Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Good Dinosaur

Here we go again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I sit and blog about a movie I own.  We return to my beloved Pixar with their other film from 2015, The Good Dinosaur.  This is in my notes at March 16, 2016.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Die Another Day

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  We come to the end of Pierce Brosnan's run on James Bond with Die Another Day.  This is in my notes at March 16, 2016.

I actually sat down and watched Die Another Day on Blu-Ray a few weeks ago, but haven't gotten around to writing this.  I've never had a flu bug like that before.  I had literally 0 energy.  I'd wake up in the morning and lie in bed for an hour just because I didn't have the energy to get up.  That was the first week.  Second week, I finally had enough energy to be moving around.  And then the third week, I was whisked off on vacation.  But now, here I am, to type this up, because in my flu-induced delirium, I was able to watch Die Another Day

And this is how Pierce Brosnan's run on James Bond comes to end...the film where people finally said James Bond had gone too far.  Surfing on Arctic tsunamis...an invisible car...a Madonna theme song and cameo...it was all finally too much.  Now that I own and have re-watched all the Brosnan Bonds, I finally agree:  nothing beat GoldenEye

The film opens with Bond doing an excursion into North Korea to take down a North Korean general who'd begun dabbling in arms dealing on the side.  In what was considered a revolutionary twist for the Bond films at the time, the mission goes south and it ends with Bond being captured.  In another considered-revolutionary-at-the-time-twist, the classic Bond opening title sequence is a stylized representation of the torture Bond endures. 

Anyway, Bond is finally released because of a prisoner exchange.  Because of some terrorist attacks that happened during Bond's imprisonment, M thinks Bond cracked under the torture and revealed state secrets.  Bond denies this, saying the only other possible explanation is there's a mole in MI6.  It would also explain why his mission went south, because he was ratted out.  So, Bond goes rogue to clear his name and sniff out the mole.  It's an investigation that soon leads him to billionaire industrialist Gustav Graves and his orbital super-weapon. 

Of course we need our Bond girl, so we have Halle Berry as NSA agent Jinx Jordan.  Man, there was a lot of hype at the time of giving Jinx her own spin-off franchise, but it never came to be.  But Berry's Jinx is a great Bond girl.  Suave, sophisticated, a tough fighter, quick-witted...very much Bond's equal. 

But yeah.  When we get to Iceland, with many scenes filmed in the famous ice hotel, that's where things get crazy.  That's where we get the invisible car and gadget overload and ice surfing.  Although, the car chase across the ice is pretty cool.  For once, the villain gets a gadget-laden car, too, and is able to fire back at Bond.  But, I remember when I first saw it, the director's stylistic choice of constantly messing with the camera speed to create some pseudo-bullet time effects really comes across as annoying. 

There is some fun, though.  This is the 20th James Bond film, and it was released during the 40th anniversary of the film franchise, so the director dropped in multiple Easter eggs referencing all the previous films in the franchise...most of them are old gadget's in Q's lab.  The rumour at the time was the director believes in the fan theory that "James Bond" is a code name, and that's why there have been different Bonds over the years, and he wanted to use that to have previous Bonds make cameos.  But, the producers nixed him. 

I remember when I first saw it in the theatre.  It was during my time in Japan.  Because of international release dates, a lot of the Christmas blockbusters of 2002 came out in the spring of 2003.  The spring of 2003 was also when the Company told me that they wouldn't be renewing my contract and sending me home to Canada, which really threw me into a depression.  Since movies are my escape, and all the Christmas blockbusters were coming, I was going to see a movie pretty much every week to try to cheer myself up.  I'm pretty sure Die Another Day was the film when the clerk who was always working the nights I went to the movies looked at me and said, in her best English, "Wow, you come here a lot." 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogue One and Done

Blah blah blah went to city something something Christmas shopping yadda yadda yadda ROGUE ONE, BAY-BEE!

A photo posted by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

Don't know why I went to the 10:30AM show on Saturday.  As was pointed out to me when I bought the tickets, at work I'm back on the morning shift, which means I've got my afternoons free, which means I could have easily gone in the afternoon.  But I didn't.  And I stand by my choices.

