Just forget the words and sing along

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Another DVD I'm buying again


This November, Sony unleashes a brand new 2-disc special edition DVD of....

The Transformers: The Movie

No word yet on the bonus features. They say that this is being done to tie-in with a new bunch of Transformers toys coming out this Christmas, but I'm fairly certain that the live-action movie coming out next summer has something to do with it, too.

Don't forget, The Transformers: The Movie - Special 20th Anniversary Edition comes out in November.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Road to Electoral Reform

So, today, the Conservative government unveiled the first of their electoral reforms. This was, of course, a good-sized chunk of their election platform.

The first bill tabled was for fixed election dates. In the Tories' new, proposed system, elections would be held every four years on the third Monday in October. They say fixed election dates "de-politicize" the election...now, the governing party can't have an election when they're doing good in the polls, or right after the announce a bunch of popular reforms.

In the case of a minority government, the government will still crumble and we'll still go to another election. But, on that fourth year from the last regularly-scheduled election, we still have another eleciton.

I look at this and I go, "Hmm. Looks good on paper." It'll be interesting to see that minority government situation and how it actually plays out.

Besides, I think it's a moot point as to de-politicizing it. The ruling party can still announce a whole bunch of popular reforms right before the election...only now, the announcement will be regulary scheduled: every fourth Septermber.

Now, the second proposed reform today is the one that's raised eyebrows. Term limits on senators.

Under the current system, a senator serves in the Red Chamber until he or she turns 75. Under the Tories proposed new systme, a senator would only serve for 8 years.

The Tories say that this is a necessary first step towards their true goal: an elected senate. Because, according to their logic, a senator could serve a term of 30 or 40 years, depending on how young they are when they're first elected.

Now, see, this one I disagree with. I mean, under our current system, an MP could serve a term of 30 or 40 years too...as long as he or she keeps getting re-elected.

If you're going to have term limits on the senators, then have it on the MPs, too.

That, or, when we finally do have an elected senate, set it up so a senator can be re-elected indefinitly...just like the MPs.

Hey, I'm only trying to go for equality of the houses here.

Tuesday Morning

I'm probably going to say this for the only time in my life.

Calgary is better than Edmonton.

When the Calgary Flames made it to the Stanley Cup, this is the question that Calgary Police was asking:

"Jeez, what are we going to do about all the women flashing their breasts on the Red Mile?"

Now, the Edmonton Oilers are in the Stanely Cup final, and this is the question that, not only the Edmonton Police are asking, but all of Canada:

"Jeez, what are we going to do about the riots on Whyte Avenue?"

that's just one of the things I don't understand about sports. "Yay! My team won! Let's break stuff and hurt people to celebrate!"

But then, Whyte Ave has always been bad for that...ever since the now-infamous Canada Day Riots of 2001. It's like those who frequent Whyte Ave are always looking for an excuse to fight.

My co-worker turned to me today and said, "So, since you got the big, new TV, I guess next is going to be a gaming system, eh?"

Probably not. I don't know...I just haven't been that into video games in a really long time. PlayStation...XBox...it's all got no interest for me.

If ever do buy something, it'll probably be a Game Cube, so I can keep playing Pokemon.

But yeah...I don't have a good history with video game systems. It all started in 1989. Around Christmas that year, Mom started hinting that she was going to get my brother and me a video game system, but she coulnd't decide which one. I wanted a Nintendo. My brother wanted a Sega Master System. That led to the biggest fight my brother and I ever had. We got board games for Christmas.

So, I saved my paper route money and bought me a Game Boy. Best thing I ever did...Game Boy still has the record as the most successful video game system of all time. In Japan, my upstairs neighbour sold me his Game Boy Advance fro $50...only major upgrade I ever did.

And then there's the long and silly story of my Sega Saturn.

So, no video game system for me. Although, these TV games for around $20 look like fun. You've seen these, right? A fancy controller with about 5 or 6 Nintendo-quality games built in. There are some out there that look like they could be...amusing distractions.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Feelings = Bad

While researching a trivia question for the morning show, I found this interesting tidbit:

'A film censor in Singapore claimed he used the following rule of thumb when determining whether a movie should be shown or banned: "If a film gives me a funny feeling, I know it is dirty; but if I feel nothing, I know it is culture."'

So, there you go. If a movie makes you feel something, it's smut.

X3 Review

Almost forgot to mention that my review for X-Men: The Last Stand is up!

Click here to read it!

And also, a lot of people are wondering about my Ultimate Matrix Collection. Namely, "How can there be 10 discs for a trilogy?" Well, here's how.

Disc 1 - The Matrix

Disc 2 - The Matrix Revisited. All your featurettes and bonus materials on the making of The Matrix.

Disc 3 - The Matrix Reloaded.

Disc 4 - The Matrix Reloaded Revisited. All you featurettes and bonus materials on the making of #2. Also includes all the live-action footage from the video game Enter the Matrix, so you can see how that fits in.

Disc 5 - The Matrix Revolutions.

Disc 6 - the Matrix Revolutions Revisited. You should have the pattern cracked by now.

Disc 7 - The Animatrix. That collection of prequel cartoons.

Disc 8 - The Roots of the Matrix. A series of documentaries exploring the underlying philosophies that inspired the trilogy.

Disc 9 - The Burly Man Chronicles. An in-depth look at the trilogy's stunt work.

Disc 10 - The Zion Archives. All your storyboards, conceptual art, and trailers.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Europa Boulevard

"Every once in a while, you've got to treat yourself." That's what my mother would always tell me everytime I felt guilty about spending money on myself.

Today was definitly a day where I treated myself.

I headed down to Edmonton to see X-Men: The Last Stand. As I've said to many people, I've been there opening weekend for the other two...I gotta be there opening weekend for the last one!

But first I had to go browsing through HMV.

Now, over the past year...well, really, ever since I got back from Japan, and I've been deprived of a steady source of income, I've been taking it easy on my DVD shopping. I've got this backlog of DVDs I want. So, at HMV, for the first time ever, I felt OK to buy some DVDs.

First thing I bought was Serenity, Joss Whedon's big screen version of his short-lived TV show. And, I've been waiting so long, that it was in HMV's "2 for $30" bin. Regular price was $24.99, so I thought, "May as well get one more for $5." So I picked up Wallace and Grommit in Three Amazing Adventures, which is the compilation of all 3 Wallace and Grommit short films.

And then, as I was walking towards the exit, there it was, newly marked down to $25. Firefly: The Complete Series. I thought, "May as well get Joss Whedon's WHOLE sci-fi epic." So I did.

Then I went and saw X-Men: The Last Stand. I'll be writing a complete review after this blog entry. In a nutshell: I got the same vibe from this that I got from, say, the final episode of Justice League Unlimited...that feeling where the makers went, "This is going to be the last one, so forget character! Let's just cram in all the cool shit was always wanted to put in, but never had time for!" I'd say it's a notch down from X2, but definitly on-par with - and maybe above - the first one.

West Edmonton Mall
Then I left the Mall and went up the street to Future Shop. There was something there waiting for me....

Once upon a time, about a year and a half ago, I made a solemn vow. With my first paycheque in radio, I'd buy The Ultimate Matrix Collection, that massive, 10-disc boxed set of the entire Matrix trilogy. And I knew that Future Shop has it for the best price.

Guess what I bought at Future Shop?

I was just about ready to head home to Atha-B, but you know me, I had to go across the street to Toys R Us and see if there was anything new to add to my collection.

And there was.

