I'd sit down and write my thoughts anyway.

G.I. Joe:  Spell of the Siren - For some reason, I have very vivid memories of watching this episode of the G.I. Joe cartoon when I was a kid, so I when I saw it was coming up on TeleToon Retro, I had to indulge my childhood nostalgia and see it again.  The Baroness manages to get her hand on the mystical "Conch of the Sirens."  When she blows on this enchanted conch shell, it's song is able to hypnotize any man into becoming her obedient servant.  So, with this new power, she promptly overthrows Cobra Commander, takes over Cobra, and hypnotizes G.I. Joe into following her orders.  Since this power has no effect on women, it's up to G.I. Joe's token women -- Scarlett, Cover Girl, and Lady Jaye -- to save the day.  Oh, and there's also two or three Joes who help them out because they were off-base when Baroness attacked, and that's good, because Scarlett, Cover Girl, and Lady Jaye need someone to make the coffee.  There's a couple of interesting things about this episode, like seeing the Baroness and Destro's love for each other.  The episode opens with Destro being captured by G.I. Joe, as the Joes raid the expedition to recover the Conch of the Sirens.  And Baroness's original impetus for taking over Cobra is when Cobra Commander refuses to expend the resources to rescue Destro.  Later in the episode, the Baroness threatens to use the Conch on Destro to turn  him into her mindless servant, but Destro talks her out of it, citing that ruling the world is no fun unless you have someone to share it with.  And they start making out.  I just find it fascinating when villains truly are capable of love.  I still don't know why I have such vivid memories of this episode.  Probably the sight of the climactic battle, in which Scarlett, Cover Girl, and Lady Jaye grapple with an army of female Cobra officers in their tight blue uniforms is when I first started feeling funny down there.

Star Trek: Amok Time - Generally acknowledged as one of the greatest episodes of the original Star Trek, if not the greatest, I knew I had to record it as it had been ages since I'd seen it.  It was a big deal for Trekkies back in the day because it gave us our first glimpse of the planet Vulcan and the Vulcan culture.  It all opens on the Starship Enterprise, where Spock has begun behaving very emotionally and erratically...highly unusual behaviour for Spock.  Spock implores Kirk that he be allowed to return to his home planet of Vulcan.  Spock eventually confides to Kirk that it's because he's undergoing the Ponn Farr, the time in every Vulcan's life where he's overcome with the overwhelming urge to return home and mate.  Spock has an arranged marriage waiting for him on Vulcan, so he has to get married and mate or else the hormones overwhelming his body will kill him.  So, they head to Vulcan, where the meet Spock's arranged bride, T'Pring, and the marriage will be officiated by T'Pau, a high Vulcan priestess and the closest thing Vulcan has to royalty.  But, before the wedding starts, T'Pring invokes an ancient custom where her betrothed has to fight for her hand in marriage in a ritualistic battle to the death.  And for her champion, T'Pring chooses Kirk.  So Spock and Kirk have to fight to the death.  Kirk is having a tough time in the battle, thanks to Vulcan's hotter and thinner atmosphere, so McCoy injects Kirk with a drug to make him breathe easier.  The battle resumes, and Spock kills Kirk.  With Spock's hormonal lust now subsiding, he's thinking logically again, and questions T'Pring as to why she demanded the combat.  T'Pring reveals that it's because she'd fallen in love with another.  T'Pring logically deduced that, if Kirk won the combat, Kirk would reject her as a bride and she'd be able to marry  her true love.  If Spock won, he'd be so overcome with grief that he'd reject her as a bride and she could marry her true love.  Or, if Spock went through with tradition and married her, why, he'd be off-planet so much commanding the Enterprise that she'd be able to continually bang her true love on the side.  With all this information, Spock frees T'Pring from tradition, enabling her to marry her true love.  Spock returns to the Enterprise to meet justice for killing Captain Kirk, but Kirk is actually alive.  That drug that McCoy injected him with was actually a sedative to fake Kirk's death.  With Spock back to normal, everyone resumes their duty stations and the adventure continues.  This is a great episode.  It's nothing but character development for Spock and Kirk.  And it introduced so many Star Trek tropes, such as the ponn farr, and that trademark Star Trek fight music, which plays when Spock and Kirk do battle.