So when Disney bought Lucasfilm a few years ago and promised to flood our lives with new Star Wars product, one of the more intriguing things was the proposal of standalone films, aka these "Star Wars stories."  As Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy once remarked, "It's about thinking of the Star Wars universe as a setting, rather than a saga."  And for their first one, they decided to go with one of the more wondered-about untold stories in the Star Wars universe:  how exactly did the Rebels steal the plans to the Death Star from the Empire?

Well, it was a daring mission carried out by Jyn Erso and her crew.  Erso's got a personal connection to the Death Star:  her father Galen was one of its chief architects, until he grew a conscience and walked away from the Empire.  The film opens with the chief of the Death Star's construction, Director Krennick, tracking down Galen to drag him back to the Empire and finish what he started.  We then flash forward to Jyn as a grown-up, who's been living largely on her own in this wartorn galaxy.  But then the Rebels drag her in to the conflict.  A defector brings word of the Death Star nearing completion, and Galen was able to smuggle out a message about it.  Jyn is needed to verify the message and, if possible, help track down her father to find out more about this message.

Of course, we need a crew on this mission.  The standouts to me were the droid K-2SO and Chirrut Imwe.  K-2SO was an Imperial droid who was reprogrammed, but the reprogramming altered his personality, giving him a very dry sense of humour.  Picture C-3P0 with more sass, and in the body of grappler.

Chirrut Imwe was a Jedi temple guard back in that more civilized time.  While he cannot use the Force, he is a firm believer in it, and frequently lets his faith guide him.  His official title was "a Guardian of the Whills," and dude, that's a deep cut Star Wars reference.  "The Whills" was an early name George Lucas had for the Force, and Lucas's original title for the entire saga was "The Journal of the Whills."  Anyway, director Gareth Edwards said that Chirrut was based on the character archetype of the warrior monk, and played by Hong Kong action legend Donnie Yen, he plays that archetype to the hilt.  And much like K-2SO, he's got a dry quip for just about any occasion.

If I do have a problem with it, it has to be with our heroine, Jyn.  I just don't feel like we got enough time with her to get to know her as a character.

Special effects are, of course, amazing.  They give us some great angles of the Death Star that really play up its size and scope.  Thanks to digital technology, there's some gratuitous cameos from long dead characters.  And the final space battle is spectacular.

And, much like Luke's appearance at the end of The Force Awakens, the last 10 minutes are a gigantic nostalgic gut punch that left me in tears.

All in all, I give it a solid 3 out of 4 Nibs.  A great addition to Star WarsFull review on the website.

After that, out into the mall to do a little more shopping.  But now, with my Christmas shopping finished, I thought I'd buy a few frivolous things for myself.  As my mother frequently tells me, "Treat yo-self!"  (Sorry, Aziz Ansari, my mother was saying it before you.)

So I wound up spending a lot of money at HMV.  First, a new Blu-Ray.

A photo posted by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

Long ago,I blogged about the logic of buying a holiday special on home media.  I mean, the one time of year you're going to watch it is the one time of year it's on TV ad nauseum.  But now, I figured out why:  it's the only way to see it uncut.

Going through Facebook's "On this Day" feature, I see I've been making the same complaint about Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town for about seven or eight years now.  In recent years, they've been deleting one of my favourite parts.  And I can see why they cut it.  It's the same reason why it's my favourite.  It's so hilariously out of place.

Using the Christmas song of the same name as the springboard, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town tells us the secret origin of Santa Claus.  Santa, you see, was a rebel, who delivered toys to a town where toys had been banned.  Santa is eventually arrested, and Jessica the schoolmarm tries to rally the people to free Santa.  Through her efforts, she begins to realize she has feelings for Santa, and that's when we realize she is the who will become Mrs. Claus.  And her awakening comes in the form of a very psychedelic musical number.  I mean, it was 1970.  That kind of animation was the rage.  It's very much a product of its time.  And compared to the stop motion of the Rankin-Bass holiday specials, it's very out of place.  Which is why I love it.  And why it's a prime candidate for deletion.

But now I can enjoy it in glorious hi-def!