They've just begun this line of action figures called DC Comics Superheroes. It's DC's answer to those Marvel Legends figures...nothing but very accurate, highly posable representations of your favourite characters.

Toys R Us finally restocked. I got me Batman and Supergirl.

Everyone needs a day like this once in a while...where they go out and spend too much money on themselves. Nothing wrong with that...as long as they don't become a habit.

Anyway, I'm going to go write that review of X-Men: The Last Stand, then fire up The Matrix.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

New Targ!

So, I've got the latest episode of The Targ ready for you.

This week, it's request show #1! I'm playing all the music you've been sending to me over the past few weeks.

So, check it out! It's YOUR show!

Listen here!

My new TV!!

My new TV!

Well, there it is folks. My housewarming present to myself. A nice, new TV. A Sony Wega 27" flat screen. (Yeah, it's flat screen, but not a plasma screen or LCD or anything like that.) I paid $399 + GST, which is exactly what I paid for my DVD player about 5 years ago. And I'm actually in a better position financially than when I bought my DVD player.

As you'll notice, my parents were also kind enough to box up and bring me my DVD player, and quite a few of my DVDs. Sadly, though, that's not all of my DVDs. My parents couldn't fit the rest in their truck. And, as is my way, I have to let that ruin my day.

Let me take inventory. These are all my DVDs still stuck in Entwistle:

- Everything Star Trek (in my case, that's all 10 movies and the first two seasons of TNG)
- The Back to the Future trilogy
- The Lord of the Rings trilogy
- Everything Disney
- Spider-Man

I should be looking on the bright side. Here's everything I *do* have:

- Everything Star Wars
- Everything Pixar
- Everything Batman
- Everything Marvel comics (except Spider-Man. Yup, I got #2, but not #1)
- Everything Studio Ghibli
- Everything Kevin Smith

So still lots to look forward to.

Besides, now I gotta go home and visit to get the rest of my DVDs...which I'm sure was Mom's plan all along.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Blade Runner on DVD...FINALLY!!

OK, I didn't really care for Blade Runner, but I know a lot of people do. I also know that it's one of the last remaining films that's truly deserving of a super-special-edition DVD.

And it's finally happening.

Let me give you a bit of the history...Blade Runner. Directed by Ridley Scott, same guy who did Alien and grew up to do Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and, most recently, Kingdom of Heaven. Way back in 1982, Scott was told to hurry up to finish it, in test screenings people didn't get it, and the studio went and horribly edited it to make it more commercial. It flopped.

But, it did gain a massive, massive cult following.

Flash forward to 1990. Someone discovers an old work print version of the film. (A "work print" is the very first edit, before it's gone to test screenings or anything.) A few movie theatres start showing it...calling it "The Director's Cut." Ridley Scott is pissed, because it's not a director's cut. So, they asked Scott back into the studio to make a true director's cut. The only problem was, Scott was busy making Thelma and Louise. Scott wound up preparing his director's cut during his coffee breaks on Thelma and Louise. Scott always complained that he wasn't able to dedicate as much time to it as he wanted, and he walked away from making the director's cut very dissatisfied with finished product.

Didn't matter, because Blade Runner: The Director's Cut hit theatres in 1992. It flopped. Again. But those fans in the cult following thought it was much better than the original.

Flash forward to Y2K. DVD has officially taken the world by storm. Blade Runner: The Director's Cut is released in a vanilla DVD. It's a huge seller. Scott is once again asked to come in and prepare his final cut, for a super-special-edition DVD.

But...a legal quagmire erupted over the rights to the film. The project was on hold, and it was feared never to see the light of day. New DVDs of the film were never made, with fans having to do with the crappy DVD of The Director's Cut.

Until now.

Today, it was announced that the legal quagmire is resolved! Ridley Scott is back in the editing house with no distractions, and he's finally preparing his final, authoritative, definitive, final cut of Blade Runner. Fully digitally restored...computers to finish off special effects that we're never finished...Scott is finally finishing it the way he wanted to!

Now, here's the grand scheme.

This September, the 1992 Blade Runner: The Director's Cut gets a brand-new, 2-disc special edition. Following the Disney animated formula, it'll only be available for 4 months, then yanked off store shelves.

Then, in 2007, just in time for Blade Runner's 25th anniversary, Blade Runner: The Final Cut will hit theatres. This will be that final, authoritative, definitve, final cut that Ridley Scott is now piecing together.

Then, in the fall of 2007, we'll get the DVD boxed set The Ultimate Blade Runner Collection. On this set, you'll get all 4 edits of the film:

- The original, 1982 theatrical version
- The original, 1982 European version (it has more explicit violence)
- The 1992 Director's Cut
- The 2007 Final Cut

Plus a whole slew of bonus features TBA.

All four versions of the film will be digitally remastered, anamorphic widescreen, and brand-new 5.1 surround sound mixes.

Needless to say, this is one DVD that nerds all over the world are rejoicing over.

And, just becuase of the current climate, the nerds are turning to Lucasfilm and saying, "See, George? THIS is how you do it!"

And PS...it's not being released just on DVD, but also on the two next-gen formats, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.

X3 Today!/Transformers code name?

X-Men: The Last Stand hits theatres today. Ooo...I gotta see it. Sometime this weekend, I'll be making a quick trip down to Edmonton to see it. I've been there opening weekend for every X-Men film...this cannot be different!

The one thing I'm most curious about is Kelsey Grammer as Beast. The first clip I saw of him as Beast was actually in a commercial run during a re-run of Frasier...seeing Henry McCoy moving and speaking of the mannerisms of Dr. Frasier Crane seemed odd....

And every review is raving about a scene at the end of the end credits. Don't tell me what it is...I want it to be a surprise. But every review I've read just seems shocked by it.

So, when you go see X3, stay to the very end!

Filming has just begun on the live-action movie version of The Transformers. What's getting a lot of people wondering is that one of the actors recently said, "Oh no. It's not called The Transformers...it's called Prime Directvie."

So many people are going, "Wha...?"

Many agree that they'd be foolish to not use the name "Transformers" as the title for The Transformers. Many are thinking that it may be a subtitle...The Transformers: Prime Directive. The most popular theory is that it's a code name they'll be using for the filming.

There's lots of historical precident here. Lots of big blockbusters have used code names during filming. Here's some famous code names....

Planet Ice was the code name for Titanic.

Intimidation Game was the code name for Batman Begins.

Hidden City was the code name for Monsters, Inc.

Paradox was the code name for Back to the Future Part II.

Blackwood was the code name for The X-Files Movie.

And perhaps the most famous one...

Blue Harvest was the code name for Return of the Jedi.

Mr. Bean vs. the Green Goblin


Willem DaFoe just joined the cast of Bean II.

For those who don't remember, Bean II follows the adventures of Mr. Bean as he's on vacation in the south of France, with the climax being Mr. Bean wreaking havoc at the Cannes Film Festival.

In a new bit in this blog, I hereby brand Mr. Bean as being "a relic of the 90s."

Thursday, May 25, 2006


What the heck is up with Stephen Harper?

For those who haven't heard, there's been some wacky goings-on in Ottawa. Yesterday, Harper threw up his hands and said, "Ya know what? I'm not talking to the national media anymore! The national media has too much of a Liberal bias! They're too anti-Conservative! So I'm not talking to them anymore!"

I believe Harper's exact quotes were that the national press gallery has "taken it upon themselves to act as the official Opposition" and that "these problems would never happen to a Liberal prime minister."

This is a long-standing dispute between the Ottawa press gallery and the Conservative government. Ever since the Conservatives came to power, they've been putting tight restrictions on the media.

