Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Managed to catch a bit of Austin Powers in Goldmember on TV tonight. Ya know, watching Goldmember in the theatres had to be one of the most awkward movie-going expriences of my life.

For those who don't know, a good chunk of Austin Powers 3 takes place in Tokyo, and Mike Myers really sticks it to the Japanese in that chunk of the film.

Factor into this the tradition of the polite Japanese audience. They tend not to cheer or yell or laugh during a show, saving only polite applause for the end.

Now, I saw Austin Powers in Goldmember in Japan.

I was the only one in the theatre laughing.

To this day, I don't know if it's because of traditional politeness, or because they really, really didn't like the Japanese jokes.

However, there are some good scenes in the film. Near the beginning, Austin has a run-in with some twin Japanese schoolgirls that was very similar to an incident I had. And by "very similar," I mean, "the only similarity was it involved twins."

Monday, May 30, 2005

So, my latest obsession has to do with trying to catch the Via.

I take a walk every evening, and every evening I seem to watch a freight train go by. But that's not enough any more. I want to watch the Via go by.

This goes all the way back to my childhood. Sure, freight trains going by were common, but to see the Via...that was something different and exciting. Back then, the Via colour scheme was still blue and gold, a stark contrast to the black, white, and red of CN. The locamotives were of a visibly different design, complete with a differntly sounding horn. There always seemed to be less than 10 cars in a train, and they were fast. They'd come roaring through town like a blue rocket, then disappear around the horizon.

I'm rather lucky that I can still see it. With all the cutbacks that have befallen Via over the years, Entwistle is one of the few small towns in Western Canada that it roars through. The colour scheme is silver and blue now, there are many, many more cars to a train, and they're considerably slower. But they still have that mystique.

Anyway, I have a plan to try to catch a glimpse of the Via. Even though it hasn't actually stopped in Entwistle for about 15 years, the Via rail schedule (downloadable in PDF format from their website) still lists Entwistle on their schedule. It comes through town on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays; Vancouver-bound in the mornings, Edmonton-bound in the evenings.

I can do this. I also want to load up the camera with film; get some good pictures of it.

Not that I'm obsessed or anything.

Actually, it's kind of interesting reading the history of Via. Passenger rail service used to be the purvue of CP and CN. In the late-1960s, both companies wanted to get out of passenger rail service, believing it to no longer be profitable. The government, however, felt that there was still a need for it. So, they forced CP (the private company) to do it, and simply told CN (the Crown corporation) to keep doing it. As the 70s went on, CP and CN finally went "enough is enough!" In the 1974 elections, it was an election promise of Pierre Trudeau's to create a new Crown corporation dedicated to passenger rail service. Via Rail started as a division of CN; simply a restructuring of its passenger rail service. Then, in 1978, Via became a wholly independent Crown corporation. It's heyday was the late-70s/early 80s, and then, in the early 80s, cutback after cutback began.
In case you're sick of this week's depressing column, I've got something a little more uplifting.

I finally got my reviews of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Episode III up. There over at the main site.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Latest column! This week, a wonderfully angsty piece called Glory:

" Six years ago, it was a very exciting time. University was finished. A new Star Wars movie was premiering in theatres. I was 21, and ready to conquer the world. Without a doubt, university was 4-year high. For some odd reason, the campus really took to my little college radio show. People started to think that what I had to say just might be worth listening to. I had things that I’d never experienced before: popularity, a circle of friends, name recognition. Truly, it was a golden era."

Read it all...or not.

Right now, I'm sitting here trying to figure out this whole concept of "pop culture reference as comedy." My mother sparked the debate during Family Guy, when she wanted to know why I was laughing my ass off at a Star Wars reference when I claim to hate the whole "pop culture reference" comedy style. So I've been thinking about it.

In Shrek 2, when Shrek and Fiona re-created the kissing-upside-down scene from Spider-Man, I rolled my eyes and complained about how lame it was.

In tonight's episode of Family Guy, they spent the entire last 2 minutes doing a shot-for-shot re-enactment of the final awards ceremony from Star Wars, and I loved it.


In this case, I'm letting my best friend be my control subject. A few weeks ago, Family Guy also did a rather hilarious G.I. Joe reference, so I told my friend all about it and told him, "Watch it now!" He's not big on the whole "pop culture reference as comedy" either, and I'm pretty sure he hasn't watched much Family Guy. And this is what he had to say about the G.I. Joe reference:

"I liked it. They didn't make fun of [G.I. Joe]. They played it straight and let the reference be the joke."

So, based on all this, I think I'm figuring out how to do the "pop culture reference as comedy," and have it actually be funny:

Where the Reference Occurs - As my best friend pointed out about the G.I. Joe thing, the reference was the joke. But look at how most others do it. When you come to the payoff, rather than a witty line, the character will throw out the catch phrase of the day. In most situations, they use the reference as the punch line. there's a difference between the reference as joke, and the reference as punchline.

Attention to Detail - One of the things that made the G.I. Joe reference so funny was the fact that they used the actual G.I. Joe theme song and got one of the actual voice actors to voice the Joe. In tonight's Star Wars reference, they had the actual John Williams music, and cameos by Chewbacca, C-3P0, and R2-D2, doing exactly what they did in the original. In Shrek 2, you don't get that kind of detail. It's just, "He's upside down and she kisses him! Eh? Eh? Wink wink nudge nudge?" It's also one of the reasons why Blazing Saddles is conisdered the better Mel Brooks film than Spaceballs. Brooks knew westerns, loved westerns, and knew how to milk every western cliche for maximum comedic effect. He didn't have such an extensive knowledge about sci-fi.