And even though we live in the era of digital downloads, I bought a couple of CDs.  I've blogged before that I think Michael Giacchino is one of the greatest film composers working today, and now he's done the music for my two favourite franchises with "Star" in the title.  So I picked up his scores for Star Trek Beyond and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Buying Star Trek Beyond was more to complete my collection.  A few years ago, a lot of music labels that specialize in film soundtracks released the complete, uncut scores for every Star Trek movie.  And have them all!  No Star Trek Beyond score was leaving a gap in my collection.  I love the stuff that Giacchino has written for Star Trek.  I easily put the main theme he wrote for Star Trek up there with Jerry Goldsmith's legendary theme.  And speaking of Goldsmith, I swear I can hear echos of his stuff, and James Horner's Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock scores in Beyond.  I especially like the piece entitled Night on the Yorktown, when the Enterprise arrives at the starbase Yorktown for some much-needed shore leave.

And then as others have pointed out, Giacchino seemed destined to do the music for a Star Wars movie.  He's about the only one still doing John Williams-style, full orchestra, "everybody gets a signature theme" film scores.  Some concerns about Giacchino doing the music for Rogue One, as he was a last minute replacement for Alexander Desplat.  Giacchino only had six weeks to pull something together.

And I think he did a great job, listening to some of it on Spotify as soon as it went online on Friday.  Listening to the theme he wrote for the Imperial forces, entitled "The Imperial Suite," reminds me of the variation on the Mission: Impossible theme he wrote for the opening credits of Ghost Protocol.  The notes are there, but there in a different order.  If that makes any sense.  I don't really know a lot about music composition.

My favourite cut has to be "Guardians of the Whills Suite."  This kind of replaces John Williams' "Force" theme, as it comes in whenever someone starts talking about the Force and matters of faith.

Listening to it back-to-back with his Beyond score (as I have been while I write this), yeah, it sounds like Giacchino may have borrowed a little bit from his Star Trek stuff when he put together Rogue One, but the dude was under the wire.  I hope he gets to do another one.  I would love to hear what he can do when he's got the time to do it right.

And that's my latest dispatch from my latest trip to the city.  Last one before Christmas now, as the Christmas shopping is done. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Mission: Impossilbe -- Rogue Nation

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about a movie I own.  We dip into the Mission: Impossible franchise with Rogue Nation.  This one's in my notes on February 26, 2016.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Happy Holiday Targ!

The Targ

December is upon us, and I just had an itch to do a Christmas podcast.  As I explain in the podcast, every three or four years, I figure I need to freshen up my Christmas music library, and buy a bunch of new Christmas albums.  I did that last year.  So as I was scrolling through my Christmas music, listening to the tunes as I decorated the apartment, I figured I should share this music in a podcast.

And this, Christmas Special: Scarecrow’s Second Christmas Mix Tape.  I mostly play a bunch of my favourite Christmas songs, and in between, I share some stories of the season.
  • I celebrate some little victories.
  • I share what I want for Christmas (a classic NES, if they can still be found.)
  • I share a little bit on the history of A Christmas Story
  • And a special holiday edition of Mark Tastes Random Things, where I try all the Christmas pepperminty stuff from Tim Hortons.
All this and more in Christmas Special: Scarecrow’s Second Christmas Mix Tape.

Check it out at the main site!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Just A Little Late

It wound up being a busy week.  For this entire week, I've been wanting to sit down and blog about my day in the city last weekend, because, as you know, it's kinda my thing.  However, I haven't found the time because of the previously mentioned shake-ups at work which have left me busier than I've been in a while.  So, here I am, on a chilly Friday night, and I'm finally able to put pen to paper.

Last weekend, wanted to head into the city to do a little more Christmas shopping.  Ya know, it's that time of the year and all.  As I always do, I sat behind the wheel of my car, iPhone plugged in to the sound system, listening to my favourite podcasts on the way in.  When I arrived, I grabbed my phone to notice that the battery had gone down.  It appeared my car adapter had quit working.  Reason #3728 that it's time to upgrade my phone.