This latest blow-up all started on Tuesday. The Conservatives want to start picking and choosing which reporters can go to press conferences, and pre-screening the questions. Of course, the media thought that was too restrictive, so they protested by storming out of one of Harper's news conferences.

Leading Harper to make his announcement yesterday.

Here's the whole story for you.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

1 Month


I've been working here for one month now.

It always brings up the immortal question: when does "the new guy" stop being "the new guy?"

When I was in Japan, my boss pulled me aside and angrily told me to stop introducing myself as "the new guy" because I wasn't new anymore. I'd been working there for two weeks.

When I was doing my practicum at Cold Lake, one of my tasks one day was to go through all the imaging (those are the commercials that a radio station plays for itself) and edit out the word "new." According to my boss, we'd been around for 6 months, so we weren't new anymore.

I still feel like the new guy in many respects...generally whenever someone calls the station and says, "Hey! What happened to that girl?" (My predecessor was female.)

I think you stop being "the new guy" after 90 days. That's why the probationary period for most jobs is 90 days.

But I'm settling in. I"m finding my groove. But I'm still kind of new.

New Clerks II Teaser!

Aww, man, this is the funniest one yet.

I know one of the fears I've been reading about Clerks II is that it's going to be like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: nothing but a collection of cute in-jokes to get Kevin Smith's fans back out to the theatre.

I guess this new teaser is Smith's response to that.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Coraline Update

Another night, another Oilers game. It's the start of the second, 1-0 Oilers.

I'm sitting here reading up on Coraline. It's an animated movie currently in development that I'm very interested in.

Firstly, it's based on Neil Gaiman's book of the same name. I haven't read much Gaiman (American Gods and about half the trade paperbacks of The Sandman, that's it), but I know he does good stuff.

Secondly, the screenplay was written by, and it's being directed by Henry Selick. Selick is the stop-motion animation genius who directed James and the Giant Peach and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The plot summary: It's about a little girl named Coraline. One day, she gets fed up with her family, and she gets sucked into another world, where she finds a much nicer, much better version of her family. She decides to stay in this world, but when she learns that her "other parents" have sinister intentions, she plots her escape.

The news I read today: voices are being cast. Cute-little-girl-child-star-of-the-moment Dakota Fanning is voicing Coraline. Desperate Housewives star and former Lois Lane Teri Hatcher is voicing Coraline's mother and the sinister "other mother."

Let's see...what else can I tell you? The distributor is Focus Features, the art-house arm of Universal Studios.

The animation house is Laika Entertainment Studios. Laika Entertainment Studios was originally Will Vinton Studios, the animation house that gave us the California Raisins. But then, the studio was bought by Nike founder Phil Knight, and Knight fired Vinton and changed the name of the company. (Vinton has since formed a new animation house called Freewill Entertainment.)

And here's an interesting rumour I dug up. as you can tell, the film takes place in two worlds: the real world and the "other" world. Well, according to this rumor, the real world scenes will be done with computer animation...the "other" world scenes will be done with Selick's trademark stop-motion animation.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Wacky Misadventure

Well, I had a day full of wacky misadventure.

I said I'm going to buy myself a new TV as a housewarming present, right? I kind of had next weekend slated to do that. See X-Men 3, get a new TV...a full day. But then, I had this holiday Monday off, I was just sitting around looking at the walls, and I thought, "Hey! Why not buy the TV today?"

And I was off to Edmonton!

I arrived at the Best Buy on the north side. There it was...the exact model I wanted, right in my budget, but I had a problem.

Turns out it's too big to fit in my car.

So I called my folks. Looks it will be next weekend. I'll hook up with my parents in the city, buy the TV, and then they'll haul it up here in the truck.

But on the plus side, I now know which movie theatre I'll be going to the most. You stay on highway 2, and you hit St. Albert. In St. Albert, Highway 2 becomes St. Albert Trail. Drive through St. Albert, and as soon as you hit Edmonton City Limits, there's the North Edmonton Commons Cineplex Odeon!

So I'm exactly 1.5h away from North Edmonton Commons.

And I didn't come home empty handed. I did pick up the FM transmitter for my MP3 player, so now I can listen to it in my car!

Now all I need are my CDs so I can stuff full of my tunes.

Another Cell Phone Snapshot!

Lesser Slave Lake
So, yesterday, while in search of a microwave, I decided to head north to Slave Lake. Got a good microwave at Canadian Tire for $60. But, while I was there, I knew I just had to make a side trip to the provincially-famous Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park and see Lesser Slave Lake.

I went camping up there once when I was a kid, but I'd forgotten what a massive lake it is. Just water going on and on until it disappears behind the horizon. I'd never seen that.

Yeah, I know, I went to Vancouver, but I didn't get that "seeing nothing but water until it disappeared beyond the horizon" moment. In Vancouver, the effect is diminished when you keep seeing islands and peninsulas and all that in the way.

Oh, wait. I did get that moment once. In Japan. When I was visiting a friend in Saporro. I hopped the train and took a day trip out to a port town called Otaru. Riding the train...we came out of a tunnel...I looked out the window, and there was the endless Sea of Japan. And it was winter, too, so it was full of ice.

Wondering what to do with my holiday Monday. Should I run down to Edmonton, go to Future Shop, and buy my new TV? I was kind of planning on doing that next weekend, so I could see X-Men 3, too.

But then, I also gotta get my laundry done. I'm half-done right now...we'll see what things are like when it's done.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Targ is Back!!

Ladies and gentlemen, it's been almost a month, but I'm back! I've got a new episode of my podcast, The Targ, posted and ready for download! This one is called....

Episode 4: A New Hope Job

I celebrate my new job, and plays lots of appropriate party music to do so!

Actually, I did something kind of cool with this one. For my "proof listen," I uploaded it to my new MP3 player and listened to it while I went for a walk around town.

But we're back, folks! Give it a listen!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The New Digs

Well, there we go! Now I'm feeling settled.

The folks and my brother came up today with my furniture. I have a bed, a big comfy chair, and a table to eat dinner at! Mom's actually quite proud of herself...it's all new from Ikea, and Mom got it all for around $800.

Got a cool housewarming present, too. My brother gave me his old MP3 player! Yup, he recently got himself a new one and said, "Hey. How'd you like my old one?" And, because I don't have any of my CDs here, when he stopped in Entwistle last night, he raided my CDs and filled it up with my favourites.

This is truly one of the nicest things my brother's done for me in a long time.

Anyway, I'm still not quite settled. I still want to buy myself a microwave and give myself a new TV for a housewarming gift. I'll probably do that tomorrow. Yes, I'm lucky enough to get Monday off.

So, for a microwave and new TV, I've been told my options are south to Edmonton or north to Slave Lake. I'll probably flip a coin when I wake up in the morning.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Game

So, here I am, oping my second Oilers game. Third, if you count my first one, which was training and I did this under adult supervision. I got nuthin' to do but kick back and listen to the game, waiting until I have to play a commercial. Oh, what ever will I do?

How about a huge-ass blog entry?

So here's a "stream of consciousness" type thing. I'll just add to this until the game's done, in which case, I'll hit "publish."

First bit: hey, did you know that Disney no longer owns the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim? Disney sold them off last year. Hence the team's name change. Starting next season, say so long to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim! Say hello to the Anaheim Ducks. Nothing major...they just finally adopted the name that everyone has called them by since they were created.

Having a nice little panic attack right now...it's 15 minutes before game time. The one who trained me made me a nice little cheat sheet/checklist of everything I need to do. Of course, I have now lost it. That's OK. I'm certain I remember how to do it. Just let go...trust your feelings...use the Force.