Play it Straight - The average "pop culture reference joke" is deliverd by a guy, half-looking at the camera and kind of going, "This is funny! Laugh!" On Family Guy, you find no such thing. All the characters just kind of accept this as reality and move on. It's been known for ages that being able to keep a straight face while saying outlandish things is a hallmark of comedy. Hell, Leslie Nielsen was a dramatic actor before he did The Naked Gun films. And that's why he got the job in the first place. The director wanted Nielsen because he knew Nielsen could play it straight.

So, that's why I think Family Guy does it right, and most everyone else pales.
Just spent my Saturday evening watching Catch Me If You Can on the CBC. I forgot what a good movie it is. Why don't I own it on DVD? I could probably fish it out of a discount bin now.

anyway, are you ready for the return of...Futurama?

The situation of Futurama is very similar to Family Guy. Thanks to brisk DVD sales and being on in reruns 6 times a day, Futurama has found a popularity that eluded it in its original run.

Word has begun leaking out now that negotiations have begun between 20th Century Fox and the Futurama creative team about resurrecting Futurama as a series of straight-to-DVD movies.

Very, very cool.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Wow! Cool! Edmonton is putting together a bid to host Expo 2015!

Well, that's not true. On Tuesday, there'll be a motion before the city council to
begin a study to see if it's worth it to put together a bid. But it's already got
people buzzing. I think that'd be very cool to have Expo 2015 in Edmonton. But
first, we have to have the study to see if a proposal is worth it.

Beuracracy rocks!

There's something that I've had floating in my mind for a while now, but I've been reluctant to share it for fear of upsetting people. So, I'm going to say it now.

Recently, the province of Alberta was rocked by a very tragic car accident. A bus carrying oilfield workers back from Fort McMurray was in an accident, 4 oil workers were killed, and 10 others injured. The highway from Edmonton to Fort McMurray has been deemed one of the worst in Alberta, as there is a disproportionatly high number of accidents on that road.

Naturally, people are calling for the highway to be twinned to make it safer. The province is refusing to twin the highway, though. According to the province, a highway needs 10,000 cars/day driving on it to warrant twinning. Right now, the road to Fort McMurray only has 6000/day. "Not enough," says the province.

So, may I present an alternative?

Rail travel.

Let's get passenger rail service going to Fort McMurray again.

Right now, the oil companies are chartering buses to get their workers up to Fort McMurray. I've read varrying statistics, but there's between 40-60 buses running on that highway every day. That's probably 5 trains. A private company could institute rail service to Fort McMurray, and get the oil companies to charter rail cars the way they charter buses.

Plus, with rail travel, you wouldn't have to slow down for any speed zones that you find on a highway. You wouldn't even have to stop for gas. It's a much more efficent way.

With rail travel, you'd get more people to Fort McMurray faster, and for the same price as sending them on the most dangerous road in the province.

Granted, about a year ago, the provincial government was talking about upgrading the railroad to Fort McMurray, again to relieve congestion of the highway. I know people think that we need those upgrades to send people up the railway to Fort McMurray, but we don't. Via Rail was sending people along that railway until the end of the 80s, when Via determined that rail service to Fort McMurray was no longer worth it.

So? Who needs Via? There have been dozens of rail lines abandoned by the big rail companies, only to become quite successful when a private company takes it over as a short line railway. Passenger rail service to Fort McMurray could be the same thing.

And that's my two cents. I know that twinning the highway is the first option people reach for, but there are alternatives when you take a look around.

Think that would upset people?

OK, now here's something really important I need to remember:

d = d0 + v0t + ½at2


d = distance
v = velocity
a = acceleration
t = time

This is one of the most basic physics equations. And I needed it today. And I forgot it.

Here's how it went down. I was helping my Dad out at a gas well. Dad said, "Hey, my son who I spent a lot of money on so he could get a physics degree! How deep is this well?" And then he tossed a rock down it.

Naturally, I needed that above equation, but my mind completely blanked. I mean, it's only the one physics equation they drill into your mind since high school. Needless to say, I was totally embarassed. I think I'll send my degree back to Augustana.

In case you're curious, this is how you use the above equation to figure out how deep a well is.

d0 = 0, because you drop the rock from 0.
v0 = 0, because the rock starts at rest.

So really, all you need is:

d = ½at2

a = acceleration due to gravity, which is 9.81m/s2
t = time

Drop your rock. Time how long it takes to hit the bottom. That's t. Plug into your equation, and that's how deep your well is. It also works for seeing how high up you are.

And don't forget, this only works for motion in one dimension. So, when you drop your rock, hope it isn't pushed around too much by the wind.

Man, I can't believe I forgot that. I was embarrased beyond belief. And now, I'm compounding that embarassment by sharing it with the world.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

OK, gotta share this bit of DVD news. One of those DVDs that's been long demanded is finally coming out. On August 9, you'll all be running down to the store to buy....