I watched it on Space, and Space is currently airing the "special editions" that they whipped up a few years ago.  I missed them quite a bit when they first aired.  For special edition touches to this episode, all they really did was add some new establishing shots of Vulcan, to make it look more like the Vulcan we've come to know and love from the movies and the Next Generation era. 

Star Trek:  Mirror, Mirror - See, my PVR would probably just be full of Star Trek reruns from Space.  Another much-beloved episode of the original series, introducing one of the most beloved concepts in Star Trek, the Mirror Universe...the parallel universe populated by our evil twins.  While returning from an away mission in the middle of a magnetic storm, a transporter accident causes Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura to switch places with their evil counterparts in the Mirror Universe.  In the Mirror Universe, there is no United Federation of Planets.  Instead, we have the Terran Empire, seeking to dominate and conquer the universe.  On a Starship Enterprise where people are promoted through assassination, and the people command with fear, our four intrepid heroes have to find a way to get back to their own universe, while evil Spock can't help but feel that there's something different about the four when they came back from the planet.  Thank you, evil Spock, for giving us the trope of evil twins having a goatee.  Again, just a very solid episode with some very interesting concepts introduced.  I remember watching this many, many years ago.  CBC Edmonton occasionally showed reruns of the original series, and this was filler after Hockey Night in Canada one Saturday night.  I taped it...maybe I still have it on VHS somewhere. 

And that's pretty much it.  And Robot Chicken.  So much Robot Chicken.  I love that show.  I think I'll end with the most vile joke I ever heard on Robot Chicken.

SpongeBob SquarePants>>  But Sandy!  How can you be pregnant?  You said you had a sponge in you!  (awkward pause)  Oh...you meant me.  (trademark SpongeBob laugh)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Wonderfalls

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I take a peek at one of the many, many movies in my collection.  Once again, I attempt to tackle a TV series, Wonderfalls.  This is originally dated August 5, 2013.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Power of the Fandom

Just taking a minute to catch up on the various pop-culture tidbits that came across my desk last week.  I was kind of busy enjoying cable TV!  In a new town, got my cable hooked up, and experimenting with my new PVR and such.  Actually, it's kind of neat.  Because I now get my Internet from my cable company, and my cable modem is now part of my entertainment centre, I'm now able to plug my Blu-Ray player straight into the modem.  It's an older model, though, so it doesn't have any apps for streaming video services, and sadly, it looks like most studios are starting to abandon BD-Live.

For those who don't care, BD-Live was one of the big selling points of Blu-Ray when it first hit the market about 6 or 7 years ago.  You plug your Blu-Ray player into the Internet, and then with your BD-Live enabled disc, you're able to download and/or stream new bonus features.  About the only studio that still does BD-Live content is Universal, and they've got the right idea.  So you're not seeing trailers for movies from 5 years ago, what most Universal BD-Live discs do is stream new trailers from the Internet when you fire up your disc.

Nope, the current trend when it comes to Blu-Ray bonus features is second screen apps.  You load the app on your tablet, it syncs to the disc through your wireless home network, and the bonus features stream to your tablet while you watch the movie.  So I guess it's time to get a tablet.

It looks like Kickstarter is giving new life to short-lived TV series.

Last week, Rob Thomas, creator of the cult classic TV series Veronica Mars, took to Kickstarter, and revealed that he'd made a deal with Warner Brothers...the studio that owns Veronica Mars.  If Thomas could raise $2 million on Kickstarter for a Veronica Mars movie, Warner Brothers would greenlight it.

Thomas got his $2 million in 10 hours...Kickstarter has branded it their most successful campaign ever.

