Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Shrek

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blog about a movie I own.  Time to take a look at what started one of the biggest animated movie franchises of all time, Shrek.  This is in my notes at May 21, 2017.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Science Behind Pixar

Hey!  So I had some time off during the end of November.  I've blogged about pretty much everything I did that week except for one thing:  going to see The Science Behind Pixar at the Telus World of Science.  Well, now that I'm on Christmas vacation and have got nothing but time, let's sit down and blog about what I did a month ago!

Telus World of Science has been knocking it out of the park over the past few years for travelling exhibitions.  It all kind of kicked off about five years ago with Star Wars Identities.  Then they had the Harry Potter one and the Indiana Jones one...I'm still kind of upset that I missed the Rubik's Cube one and the Sherlock Holmes one.  Anyway, since I love Pixar, I knew I had to make it down for The Science Behind Pixar, which explains the process of making your favourite animated films these days.

Firstly, let me say, I know that Telus World of Science has their "adults only" nights where you can check out these exhibits without kids being noisy kids.  But let me just say what equally works well is taking a Monday off from work and going on Monday morning.  I tell ya, I had may run of the place.  I spent all morning in the exhibit, and, at its peak, there were probably only 8 of us in there.

While I was expecting a lot of displays of concept art and maquettes and all the other physical products of making animation, there was actually very little of that.  (Although, I can tell I've watched way too many DVD bonus features when I see the names of the artists who sketched that concept art, and recognize them.)  Nope, the key to this exhibition was interactivity, as pretty much every display had an interactive component.  They would walk you through a complex computer animation process like lighting, for example, and then you get to try it yourself.  Of course, they take the process and simplify it from the hundreds of controls that computer animators have down to "pull this lever" or "push this button."

And the plus side is I finally know what rendering is.  They kind of gloss over that in the DVD bonus features.  All I really knew was it was the most time-consuming part of the computer animation process, and it takes the most computing power.  It's the final step, and as they explain, it's calculating exactly how much light each pixel gets.  They put that all together, and boom!  You have a computer animated movie. 

Anyway, messing around with iMovie on my iPhone, I made this little slide show of some of the pictures I took.  Enjoy!

Didn't do much else at the Telus World of Science after that.  I explored a little bit, but they've got several displays closed right now as they undergo a renovation and refurbishment.  It wasn't like when I went five years ago for Star Wars Identities.  Five years ago, it was the first time I'd been to Telus World of Science since I was a kid, and I dedicated the whole day to taking it all in.  Never got around to writing my epic blog entry about that adventure five years ago.  Like with the Science Behind Pixar, I took a Monday off work to take it all in.  When I got back to work on Tuesday, I got the call that I was getting transferred to Westlock, so suddenly my days were consumed with moving. 

One of my favourite things from five years ago, though, was taking in a planetarium show.  Even as a kid, I'd never done that at Telus World of Science.  This being in the middle of the day, with a lot of kids in daycare on field trips, the one I took in was a Sesame Street one, featuring Big Bird, and Elmo, and some third muppet I didn't recognize.  I googled it when I got home and saw he was from the Chinese version of Sesame Street.  Anyway, it was for really young people, as Big Bird pointed out the North Star and the Big Dipper and stuff like that.  It was fun. 

Afterwards, I spoke with the person who ran the show to ask a few questions.  I asked whatever happened to that gigantic star projector they used to have, and she explained that it was still there, just below the stage, because it was so massive the building was pretty much built around it.  She then fired up their digital projectors and took me though a 5 minute private show as she showed off their current technology.  She ended with a sigh.  "But all this stuff is 10 years old now, and starting to show its age.  We really need an upgrade, but I'm not the one who makes those decisions."

As part of the renovations going on at Telus World of Science right now, they are upgrading their planetarium, and when it's done, it'll be the most technologically advanced in Western Canada.  I couldn't help but think of my guide five  years ago and wonder if she's happy that she's now getting her upgrade.

I did take in lunch at the Telus World of Science, thought.  I blogged a long time ago that pretty much every museum in the world has a cafe and a gift shop, and I'm fascinated by them.  Actually, the Telus World of Science restaurant also got a refurbishment in the past five years.  Now they call it the Purple Pear, and they really beefed up their menu.  Rather than the usual egg salad sandwiches you get at museum cafes, they've got some really substantial food.  I treated myself to their pulled pork quesadillas, which were really quite good.  I also paid the extra to get my drink in the collector's cup to take home.  Fun fact:  if you get your drink in the collector's cup at the Purple Pear, it's free refills for your entire day at Telus World of Science. 

Anyways, that was my day at the Telus World of Science.  I highly recommend you check out the Science Behind Pixar.  By the time this entry goes live, there'll literally be 2 weeks left, so sooner rather than later. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Last Jedi Thoughts

Well, here I am, off on Christmas vacation, and what better way to start Christmas vacation than by seeing the latest Star Wars movie?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Poster

The prophecy in my Christmas card letter has come true in that I have seen it twice now.  I saw it on Saturday in West Edmonton Mall.  I had to see it in West Edmonton Mall.  I've seen every Star Wars movie since The Phantom Menace at the Scotiabank Theatre (originally Silver City).  Hell, if you want to go back in time to before the Phantom Menace, then I've seen every Star Wars movie since the Special Editions at West Edmonton Mall.  I just have to see it at West Edmonton Mall!  It's tradition!

The second time, some old friends from college invited me down to see it at the big VIP Theatre on the south side...in that Windermere power centre.  I'd been wanting to experience the VIP Theatre ever since it opened in Edmonton about five years ago.  The lobby looks like an executive lounge at airport.  The chairs are nice, big recliners.  And they've got fold-out tray tables to hold your snacks.  It was so nice!  Kind of like the Seinfeld episode about first class...it'll be tough going back to coach after this.

But it was made all the more sweeter by seeing it with old friends from college.  Back in the day, we stood in line for about 8 hours at Camrose's Duggan Cinemas to be the first to see The Phantom Menace.  As I've blogged before, it coincided pretty nicely with our graduation.  Standing in that line was pretty much our grad party.  It is kind of strange, though, catching up with old friends from college.  They've all got kids and careers and mortgages and such.  And me?  I'm still doing what I did in college:  spending all my free time screwing around at the radio station. 

Anyway, enough with the reminiscing and mid-life-crisising.  How was The Last Jedi?

The Last Jedi Teaser Poster

I freakin' loved it. 