The Muppet Show: Season 1

This 4-disc set will have all 24 episodes from the show's first season. For bonus material, you'll get Jim Henson's original proposal for the show, a blooper reel, the long lost pilot episode, and a feature called "Muppet Movies." We're not quite sure what that one will be about.

August 9!
You'll have to forgive me. I got a little carried away last night.

You see, as part of the big Alberta Centennial celebration, the government is running
this promotion right now. If you go to the Alberta Centennial website, and type in
someone's address, well then, that person will get an official invitation in the mail
from Premier Ralph Klein inviting him/her to come to Alberta for the centennial

What can I say? I went nuts for this. I typed in just about every snail mail address I know; even the one for my old English school in Japan.

So, damn near all of you are going to get an official invite in the mail from Premier
Ralph Klein, inviting you to Alberta for the centennial celebrations.

Sorry about that.

It all started really innocently. While watching the big centennial concert on TV
yesterday (which was really, really lame, although they tells us that about 75% of it
was cancelled because of the rain), the commentators were saying that sales of
centennail souvineers had been slot. Which, of course, led me to ask the question, "
Where the hell do you buy them? I haven't seen any on sale." So I went to the
centennial website to find out. And then, I found the "send an invatation to your
friend" deal and...you know the rest.

By the way, centennial souvineers are available at the Alberta Legislature Building
Gift Shop.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I got one this week! This week's column is called Melon Soda:

"The other day, I went by the Asian supermarket in West Edmonton Mall and I treated myself to a bottle of melon soda. I got hooked on this stuff when I was in Japan. It’s a soft drink, a deep green in colour, and it tastes like a honeydew melon. Or a cantaloupe. A melon of some kind, hence the name. I cracked open the bottle and took a whiff. Perhaps what I’ve missed the most was the smell. It smells sticky-sweet, but in an artificial way. It smells smooth and plastic. The odour brings to mind a strange mixture of chemicals that no one in their right mind would take into their body. But it is a sweet scent nonetheless, one that simply demands you drink it. And that’s exactly what I did, and the flavour brought back a flood of memories of hanging out with my coworkers after work in a Kumagaya Italian restaurant."

As always, click here to read it all!

Oh, and I'd like to thank Wikipedia for finally clearing this up for me:

First base - Kissing, especially "French" kissing.

Second base - Fondling or groping, especially of the breasts or genitals.

Third base - Depending on the speaker, either full nudity or a non-intercourse orgasm (especially when resulting from oral sex)

Home run (or "Hitting it out of the park", etc.; sometimes "Fourth Base") - Sexual intercourse.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wowie wow.

Saw Episode III today. Loved it! It was very cool. This was the first time in the prequel trilogy that I actually felt emotionally involved with the characters. The acting was all up a notch from AOTC, but the dialogue still sucked. I can't wait to see it again!

4 Nibs easy. I'll have a full review later.

Oh, and I also caught the season finale of CSI, written and directed by Quentin Tarintino. That was also very good. When you're a guy like me, who loves CSI and has a passing familiarity with Tarintino's work, it's obvious to see what Tarintino brought to the plate. That weird dream sequence where one character gets to watch his own autopsy is vintage Tarintino. One of the best episodes of the show.
Wowie wow.

Saw Episode III today. Loved it! It was very cool. This was the first time in the prequel trilogy that I actually felt emotionally involved with the characters. The acting was all up a notch from AOTC, but the dialogue still sucked. I can't wait to see it again!

4 Nibs easy. I'll have a full review later.

Oh, and I also caught the season finale of CSI, written and directed by Quentin Tarintino. That was also very good. When you're a guy like me, who loves CSI and has a passing familiarity with Tarintino's work, it's obvious to see what Tarintino brought to the plate. That weird dream sequence where one character gets to watch his own autopsy is vintage Tarintino. One of the best episodes of the show.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

So, the Queen has come to Canada to visit the distant land she rules and party down with us prarie folk to celebrate the centennials of both Alberta and Saskatchew. This, of course, has re-ignited the old debate of the relavancy of the monarchy to Canada. I've just been kind of daydreaming on this, and I think I figured out how to make it relavant.

See, the whole question of relevancy always comes up because the Queen's way over there in England and just generally doesn't hang out with us. In order to make the monarchy relevant, we need to get more royalty hanging out over here.

What I think the Queen should do is designate one of her kids to be "the Prince of Canada," and boot him over here to live, thus replacing the Governer General. Bam! Now we got the monarchy over here every day, thus brining relevance to our everyday lives.

But then, I started thinking about this a little longer. What would make it even more relevant is if we ditched the House of Windsor altogether, and just got our OWN royal family! Canadian royal blood.

So here's what we do in this scenario. Rather than limit ourselves to just the royalty of England, we put out a job applicaiton to royalty all over the world, offering the job of King/Queen/Emperor/Empress of Canada. I mean, have you ever seen pictures of the royalty of those northern European countries, like Denmark and Norway? They got some hot princesses up there. So, we get one of them to move to Canada and become our ruler. But see, the trick is, we're only using this person for breeding stock. We get them to hook up with a Canadian, and, after a few generations, the family is rooted as Canada's royal family, complete with royal blood!

I will admit, I don't know if there even is a debate. I've never met a die-hard pro-monarchy person, and I've never met a die-hard anti-monarchy person. I think that the average Canadian is indifferent.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Here's some cool TV news for the day.

