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.