As I've seen elsewhere online, reaction to this new Star Wars trilogy has been kind of mixed among the fans.  They hated The Force Awakens for being too much like the original trilogy, and now they hate The Last Jedi for defying expectations and being too different.  But much like the prequels back in the day, we have to accept that this is not our Star Wars, but a Star Wars for a new generation.  Me?  I like the new direction.  It's nice seeing beloved characters like Luke Skywalker growing and evolving rather than doing the same thing they were 20 years ago.  *cough*

While our heroes managed to destroy Starkiller Base, the First Order was able to consolidate their power and are well on their way to conquering the galaxy.  Now, that last remnants of the Resistance are on the run...quite literally.  Their last fleet is just barely out of range of the First Order fleet, with the First Order trailing behind, taking potshots at them.  Under the new leadership of Vice Admiral Holdo, our new heroes of Poe Dameron and Finn are upset that a more pro-active approach isn't being taken.  So, with the assistance of a young Resistance tech named Rose, they set off on a rogue mission to save the fleet from the First Order

Meanwhile, when last we left young Jedi Rey, she had tracked down Luke Skywalker on a distant planet, in the ruins of the first Jedi temple.  But Luke is not as she expected.  We find Luke Skywalker to be a broken man, wallowing in self-pity at how he failed his star pupil Kylo Ren, and how Kylo Ren turned to the Dark Side.  It'll be up to Rey to pull Luke out of his funk, learn the skills she needs to become a Jedi, and see if Kylo Ren can be turned back from the Dark Side. 

And that's what makes the film so good.  Not only do we see our classic characters like Luke and Leia and how they've grown, but there's also a lot of growing up to do for our new heroes.  Poe learns that being a leader isn't always about taking the easy path.  Finn learns how to embrace his role as an idol to young Rose.  And Rey and Kylo Ren truly have the most interesting paths to walk, as they seem to be creating new Jedi and Sith orders, and still unsure of how to do it. 

But we do have a lot of the great Star Wars action that we love.  There's some great lightsaber battles, some great space battles, and one moment that had half the theatre in that first screening go, "Oh, fuck."  

If I have one complaint, I think that maybe it has one ending too many.  There are about three moments near the end where I felt, "OK, you can end it here," but it keeps going. 

Long story short:  I loved The Last Jedi and its place in this new Star Wars trilogy.  Defying expectations can be a good thing.  4 out of 4 nibs.  Full review on the website. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Total Movie: April 2001

Here we are once again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blog about one of the movies I own.  This time, doing something a little different.  It's an old promotional DVD called Total Movie: April 2001.  This is in my notes at May 15, 2017.

Total Movie:  April 2001

Monday, December 18, 2017

News from Markworld: December 2018

As always, I am blogging my annual Christmas card letter, for those whose addresses I may have lost, or for long forgotten friends who may be googling me late one night, wondering what ever happened to me.

News from Markworld: The Chaos in a Box Newsletter

Hello, there!  Once again, it’s me, Mark Cappis, sending you a Christmas form letter to tell you what’s up with me! 

So much has happened since I last saw you!  I lost my hammer, like, yesterday, so that’s still pretty fresh.  And then I went on a journey of self-discovery, where I met you.  No, wait.  That’s from Thor: Ragnarok.  Great movie, if you haven’t seen it yet.

I forgot to write up one of these letters last year, and some were wondering why.  Well, last year, at around this time, I was really thrown for a loop.  There was a massive corporate restructuring, and my position at 97.9 the Range as afternoon host and music director was eliminated.  But, the Company still had a place for me.  Rising from the ashes of the Range was Real Country 97.9, and they offered me the job of morning show co-host and news reporter.  So, last year at this time, and for a good chunk of 2017, I was re-adjusting to getting up at 4AM to do the morning show, and spending late nights covering various events around Westlock and Barrhead.  On top of that, I managed to retain several of my administrative duties that came with the old music director gig.  It makes for long days a lot of the time.  But, it’s been a journey of self-discovery.  Guess I’m not too different from Thor after all.

But, as I’ve said in letters past, the older I get, the more I find that WKRP’s old description of the radio announcer lifestyle is pretty accurate:  pushing 40 and still living like a college kid.  Although, I’m not pushing 40 anymore.  I actually am 40, having hit that milestone this past July.  Now having reached that age, I’m wondering if still living like a college kid is actually worth it.  But hey, the journey of self-discovery is never-ending.  Or, this is what a midlife crisis feels like.

Anyway, best to wrap this up.  I’ve got my tickets to the new Star Wars movie, and by the time you read this, I’ll probably have seen it three times.  Yeah, I know I used that joke two years ago with The Force Awakens right around the corner, but remember what they say in radio:  it’s safe to re-use your material after 3 hours, because you have enough of a new audience by then. 
Merry Christmas, and all the best in 2018!

Mark Cappis

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Tron: Legacy

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I nerd out about one of the movies I own.  This one is kind of unique, as almost 7 years ago, this movie was about the only thing I could talk about.  It's Tron: Legacy.  This is in my notes at May 15, 2017.

Tron Legacy Poster

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Tron

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, watching a movie I own and blogging about it.  This time out, we take a look at Disney's 1982 classic Tron.  This is in my notes at May 15, 2017.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Avengers: Infinity War Trailer

Avengers: Infinity War Poster

How did we get here?

In the late 1990s, Marvel Comics was growing tired of selling off the movie rights to their characters, only for no movie to be made.  So they hatched the idea for Marvel Entertainment.  Rather than simply license out their characters, they would provide the movie studio with a complete script, character designs, a director...essentially walk the studio through the pre-production process.  It was a success, with the strategy finally getting X-Men and Spider-Man on the big screen.

But it didn't take long for Marvel to start thinking that, if they're doing all this work, they may as well just make the darn movies themselves.  And so plans began to create Marvel Studios, a movie studio dedicated to making adaptations of Marvel characters.  As Marvel Studios' president Kevin Feige described the reasoning, "Yeah, we didn't have the rights to our heavy hitters like X-Men and Spider-Man, but we had the rights to Marvel's 800 other characters.  Could all of them sustain their own film franchise?  No.  But a lot of them could...."  Once financing was secured, Marvel held a panel at the world-famous San Diego Comic Con to announce the creation of Marvel Studios, and their first three films would be Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Ant-Man.

Marvel Studios made their entry with Iron Man in the summer of 2008, and it was a smash hit.  But the very first of those post-credit stingers got everyone buzzing, when Nick Fury appeared to invite Tony Stark to take part in "the Avengers Initiative."  Fans started salivating.  "Oh my God, are they really going to do The Avengers some day?"  I've heard conflicting stories.  Iron Man's director Jon Favreau said at the time that there were no plans to do The Avengers yet...he just slipped that in to be one hell of an Easter egg.  In publicity today, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige says yup, it was the plan from day one.

Either way, it immediately became the plan.  Before 2008 was out, Marvel Studios had announced "Phase I."  Ant-Man was put on the back burner, replaced with Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, before all building up to The Avengers.  It was an announcement to get Marvel some serious respect in Hollywood...enough that they were snapped up by Disney in 2009.

And here we are.  It's 10 years later, Marvel Studios has almost 20 films to their name, and along the way, they created the new concept of the cinematic universe, where all their characters share the same fictional world.  Well, they didn't really create it, as many will say that Universal created it with their monsters back in the 30s and 40s.  In which case, then, we can say that Marvel Studio updated the concept quite well for the 21st Century.

The culmination of that 10 years of work is what brings us to Avengers: Infinity War.  Marvel Studios wants Avengers: Infinity War to be significant in 2 ways.  Firstly, 2018 will be the 10th anniversary of Marvel Studios, so Infinity War is to serve as their 10th anniversary party.  Secondly, they promise that it'll provide what many superhero film franchises rarely receive:  an end.  They keep telling us that this will provide a conclusion to what began when Tony Stark uttered those words, "I am Iron Man."  Does this mean it's the end for Captain America, Thor, et al?  We'll know when the film comes out this May.

