Just forget the words and sing along

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Mark Tastes Dairy Queen's Rotisserie-Style Chicken Bites


Something new in the chicken nugget wars! On this Mark Tastes Random Things, we sample Dairy Queen's Rotisserie-Style Chicken Bites. Are they just as tasty but healthier?

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Nerd News Headlines: April 25, 2021


It's my weekly recap of all the nerdy news you may have missed! We've got our first look at the Shang-Chi trailer, some tidbits about other Marvel productions, Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots: The Movie is happening, and more!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Reflections on Video Stores

 I finally watched a movie they've been talking about a lot on most of my movie podcasts:  The Last Blockbuster.  As we all know, Blockbuster has gone from once being the largest video store chain in the world, to just one location left in the town of Bend, Oregon.  The documentary is about the rise and fall of Blockbuster, and how the last Blockbuster is still making a go of it.  A lot of filmmakers are interviewed as they share their memories of Blockbuster, and video stores in general.  

A row of VHS tapes, with the Spanish edition of "Mars Attacks" being pulled off the shelf

The most fascinating part is when they talk about Netflix.  It's become part of pop culture folklore now how, in the late-1990s, Netflix tried to get Blockbuster to buy them, and Blockbuster laughed them out of the room.  It's become a go-to example for shortsighted business decisions.  But as the documentary points out, by the late 2000s, Blockbuster was poised to kick Netflix's ass.  They had launched a rent-DVDs-by-mail service that was outpacing Netflix.  Blockbuster had just launched a streaming service that was cheaper and had a greater selection than Netflix.  But then the 2008 financial crisis hit.  Netflix made a lot of bad business decisions in the late-90s/early-2000s, leaving them with a lot of debt.  The 2008 financial crisis crushed them.  I read an interview with one of the founders of Netflix not too long ago, and he was asked how things would be different if Blockbuster did buy Netflix.  He said that they tried to get Blockbuster to buy them when they were in the middle of making all those bad business decisions.  The 2008 financial crisis would have still crushed Blockbuster, and history would still have played out exactly how it did.  Except, you know, Amazon Prime would probably be the #1 streaming service.

But I'm taking to my blog because, well, while I understand nostalgia for video stores, I don't understand nostalgia for Blockbuster specifically.  Blockbuster didn't have a lot of market share in rural Alberta.  I've never set foot in a Blockbuster.  If you grew up in a town of less than 500, then your video store was a rack of VHS tapes at the corner store.  Well, down in Entwistle, eventually it was at the corner store.  First it was a rack of VHS tapes in the corner of the Chinese restaurant.  Then it became a rack of VHS tapes in the feed store.  Then eventually, it made its way to the corner store.  

We finally got a video store in the next town of Evansburg, but again, it didn't start that way.  In Evansburg, it started as a rack of VHS tapes in the video arcade.  Then the racks of tapes started overtaking the place.  In the late-1980s, it was split down the middle.  Down one side of the store was the racks and racks of video tapes.  Down the other side was all the arcade cabinets.  If you were going to rent movies, be sure to bring some quarters, too.  The store was renovated in the early-1990s, becoming Lazer Video.  At that point, about three quarters of the store was video store.  The handful of arcade games were banished to behind a beaded curtain in the back room.  

My first honest-to-goodness video store experience had to be Movie World in Stony Plain.  Both of my parents worked in Stony, so they'd occasionally grab some movies for the family from there on a Friday night.  And there were some rare Tuesdays where Mom and Dad would grab the new release right away.  I remember they grabbed Batman as soon as it dropped on VHS in November of 1989.  The Chevy Chase Vacation movies are one of the few franchises that my Dad is a total nerd for, and I remember he had to grab Christmas Vacation the Tuesday it finally came out.  And hey, Movie World is still kicking.  At least, they were when CTV Edmonton did this news story about them in 2018.  

Video stores didn't become my hangout of choice until I started going to college in Camrose.  The big chain that dominated Camrose was called Video Update.  There was one within walking distance of the campus, and they had a college kid special.  Flash your student ID, and get 2-for-1 rentals.  I'll never forget renting a couple of movies one Saturday night, settling into my dorm's TV lounge, and popping in the movies.  I had this conversation when one of my neighbours came through.

Him:  What movie did you rent?

Me:  Ghostbusters.

Him:  What did you get for your second one?

Me:  Ghostbusters II.

Him:  God, that makes sense.  

The VHS cover for Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace

All the cool kids worked at Video Update, including my best friend.  Most video stores had a "staff picks" shelf, where the clerks could put their favourite movies.  My best friend once bragged that his shelf was the most popular on the "staff picks" wall.  The best had to be in April of 2000, though, when we were eagerly awaiting the VHS release of The Phantom Menace.  New movies came out on Tuesdays, but the video stores would get them some time between Thursday and Monday.  That way they had enough time to put them in the plastic clamshells and add them to the computerized inventory system in time for Tuesday.  So I hung out with my best friend that weekend, waiting for the call that the shipment came in, and we could be the first to rent Phantom Menace.  But sadly, we were thwarted.  To prevent what me and my best friend and countless other Star Wars fans were planning to do, Video Update wasn't getting Phantom Menace until Monday night.  

Then college ended, and I moved home.  Until I figured out what next to do with my life, I was working at Extra Foods in Drayton Valley.  Across the street from Extra Foods was a Video HQ, so that became my new usual video store.  Grab a couple of new releases on a Tuesday, and check them out.  There was a Panago Pizza right next to Video HQ, so if I knew I was going to be on my own for supper, I'd go to Panago and order a pizza, go over to Video HQ and grab my movies, then go back to Panago and grab my pizza.  I actually applied to work there.  They were offering the same wages as Extra Foods, and Extra Foods had just put me on the company health plan, so I stuck with Extra Foods.  

So sadly, no Blockbuster for me.  When I have fond memories of video stores, this is what I think of.  And while Blockbuster has been reduced to just one store, there's still a surprisingly large amount of Mom & Pops making a go of it.  If there's one in your neighbourhood, go for the nostalgia.  I see there's actually a growing trend among movie nerds to build faux video stores in their basements, as way to keep the memories alive and to showcase and store their DVD collections.  I think I just might do that if I ever own a house someday.  

Or, you know, put a rack of VHS tapes in the pantry to replicate the rack of VHS tapes in the corner store.  

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Mark Tastes McDonald's Western BBQ Quarter Pounder


On this installment of Mark Tastes Random Things, we dig into McDonald's latest variant on the Quarter Pounder.  Is it a taste sensation, or just "the one with BBQ sauce?"

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Nerd News Headlines: April 18, 2021


Our first look at the Powerpuff Girls, more Indiana Jones 5 cast members, and a new Fast and the Furious trailer!  It’s the Nerd News Headlines for April 18, 2021.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Mark Tastes the Pizza Hut x KFC Popcorn Chicken Pizza


Is it two great tastes that taste great together?  On this installment of Mark Tastes Random Things, I tie into Pizza Hut and KFC's Popcorn Chicken Pizza.

More videos at my YouTube Channel!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Nerd News Headlines: April 11, 2021

It's my weekly recap of all the nerdy news you may have  missed!  We've got a bunch of Star Trek announcements, casting is underway for Indiana Jones 5, and we meet the mini Pufts!

Catch more videos at my YouTube channel!

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Mark Tastes A&W's Double Bacon Double Cheese Burger

 Lest you think McDonald's and Dairy Queen is all I do on Mark Tastes Random Things, let's head down to A&W! This time out, we sample their Double Bacon Double Cheese Burger.