Just forget the words and sing along

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.