A lot of the McGuffins in Marvel films -- the Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avengers and The Avengers, the Aether in Thor: The Dark World, the Eye of Agamoto in Doctor Strange -- have been revealed to be the fabled Infinity Stones.  These are gems of immense power, left over from the creation of the Universe, and to possess all six means to gain omnipotence.  And that's exactly why the alien warlord Thanos covets them, and comes to Earth looking for them.  To fend of Thanos, it's going to take the combined efforts of every hero the Marvel Cinematic Universe has shown us so far. 

This trailer just looks amazing.  As we can see, it looks as though a lot of it will take place in Wakanda, the homeland of the Black Panther.  At least, one of our biggest battles is going to be there.  This truly looks to be the biggest film Marvel Studios has put together so far.

We never thought we'd see this many heroes sharing the screen.  And now, here they are. 

Avengers: Infinity War hits theatres May 4. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Sin City

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing and blogging about one of the many movies I own.  This time out, we look at the mid-2000s classic Sin City.  This is in my notes at April 29, 2017.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Weird Wednesday

I've blogged before how hitting that deer with my car almost-5 years ago has made me kind of jumpy when it comes to winter driving.  So, needless to say, when I woke up on Wednesday morning to all kinds of traffic reports telling me that a slight skiff of snow in the night had made the roads extra-slippery and that everyone needed to be super, super cautious when on the roads, I was thinking twice about heading into Edmonton that day.  But, with my week-long vacation still going on, I'd set aside Wednesday to do more Christmas shopping.  I knew if I did what the guy on the radio was telling me, I could be extra cautious and still make it in. 

And I did!

I made my way down to West Edmonton Mall, and I always forget how wonderfully quiet West Edmonton Mall is on a weekday morning.  You don't get swallowed up by any crowds.  You've got lots of space to move and breath.  Store are wonderfully quiet, so you're not struggling to get a clerk's attention.  But, sometimes, the quiet can make the clerks a little stir-crazy.

As I discovered when I went into the Disney Store.  A blog entry or two ago, I blogged about some new Disney Store exclusive Star Wars action figures and though, "Eff it, I'll get 'em."  I was also browsing through their Christmas tree ornaments.  When I was a kid, we had this Bambi Christmas tree ornament on the tree.  It was Bambi wearing a little Santa toque, and darn it, I was feeling nostalgic for it.  So I was hoping to find a Bambi Christmas tree ornament. 

And that's when the clerk came up to me.  She was carrying around a Duchess plushie.  (Duchess is the cat from The Aristocats, for those who don't know their Disney lore.)  Now, it's not like she was stocking shelves and just carrying it over to the plushie section.  She was lugging this around and manipulating it like a puppet.  Duchess was her helper for today.  As I explained what I was looking for, she was nodding, and Duchess was nodding, and when we couldn't find any Bambi-related Christmas tree ornaments, both she and Duchess were heartbroken.  They were heartbroken in that way you act heartbroken to a five-year old as they tell you about some great injustice that happened to them on the playground.  The whole exchange was somewhat surreal.  But what you can do?  It's Disney.  No doubt, Disney Store clerks are true fans, and true fans of anything always have their own brand of crazy. 

Then I got a massage from one of those mall kiosks that specializes in such things.  The social custom when it comes to those mall kiosks is as long as you don't make eye contact, you can make it out OK.  But this clerk was so weirdly aggressive.  There I was, just walking down the mall, when this woman jumps in front of me and goes, "YOU!" 

I stop in my tracks.  "Um...yes?"

She points to the massage chair.  "SIT!" 

"Ooookay...."  I sit down.

"$10 for 5 minutes.  Is that OK?"

"Um...yeah?  I guess?" 

And I got a five minutes massage.  Followed by a 10 minute sales pitch for all the various personal massagers that I could take home with me.  All the while, I'm being as polite as possible just to get the hell out of there.  Eventually, after I said "No" enough times, I was allowed to leave. 

But it wasn't all stir-crazy clerks as I tried to get some Christmas shopping done.  Part of the reason why I was so determined to go on Wednesday because it happened to be the opening day for Coco, the latest animated offering from Pixar.  I loves me some Pixar, so I had to check it out.

Coco Poster

It seems like we've been waiting for this one for a long time, as Pixar originally announced it at the start of the decade in the same news conference where they announced Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur.  There was a fear there that it had been cancelled because it looked awfully similar to the 2014 animated film The Book of Life, but other than both film drawing their inspiration for the Mexican festival of the Day of the Dead, they are two very different films. 

Young Miguel loves music.  He craves to be a musician.  He feels a certain kinship with Ernesto de la Cruz, one of the greatest musicians in all of Mexico, who just happens to hail from Miguel's hometown.  But there's one big roadblock to Miguel's aspirations.  Many years ago, Miguel's great great grandfather walked out on his great great grandmother to pursue his musical ambitions.  Because of that, to this very day, Miguel's family has banned all music from their home. 

Undeterred, Miguel decides to enter his towns Day of the Dead music festival.  But in order to enter, he swipes a guitar from de la Cruz's tomb.  Stealing an offering for the dead on the Day of the Dead curses Miguel, and he becomes a ghost and crosses over into the Land of the Dead, where he gets to meet his deceased relatives...including his great great grandmother.  Miguel can return to the land of the living if he gets his family's blessing, but his great great grandmother will only grant her blessing on the condition that he give up his musical aspirations.  Teaming up with a man named Hector, who becomes his guide through the Land of the Dead, Miguel goes on a quest to find his great great grandfather, perhaps the only one who'll give Miguel his blessing with no strings attached. 

We've got all the Pixar hallmarks here.  The animation is beautiful.  In a film where music plays such a prominent role, the music is amazing.  And there's a lot of raw emotion revolving around the theme of family.  That being said, I've probably seen one too many of these films, as I know the formula by heart and could see every shocking plot twist coming from a mile away.  But a formulaic plot can be forgiven when everything else is just so good.  3.5 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

Olaf's Frozen Adventure Poster

And, as has become the Disney and Pixar tradition, it opens with an animated short film.  We're keeping the Frozen franchise alive with Olaf's Frozen Adventure.  Now, this originally began life as a Frozen Christmas special for TV, but Disney thought it was so good they thought they'd release it in theatres.  And that explains why this short film is 20 minutes long...about twice the length of an average short.  (And also why there's a little, "Please stick around for Coco!  We worked really hard on this!" featurette between Olaf's Frozen Adventure and Coco.)

Anyway, it's Anna and Elsa's first Christmas since Frozen.  Anna and Elsa are lamenting that, because of Elsa's very sheltered upbringing, they don't have any family traditions at Christmas time.  Wanting to cheer up the two special ladies in his life, Olaf heads out into the kingdom to find out what various family traditions the people of Arendelle have, and bring them back to the castle. 

And all I can say is...meh.  Even at 20 minutes, you can feel the padding.  It's just an excuse from some new Frozen songs and to push some new merch, until we finally get Frozen 2 in 2019. 