Besides, I was frantically writing everything down until the one who trained me said, "Oh, don't worry. I'll make you a cheat sheet." I've got my notes to back me up.

And we're at the start of the first. Had a few glitches because I couldn't find that cheat sheet, but I figured it out.

I’m sitting here looking at the website for the Criterion collection. Boy, those are some nice DVDs.

Let me give you a bit of a pop culture history lesson. The Criterion company pretty much invented the concept of the special edition DVD. They started up in the mid-80s. They looked at the Laserdiscs popping up on the market, and they were not amused. They knew that, with the storage capacity on a Laserdisc, they could cram it full of things like documentaries about the making of the film, deleted scenes, and even…get this…a running commentary by the director, sharing behind-the-scenes stories! And thus, Criterion was born.

Their goal was to preserve “films of culture significance.” So, they went around to movie studios, explained what they were doing, bought the Laserdisc distribution rights, and started making these wonderful special edition Laserdiscs.

Now, what they meant by films of cultural significance were all aspects of culture. So that ran from high culture – indie and foreign films – to pop culture. I’ve been told that the Criterion Laserdiscs for Ghostbusters and The Star Wars Trilogy still blow the current DVDs out of the water when it comes to volume of bonus materials.

Naturally, Criterion was one of the first ones to jump on the DVD bandwagon in the late-90s. In fact, some of the very first Criterion DVDs were just the Laserdiscs copied onto DVD.

But then, DVD exploded in popularity. Companies weren’t interested in Criterion’s services anymore, as they were pumping out their own special edition DVDs. But Criterion has re-focused somewhat. Now, they’ve kind of dropped the blockbusters from their catalogue, and they focus more on indie and foreign films…plus a few forgotten classics.

But the Criterion name is still a big deal…it remains the Cadillac of DVD labels.

To date, I only own one Criterion DVD. Chasing Amy. In fact, Chasing Amy was one of those “Laserdisc copied onto DVD” deals. And I’m sure that that’ll be going out of print soon, as Kevin Smith has been hinting that we might be getting a new Chasing Amy: 10th Anniversary Edition next year.

While I’m not into the indie and foreign films, there are still a few titles on the Criterion label that I’d sure like to get.

Armageddon – Yup, the 1998 asteroid-hitting-the-Earth epic got a 2-disc Criterion edition…this came out in that grey area between when DVD first hit the market, and when it exploded in popularity. And actually, what’s on this DVD is a 3-hour director’s cut prepared by Michael Bay! Ever since I got my DVD player, I’ve lusted for this one. But, I have yet to see it for less than $80. there’s also a Criterion edition for Michael Bay’s The Rock, in case you’re interested.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian – Check it out. I’ve got to get this one to go along side my Monty Python and the Holy Grail special edition. Boasting long-lost cut scenes, and a new digital transfer supervised by director Terry Jones.

Brazil – Now, this shows how Criterion got their reputation. I’ve never seen Brazil, but it’s high on my list of “classics to see someday.” I’ve read up on it, and I know the problems it had getting to the big screen. So here’s what Criterion did for their 3-disc set. Disc 1 contains the 142-minute, final, authoritative edit that director Terry Gilliam wanted to do all along. Gilliam even did a running commentary. Disc 2 contains all your bonus materials: documentary about the making of the film, concept art, the trailers, all that good stuff. And, Disc 3 contains the infamous 97-minute “happy ending” version of the film that was released to North American theatres to make it more marketable…the version that Gilliam loathes. On this edit, a “Terry Gilliam expert” does a running commentary, explaining why it sucks. Someday I’m going to be rich and famous, and I’ll get this for a friend of mine, because she mentioned in passing once that she likes this film, and that factoid just kind of stuck in my head.

Oh, and for all you Gilliam-fans, there’s also a Criterion edition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Before I go, I’ll share one interesting trivia bit. Indie director Wes Anderson is the only director that has an exclusive distribution contract with Criterion. So, all of Anderson’s films – Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou – are Criterion DVDs.

Eh, this is going to be too much work. Slag it.

And we're back!

Well, this is shaping up to be one of the better Fridays ever.

Firstly, the PCMCIA card for my computer arrived. I'm back online! Hello from my apartment!

Secondly, cable guy just left. I've got 30 channels now! The 2 that I was getting from peasant vision was driving me bonkers.

I could write a longer, lengthier blog entry, but then what would I do tonight when I'm working the Oilers game?


Well, here I am, another Friday at work. It's the time of work when it's dull. I'm good with news stories for next week. (Well, at least the first couple of days of next week.) But, someone's got to man the office until noon in case someone comes by to pick up their prize. So I'm sitting here, brainstorming ideas for news stories, and just doing some mindless web surfing...waiting for inspiration.

And I stumbled across this video. It's the trailer for the Aquaman TV show. I'll unleash the power of YouTube so you can watch it! I'll explain more afterwards.

OK, so Aquaman here was adapted for television by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the creators of Smallville and 2 of the four writers of Spider-Man 2. I think you've figured it out from that video what's going on...it's essentially the Smallville formula applied to Aquaman.

Arthur Curry, an orphan of college age, begins developing strange powers. He can swim really fast...he's got super strength...and he can talk to sea life. Soon, an old lighthouse keeper (that's Ving Rames) identifies him as an Atlantean, but not just any Atlantean.... Turns out Arthur Curry is, in fact, Orin, the long-lost Prince of Atlantis. So, under the lighthouse keeper's tutilage, Curry begins learning how to use his powers, fighting all kinds of forces that threaten the sea, and preparing to someday retake the throne of Atlantis.

Sadly, though, the networks have rejected this show. Everything you see in that trailer? All from the pilot episode, which will now never be aired. And I can see why it wasn't picked up. As cool as that trailer is, it's just far too much like Smallville.

But cool nonetheless. I've sure a pirate version will appear online in 6 months or so.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kevin Smith Bit

Now here's an interesting tidbit about Clerks II.

It seems that Kevin Smith has already recorded a running commentary for the film. The plan is to release it as a podcast when Clerks II hits theaters. That way, you can donwload it to your MP3 player, take it to the theatre, and hit play when the movie starts. Voilla! The world's first theatrical running commentary.

It'a an interesting concept. I know several TV shows are already doing it.

Now here's some very interesting movie news. Guillmero Del Toro (director of Hellboy) and Alfonso Cuaron (director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) are teaming up to do a movie!

The film will be a new adaptation of Roald Dahl's novel The Witches. Del Toro will adapt it for the screen and direct...Cuaron will produce.

The Witches is about a young boy who stumbles upon a witches' convention, and overhears the witches plan to eradicate all children from the face of the Earth. The witches discover the kid, and turn the kid into a mouse. In his new mousely form, the kid sets out to thwart the wiches' plot.

It was turned into a movie back in 1990. It was Jim Henson's final film.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Star Wars: Not Anamorphic

Bad news for Star Wars fans.

As we all know, George Lucas is finally releasing the original, theatrical versions of the original trilogy to DVD.

But, today, it was learned that the films will NOT be in anamorphic widescreen. They will be in just plain ol' regular widescreen.

(Tech note: Anamorphic widescreen is the format of choice for DVDs. What this means is, when you buy your fancy, widescreen HDTV in the not-too-distant-future, those black bars on the top and bottom of the screen will melt away, and the picture will fill the whole screen. Regular widescreen is when they put black bars on the top and bottom of the picture. Play a regular widecreen DVD on a HDTV, and it'll be in the middle of the screen, with black bars on all sides.)

