Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Lego Batman Movie

Time to roll again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  Watching movies, blogging about them, all because one day my best friend said to me, "Hey, do you know what you should do?"  Today, I'm watching The Lego Batman Movie.  This is originally in my notes at July 2, 2018.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Logan

Time to roll out Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about one of the movies I own, because really, I've got nothing better to do.  We start moving on to films that came out a year ago with Logan.  This is in my notes at May 28. 2017.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Basic Instinct

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blog about a movie I own, because I own 'em, so I may as well watch 'em.  Today, we'll take a look at Basic Instinct.  This is in my notes at May 21, 2017

Monday, January 01, 2018

Random Thoughts from Christmas Vacation

When I was a kid, I collected Christmas specials.  Every holiday season, whenever a new animated special would come along, I would record it.  In the end, I had three VHS tapes full of holiday specials.  I meticulously catalogued them, so I wouldn't accidentally get a duplicate.  And, of course, when I started building my first website 20 years ago, I posted my catalogue online.

Which meant that, every year around this time, I would get a half-a-dozen e-mails or so requesting a copy of A Mouse, a Mystery, and Me.  This particular special was a mainstay on Edmonton television, no doubt because it was actually filmed in Edmonton.  I'm starting to suspect that ITV (now Global Edmonton) was actually a co-producer, as I've noticed the Allard name quite prominent in the end credits.  (Charles Allard was the founder of ITV, and a pretty big deal in Canadian broadcasting in the 70s and 80s.)

The special is about the kidnapping of a department store Santa, and a kid enlisting the help of the mystery novelist in the neighbourhood to investigate.  Turns out our mystery novelist has a writing partner, a talking animated mouse named Alex, and together they get to the bottom of who kidnapped Santa.

Anyway, I could never present a copy on VHS to anyone because, by the time all this started going down, Mom had taped over my collection with Coronation Street.  Luckily, we now have this thing called YouTube, and I see someone else has posted A Mouse, a Mystery, and Me.


As I've been talking about on social media, I fell in love with this documentary series on Netflix called The Toys That Made Us, which is all about the classic toys lines of the 1980s. Brought back a lot of strange memories.

I loved the episode about G.I. Joe.  When I first started taking up action figure collection as aG.I. Joe toy line was starting to wind down.  I would take a look at the G.I. Joes for old times sake, before heading over to the Star Trek aisle.
G.I. Joe 30th Anniversary Actioin Soldier.  Pic from YoJoe.com
G.I. Joe 30th Anniversary Action Soldier
Pic from YoJoe.com
hobby in my teen years, it was when the classic 3.75"

In 1994, for the 30th anniversary of the G.I. Joe franchise, Hasbro made these beautiful figures.  They were exact re-creations of the original 12" Joes from the 1960s, only shrunk down to the 3.75" scale that was popular at the time.  So you could have the original Action Soldier and Action Marine having adventures alongside the new guard like Duke and Snake Eyes.  They were in lovely collectors boxes, and came with accessories up the wazoo.  The Action Soldier had a little bunker, the Action Pilot had the real working parachute pack...all kinds of good stuff. 

I remember always taking a look at them at Toys R Us, always seriously considered buying one or two for my fledgling collection, but ultimately not picking one up.  I kind of regret that, now, because, even back then, I thought they were really, really cool.

I see collectors are selling them for around $50 on eBay now, so if I ever have a little more disposable income....

I see that the animated special Happy New Year, Charlie Brown is starting to enjoy a resurgence in recent years.  I remember it being part of my Christmas special collection all those years ago.  Because the universe hates Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown has the Christmas vacation homework assignment to do a book report on War and Peace.  But he has difficulty reading the novel as he's constantly getting distracted by the preparations for Peppermint Patty's epic new years party.

Like this cute little musical number, where they all take dancing lessons so they can dance on New Years Eve.

Just because this is the kind of information I've filled my head with...the singer of that song is Desiree Goyette.  She wrote and performed a lot of the songs in Garfield and Charlie Brown animated specials throughout the 1980s.  Did some voice acting, too, as perhaps her most famous role would be Nermal, the self-described "world's cutest kitty cat," on Garfield and Friends.  Doing a quick google of her, I see she's still quite active as a singer/songwriter.  Does mostly gospel now. 

You can tell when I watch Happy New Year, Charlie Brown, because I'll always take to twitter to share Charlie Brown's new years resolution:  "You know how I typically dread the entire year?  Well this time, I'm only going to dread one day at a time." 

Actually I do like that entire scene.  It opens with Peppermint Patty asking Charlie Brown if he has any good rules for life in the new year.  Says Charlie Brown:
  • Keep the ball low
  • Don't leave your crayons in the sun
  • Use dental floss every day
  • Don't spill the shoe polish
  • Always knock before entering
  • Don't let the ants get in the sugar
  • Never volunteer to be a program chair
  • Always get your first serving
  • Feed your dog whenever he's hungry
So please.  Take those words with you into 2018!  

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.