This got some folks thinking, and they asked the creators of some other "brilliant-but-canceled" TV series about using Kickstarter to back a movie version.

Bryan Fuller, creator of two cult-classic TV shows, Wonderdfalls and Pushing Daisies, was asked about using Kickstarter to fund movie versions of his two shows.  Fuller said he'd love to, but because of how visual-effects-intensive Pushing Daisies was, he'd probably need to raise at least $10 million.

And, Joss Whedon was asked about using Kickstarter to resurrect the king of all short-lived cult classic TV series, Firefly.  Whedon said he'd love to, but between him being busy with The Avengers 2 and Nathan Fillion being busy with Castle, it won't happen any time soon.

The first trailer for Kick-Ass 2 went online last week.

I once asked a friend of mine when we might get our true cinematic version of Watchmen.  When Watchmen came along in the 1980s, it was critically praised for deconstructing the superhero genre.  So my question was when the same might happen for all the superhero movies we've been getting lately.

One that had a good shot was Kick-Ass.  Based on the creator-owned comic by Mark Millar, it was a minor hit in 2010, and attempted a deconstruction as it pondered what superheroes might be like in the real world.  While I did love the film, I felt that, as the end drew near, it did kind of fall back into the typical superhero movie mold.  Director Matthew Vaughn had to make the first one independently, because most studios thought the film had too much objectionable content -- specifically the character of Hit Girl, a 12-year old girl vigilante who gleefully disembowels evildoers and curses like a sailor.  That being said, though, when the first film was a big hit, Universal Studios promptly swooped in and picked up the movie rights for any and all sequels.

Hence, Kick-Ass 2, coming this summer.  Based on Millar's two sequel comics, Kick-Ass 2 and the Hit Girl mini-series.  We find Mindy/Hit Girl is having a tough time in junior high, as the average street punk is no match for the typical junior high mean girl.  Dave has hung up his Kick-Ass mask, and gone back to being a normal teenager.  But, when Chris D'Amico, Red Mist in the first film and the son of the drug dealer who was slain at the end of the first film, swears vengeance, he decides to become the Mother Fucker, the world's first super-villain.  Also, the work of Kick-Ass has inspired a new batch of self-made superheroes, and a super-team known as Justice Forever now patrols the streets.  Before long, Kick-Ass and Hit Girl are lured out of retirement, and join Justice Forever to take down the Mother Fucker!

Aaron Taylor-Johnson is back as Dave/Kick-Ass, Chole Grace Moretz returns as Mindy/Hit Girl, and Christopher "McLovin'" Mintz-Plasse is back as Chris/Mother Fucker.  And joining them this time out is Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars n Stripes, the leader of Justice Forever.

It hits theatres this August.


And just because I'll need a thumbnail when I post this to the various social networks, I have the heavily-hyped Star Trek Into Darkness app on my iPhone, as I count down to the new Star Trek movie this summer.  Here's what the app gifted me with on St. Patrick's Day.

A green Orion slave girl wishes you a Happy St. Patrick's Day

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Goldfinger

It's time again for Fishing in the Discount Bin, that magical time of the week where I take a look at one of the many, many DVDs in my home library.  Today, we dip back into the James Bond canon with a peak at the Sean Connery Bond, Goldfinger.  This entry is originally dated August 3, 2012.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's Hockey Night Tonight

Well, here I am, all settled in in Westlock.  It's kind of nice to be back at a radio station the broadcasts the Oilers games.  See, whenever a radio station broadcasts a live event, there has to be some poor guy stuck back at the station pushing the buttons, manning the controls, and making sure the event is broadcast live to the world.  That person is the operator.  And at a station that broadcasts Oilers games, I frequently have to operate the Oilers games.  And I don't mind doing it one bit, because it's about the only part of my job where I get paid overtime.  In days gone by, when the Oilers were on in Athabasca, I'd pass the time by writing long, rambling blog entries.  So it looks to be time for that tradition to continue!