That pretty much wrapped up my Wednesday in the city.  I think I can also safely say I followed through on my goal to get my Christmas shopping done this week, so I'll be relatively relaxed this December.  All I had to do was make the drive home.  And I did.  Yay! 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Time again for Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie and blog about it.  It's time for Star Wars once again, as I re-watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  This is in my notes at April 29, 2017.

Rogue One Poster

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

20 Years of an Online Presence

I was walking home from work last week, letting my mind wander, when it came back with the thought, "I've now had some form of online presence for 20 years now."

It was on a frosty November night in 1997.  Me and my best friend had just gotten back from Edmonton, where we were doing research for our top-secret project.  Well, it wasn't very top secret.  My best friend had just resigned from his position as editor of the school paper, with the grand design to produce the college's first TV show on the local public access station.  I was the first one he brought on board.  Not knowing how the real world of broadcasting worked, we decided to see if we could get tours of a real TV station and a real radio station, under the cover of writing an article for the school paper.  So, we spent the morning getting a tour of the A-Channel (now CityTV Edmonton) and the afternoon touring the Bear (now and forever the Bear.)

We spent that evening in the newspaper office, comparing notes and planning our articles.  "I'll let you write the one about the Bear, seeing as to how those are your people," I remember my friend saying, as a harbinger of things to come.  But as many a late night in the newspaper office with my best friend tends to go, our topic of conversation soon turned to whatever pop culture nuggets currently caught our attention.  This being the late-1990s, it was the advent of the Internet and the dot-com bubble.  "Man, I'd sure love to have a website to plug my radio show," I said.  "Well, I've already got one up for the TV show," said my friend.

And that's when he showed me all these free web-hosting services that had popped up, the one that he preferred, and their online tutorials as to how to build a website.  Before I left the office that night, chaosinabox.com was born, although I didn't buy the URL until about 5 years later.

I did the usual radio stuff.  Posted a weekly top 10 list, what the topics of this week's show were going to be.  As I was already doing an opinion column in the school paper to plug my radio show, it was no-brainer to start posting the columns to the website.  My much-desired online presence was born.

I started doing the movie reviews on the website the following summer.  I saw the late, great Roger Ebert on a talk show, and someone asked him the age-old question of how they can become a movie critic.  Ebert's response was, "Same advice I give anyone who wants to be a writer:  just keep writing.  Practice your craft."  He then went on to extol the virtues of the Internet and how it was giving voice to many an aspiring film critic as now anyone could post their review.  Inspired by that, I wrote a review of Deep Impact, posted it on my website, and I've been reviewing movies ever since.

Things started changing in 1999.  I graduated from college.  Without my opinion column in the college paper, or my radio show, I started growing desperate for some form of creative outlet.  That's when I started thinking, "But I still have the website...."  There was nothing stopping me from continuing to write my opinion column, and posting it to my website.  I don't think I had heard the word yet, but I had just launched my first blog.

Yeah, the blog got me into trouble over the years that I wrote it.  When I did my time in retail hell as a clerk at Extra Foods in Drayton Valley, I wrote a few stories about the idiot teenagers I worked with being idiot teenagers, and they were none too pleased.  When I was going to NAIT, a few of my instructors pulled me aside a few times and said, "Gee, you'd better watch what you say on your blog because there's a very realistic chance no one's going to hire you based on what you're posting."  I know that some of my friends lament that I no longer get deeply personal in my blog and write about the minutia of my life, but when my first boss at my first radio gig proudly told me that my blog as the first thing she read every morning, that put a scare into me, so I figured I should stop.

Besides, at that point, the blog was giving way to the podcast.  It took me a year after graduating from NAIT to land that first radio gig.  And I will forever be grateful to my instructors at NAIT because, during that  year, they were always letting me sneak in after hours to use the equipment and re-cut my demo.  And most of those evenings were spent chatting with the instructors, getting job hunting advice and fishing for leads.  One night, after saying that the number one thing that was coming up in my rejections was lack of experience, I was asking my instructors the age old question, "How do you get more experience when on one will hire you?"  And my instructor said, "Well, you've got that website.  Why don't you do a podcast?"

So, I started doing my research.  Looked up what a podcast was, and what upgrades I'd have to do to my website to be able to do it.  Once I had all that in place, the podcast launched.  I don't know if it actually did provide that much-needed experience I needed for my resume, but I landed that first radio gig a month after launch.

The podcast was fun, but again, I kind of drifted away from doing it.  I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that, even though I've got an OK set-up on my home computer, I preferred going into work after-hours to use the stuff at work.  I mean, if I have access to a semi-professional recording studio, why not use it?  But the problem with that was, once I was done recording the podcast, I'd go, "Well...since I'm at work, I may as well get this done.  Ooo, and I can get a start on that," and before you knew it, what was going to be a couple hours banging out a podcast turned into a full day of unpaid overtime.  So I figured it's best to sped my days off taking a day off.

"Now Mark," you're probably asking.  "You said you gave up the blog.  Then what is this that I'm reading right now?"  Well, this is my second blog.  I launched this one back in 2003, when I was still in Japan.  My laptop died on me, and I had no way to update my website.  But I still had to maintain that o-so-valuable online presence.  Most of my friends were using Blogger, so I went to Blogger, launched this blog, and that kept my online presence up-to-date.  This way, I could easily update things from an Internet cafe, or a library, or anywhere else with free Internet access and public computers.  I couldn't find anyone in Japan who wanted to attempt to fix my North American laptop, so the original blog started up again when I returned home that summer.  I kept doing this one, though, with the idea that the original blog would be for my "real" writing, and this would be for off-the-cuff comments.

And I hardly use this for off-the-cuff comments anymore, because that's what I use Facebook and Twitter for.  It's just so easy to whip out the smartphone and bust out 140 characters saying what I thought of a new trailer or the new burger at Wendy's than wait until I get home and see if I can get a page's worth of material out of it.

And it's all part of the industry, now.  Every radio announcer has a Facebook page and Twitter page, as it's been embraced as another way to engage with the listeners.  It almost makes my NAIT instructor's warnings seem passe.  Heck, last time we had a kid down at the station to job shadow us and put together his NAIT application, he revealed that making a viral video is part of the NAIT application these days.

20 years ago, developing an online presence seemed like such a monumental undertaking.  Now, it's a reality of daily life.  I asked my friend once if building an online presence would be as big a deal back then if we had the resource of today.  "Probably not," he said.  "We'd probably just launch a Tumblr page for our TV show and call it a day."  As for the TV show, sadly it never came to be.  I don't know why we drifted away from the project, but we did.  I wonder if my friend still has the test footage we filmed at the TV station one afternoon.  It'd be fun to stick that up on YouTube.

Where to Find Me

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Christmas Crunch Begins

It comes earlier and earlier every year...the memo from HR that I've got a ton of unused vacation time and I've got to get it off the books by year end.  So with that in mind, I'm taking this week off.  And since we are about a month out from Christmas, my goal for this week is to get as much Christmas shopping done as possible so December will be relatively relaxed.  And it's a mere coincidence that a lot of holiday blockbuster are out this week.  So, yeah.  First stop:  Justice League.