Y'all remember that movie Super Size Me, right? About the guy who chooses to eat nothing but McDonald's for a month and how it just destroys his health? Well, that guy was Morgan Spurlock, and he's taken his Super Size Me concept and turned it into a TV show.

The show is called 30 Days, and it follows the transformation of people as they do something completely opposite to their lifestyle for 30 days. The first episode stars Spurlock himself as he and his wife attempt to live on nothing but minimum wage for a month.

Granted, most episodes sound like sitcom plots. There's one episode which is about a homophobe living with a gay man for a month. Spurlock says that the most moving episode that they've filmed chronicles the 30 days of a fundamentalist Christian - a man who believes that "Muslim" and "terrorist" are synonomous - who lives with a Muslim family for 30 days. Spurlock says that it's just amazing watching this man's whole world outlook just dramatically change.

The show premieres on June 15 on the American cable channel FX. No word yet on if or when it's coming to Canada.

Man, I still can't believe I haven't seen Super Size Me yet. Although, I've read about all those who have gone out of their way to counter Spurlock's film. It was back in February that I read about an Edmonton phys ed teacher who went on the "nothing but McDonald's for 30 days" plan - and actually lost weight. But see, here's the big difference. When Spurlock went on his diet, he limited his physical activity to the average amount of walking that a person does in a day. This Edmonton phys ed teacher put himself on a very strick exercise regime to compensate for all the extra calories. See, the teacher was trying to make the point that, when it comes to personal health, physical activity plays just as a big a part as diet choice.

Oh, and I finally found the counter-movie. See, some other guy also went on the "nothing but McDonald's for a month" diet, actually lost weight, and made a movie about it. His movie's only half-an-hour long, and you can download it freely at his website. The movie is called Bowling for Morgan, and the official website is Bowling for Morgan.com.

Monday, May 16, 2005

High Speed Internet comes to Entwistle
A Cautionary Tale of the Lunacy of the Alberta Government

Waiting for high speed Internet to come to my hometown has been a long, difficult wait. The only ISP in town is Telus, who only offers good ol' dial-up connections. I used to routinely phone Telus and complain about this. Telus's simple, unapologetic response was "There's no demand for high speed Internet in Entwistle."

So, I'd phone up Persona Cable; the local cable company. Many cable bills had the little announcement, "We now offer high speed Internet in (small rural Alberta town)." I'd call them and ask when they'd bring high speed Internet to Entwistle. The answer I'd get from them was quite the runaround:

Them>> Well, see, in order to bring high speed Internet to these small towns, we need to lay the cable and set up the infastructure. we just can't afford to do that. So, we usually wait for some other company to set it up, and then we just piggyback on their equipment. And yes, it's legal.
Me>> Huh. So, let me guess, the company that you usually wait to set up the infastructure is....
Them>> Telus. Yes, Telus.

I started seeing a grand conspiracy of Telus not bringing high speed Internet to small rural towns in order to maintain a monopoly. Oh, curse those X-Files reruns!

But, many people in Entwistle got sick of waiting for Telus. And most of those people sit on the Entwistle Businesses Association. I'm sure you quite know that most businesses benefit from high speed Internet, especially in this day and age. The EBA started looking around and taking bids for an ISP to bring high speed Internet to Entwistle.

The winner is a company from the east called Xplornet. The EBA welcomed them to the Entwistle business community, and they've been working hard over the past few weeks to bring the Internet to town. Xplornet is wireless Internet access. Xplornet is borrowing a few cellphone towers around the area, when we people sign up we get a little receiver to mount on our roofs (an antenna or a dish, depedning on how far you are from the tower) and you've got high speed Internet.

Xplorenet's got it all set up. They begin testing this week. And they'll start offereing service to the general public in late May/early June.

Now, how does the Alberta Government fit into this? Well, this goes all the way back to the provincial election in 2001. One of Ralph Klein's election promises was to bring high speed Internet to all of the provinces schools and libraries. The project was called "Supernet," and was supposed to be set up within a year after Klein's re-election.

Here we are, 4 years later, and the company that won the contract to build Supernet has about 25% of the province wired. The province has threatened all kinds of legal action against the company. That's a whole other scandal I won't get into here.

The big scandal that's gone unnoticed is the more frustrating one. See, how it worked was the government and the Supernet contractor would lay the fibre optic cable into the town and establish the hub for the town; a small tin shack, kind of like a phone exchange. And that's as far as the government would go. At this point, it would become the responsibility of the local library and/or school to pony up the money to run the cable the rest of the way. Now, this is high end fibre optic cable we're talking. Depending on how far the schools and libraries are from the hub, it could cost anywhere between $1000 and $100,000 to run the cable; money expected to come out of the pocket of the libraries and schools.

Here in Entwistle, the Supernet folks from the government built our hub and brought the cable into town 2 years ago. But, the school and the library couldn't afford to run the cable the rest of the way. It's just been sitting there for 2 years. Other businesses in town approached the government about hooking into it, but the government always said no. "It was promised to the libraries and schools first," said the government. "Until the libraries and schools come up with the money to hook up, no one gets it."

Anyway, after the 2004 election and a little cabinet reshuffling, the Government of Alberta now sees Gary Mar as the Minister of Infastructure. What does this have to do with anything? Well, you see, the Minister of Infastructre has the task of deciding when and where to build government buildings; buildings like libraries and schools. Seizing the opportunity to set up a pretty good little legacy for himself, Gary Mar opened the government cash gates and now the schools and libraries have the money to hook up to Supernet.