The anamorphic widescreen process just creates a higher quality picture.

Needless to say, people are pissed.

This is leading everyone to believe what people have feared since this was announced: that the films will have absolutely 0 digital restoration work done. That, they just won't look as purty as the official DVDs that came out a year and a half ago.

So, anger abounds towards Lucas in the fan community.

But they're still gonna buy the discs.

Boyle Over

I keep forgetting about Boyle, and that's not good.

Boyle is a village about a half-hour's drive from Athabasca. They are also in our broadcast range...they are also on my beat. I've been so busy these past couple of weeks trying to establish myself in Athabasca and make nice with the community that I've been forgetting that I've got to do it all in Boyle, too.

I've already shared similar concers with my boss, and she's been understanding for the most part. "Well, the newspaper has two reporters (Mark note: three, if you count the fact that the editor/publisher occasionally gets off his butt and writes a story), and we've only got you, and we understand that you can't be in two places at once."

It's nice that the bosses understand...but still, it's frustrating for me, when I open up Athabasca's paper, and go, "Aww, why didn't I know that! It's my job to know!"

Like the shock I got from yesterday's paper. I had no idea that Athabasca is one of the towns under consideration to get Alberta's new police academy.

I only know what was officially announced a year ago.... Alberta is looking at opening up its own police academy. According to Klein, this is so that county mounties, city cops, First Nations tribal police, and all other kinds of bylaw enforcement officers can get an equal and consistent training in policing.

"It's the first step towards a provincial police force," my father noted after the announcement. It's been rumored for years that Klein has a hidden agenda to create an Alberta Provincial Police force...my father believes that, and has seen lots of "first steps" over the past few years. Allowing Fish and Wildlife Officers to carry sidearms was a "first step"...this experimental Highway Patrol that they're going to put on Highway 63 to Fort McMurray is another "first step," according to Dad.

But yeah. I gotta get more info on this police academy. I've got to get more information on Boyle...my first Boyle village council meeting is tonight. That'll be a good first step.

There's lots of things I should get on. So why am I wasting time with a blog entry?

Oh, by the way, I had a real good trivia question this morning.

The question: "According to a survey of world travellers, Paris, France has the world's best restaurants. Which city has the second best?"

Answer: Rome, Italy.

The trivia bit I found listed the top 3...in case anyone's interested, the third-best restaurants in the world are in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Day Has Come

Once upon a time, about a year and a half ago, I made a solemn vow. I swore that, with my first paycheck from my first job in radio, I would run out and buy The Ultimate Matrix Collection; that massive, 10-DVD set of The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, the Matrix Revolutions, and more DVD bonus materials than you can shake a stick at.

Guess what?

I got my first paycheck from my first job in radio yesterday.

I think, though, that I'll hold off on buying it for a few weeks. In another week or two, I'll be making the day trip into Edmonton to buy my new TV...my housewarming present to myself. What better thing to break in a new TV than The Matrix?

But yeah. I have arrived.

Speaking of DVDs, here's some news for those who like Apocolypse Now.

A few weeks ago, when it was announced that the original, theatrical versions of The Star Wars Trilogy were coming to DVD, a lot of people went, "That's great, now how about Apocolypse Now? The only DVD version for that is the 2001 Redux."

Well, the answer to that question is...August 15!

On that day, we'll get the 2-disc set Apocolypse Now: The Complete Dossier. This 2-disc set contains the original 1979 theatrical version AND the 2001 Redux. No word yet on the bonus materials, just some vague hints at "audio commentaries, rare unseen footage, lost scenes, brand new featurettes, Segments from the Cutting Room Floor, Then & Now retrospectives and more."

So, there you go. Apocolypse Now is still high on my list of "classics to check out some day."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Oogle Baka Cable TV

Am I really that addicted to television? Or is society?

I moved into my new place yesterday and, for the next 24 hours at least, I have nothing. No bed. No big comfy chair. No chair big enough for two to curl up in. No rocking chair for those who like to rock. No pots or pans or dishes, so I can't even cook or eat. But yet, what's been everyone's biggest concern?

"How will you survive without a TV?"

I just calmly reassure them that a TV is one of the things I'll be cramming in my car when I go home tomorrow, and yes, I can survive for the next day with only reading to entertain me.

But that got me thinking...is it time for a new TV?

I have a nice enough TV. My whole family chipped in and gave it to me for Christmas about 9 years ago. They figured I needed one for my dorm room at AUC. They got me a nice little TV/VCR combo. And it served me well. When I finished AUC, I set it up in my parents' basement, and that's where I'd watch my shows when the folks were watching something else.

But then I went to Japan, things got moved around, and it got boxed up and put in a corner. I didn't use it again until I was at my apartment in Cold Lake, and that's when I made some sad discoveries.

Firstly, the VCR part is shot. It just loves to eat video tapes now. And secondly, thanks to that VCR part, that TV does not like my DVD player. I hook up my DVD player and try to watch a DVD, and the colours go all wonky. The picture will fade up to really, really bright, and then fade down to really, really dark. And keep going back and forth like that. I've been told that this is a copy protection built into all DVD players...some how, a DVD player "knows" when it's hooked up to a VCR, and thus starts making the colours all wonky so you won't dub your DVDs. I've always wondered if using an RF converter to hook-up my DVD player would fool the VCR, and thus get around it.

But maybe I should just by myself a new TV...you know, as a nice little housewarming gift for myself.

I paid $400 for my DVD player five years ago. I see that, at that price, I can get a pretty good 25" TV for that price. (My little TV/VCR unit is only 13") And I have more money saved up right now than I did five years ago.

I think I"m talking myself into this.

But what good is all this unless I have DVDs to play?

Announced today that V for Vendetta will be hitting DVD on August 1. As has become the tradition, it'll be available in widescreen, full screen, and 2-disc super-special edition.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Clerks II coming out earlier

Hey! In my euphoria of finally having a place to live, i forgot to share the cool news.

Clerks II is coming out earlier!

Instead of August 18, it now comes out...July 21. In the heat of summer blockbuster season.

According to Smith, the film is going to have its world preimere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 26, so the attitude of the studio bosses was, "Why wait longer?"

Smith is also not daunted that it's the middle of sumemr blockbuster season. As Smith points out, Clerks II is very much a niche film...and there's nothing else coming out in that niche.

So, yay! Less wait time for Clerks II!

Home Sweet Home

I have a place to live!

Landlord called me at work this morning, all in a panic. "You didn't change your mind did you? Cuz if you did, I need to know now so I can stick an ad in next week's paper!" I explained how I slept through his call and that I still wanted the place very much.

I ran down to his office during his lunch brake, gave him his money, and before you can say, "Dude, you've got a home," dude, I got a home!

So, I'm at the motel right now...enjoying having TV and a phone line for last time. I decided to pay the extra bit a month to tie into his high speed Internet, so I just bought a wireless network card for my laptop.

Bad news: I'm going to be without Internet at home for about a week or so as I wait for my card to get here!

Anyway, I'm going to be making a day trip home to Entwistle to:

1) wish my mother a happy Mother's Day
2) Cram whatever furniture will fit into my car.

My parents will make the *big* trip, bringing me a bed and a couch and all that, sometime in the not-too-distant future.

I have a home...a home of my own.

Lots of stuff


Today, we have our list of bonus material for The Weird Al Show: The Complete Series! On the 3-disc DVD set, you'll get:

- the storyboards for the animated segments (namely, the Fatman cartoons)

- galleries of the show's concept art

- a karaoke version of the classic theme song

- running commentaries by Weird Al, producer Tom Frank, and director Peyton Reed on all 13 episodes. Some commentaries will even feature that show's guest star.