Went to the earliest show, too.  So, no lunch, no shopping, not stopping at favourite stores.  Straight into the city and straight to the theatre.  I typically don't eat at the movies anymore,as I usually go mid-afternoon and I'm still full from lunch, but since I was skipping lunch, bought a small popcorn to tide me over.

But here we are, with the JLA finally together on the big screen.  I love DC.  I really do.  But everything about the creation of this DC Cinematic Universe has been so reactionary to Marvel.  While Marvel has a plan, DC seems to be slapping this together as they go along.  So let's just say that expectations were lowered going into Justice League.

But you know what?  It put a smile on my face.  I liked it.  A lot more than I expected to. 

The world is still in mourning following the death of Superman (see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).  Batman is still following up on the leads he got from his crazy dream about the future, and uncovers than an alien invasion is nigh, led by Steppenwolf, one of the minions of Darkseid and Apokalypse.  To battle this threat, Batman starts tracking down other heroes.  He brings Wonder Woman back into the fray.  He hunts down the rumoured Aquaman who helps out coastal communities.  We head to Central City to track down a being who can appear and disappear in a Flash.  And he follows up on whispers of a Cyborg created by STAR Labs.  As bravely as they fight, it's not enough, and soon Batman hatches a desperate plan to resurrect Superman. 

As I said with Batman v Superman and other films designed to launch franchises, there tends to be parts of a good movie in there, but they need to trim out the excess and pick one plot.  With Justice League, the excess has been trimmed, but we're left with good parts, but a not a good movie. 

I loved the Flash.  Ezra Miller does an amazing job of portraying the rookie on the team who's still new to this superhero thing.  Aquaman is great.  They've tried to turn him into the angry loner that every superhero team has, but he comes across as more "good ol' boy" than angry.  It's so great to see Wonder Woman again after her awesome solo film this past summer.  And I still think that Ben Affleck is a pretty good Batman.

That being said, it's fairly obvious which scenes are the Joss Whedon re-shoots, because characters suddenly get a lot more quippy, which can make for quite the tonal shift.  But hey, if that's what we needed to get Superman to smile again, it's worth it.  Superman smiles again.  He's full of hope again.  So good to see.

Other bits...yeah, the villain is pretty generic and it's your standard destroy the world plot.  I also enjoy Danny Elfman's score.  The theme he put together for the Flash was pretty good, and every time he slips his classic Batman theme into the score, it's like a hug from an old friend. 

In the end Justice League tries really hard to reject the bleakness of Batman v Superman and embrace the hope and optimism that Wonder Woman gave us, making it a strange transition film between the two.  It gets a solid A for effort, and I surprised myself at how much I liked it.

3 Nibs.  Full review on the website. 

Now this is the part of the blog entry where I normally get into what else I did in the city, but I'm not going to.  Most of what I did was Christmas shopping, and I don't what to let slip who got what.  But...I couldn't help but buy a present for myself. 

I was going through the graphic novels and I had to buy the crossover I've wanted since I was 8:  Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  In order to be rid of the Turtles once and for all, and to get Shredder and the Foot Clan out of the way of his latest plan, Krang opens up a trans-dimensional portal and banishes the Turtles, Splinter, Shredder, and the Foot to a parallel universe...the DC Universe.  Gotham City, to be specific.  As Shredder begins forming alliances with Batman's rogues, the TMNT partner with batman to stop Shredder and find a way home.  According to rumour, it performed so well that Warner Brothers is considering adapting it into one of their straight-to-DVD animated movies. 

I also picked up the second crossover, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures.  While the first one was based on comics continuity, this second one takes its cues from cartoon continuity:  Batman: The Animated Series from the Batman side, and the 2012 TMNT cartoon for the TMNT side.  When trans-dimensional portals between opening up between the TMNT universe and the Batman Animated universe, it's up to our heroes to join forces and find out why.  I mainly picked it up because it turns out my favourite Batman villain, the Scarecrow, plays a prominent role. 

Actually, I've had Ninja Turtles on the mind quite a bit lately.  I've quite enjoyed the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it's wrapping up.  Next week on YTV they officially show the final episode.  This final season has been pretty interesting, as they renamed the show Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and most of the story arcs have been out-of-continuity escapades.  While the final episode has yet to air, I got rather misty-eyed at the final episode made has aired, and it was a rather poignant end. 

It takes place in the distant future.  A "mutagen bomb" was set off in Manhattan, mutating the bulk of the world's population.  And from here, it pretty much becomes "Old Man Raphael," as Raph scavenges the Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic wasteland to survive.  He soon meets up with a mutant meerkat orphan named Mira, who holds the map to a mythical green space known as Oasis. 

Anyway, at the end, Raphael and Mira make it to Oasis.  Along the way, they've found and rescued the rest of the Turtles.  Our four brothers reunited look out over Oasis.  The camera pans up to see the spirit of Splinter looking down on them from the heavens and smiling.  Splinter is soon joined by the spirits of the four Turtles, returned to their teenaged selves.  They pose for one last picture.  Fade to black.  Fade in the dedication:  "For Kevin and Peter." 

Yeah, the 2012 series was pretty awesome.  It was definitely made by people of my age, because it was so full of reinventions of stuff from the original, 1987 cartoon. 

Anyway, I'm on vacation and I've got graphic novels to read. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie

Time to roll again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie and blog about it.  We're going back to the 1990s for the very first Power Rangers movie, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.  This is in my notes at April 1, 2017.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Moana

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, because there's nothing better to do on a Friday night than sit at home, along, watch a movie, and blog about it.  *sigh*  Let's watch Moana!  Well, I watched it on April 1, 2017, and am just now posting it.  That's how far I work ahead on this!

Monday, November 06, 2017

Icy Road to Ragnarok

Well, Halloween is officially in the rear view mirror, which means it's on to Christmas!  We've already had the first couple of Christmas craft fairs in the region, and the Town of Barrhead had their Christmas parade back on Friday.  When I saw that Athabasca University was having their annual Christmas craft fair at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex on Friday afternoon, I thought I'd swing up to Athabasca and check it out.

I don't go back up to Athabasca that often, ever since I transferred down to Westlock almost-5 years ago.  (It'll be 5 years come February!)  I go back up maybe once or twice a year, and it's almost-always because the Athabasca station needs an extra pair of hands for an event.  But I was feeling nostalgic for the Athabasca University Christmas Craft Fair.  I was at the very first one 11 years ago, when it was just a half-a-dozen vendors in the AU's lobby.  Now, it's across the road at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, and they fill the whole darn field house.  It's been fun watching it grow.

So, Friday afternoon, I hopped in my car, and headed north to Athabasca.  I've always been nervous about winter driving ever since I hit a deer with my car almost-5 years ago.  But, 511 Alberta said the roads were good, I've got a new set of tires on my car, so I figured the drive up to Athabasca should be pretty uneventful.

I was somewhere between Perryvale and Colinton.  I rounded a bend to see a car in the oncoming lane, and his lights were flickering like crazy.  I figured he must have an electrical problem or something.  I focused my eyes back on the road, and there, laying in the middle of my lane, was a dog.