The Entwistle School and Library officially switched on their high speed Internet on Friday.

Today, Persona Cable announced that, piggybacking on the Supernet infastructure, they'll start offering high speed Internet in Entwistle.

And the people in Entwistle lived happily ever after, being able to now download porn at the speed of light.
Just had to watch Ebert & Roper last night. There was a time, oh, about 10 years ago. The show was still Siskel and Ebert and I watched it religiously. Anyway, really had to watch it last night. They had their review of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. You might be interested to know that it's the first prequel that got the much-coveted "two thumbs up."

I've been reading quite a few reviews of Episode III over the past few weeks. Almost every one is positive. Here's the commanalities from every review:

- special effects are mind-blowing
- the lightsabre duels are the best we've ever seen.
- Oh my God. Hayden Christensen can ACT!! So can Natalie Portman, and Ewan McGreggor...everyone's ACTING!!
- Ian McDirmand steals the show as Palpatine/Darth Sideous. He's just so...EVIL!
- Dialogue still sucks.
- Truly, the best of the prequel trilogy.

I've also just discovered that I can buy my advance tickets online in preperation for Thursday. I'm guessing that, if I don't hear from the person I'm seeing it with by say, oh, 9pm, I'll give this "buy tickets online" concept a shot.

Meanwhile, it's now official. I've watched far too much Star Trek: The Next Generation.

See, it's like this. Between the time when an episode is shown for the first time and when it goes into its "on in reruns everyday" version, it's quite common for a few scenes to be cut in order to make more room for commercials.

I'm now starting to notice scenes that have been cut from certain episodes of The Next Generation.

Sad, really. That I'm noticing.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Here's where I usually announce that this week's column is up, and I direct you over to the main site to read it.

Funny thing this week....

There's no new column.

Well, see, it's like this. I had another enjoyable week of heavy labour around the house, which resulted in very little time in front of the computer. As the clock struck 10 this evening, I was faced with a choice. I could either write a crappy one at the last minute, like I'd been doing the past few weeks, or I could just skip a week.

I chose to skip a week.

See, as much as you hate reading crappy columns, I hate writing them. There's always this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I can do better. And I know I can.

So, come back next week. I promise I'll spend a few hours this week writing a good one.

Today's useless fact from Wikipedia:

There is no special correlation between your birthstone and the month it represents. The whole concept of birthstones was a marketing gimmick concocted by jewelers as a way of personalizing jewellery.

BTW, my birthstone is ruby.

Friday, May 13, 2005


I just finished watching the final episode of Enterprise, entitled These Are The Voyages.... Where to begin, where to begin. How about at the beginning?

It opens on the bridge of the NX-01. We overhear the crew chatter. Enterprise has been in space for 10 years. They're heading home to sign the charter of the United Federation of Planets, and then turn in the NX-01 for decomissioning. Capt. Archer is obsessing over his speech. Seems that he's a founding father. As he discusses the pronunciation of several alien names with the crew, we hear a familiar voice. "Computer. Freeze program!" Everything freezes. The camera whip-pans to screen left and we see that one of the young ensigns on the bridge is Commander William T. Riker. Riker tells the computer to save the program at this point, and tells the holodeck to end the program.

Here's the premise. It's the time of the Next Generation, more specifically the episode The Pegasus. This is the one where we learn that, when Riker was just a young hotshot ensign, he was part of a conspiracy to create the first Federation cloaking device. Well, the search for the wreck of the Pegasus has begun, and Riker knows the shit's about to hit the fan in regards to the cloaking device. So, his dilemma is weather he should break orders and unveil the conspiracy, or if he should continue covering it up. Troi suggests that Riker go to the holodeck and watch the final mission of the NX-01, and that perhaps Riker can learn something from Archer and his crew.

Meanwhile, back in the 22nd Century, Archer and crew are on their way back to Earth for everything I've already mentioned. Then they get a call from Archer's old Andorian counterpart, Commander Shran. Seems that Shran's daughter has been kidnapped by some unscrupulous characters, and Shran needs Archer and some Starfleet soldiers to help him in a covert mission to save his daughter. They save Shran's daughter, Commander Tucker needlessly dies, and they make it back to Earth for Archer to give his speech.

OK. I can understand why Jolene Blalock (T'Pol) called this episode "appalling." For those not in the know, this episode was actually written over a year ago when it was feared that last year would be the final year. And it SHOWS. T'Pol made some great advances in her character this past year, but when this episode starts, it's like some giant reset button was pressed and the past year never happened - at least in terms of character development. And not just T'Pol. Every character is thrown back to where they were a year ago. And it's...kind of sad. In this past year, the Enterprise characters were so good. Why o why did they negate all that?

My second big issue: the very needless death of Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III. It's just...I have the same issue that I had with Data's death in Nemesis. I felt NOTHING when he died. Hell, in the episode that was shown right before These Are The Voyages..., we witnessed the death of a baby that we'd only known for 15 minutes. We felt a lot more for the death of that baby than we did for Trip. We felt it through the characters and their reactions. They were genuinly saddened by the death of that baby. But, when Trip died, everyone was like, "Aww, shucks. Well, let's give a speech!" It was such a needless death.