For those who don't remember, The Weird Al Show was "Weird Al" Yankovic's short-lived Saturday morning TV show, that was on in 1997. It only ran for 13 episodes. The DVD The Weird Al Show: The Complete Series comes out on August 15.

It has not been a good week for me.

Ever since Wednesday, when I was the operator for my first Oilers game.

Once the triple overtime game was done, I got home and went to bed at 1AM...and was up at 4 to be back at work. I returned to work, and got through my morning shift, and then let's just say it was a bad day at work. I'm the lack of sleep made it seem a lot worse than it really was.

And then, i was so tired, that I slept through that all important phone call; the new landlord saying..."Come move in now!"

That place is mine, all I really have to do is sign the lease and get the keys. Although, to be fair, I tend to be in bed by 9 because of my new, messed-up sleep schedule, and my landlord doesn't like to do business until after 5. And last night, it was after 9:30, cuz he decided to hit the golf course.

He warned me that he's heading out of town this weekend and I can't move in until Monday, but I'll call him at 5 on the dot and see if something can be worked out.

And, to top it all off, I woke up this morning to realize that I left the windows open in my car.

And it rained in the night.

*sigh* I just want a place to live. Is that too much to ask?

(Apparently, it IS too much to ask in Athabasca.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Another Evening with Kevin Smith


Today, we finally got an official release date for An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder.

August 15.

For those who don't care, this is an eagerly-anticipated sequel to An Evening with Kevin Smith, a DVD concert film of Kevin Smith's now-legendary spoken word performances/Q&A sessions.

The first DVD was edited together from 5 different shows at colleges. This second one is going to be nothing but two complete shows: one filmed in Toronto, the other filmed in London, England.

And because I had to explain this to my friend once...the title is a riff on the second Die Hard film, which was called Die Hard 2: Die Harder on all movie posters and promotional materials.

Live from New York....

I once read an interview with REM, where they said that artists eventually reach a plateau where it becomes OK to be self-referrential.

Saturday Night Live is a TV show that's been on for just about 30 years. And, this fall, we're going to get not one, but two TV shows chronicling the behind-the-scenes angst, drama, and gallows humour of Saturday Night Live.

Well, for legal purposes, it will take place behind the scenes on thinly-veiled knock-offs of Saturday Night Live.

The first one is called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It's a one-hour drama. It focuses on the downfall of our SNL-like show (called..."Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip") and the two legendary comedy writers brought in to save the show. The two legendary comedy writers will be played by Matthew Perry (Chandler on Friends) and Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman on The West Wing). It's created by Aaron Sorkin, the TV genius who gave us SportsNight and The West Wing.

The second one...is still untitled. It's a half-hour sitcom. It focuses on a fresh-faced, young female comedy writer who gets hired by an SNL-like TV show (called..."Friday Night Bits"), and eventually starts making a name for herself in this male-dominated world. This one stars Alec Baldwin and SNL cast member Rachel Dratch. This one was created by Tina Fey, the Saturday Night Live writer who's currently the genius behind the desk on Weekend Update. She also wrote the teen comedy Mean Girls. Fey has already described the show as being "semi-autobiographical." It should also be mentioned that this one is being produced by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels.

I don't know...I'm curious about both shows. I think that Fey is one of the funniest people on SNL right now, and I also agree that Sorkin is a freakin' genius. I think that Sorkin's show will have more staying power, though.

Mario vs. Sonic?

Well, the big E3 expo is currently going on. This is where all the video game makers unveil their new games.

Of course, Nintendo had to announce that the latest version of their hit Super Smash Bros. is currently in development for the Nintendo Wii. This will be the first Super Smash Bros to feature a character from a non-Nintendo-made game, namely Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid.

It had to be asked then if characters from other non-Nintendo games would be working their way into the game, to which the Nintendo execs said that the door is open and negotiations are underway.

To which, someone just had to ask, "Will Sonic the Hedgehog be a character?"

To which the Nintendo execs just coyly smiled and said, "The door is open and negotiations are underway."

Wow. A fighting game where Mario and Sonic can fight to the death? Talk about a true geek-out moment for those of us who grew up with video games in the great Nintendo vs. Sega era.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I found a place to live.


A nice, kinda big, basement suite. $600/month, and that includes utilities. For $625/month, my landlord will even let me tie into his high speed Internet. Only drawback to that is I've got to run out and buy a wireless network card for my laptop. Bad news: One will run me about $60-$120, and none of the mom and pop computer stores in town carry one. Good news: I can buy one online, $60-$120 is about the installation fee for high speed Internet anyway, and I'll finally get to use that card slot in the side of my laptop!

But here's the crazy thing. The guy would only sign me to a 6-month lease. He figures that, with me being in radio and all that, I'll probably be promoted and/or leaving town to a better job in six months. I admire the guy's optimism, but it did force me to ask myself a central question.

How long am I going to be in Athabasca?

That question did come up when I was chatting with my new boss. Back then, I told my boss, "Well, I'm at the point in my life where I don't want a job...I want a career. Hopefully, Athabasca will be the start of that career. I'll be here as long as my career demands it."

It sounds like I was dodging the question, but it's true. I have no idea how long I'll be here...at this job. Yeah, I want a career, but I've kinda been making it up as I go along. I've got no master file saying, "1.5 years in Athabasca, 2.4 in Edmonton, 3.1 in Halifax, and then...WORLD DOMINATION!"

Odds are, I'll be here as long as it's right for me, and it's right for this station.

I move in tomorrow. I could have moved in today, but today is a crazy day. I'm at work right now, getting ready to op my first Oilers game.

Let me pull back the curtain and explain some of that radio magic again. Everytime you hear a live broadcast (ie an Oilers game) or a syndicated radio show (ie some weekly top 40 hosted by a celebrity), there's got to be some guy at the radio station, sitting behind the mixing board, making sure everything goes OK and playing the commercials at the right time. That guy is called "the operator."

The only time Athabasca needs an operator is when we broadcast the Oilers game. I'm here now, I'm working here, so naturally, I want to do it...pull my own weight and suchforth.

It's really easy. We play the central Oilers feed from Edmonton...I listen for the announcer to say the outcue (ie "You're listening to the Oilers on the Oilers radio network!"). When I hear that, I mute the feed and play our own commercials. Commercials are done, I turn up the volume on the feed, kick back, and listen to the game.

Three little words make doing it worthwhile: "Over Time Pay."

Anyway, still got some time before the game starts, so I'm running off to the convenience store across the street to get me a Jolt cola. It's gonna be a long night.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Early Mornings

I'm still getting used to these days that start at 4AM. I go to bed at 8PM. I get a full 8 hours. But I'm still not used to getting up this early.

I think it has a lot to do with the time...4AM. Forget what you've been told about midnight...I think that 4AM is the true transition from one day to the next. Think about it.

When you look at the clock and it says 3 AM, you think, "Man, I'm up way too late."

When you look at the clock and it says 5 AM, you think, "Man, I'm up way too early."

So, naturally, right between "way too late" and "way too early" has to be the transition between days.

Recently, I've been reminded of a tale of one of my old friends in my Augustana days. Back at AUC, I was a bit of an early bird, and I was always right there when the cafeteria opened at 7:30 for breakfast. One day, I noticed a friend of mine, who was NOT an early bird, there having breakfast. I sat down with him and enquired as to why he was up so early.