I jerked my steering wheel to the left to avoid him.  I jerked my steering wheel back to the right to get back in my lane.  All seemed fine...until I realized the back end of my car was still jerking to the right.  I lost control of the car.  I'm sliding down the highway, fishtailing like crazy.  Everything gets kind of blurry.  I remember seeing a ditch.  I remember seeing a car in the oncoming traffic lane.  I remember seeing the other ditch.  I remember thinking, "This is it.  I'm headed for the ditch."  But then my car finally came to a stop, about six inches from hitting the ditch.

The guy who was driving behind me came to a stop.  He comes running up to me and knocks on my window.  "Are you alright?" he asks.  I just start stammering.  "Yeah...yeah.  There was this dog and I tried to get out of the way."  The dude with the flickering lights comes running over.  "Did you see the dog?  I was trying to warn you by flashing my lights!"

Anyway, I moved my car so I wouldn't be blocking traffic, and then I just sat by the side of the road for a while to calm down.  I tell ya, there was this, and I hit that deer, I think the animals are trying to tell me I'm not supposed to go back to Athabasca in the wintertime.

I finally made it to the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, ran into an old buddy in the parking lot, and after telling him this story, I said, "After what I went through to get here, this had better be the best damn craft show ever."

And it was a pretty good craft show.  Came back with a pretty good haul.  There was a beef jerky guy there who I ran into at the Westlock Ag Fair, who makes great beef jerky, so I treated myself to some.  Ran into a guy I used to work with when I had a second job at Buy-Low Foods.  Now he does the Farmers Markets and the craft shows peddling his kettle corn, so I treated myself to some.  The Athabasca Pottery Club was selling some of their pottery, and they talked me into a bat-shaped Christmas tree ornament.  Perfect for the Christmas tree, or maybe a Halloween tree.  Oh, and I found something that I think will be a perfect Christmas gift for Dad, so I've officially begun my Christmas shopping.

But before I left for Westlock, I decided to check out something at Canadian Tire.  Earlier in the day, one of my Star Wars action figure collecting sites lit up with news of a Star Wars action figure set available exclusively at Canadian Tire.  Now, "Canadian Tire exclusive" is a phrase that has never popped up in my days of collecting Star Wars figures, so I had to check this out.  And yes, the Athabasca location had it in stock, but I chose not to buy it.  I figured I'd already spent enough at the craft fair.  Besides, I've got about $10 in Canadian Tire money in a jar next to my piggy bank.  I think I know what I'll finally use it for.

Needless to say, took it nice and slow on the drive home to Westlock.  And took it nice and slow on the drive into Edmonton the next day.  Since I bought my Dad's Christmas present, I figured I'd buy the presents for my nieces.  I'd known what I wanted to get them for Christmas ever since it went on sale back in the spring, so I figured, "Why keep waiting?  Let's buy it now!"  And I did.  Three people checked off my Christmas list this early into November!  Let's see if I can keep it up!

Then off to my usual haunt of West Edmonton Mall.  They don't have the Christmas decorations up yet, but they do have the usual Christmas pop-up stores, like Hickory Farms and the calendar stores.  Did some browsing in the Disney Store, and had to keep my wallet tucked away.  As Disney does own Marvel and Star Wars, they've usually got some really cool exclusives, and I liked their latest.

So you may remember Disney's toys-to-life game Disney Infinity.  Disney officially pulled the plug on it about a year ago.  Browsing through the Disney Store, I see Disney has kept the art style of the Disney Infinity figures alive in a new, Disney Store exclusive line of action figures called "Disney Toy Box."  They've got nine offerings to start.  Representing Pixar is Woody, Jesse, and Buzz.  Representing Marvel is Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the Hulk.  And representing Star Wars is Kylo Ren, Rey, and a First Order Stormtrooper.  No doubt some of those figures will find their way to my collection.

A quick stop in the food court for lunch.  Trying to expand my horizons a little bit in the food court as there's so many new chains starting to pop up.  Last time I was at the mall, I spied a new chain called Pannizza that I wanted to try.  It's the Subway model, applied to pizza.  You pick your crust, you pick your toppings, the clerk puts it all together for, and then runs it through a Quiznos-style oven.  Voila!  One baked-before-your-eyes personal-sized pizza.  I sampled the Aloha Pizza, which is what they call their Hawaiian Pizza.  I rather enjoyed it, so I could see myself dining there again in the future.  Might not get the combo meal, next time.  Good pizza, so-so fries.

Speaking of Hawaiian pizza, how's my petition to get a Heritage Moment about it's creation going?  Huh...still stalled at 10 signatures.  Moving on.

You know what the West Edmonton Mall food court is missing?  A good chip shop.  I don't think there's been a place to get fish and chips there since Fatburger replaced Joey's Only.  Sorry, I'm watching You Gotta Eat Here! while I write this.  They just did a Montreal chip shop, and now I want fish and chips.

But as you know, all trips to the city for me invariably wind up in the movie theatre, and I bet you know what I was out to see this weekend.

Thor: Ragnarok poster

I really enjoyed this new chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It's easily the best of the Thor films.  It's more in tone with Guardians of the Galaxy than the other two Thor films.

When last we left Thor at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, he went off on a quest to learn more about the Infinity Stones.  But, he got sidetracked along the way, finding the Nine Reals in chaos and whispers of a pretender on the throne bringing about Ragnarok -- the end of days to Asgard.  Returning home to Asgard, Thor promptly unmasks Odin as being Loki in disguise.  Turns out Loki's rule has weakened Asgard's defenses from Hela, the goddess of death.  She returns with a vengeance, claims the throne of Asgard, and begins putting plans in place on conquer the universe.  Thor winds up stranded on the world of Sakaar, where he must make alliances with friends both old and new, and fight his way back to Asgard, defeat Hela, and stop Ragnarok from happening.

Man o man, this film is good.  All of the new characters are great.  Cate Blanchett is wonderful as Hela.  Marvel really hasn't given us a villain who relishes in being evil, and Hela does.  Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, the ruler of Sakaar, is very Jeff Goldblum.  Returning characters are good as well.  We finally get to know Hulk as a character, and there's some good brotherly love between Thor and Loki that looks to finally send Loki down a path of redemption.

Not much to quibble about.  As we saw in the post-credits sequence of Doctor Strange, Doctor Strange does show up, but his appearance serves pretty much the same function as Falcon in Ant-Man.  He's just here to remind you of the bigger cinematic universe at play.

And there's just so much good.  I love the synthesizer-heavy, prog-rock inspired score.  Marvel is certainly getting their money's worth out of The Immigrant Song.  And we're far enough along in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that every callback and in-joke to a previous film is a delight.  I wonder if Hulk fighting that giant wolf was purposely meant to be a reference to 2003's Hulk where Hulk fought some gamma-mutated giant dogs.

It was a good year for Marvel.  I give it 4 out of 4 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

And that was Saturday day.  Sunday morning was spent writing this blog.  It's lunchtime, now, so I'm going to see if I can find me some fish and chips. 