Yeah, I've been complaining about this since the summer.  My iPhone 4S is really starting to show its age.  Things load a little slower.  I can't listen to a podcast or music for more than an hour without it crashing.  During my summer vacation, my brother-in-law raised his eyebrows at the fact that I was still rockin' the 4S, because I've got a bit of reputation for being a tech guy.

But yeah.  Back then, I knew the announcement of the 7 was imminent.  And here we are now, in the post-7 world.  As expected, the 6S went down in price accordingly, and the SE as well.  Crunching the numbers as I have been, the SE would probably do me quite well.  If I read the tech specs correctly, the SE is pretty much the guts of a 6S in the body of a 5C.  But if that's the case, I may as well spend the money and get the 6S for its nicer camera.  Or maybe I splurge and get the 7, because a bigger memory comes standard.  But the 7's got no headphone jack!

I'll probably bite the bullet and upgrade next month.  January seems to be the time I buy new tech.  I do all the research you see above, and then I just go into the store and buy the shiniest one.

But, before I spend for myself, it's time to spend for others.  I did my Christmas shopping.  And I dare say, I did pretty good.  I'd say, right now, I'm about 95% done.  The last time I went in was pretty much a recon mission.  This time, though, I knew exactly what I wanted, so I was able to get in, grab what I needed, and get out.  I was able to call it a day by noon.

But of course I didn't.  Had to see a movie.  I went to see Moana.

I'd been kind of excited for Moana.  Not because it was the latest Disney animated film.  Not because Broadway's current superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda did the music.  But because the directors are John Musker and Ron Clemments.  These guys were at the forefront of that period in animation now known as the Disney Renaissance.  Of the four films considered the pinnacle of the Disney Renaissance, they did two of them:  The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.  This was their first foray into computer animation, and I wanted to see if they could inject a little of that ol' Disney Renaissance charm into the proceedings.

And for the most part, they do.  Guys, I liked Moana a whole heck of a lot more than Frozen.  Maybe because it was a little more...traditional.  I like the songs better.  I found them more humable.

Or maybe it's because Dwayne Johnson steals the show as the demigod Maui.  The character just oozes that trademark Johnson charm.  Almost as much as Robin Williams stole the show in Aladdin, does Dwayne Johnson steal the show as Maui.  And just as scene-stealing our Maui's tattoos, that feature a little cartoon version of him that kind of serves as his conscience.  It's a clever addition.

Don't know what more to tell you, gang.  I really liked it.  Full review over at the website.

But before I left the city, I figured I'd pop into HMV and buy a little something for myself.

A photo posted by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

The Black Cauldron is one of my favourite Disney animated films, gang.  When I was a kid, and go visit my Oma and Opa in Red Deer, Oma would usually take us down to the theatre to catch the latest Disney animated film.  And the Black Cauldron is one that just stuck with me.  I mean, it's the only Disney animated film with a zombie army!  How awesome is that?

Anyway, I've had it on DVD for a while, but it's part of Disney's "Gold Collection," meaning it's one of their very first DVD releases from the early 2000s.  It's not even in widescreen.  Well, it is in widescreen, but not anamorphic widescreen.  This 25th anniversary edition has a smattering of new bonus features, and is finally anamorphic.  I was holding out for Blu-Ray before upgrading, but as it's one of Disney's lessers in their animated film canon, that's looking less and less likely to happen.

But, because of the busy-ness that's kept me from blogging, it's also kept me from watching it.  Starting to develop a stockpile of "to-watch" DVDs and Blu-Rays again.  I finally broke down and bought Jem and the Holograms out of a discount bin for $5 a few weeks ago, and haven't gotten around to watching it.

It's just the holiday season, gang.  If it's not Christmas stuff at work, it's Christmas stuff at home.

Don't know how to end this, so just like at work, if I don't know how to wrap up the bit, just play the next song. 

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The World is Not Enough

Boppin' along on Fishing in the Discount Bin, blogging about a movie I own after I watch it.  Going through another run of James Bond films with The World is Not Enough.  This one is in my notes at February 15, 2016.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Spectre

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly bloggin' about a movie I own.  Just when I think I'm done with Bond, a new film hits theatres that has be talking about him again.  This time, the film in question is Spectre, and this is in my notes at February 15, 2016.