But the Next Generation parts with Riker and Troi (and even a brief cameo by Data) were pretty good. It was full of nice little geek out moments. I know, I know. Because this was being hyped up as the last episode of all of Star Trek, there was this desire to bring it back where it started. But, ya know, this episode actually might have been a better send-off if they dropped all that Next Gen stuff and spent the extra time on the Enterprise characters.

I will admit. The final 2 minutes was a wonderful geek-out moment. It went like this.

We see a beautifully computer animated Enterprise-D soaring off into space. We hear the familiar words by Captain Picard: "Space. The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her continuing mission...."

One artful scene change, and now we're watching a beautifull computer animated origianl series Enterprise. Captain Kirk continues: "To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations."

One final artful scene change, and we watch the Enterprise NX-01 soar through the heavens. Captain Archer finishes off: "To boldly go where no one has gone before."

My final thought? Everyone credits Enterprise's turnaround this season to showrunner Manny Coto. Before rushing this episode into production, Rick Berman and Brannon Braga should have let Coto do a quick re-write.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Didn't get quite as much work done today as I wanted to, but I have a very good reason.

Right after lunch, as I was getting ready to work, I was flipping around the channels and noticed that A Hard Day's Night was on TV. Naturally, I had to sit and watch it.

For those who don't know, A Hard Day's Night was the first movie from the Beatles. It was high on my list of "classics I really want to see." The plot is incredibly simple: a day in the life of the Beatles. But what a day it is! They just hang out, cause mischeif, harrass the authority figures (namely their road managers), and try to keep Paul McCartney's trouble-making grandfather out of trouble. Actually, that trouble-making gradfather has all the best lines.

All I can say is this movie is insane. And I mean that in the best possible way. There's lots of great sight gags, lots of great wordplay, and a whole lot of that dry British wit. And, a bunch of kick-ass Beatles songs.

I highly recommend this film. A Hard Day's Night rocks hard.

I need your help.

I'm trying to figure out if this line is too filthy for my "favourite quotes of the month" in my News From Markworld:

"Eww! That's the one place where you want them to have hair!" - A man's reaction to a bald-headed stripper, on the new cartoon American Dad.

Monday, May 09, 2005

I've got museums on the brain right now.

Not sure what's with this current obsession. Maybe it's because most of the media has been talking about the opening of the new War Museum in Ottawa...maybe it's because of the news that the Queen will be re-christening the Provincial Museum of Alberta; she'll be proclaiming it the Royal Alberta Museum as part of the centennial party...or maybe it's because we took Mom to the Muttart Conservatory for Mother's Day.

All I know is someday I will have a girlfriend, and we will do artsy things like go to museums and aquariums and conservatories.

Heh heh...taking a date to the Muttart Conservatory. That's such a Star Trek date. That was always the great pick-up line on TNG. "Would like to go for a walk in the arboretum?"

But enough of this foolishness. Got some DVD news for you.

I'm not the only one who reads this blog who liked Sin City. It hits DVD on August 16. There'll be dick-all for bonus stuff, though. Just a featurette and some storyboards. Rumor is we'll get a fully packed special edition either closer to Christmas or early in 2006.

Also on August 16, Disney will be releasing the next batch of dubbed Studio Ghibli films. On that day, keep your eyes open for My Neighbors the Yamadas and Pom Poko. These two films were made by Ghibli's other resident genius, Isao Takahata, who also gave us the legendary anime Grave of the Fireflies.

On September 6, Disney will be comitting the crime of double-dipping when they release Toy Story: 10th Anniversary Edition. This disc will boast an all-new transfer, giving us a higher quality picture and sound mix. There'll be 3 new featurettes, a trailer for Cars, and a bunch of stuff recycled from the other Toy Story DVDs.

Oh, and even though we don't have an exact date yet, George Lucas has promised that Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith will be on DVD in time for Christmas.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Latest column's up! This week's is A Page of Random Sentences. I tell you, it was a solid half-hour of really easy work.

Read it, if you dare!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

It finally happened. Entwistle has finally crossed the line from being "sleepy little town" to "redneck & hillbilly heaven." What made us cross the line?

Entwistle's first ever guns & ammo store is about to open.

I discovered it tonight on my first evening walk in a long time. It's called "The Moving Target." It's location is in the building that used to house the funeral home, ironically enough.

So, any advice on mounting a protest?
Trailer time! I've spent the past few weeks deleting old movie trailers from my hard drive, and downloading brand new ones! May as well share what I've been downloading and weather the film is worth spending your $12 on when it comes out. I present in the order I've downloaded:

Howl's Moving Castle - The latest film from Hayo Miyazaki, he who gave us Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and lots of other really, really good films. It's based on the British children's novel of the same name. It follows the adventures of a young girl who's turned into an old woman by a witch's curse, and she goes on a quest to find the mysterious wizard Howl, the only man who can lift the curse. This trailer just kicks ass. It's Miyazaki, so there's lots of jaw-dropping, really, really pretty pictures. And that Joe Hisashi music is the stuff of epic romance. It was #1 in Japan when it first came out over there back in November. It'll start making the rounds through North American art houses this June.