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Rolling out Fishing in the Discount Bin once again, blogging about the movies I own and have recently rewatched so it feels as though my life has meaning.  Today, I tackled the comedy classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  This is in my notes at March 19, 2017.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Star Wars and Black Panther Trailers

So when my Doctor Strange rant went online the other day, I noticed it was my 2800th blog entry.  I also looked at my blog over the past few months and saw I've pretty much been sticking to Fishing in the Discount Bin and not much else.  So, for number 2801, I decided to do some good ol' fashioned trailer blogging.  It's something I don't do as much anymore, mainly because of that darn social media.  I go, "Latest trailer for latest movie!" is up, post the link to my Facebook and Twitter, and call it a day.

And besides, I'd noticed I haven't done my usual thing of blogging about the latest Star Wars trailer.  Holy crap, you guys, that Last Jedi trailer!

You've seen it.  You love it.  I don't know what I need to tell you about it.  Rey begins her Jedi training with Luke, but Luke is apprehensive.  Kylo Ren is still destroying the galaxy, trying to live up to has grandfather Darth Vader's legacy.  Does he kill his mother, Leia?  Looks like Finn and Captain Phasma finally square off, the fight that many say should have been the "Traitor!" fight from Force Awakens.  And we finally meet Snoke in the flesh.

And the much-debated ending.  Is Kylo Ren pulling Rey to the Dark Side?  Or is it just trailer-bait, because everyone keeps screaming, "BUT THE SHOTS DON'T MATCH!"  Yeah, the shots don't match.  So let's keep debating!

December 15 is when we'll get all the answers.  That's 48 days away, according to the countdown app on my phone.

The sweet Last Jedi poster

Not content to let us enjoy all that awesomeness, and because Disney is on never-ending quest to take all our money, it was just a few days later when they dropped the new trailer for the next chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther.

Chadwick Boseman returns of T'Challa, ruler of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, and Wakanda's protector, the hero known as Black Panther.  For those who don't know the comics, Wakanada is one of the most technologically-advanced countries in the world, thanks to being the world's only source of vibranium, the metal that Captain America's shield is made from.  But, based on the hidden city we see in the trailer, it looks as though Wakanda has chosen to hide its technological prowess from the world. 

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, T'Challa returns home to resume his royal duties.  But, he soon dons the mantle of Black Panther once again to protect his land from Erik Killmonger, who seeks to overthrow T'Challa and take the throne.  Luckily, T'Challa has his allies, such as Wakandan secret agents Nakia and Okoye. 

Michael B. Jordan, last seen as Adonis Creed in Creed (and as the Human Torch in the crappy 2015 Fantastic Four) is Killmonger, Lupita Nyong'o is Nakia, and The Walking Dead's Dania Gurira is Okoye. 

Other returning characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe include Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, last seen as one of the administrators of the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War.  In the Black Panther comics, Ross is a US envoy to Wakanda, and becomes one of T'Challa's friends and advisors.  And we've also got Andy Serkis back as Ulysses Klaw from Avengers: Age of Ultron.  As in the comics, Klaw is an international arms dealer based in Wakanda.  And, thanks to Ultron ripping off his arm, he's got his trademark bionic arm with a built-in cannon that he sports in the comics. 

Don't forget, the epic Hulk/Iron Man battle from Age of Ultron actually took place in a Wakandan city, which is what led to Wakanda's support for the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War.  It's neat how they've been slowly building to this! 

What can I say?  The trailer looks awesome.  It's got some of that great action that Marvel has become known for.  I do have to agree with a friend of mine, though.  Based on the trailer, it looks like Killmonger eventually dons a suit similar to Black Panther's and they fight it out.  And we've already seen that in the first two Iron Man films and Ant-Man, so it's kind of overdone. 

But dude.  It looks incredible.  Black Panther hits theatres on February 16. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Doctor Strange

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, watchin' movies and blogging about them.  Time to head back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Doctor StrangeThis is in my notes at March 19, 2017

Doctor Strange poster

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Movie Review - Batman vs. Two-Face

Time to snatch up the newest DC straight-to-DVD animated film, and with it, the latest return to the world of Batman '66.  Yup, I'm going through my new Blu-Ray of....

Batman vs. Two-Face

Directed by Rick Morales

Starring the voices of Adam West, Burt Ward, William Shatner, Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, Steven Weber, Jim Ward, Thomas Lennon, and Lynn Marie Stewart


Well, last year's Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders was such a welcome return to the world of 1960s Batman, that of course a sequel was planned.  I've read over the years how Two-Face was a heavy contender for use in the 1960s Batman TV show, but it never came to be.  One theory as to why it never happened was that his facial scarring was considered too gruesome for a family show, another said that they were holding out for Clint Eastwood to play him.  The latest theory I've read says that an episode actually was written featuring Two-Face, but it was scrapped when the producers got into a pay dispute with the writer.  Anyway, the rumours over the years have led many to wonder how the 1960s Batman would have tangled with Two-Face, and now we have the answer. 


An experimental new "evil extractor" designed to extract the evil from Gotham City's most dangerous criminal goes awry, and Gotham's district attorney Harvey Dent has half of his body drenched with liquid, concentrated evil.  Becoming Two-Face, we're treated to an opening credit montage featuring Two-Face's reign of terror, before he's brought down by Batman and Robin.  Thanks to some experimental plastic surgery, Harvey Dent's face is healed, and it looks like Two-Face is no more.  But then, some new plots by King Tut and the Bookworm don't add up.  It looks like Two-Face has returned, and is manipulating things from behind the scenes.  But how is that possible?  Harvey Dent is healed, and has airtight alibis for both instances.  Has Harvey Dent reverted to his evil ways and become Two-Face once again?  Will Bruce Wayne ever be able to help his old friend Harvey Dent become whole again?

What I Liked

William Shatner was a great choice to play Two-Face, and he adds a nice, menacing growl to his voice whenever Two-Face's evil side comes out.  The icing on the cake is making Harvey Dent look like 1960s William Shatner.  Seeing Dick Grayson get jealous of Bruce Wayne's friendship with Harvey Dent was a cute twist to the characters.  And while the first film focused on Batman's main four villains, it was nice to see beloved 1960s villains King Tut and Bookworm get a chance to be in the spotlight.  And man o man, it was great to see the second Catwoman, Lee Meriwether, show up in a lovely Easter egg.  And they even managed to slip in a 1960s-flavoured Dr. Hugo Strange and Harley Quinn for us, which was nice.

What I Didn't Like

Well, some of the meta-humour of the first film, with all the winks and nods to other facets of the Batman mythology are lacking.  We're treated to something more akin to a typical episode of 1960s show. 

Final Verdict

Another fine outing for the 1960s Batman, if lacking some of the freshness of the first film.

3 Nibs

Bonus Features

For bonus features on the Blu-Ray, we're treated to a bunch of featurettes focusing on Burt Ward and Julie Newmar, we get a tribute to Adam West, and a deleted scene that I'm fairly certain was originally meant to be a post-credits stinger. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sunday Sick Day

I seem to have been neglecting this blog as of late, as it comes to chronicling my weekend adventures.  But that all changes today, as I'm fighting some manner of flu bug and have decided to spend Sunday just relaxing at home, focusing all energy on fighting this thing.  So, what better way to pass the time than by catching up on the blog? 