"Well," he said. "I've got this big assignment due today that I was up all night working on. I was finally done at around 2AM, but by then, I was so high on caffine I couldn't get to sleep. So, I re-arranged my furniture. When I was done doing that, I noticed that the cafeteria was open for breakfast."

"Then why aren't you in bed?" I asked.

He pointed at the clock. "Cuz that assignment was due for an 8AM class."

This whole world needs more time to sleep.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I need a life

You>> So, like, when you're bored, do you do nothing but type the names of fast food restaurants into Wikipedia?

Me>> Uh...yeah.

Did you know....

- Taco Bell is named after its founder, Glen Bell.

- Taco Bell actually served a hamburger in the late-1980s to compete with the burger places. It was called the "Big Beefer."

- Arby's is named after its founders, the Rafell Brothers. Rafell Brothers...RB...Arby's.

The Latest Books Pulled from Libraries

We were running this on our provincial news feed this morning, and I had to go seek out more information.

First, the necessary back story. I'm sure you've all heard the shocking murder that happened in Medicine Hat. A 12-year old girl and her 23-year old boyfriend killed her parents and brother. Well, it's come to light that the 12-year old girl was a Goth, so Goth is becoming the new persucuted, mis-understood, teen subculture that must be banned.

Anyway, the news story that was running this morning was that a Medicine Hat school has pulled a book from its curiculum that prominently featured a Goth character. The school board says they are doing this out of sensitivity.

Naturally, I had to find out what the book was.

So, I found the whole story, from Saturday's Edmonton Sun.

The book is called Runner, and it's by Peter McPhee. It's about a man wandering the streets of Calgary looking for his runaway sister...who just happens to be Goth.

McPhee says that he wrote the book to show that a life on the streets will lead you nowhere...not as a glamorization of Goth culture.

But reading the book was just one small part of the class assignment...along with it came an exploration of Goth culture, including drawing a picture of yourself as a Goth, and checking out some Goth websites.

Naturally, a parent objected. The parent who objected says that her child - who is doing the assignment - is "highly impressionable" and "suffers from a learning disorder," and that the assignment compelled her child to proclaim that she's "going Goth" and even cut the words "I want to be a Goth" into her arm with the pointy end of her compass.

The parent who objected chose to go unnamed. And, as my mother who was on the school board for 15 years once told me, "If a parents chooses to go unnamed, then 9 times out of 10, it's a teacher."

Anyway, that's the whole story, as I got from the Edmonton Sun. Click here to read the article


Just a quick a note I want to share this morning.

MASH: The Complete Eleventh Season comes out on May 29. This is worth noting because, on the set, will be MASH: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen, the epic, 2.5 hour final episode which still stands as the most-watched television event EVER.

Sadly, though, there will be absolutly nothing in the way of bonus materials. Very shoddy treatment for such a television milestone.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

McDonald's Facts

I know...I know...my best friend doesn't like it when I give free plugs to McDonald's like this, but I'm bored, and I'm reading up on McDonald's. But, this isn't going to be facts like what's really in the special sauce and how many kids they employ in sweat shops to make Happy Meal toys. No...these are trivial facts:

- The northernmost McDonald's is in Rovaneimi, Finland. It sits precisely on the Arctic Circle.

- The southernmost McDonald's is in Punta Arenas, Chile

- The largest McDonald's PlayPlace is in Orlando, Florida. It boasts two levels, arcade games, and a gourmet sundae bar.

- The lowest McDonald's is in Ein Bokek, Isreal, on the shores of the Dead Sea.

- The highest McDonald's is in the KL Tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

- The busiest McDoanld's in Canada is in Cambridge, Ontario.

- The McDonald's in Salen, Sweden boasts a ski-thru window.

- The McDonald's at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba is the ONLY McDonald's in Cuba.

- There's a McDonald's in the Pentagon.

- The most visited McDonald's in the world was the "McBarge," the floating McDonald's at Expo 86 in Vancouver. McDonald's abandoned the ship after Expo 86 closed; it now rusts in Burrard Inlet, in Burnaby, BC. Vancouverites can see it when they take the West Coast Express.

- There's a McDonald's in Hong Kong that boasts a hostess who directs you to the shortest lines.

- There's a McDonald's in New York City that has a doorman, mable tables, chandaliers, a private dining room with silverware, and live music played on a baby grand piano.

Oh, and here's one on Burger King:

In Australia, Burger King is known as "Hungry Jack's." This was because there was an existing restaurant chain in Australia that used the name "Burger King." Even when the Burger King name became available, Burger King opted to keep using the name Hungry Jack's.

I remember there was a similar situation in Alberta. If you grew up in Alberta in the 1980s, you may remember that Burger King was tough to come by. This was because there was a restaurant in Edmonton that already had the name "Burger King." In the mid-1990s, the Edmonton Burger King closed down, the name "Burger King" became available, and Burger King moved into Edmonton, and launched an agressive expansion into Alberta.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cellphone Snapshots!

So, I got my new cellphone. Naturally, it's a camera phone. I wanted a phone that was more or less just like the one I had in Japan. But, I was impressed with this one. It takes a lot nicer pictures than my phone in Japan. So, I think I'll do what I threatened to do in Japan...a cellphone snapshot gallery!

It's rainy and I'm bored. As I was going for a walk between downpours, I came upon the Athabasca Pottery Club's Open House. They were showing off some of their creations, selling some of their works, giving demonstrations, and having free food. This is the table showing off some of the "not for sale" works.

When my parents dropped me off a week ago, Mom thought this was the funniest sign. Read it outloud the way she did: "Now hiring 2 chubby juniors." So, if you're a chubby junior, A&W's got a job for you!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Kevin Smith Bits/Trailer Comments

Got a couple of interesting Kevin Smith tidbits I haven't shared yet....

Firstly, there's a new Kevin Smith trade paperback coming out this August. Tales of the Clerks compiles all of Kevin Smith's Clerks comics (and a few that featre Randall and Dante in supporting roles) along with a new Clerks comic book story called Where's the Beef?. Where's the Beef? fills in the gap between Clerks and Clerks II.

and also...this is really silly-cool. OK, one of the weirdest parts of the Clerks X DVD is one of Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier's introductions to one of the bonus features. For the first 10 minutes of this introduction, Smith Mosier do nothing but wax poetic about that incredibly cheezy, Patrick Swayze-starring, 1980s B-movie classic Road House. And the way they're acting, it's like they didn't know the camera was rolling...they were just shooting the shit while waiting for someone to yell "action." Finally, they notice that the camera's rolling, the do their intro, and then they go into explaining their Road House rant. Somewhere in the conversation, either Smith or Mosier says, "Ya know, if they ever do a special edition DVD of Road House, they should get us to do a running commentary."

Well, guess what?

Road House: Deluxe Edition comes out on July 11. And, one of the bonus features...running commentary by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier.

Finally got a chance to see that new trailer for Superman Returns.

I am now worried for the film.

I just see nothing new, Superman-wise. I see nothing but recycled bits and action beats from the Richard Donner movies.

Now, I know that Bryan Singer allegedly loves the Richard Donner films. It's nice that he wants to show his love and respect for the Richard Donner films. But, watching the trailer, it looks like Singer goes from "homage" into "ripoff."

I mean, Batman Begins gave us something new. Batman begins showed us Batman's "lost years"...Bruce Wayne's training to become Batman.

But I'm not getting a sense of any of that from Superman Returns. Which is...disappointing.

I also caught the first teaser for the new James Bond film, Casino Royale, coming out this November. Again, same complaint as Superman Returns. There's nothing new.