Serenity - The eagerly anticipated movie version of the short-lived sci-fi show Firefly. I've watched a bit of Firefly in reruns, and I'll admit, it's pretty good. The movie looks to tie up all of the show's loose ends and finally explain the story of the token myterious character River. I will admit, the trailer looks good, full of lots of nifty sci-fi action, but it follows the trend of several other recent based-on-recent-TV-show-movies. (eg Rick Berman era Star Trek films). Even though it's a movie, it still looks and feels very much like an episode of the show. But as Firefly was a pretty good show, that's not necessarily a bad thing. This one comes out September 30. My guess? By that time, we'll all be burned out on Episode III and Serenity will be a nice little pick-me-up.

The Legend of Zorro - The long awaited sequel to The Mask of Zorro! Antonio Banderas is back as the legendary man in black, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is back as his legendarily hot wife. The plot this time? Banderas's character hangs up the mantle of Zorro to enter the throes of living happily ever after. But, when villains arise to prevent old California's entry into the United States of America, he is forced to come out of retirement! They got pretty much the same creative team as the first film, and it shows in the trailer. It looks like we get nothing new to "expand the mythos," but we do get lots and lots of kick-ass swordfights. Could be good. October 28 is the big day for this one.

The Dukes of Hazzard - You're probably wondering why I've wasted valuable hard drive space with this one. Well, the Dukes was one of my absolute favourite TV shows when I was a kid. My brother and I used to run around the backyard pretending we were Bo and Luke. I went to my first day of kindergarten wearing a Dukes T-shirt. So, if I ever complain about a film ass-raping my childhood, it'll be in regards to The Dukes of Hazzard. Now, when I turn off the sound and watch this trailer, it looks perfect! Lots of amazing, mind-blowing car chases; essentially the TV show to the next level, which is what I want. But, as soon as the actors start talking, I cringe. It seems that they've decided to go in the Charlie's Angels/Starsky and Hutch mold, which is make it a parody of itself. Every time the characters speak, they say some dumb joke that didn't make it into an American Pie movie. And Bo is just too stupid. To quote the one movie we're all going to be running to this summer, "I have a bad feeling about this." But then, as my mother pointed out, "People only loved that show for the car." The shit hits the fan on August 5.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get that third and final trailer for Batman Begins.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Rest easy, folks! The big announcement you've been waiting for has come!

We know the plot of Shrek 3.

When last we left our heroes at the end of Shrek 2, it was revealed that the King (Fiona's father) was, in fact, a frog, and he reverted to his froggy form. Because he is a frog, Shrek and Fiona have assumed the throne and are the rulers of Far, Far Away. Naturally, they don't like this cuz they really want to get back to their little love shack in the swamp. So, the King makes them this deal: go find the next one in line for the throne, and then you can go home. Shrek, Donkey, and Puss in Boots head off to find the heir to the throne, and Fiona stays behind to look after the kingdom in the meantime.

Shrek, Donkey, and Puss in Boots find the next in line: Fiona's cousin Artie. On the quest back to Far, Far Away, our trio of heroes begin teaching Artie how to be a king so he can stop being Artie and become...King Arthur.

Meanwhile, back in the kingdom, Prince Charming (villain from #2) figures that, with Shrek away, he can launch a little coup and take over. So, Fiona rallies all the fairy tale princesses to form the resistance.

It's slated to come out in May 2007. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and Antonio Banderas are all coming back, and it was just announced that fromer N'Sync guy (and Cameron Diaz's current boyfriend) Justin Timberlake will be voicing Artie/King Arthur.

As a guy who thought the second one is a mistake, I'm just horrified at this development.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Yay! Finally got my Terry Fox Loonie. 2, actually. And the solution as to how to get one was so simple.

There's two banks that service the Entwistle/Evansburg area: the Credit Union and the Royal Bank. Or, as they are known now, Capital City Savings and RBC Financial. I figured, why not just go down to the bank and exchange my loonie for a Terry Fox loonie? First, I tried the Credit Union, as they are in walking distance. They told me that they were all out.

So, across the river to Evansburg, and the Royal Bank! The Royal Bank in Evansburg is a prime example of how these two towns on the Pembina River are slowly dying. Thanks to Internet banking and all that, the Royal Bank would dearly love to close their Evansburg location and replace it with a couple of automatic tellers. There's just not the business for two banks in these two towns. There's only one thing from stopping the Royal Bank from shutting down Evansburg:

senior citizens.

Yup, when you get to a redneck town like Evansburg, it's very doubtful that the senior population has spent their golden years learning about computers. So, the Royal Bank has been kept open with a skeleton crew to help the seniors who don't know much about these damn teller machines.

Prime example of this was when I first went to the Royal Bank to ask about Terry Fox loonie. There was an old lady in front of me. As the teller (the Royal's only teller, by the way. That's right, they've only got one.) gently explained that the old lady should go to the ATM and "try it now," the old lady lost it. "There's no god damn way I'm using that machine! I always forget my number, and I know it's going to explode unless I put in the right number!"

God bless the elderly.

Anyway, once the old lady settled down, it was my turn. This was 1:30 in the afternoon, and the teller told me that, because of their skeleton crew used only to provide customer service to the seniors, they lock up all their money at high noon. If I came back tomorrow, I'd be able to get one.

So, tomorrow became today, I went back, and got 2!

And now, I sit back and wait for the next big commemerative coin of 2005: the 60th anniversary of V-E Day commerative nickle. Now this I like. I think we've got so many commemerative loonies and quarters, that it's nice when we get one of a different denomination.