While the overtime is nice, such evenings usually result in me spending that overtime pay, because I eventually find myself browsing online shops and buying things I don't need.  Well, I've already started, actually.  Just got the latest e-mail that my latest shipment from Amazon.ca has shipped.  I'm kind of disappointed.  A few years ago, during the postal strike, Amazon.ca switched from Canada Post to Puralator as their courier of choice.  So, when I placed this order a few days ago, here I was making all the necessary preperations for the package to be delivered to a place where I can sign for it and all that.  And now, as I read the fine print on the notice that my order has shipped, I see they've gone back to using Canada Post.

Maybe all this is a sign that I should sign up for Amazon Prime.  It was with some hype back in January that Amazon announced they were finally introducing this program to Amazon.ca.  Essentially, for the flat rate of $79 per year, you get unlimited 2-day shipping.  It's just one of those things where I wonder if I'd get my money's worth for that $79 per year.

Anyway, what did I buy in this particular shipment?  Well, I bought Disney's latest animated epic Wreck-It Ralph.  As I said in my original review when I went to see it in theatres back in November, I was pleasantly surprised with this movie.  I went in expecting Video Game Nostalgia: The Movie, but instead got a very sweet tale about a guy trying to rediscover his spark for what he does.  And I also got the James Bond movie From Russia With Love, still considered by many to be the greatest Bond film ever made.  I don't know if you've noticed, but with the release and hype of Skyfall, James Bond Blu-Rays are dirt cheap right now.

The Star Tours Star Wars Action Figures

And speaking of browsing online shops, I was starting to fret that I may not have a chance to buy these.  As you know, I collect Star Wars action figures.  And, a few years ago, they created some exclusive Star Wars action figures of the Star Tours characters, and you could only get them at Disneyland.  I had a cousin go to Disneyland, and humbly requested that he bring me back a couple for my collection...and here they are!

My original Star Tours action figures

Well, a couple years ago, Disney decided it was time to update Star Tours, and along with that came new characters for Star Tours.  And, about a month ago, Disney announced that there's a new batch of Disneyland exclusive Star Tours figures, starting to show up at Disneyland and Walt Disney World gift shops right now.  I was wondering if it would be cheaper to buy them on eBay, or go to Disneyland and buy them in person.  (My mother was all for me going to Disneyland...until I decided to hit up my folks for the money for such a trip.)

But then, I was perusing one of my Star Wars action figure databases, and they revealed that they are now available at the online Disney Store!  I was all eager to see this, but after I went there, and calculated the shipping, and converted it to Canadian money, it came up to $75.  That's the kind of price that always makes me think twice.  When I started this hobby of collecting action figures all those  years ago, I swore I would never spend more than $20 on a figure.  But, you know, this is a 5-pack of figures, and $75 / 5 = $15.  That's within my principles....

But let's take a break from online shopping, shall we?  It's been almost a week, and I haven't sat down to blog about the new Iron Man 3 trailer yet.

They keep assuring us that it's not, but this sequel sure looks darker and grittier than the first two.  After very subtly referencing him in the first two films, we finally get a look at Iron Man's arch-enemy, the Mandarin, as played by Ben Kingsley.  And right now, I'm totally digging that final shot in the trailer of all the different Iron Man armors.  Dude...is that a Hulkbuster?  I swear I saw a Hulkbuster.  All I know is I will be there on opening day,  May 3. 

And it appears that I'm about all rambled out on this Tuesday night.  It's back to the game, and the Oilers are currently leading 2-0.  Go Oil. 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Smokey and the Bandit

Welcome once again to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly monument to how I don't have much of a social life as I watch one of the many movies in my video collection and blog about it.  This time out, we're doing the #4 movie of 1977, Smokey and the Bandit.  This entry is originally dated July 29, 2012.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The Test Results Are In....

Don't mind me, just nostalgic for the days before social networking when quizzes like this were frequent blog posts and littered the Internet.

What are your chances of surviving an intense lovemaking session with bigfoot?
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