Truly Trivial

One of the favourite parts of my new job is coming up with trivia questions. YOu know what I"m talking about. Every radio station does it. They announced some kind of startling statistic (ie "37% of women shove this up their noses!"), people call in and make all kinds of embarrassing guesses (ie "toothbrushes!") until, finally, the real answer is arrived at (ie "kleenex!").

I made up that example. But you know what I"m getting at. It's my job to find one of those questions and try to stump the listeners. But see, doing things in Athabasca, there are some unique challenges.

I'm going to pull back the curtain and reveal some of the radio magic. Just about every radio station these days records their phone calls. Every phone call you hear on the radio happened about 3 minutes ago. The announcer recorded it, and saved it for the right time.

Now, with that in mind, every trivia question you hear on the air, was answered on about the second or thrid guess. The announcer recorded the winner, and kept on recording all kinds of incorrect guesses. The announcer then plays the funniest or oddest or best of the wrong guesses, until he or she feels it's gone on long enough. Then, the announcer plays the winning phone call, and it's over.

But see, here in Athabasca, we're a small operation. So, we're one of those operations that does not record phone calls. Every phone call is done live.

And you can imagine the ribbing I get when a trivia question is answered on the first or second try.

My challenge is I've got to come up with really challenging trivia questions that will get a lot of guesses...but are still fun and kind of silly.

My first two days didn't go so well. Answered on the first guess. But, on Wednesday, I found a really tough one.

Q: Which cartoon character originally spoke Pig Latin and wore a fruit-covered hat?

Hint: He's a breakfast cereal mascot.

A: Toucan Sam.

That one was great, but guess as soon as I gave the hint. That'll have to be my formula, I think. A really tough question, with a crucial hint that gives it away.

I've found lots of good trivia bits. Some of them I can't use because I don't know how to phrase them as a question. Like this one:

In 1996, the average bra size bought was 34B. Today, it's 36C.

I like this one, but I fear it may be too easy.

Q: This city was voted the most dangerous, least attractive, the rudest...and the one place most would like to visit.

A: New York City.

But yeah. That's definitly a fun part of the job.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I'm Buying Star Wars Again

That sound you hear? Nerds all over the world gasping in astonishment.

After swearing forever that he'd never do it, George Lucas announced yesterday that he'll be releasing the original, non-special-editions of the Star Wars trilogy to DVD.

That's right, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, all in their original, pre-CGI enhancement glory.

As Coming Soon.net described it "See the title crawl to Star Wars before it was known as Episode IV; see the pioneering, if dated, motion control model work on the attack on the Death Star; groove to Lapti Nek or the Ewok Celebration song like you did when you were a kid; and yes, see Han Solo shoot first."

In keeping with the "original" aspect, each film will only boast its original, 2.0 stereo soundtrack.

There is a catch, though. In order to see these originals, you have to buy the special editions again! The three films in the trilogy will be sold individually in 2-disc sets. The 2004 special edition will be on Disc 1, the original "year it came out" edition will be on Disc 2. No word yet of if there'll be a boxed set of the whole trilogy.

LucasFilm is also following the "Disney Limited Edition" marketing strategy for this. The DVDs go on sale of September 12, and will then be yanked off store shelves on December 31.

LucasFilm says that they're doing this because of overwhelming public demand.

Remember: September 12 is the big day.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Definition of Frustration

I've been counting down the days to the new Superman movie.

The newest trailer went online today.

I can't download it, because I'm in this motel room with this frustratingly slow dial-up Internet.

I can't watch it at work, because we've got all the "good employee" firewalls that prevent me from downloading it.

Why, this isn't heaven...THIS IS HELL!!

Expo 86 - 20 Years Later

Wow. It was mentioned on the news last night that it's now the 20th Anniversary of Expo 86. It was on May 2, 1986 that Expo 86 officiall opened, BC welcomed the world, and Vancouver went from "a sleepy provincial backwater to a city with some global clout." (According to the dude who wrote the Wikipedia entry.)

I remember the summer of 1986. TV ads for Expo 86 were non-stop. The TV-ads featured late-80s computer animation flying over Science World and several other venues. I *really* wanted to go, and lobbied my parents. My parents actually did seriously look into it, but sadly determined that a summer's vacation in Vancouver was just a bit beyond their budget that year.

I had to e-mail a friend of mine - a lifelong Vancouverite - and asked her if she went. (Yeah, we've been friends for a while, but I could never figure out how to slip that into a conversation.) She told me that yes, she did go, and as she was only 6 at the time, it was a pretty seminal event in her childhood.

After we traded e-mails, we both had to sit back and take breath. wow. 20 years since Expo 86. It makes me feel old.

No...it doesn't make me feel old.

It makes me feel like a grown-up.

Sadly, the lustre of Expo and the World's Fair is no longer what it once was. Some say it's because Expo hasn't been held in North America in ages. The last one in the States was New Orleans 1984...the last one in North America period was Expo 86. Who knows? I"m sure it'll be a big deal again when a North American city has it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

3D Nightmare


Disney is currently converting The Nightmare Before Christmas to 3D. This special 3D Nightmare Before Christmas will be in theatres on October 20.

Nightmare is currently be "3-dimensionalized" by Industrial Light and Magic, who did the same thing for Disney's CGI film Chicken Little.

Not only that, but Tim Burton and Nightmare director Henry Selick have been brought in to supervise the 3D transfer process.

I kinda hope they can pull this off.

Oh, and a follow-up to one of last night's drowy ramblings. Jack of all Trades: The Complete Series has been given a release date of July 18.

Monday, May 01, 2006

More Drowsy Ramblings

I'll never forget working in Japan. When I first showed up in that country, my boss gave me heck for having a goatee. "Professionals in Japan don't have beards," she chided me. That soon led to a complaint about my love of wearing hats on my off hours. "Professionals in Japan don't wear hats," she chided me.

I was thinking of my old Japanese boss the other day, when I was covering the county council meeting. As we all know, it's currently the hockey playoffs, and, as is the tradition, several county councillers showed up wearing the jerseys of their favourite teams.

My old Japanese boss would have freaked out.

YES!! Jack of all Trades: The Complete Series is FINALLY coming to DVD!

For those who don't remember, Jack of all Trades was an absolutly hilarious action/comedy from the creators of Hercules and Xena. It lasted just 22 episodes back in Y2K.

B-movie god Bruce Campbell played Jack Stiles. The year was 1801. Jack Stiles was a secret agent for the still very new USA. Stiles's current mission took him to the tiny South Pacific island of Polau Polau. The island is currently under the control of Napoleon Bonaparte and the French empire. Stiles' mission: throw a monkeywrench into Napoleon's plans for world domination. Stiles chooses to do this by becoming a Zorro-like hero called "the Daring Dragoon." Aiding Stiles is Emilia Rothschilde, a super-sexy British secret agent.

As I said...it was freakin' hilarious. No word yet on a release date...all we know is it'll be out by the end of the year.

Drowsy Musings

Are we far enough into the 00's that we can start declaring stuff "relics of the 1990s?" I say, "Yes."

In that case, I hereby declare Lara Croft to be a relic of the 1990s.

Just something I was thinking of when I saw that the newest Tomb Raider game had hit shelves.

Well, I see that David Blane is at it again. This time, for a wacky stunt, Blane is going to spend a week submurged in a sphere full of water. That's right, a full week underwater. Don't worry, he's got tubes hooked up to the right places so he can breath and relieve himself.

Then, in one week, he's going to take off his breathing mask and try to break the world record for holding his breath...while escaping from a buttload of chains.

That Blane! What a wacky guy!