Today's useless trivia fact from Wikipedia:

the Walt Disney Company always cancels their TV cartoons after 65 episodes, regardless of popularity. This was discovered when they canceled their insanely popular Kim Possible after the magic number was reached.

Why 65? Because that's how many episodes you need if you want to sell your TV show into worldwide syndication.

There have been a few rare exceptions, like when Disney ordered 13 more episodes of Gargoyles to add a "brand name" to the brand-new (Disney owned) ABC Saturday morning line-up.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Wow. I've got lots of pointless stuff to share.

In case I haven't shared the news from a few weeks back, I caved to temptation. On my last day in Cold Lake, I made a quick swing by the military base and I bought GI Joe: Ninja Battles. That was that huge boxed set of 5 GI Joe ninjas (2 Joes, 3 Cobras), a buttload of weapons, a freaky-cool torii base, a comic book, and a DVD. I'm really tempted to open it. I really wanna watch that DVD.

I think it's time for me start reading Batman comics. Guess who was finally resurrected from the dead? Jason Todd, the Robin that was infamously killed. Only now, he's calling himself the Red Hood and he's Gotham's latest criminal mastermind.

I really want to know why they felt they needed to do this. I think a dead Robin helped make Batman the grim crimefighter he is today. What can I say? I'm curious to see where they're going to take this.

I guess this is why comic books resurrect dead characters.

Today's useless bit of Star Trek trivia. It has to do with the creation of Voyager.

The character of Tom Paris was originally going to be Tom Locarno, who was played by Robert Duncan McNeil. The character of Locarno was introduced on the classic Next Generation episode "The First Duty." Locarno was a classmate of Wesley's, and leader of the elite flight team known as Red Squad. The plot of "The First Duty" invovled a training accident in Red Squad in which a team member was lost. Locarno attempted to cover it up, but Wesley was torn between his friends and his duty, and eventually Wesley chose duty and confessed to the whole thing. Locarno was disgraced and drummed out of the academy.

Well, the writers were fascinated by this character, and wanted Robert Duncan McNeil to reprise Locarno as a member of the crew of Voyager. McNeil wasn't available, so the creators came up with the very-similar Tom Paris, and Paris has a very-similar disgrace-inducing incident in his backstory. Then, as casting was beginning for Voyager, McNeil became available again! He became the first, last, and only choice for Paris.

And now, a brief history of inking in animation.

We've all seen the images of the animator hunched over the drawing table, drawing images on paper. But when they create animation, the drawings on a clear pieces of plastic called "cels." So, the question is, how do the drawings get on the cels?

In the old days, once the animator was done, the drawings were shipped off to the ink & paint department. Here, the drawings would be traced onto cels (inked) and then coloured (painted). Naturally, Walt Disney thought, "There must be an eaiser way."

And thus came the Xerox process. The animators' drawings were simply photocopied onto the cels, and then shipped off to the ink & paint department for coloring. Disney tested it on a few scenes in Sleeping Beauty, and then fully adpoted it with 101 Dalmations.

Time marches on. Things progress. Once again, an easier way was saught. Disney hired Pixar to develop the Computer Assisted Production System, or CAPS. Now, it works like this. The animators' drawings are scanned into a computer, coloured digitally, and then composited onto the scanned-in background. It was tested on a few scenes in The Little Mermaid, and it was fully adopted on the Rescuers Down Under. Cels are no longer used, and the ink & paint department was shut down.

And now, the whole thing is moot as Hollywood believes traditional animation is dead and we're going through the big push to CGI.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Latest column's up! This week, I share The Formula:

" OK, so here’s the deal. I’ve been slacking off for the past few days and I’ve got nothing. So, instead of doing something very half-assed and writing a half-assed column, I’ve decided to do something much more productive. I’m going to teach you how to write your own column! See, the thing is, all my columns follow a formula. It’s a formula that I first uncovered way back in grade 8, and it led me to ace Language Arts, high school English, and every English class I took in university. Yes, it is just that easy. Just follow this simple formula, and you can entertain your friends and family with your dazzling wit and superb writing skills. It goes a little something like this:."

Read it all right here!

I just saw the coolest reference to the 1980s EVER on TV!!

OK, you've probably heard the saga of "Family Guy" by now. It was cancelled 3 years ago, but thanks to massive sales of the DVD boxed sets and incresed popularity from reruns on the Cartoon Network, it was renewed and new episodes were produced. Tonight was the first new episode in three years, and they did the coolest reference to the 1980s since the whole "Optimus Prime is Jewish" thing.

Here's the scene. It's the junior high dance. Eldest son Chris is the washroom, being goaded into taking a shot of vodka. He takes the shot...just as the principle walks in. The principal proceeds to chew out Chris and then...

...Flint jumps out of the toilet stall. Yup, the GI Joe Flint. Same voice actor and everything. The GI Joe theme cues up in the background, and Flint begins lecturing the kids on the dangers of alcohol. And you know how it ends. All the kids yell out, "Now we know!"

Flint goes "And knowing is half the battle."

We hear the theme song singers. "GI JOE!!!" as the American flag appears behind Flint and the kids.

I laughed my ass off. I'm talking to my brother on MSN Instant Messenger right now and we're totally geeking out.