Well, that, and I haven't had a lot of weekend adventures in the city as of late.  August was a pretty quiet month.  I only went once in September, and once in October.  In September, it was with the primary purpose of seeing Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Kingsman the Golden Circle Movie Poster

I loved the original Kingsman.  I mean, it's the creators of Kick-Ass doing to James Bond films what Kick-Ass did for superheroes.  And while I did love The Golden Circle, it tried just a little too hard to capture the coolness of the first film. For example, in the first Kingsman, there's that standout fight scene...the shootout in the church that's set to Freebird.  In The Golden Circle, there's not one, not two, but three attempts at doing a similar music montage/fight scene. 

The plot:  when the super-spy agency known as Kingsman is all but wiped out by a mysterious organization known as the Golden Circle, the remaining Kingsman agents are forced to team with their American counterparts, Statesman, to get to the bottom of things.  I did find Statesman to be a neat concept.  They're all cowboy-themed and their HQ is a bourbon distillery in Kentucky.

The villain was an interesting concept, but they had to throw in an extra plot twist too many.  As I said, they were trying too hard.  But still, I enjoyed it.  2.5 Nibs, full review on the website.

The only other thing of note from that September trip was paying my first visit to Sunrise Records in West Edmonton Mall.  For those just joining us, the last great Canadian record store chain -- HMV -- closed its doors and had its liquidation sale back in the spring.  However, the small Ontario-based record store chain Sunrise Records decide to acquire most of HMV's old locations, and finally expand their operation to nationwide.  Now, I knew of a few music geeks who were quite giddy at this development.  Apparently, in Ontario, Sunrise Records has developed the reputation for always having the rarities and oddities in stock.  It's where you go when you can't find it anywhere else.  So, their excitement has carried over to me.

And, well, my first impression of Sunrise Records is...meh.  I have no doubt that the music geeks are digging their selection and drooling over the expanded selection of vinyl.  But, I have always been more of a movie geek than a music geek, and I find that their selection of Blu-Rays and DVDs is still somewhat lacking.  For me, personally, I looked to HMV for the rarities and oddities, like the newest Criterion and Shout! Factory releases.  But Sunrise just doesn't have that yet.  So, yeah.  I'm still underwhelmed by their movie department.

Trip #2 was just last week.  Had to catch the latest chapter in the Lego Cinematic Universe, .
Lego Ninjago Movie poster
The Lego Ninjago Movie

For those who don't know, Ninjago is one of Lego's more popular in-house franchises.  It's a mash-up of ninjas and kung-fu and giant robots and pretty much every Asian pop culture artifact.  It's had a popular Saturday morning cartoon for some time.  In fact, a Lego Ninjago Movie was in development long before The Lego Movie became a giant hit.  When The Lego Movie hit, the creators of Lego Ninjago got new marching orders:  make The Lego Ninjago Movie more like The Lego Movie.  And here we are.

Ninjago City is always under threat of invasion from the evil warlord Garmadon.  But, Garmadon's forces are always defeated by a group of mysterious ninjas.  The Green Ninja holds a dark secret, though.  He is Lloyd Garmadon, Garmadon's estranged son.  Needless to say, Lloyd's civilian identity gets him a lot of hate and some serious daddy issues. 

During one skirmish, Lloyd decides to unleash the Ultimate Weapon, to be rid of Garmadon for good, but in doing so, he releases the great beast Meowthra.  And now, Garmadon and Lloyd must join forces to go on a quest to the find the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon and defeat Meowthra.

So, it's not quite as funny as The Lego Movie or The Lego Batman Movie, although I think Meowthra is the greatest "Lego world meets real world" gag since the third act twist of The Lego Movie.  SPOILER WARNING:  Meowthra is just a regular house cat, who wanders around, knocking over buildings.  But while the jokes aren't there, there is some surprisingly poignant father/son stuff between Lloyd and Garmadon.    A lot of heart in this film.

In the end, The Lego Ninjago Movie is the Cars of the Lego Cinematic Universe.  Not the best, but given the other films in the franchise, better than most other films.  2.5 Nibs, full review on the website.

And then, as always, a new fast food discovery for lunch.  Me and my morning guy recently did a bit about what businesses you'd like to see come to town, and we were both surprised that Edo Japan got a lot of votes.  So I started doing my research.  Edo Japan is a fast food chain, still largely only in Western Canada, serving up Japanese food.  In the past, they were centered mostly in food courts, but their recent expansion plans have included adding more standalone stores in power centres.  So after The Lego Ninjago Movie I decided to give them a go.

They call their combo meals "bento boxes," because of course.  To fill my bento, I had their sukiyaki beef with gyoza and tempura shrimp.  It was not too bad.  The shrimp was nice and crispy.  The beef was good.  The rice was good.  And the gyoza was way better than the frozen stuff I treat myself to from down at the grocery store.  I'll probably give it another go. 

Anyway, this is out of my system now, so I'm going to go back to the couch and keep being sick. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Jem and the Holograms

Well, it's a film I've been dreading watching and writing up for Fishing in the Discount Bin for some time.  It's the live-action Jem and the Holograms.  This is in my notes at January 22, 2017.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - A Night to Remember

Here we are again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  This entry from January 15 2017 expands upon my New Years tradition of watching Titanic by throwing A Night to Remember into the mix.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Army of Darkness

Boldly marching along on Fishing in the Discount Bin, watching the movies I own, blogging about them, attempting to give my life meaning.  Time for the cult classic Army of Darkness.  This is in my logs at January 15, 2017.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, watching movies and blogging about them because my best friend told me once it would be a neat thing for me to do.  This time out, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.  This is in my notes at January 15, 2017.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, giving my life meaning by blogging about movies.  This time, we blog about Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.  This is originally in my notes at January 15, 2017.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Suicide Squad

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, as I ramble about one of the movies I own.  Today, we get to one of the biggest shrugs of 2016, Suicide Squad.  This is in my notes at January 6, 2017.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

And here I have the problem with doing Fishing in the Discount Bin months in advance.  It's September, but I'm doing a Christmas special!  I originally jotted this one down on January 6, 2017, so it seems like I was always running a little behind on this one.  Anyway, my thoughts on Santa Claus is Comin' to Town.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Black Cauldron

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie and blog about it in a futile attempt to bring meaning to my life.  Taking a look at a Disney animated film that I love, but doesn't get a lot of love in general.  That would be The Black Cauldron.  This is in my notes at January 6, 2017.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Finding Dory

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, just some random ramblings about one of the movies I own.  This time out, I'm rambling about Finding Dory.  I originally jotted these ramblings in my notes on November 20, 2016.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Independence Day: Resurgence

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the movies I own because I have no social life whatsoever.  Today, we go after my biggest letdown of last year, Independence Day: Resurgence.  I originally watched it and wrote this on November 13, 2016.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Star Trek Beyond

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the movies I own.  The #1 blog on the Internet, according to my cousin whom I just saw at the last family reunion and admitted to reading it.  So...hi, Shane!  Anyway, today it's the better-than-expected Star Trek Beyond.  This is in my notes at November 13, 2016.