Just forget the words and sing along

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tennant Leaves Who

Well, I was having a bit of a rough day, and things just got a little bit darker.

David Tennant announced today that he's stepping down from the role of Doctor Who.

Tennant gives a multitude of reasons as to why he's stepping down, but the one that stuck with me is that he said it's best to give it up while it's still fun, and before it becomes a chore, which I think is good advice when it comes to any job.

Here's the BBC's official article, so you can read all the reasons for yourself.

Sadly, though, this comes as no surprise...it was already announced several months ago -- nay, almost a year ago -- that there would be no season 5 next year. Instead, to better accomodate Tennant's schedule, next year, instead of a whole season, they're just going to do 5 TV specials. (From what I gather, "TV specials" is British TV speak for "TV movies," lest you think the Doctor's going to be hosting some singing and dancing variety thing.) So when they finally come back for that fifth season in 2010, we'll have a new Doctor.

I think I've blogged several times before that Doctor Who was one of those aspects of geek culture that I always had difficulty getting into. I always found it low-budget and kind of cheezy, and that early-electronica theme song just weirded me out.

I guess you could say my "gateway Doctor" was the now-infamous American-made TV movie. For those who don't know the story, when the BBC put Doctor Who on hiatus back in 1989, rather than end it all together, they thought that they'd shop around the franchise to various other production companies, to see what fresh eyes could bring to the franchise. The Fox Network in the USA thought they'd give it a shot, and they produced a Doctor Who TV movie in 1996 in the hopes of starting an American-made series. The film didn't do well enough to go to series, but I watched it, and I liked it.

And then, when this new series debuted in the year 2005, I tried it again, and was once again hooked.

So, there we go. I'll probably stick with the show, because it's still one of the most unique sci-fi shows on right now, but Tennant will forever be my first.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

Time to herald in the new week with a new episode of my podcast, U62: The Targ!

This week, I have Episode 2.7: Brilliant, But Cancelled. This one is stuffed full of rants about Doctor Who, Sports Night, Speed Racer and all things television-related.

Go give it a listen!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Changing Face of the Media

It's been a couple of weeks, but I'm still dwelling on my Facebook spat with my learned colleague at Athabasca's newspaper about "journalistic integrity" and "whatever you say on Facebook is open for criticism" and stuff like that.

It came to the fore this week because I was made aware of a story that's currently causing shockwaves through the Edmonton Oilers fandom.

Long story short: the Oilers have banned bloggers from their press box.

The details, as I understand them. It was the Oilers' home opener a few weeks back. A reporter was there, covering the game for a news organization called Sports Ticker. In his spare time, he also blogs about the Oilers on an Oilers-centric blog called Covered in Oil. He thought, while he was in the press box covering the game, he may as well open up Blogger and do a liveblog on the home opener.

Well, apparently, he wasn't too impressed with the Oilers performance in the first period, and his liveblog was quite a swear-filled rant. The Oilers organization caught wind of this, shut him down, gave him the boot, and has decided to ban bloggers from the press box.

Again, going back to my earlier argument about journalistic credentials being a cheap commodity...the Oilers revealed that they are flooded with requests from bloggers to have access to the press box so they can cover the game. In fact, I read about this at the blog of Edmonton Journal columnist David Staples, which is now dedicated to the Oilers. Granted, I'm no hockey nut, but I enjoy Staples' writing, so I read it.

Many argue that our Covered in Oil blogger got the boot not because he was a blogger, but because of the content of his blog. When I was going to NAIT, the TV news instructor taught us that sports journalism is the only kind of journalism where a bias is expected. The reporter is always expected to root for the home team. You start being too critical of the organization and, well, stuff like this happens.

However, it does reflect that changing face of the media in our information age. Many years ago, when I first started developing my online presence, a friend and I were chatting about how these "online journals" were going to change things. It was always hoped that blogs would shed light on so many news stories that usually don't get picked up by the mainstream press. I read a study about a year ago that said, sadly, that's not the case, and that all most blogs are doing right now are regurgitating wire stories.

But still. Let's look at it. You don't have to spend four years to get some fancy journalism degree anymore. You don't have to get hired on by a newspaper for backing. All you have to do is get online.

Another thing they taught me at NAIT: reporters don't get any special privileges. They have the same rights as anybody.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Money for Milk Jugs

A long time ago, when I worked at that wretched hive of scum and villany known as Extra Foods, my co-workers and I quite frequently pondered this question.

and that is, how come you can't take your plastic milk jugs to the bottle depot and get money back for them?

It's a question I still find myself pondering, especially here in Athabasca, where the place you take your milk jugs to be recycled is up at the bottle depot. I toss my milk jugs in the big recycle bin out front, and then head inside to drop off my empty bottles and get me some comic book money.

Well, I guess the provincial government must have heard me.

One of the coolest things about my former job as the news hound is that I still get all the provincial government news releases in my inbox. And today, the government announced that Alberta will become the first province in the nation where you'll be able to take your milk containers to the bottle depot and get your money back.

Along with this, the deposits you have to pay are going up. It'll now cost you a dime for a container less than a litre, and a quarter for those a litre or more.

That means you'll have to pay a quarter deposit on a milk jug, but you'll get a quarter back!

You can start taking your milk jugs to the bottle depot on June 1, 2009.

Here's the official government news release.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

You know the drill. Sunday morning. New podcast.

Episode 2.6: My Heroes

Updates on Weird Al and Kevin Smith.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Stockpile

It's quite well known that I love DVDs. I can't help myself. It's almost like an addiction. Sometimes, I fear I have too many. The only time I really feel disgusted with myself is when I have a whole bunch of new DVDs. I get this little stockpile of new DVDs next to my TV, and sometimes, it takes me a while to get through them.

So I'm spending this weekend going through the stockpile.

Right now, I'm nearing the end of the first season of Sports Night. So I'm one of those people that thinks Aaron Sorkin is just one of the most brilliant writers in Hollywood right now. He wrote such classic films as A Few Good Men and The American President. His forays into television include The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Sports Night was his first venture into television. So, when they released Sports Night: The Complete Series -- 10th Anniversary Edition a few weeks back, I dipped into my savings and snatched it up.

For those who don't remember, Sports Night was quite critically acclaimed in its initial run, but it never really found an audience. It just barely made it through two seasons. However, I was one of the few watching it in its initial run, and I was hooked.

Well, actually, I did miss around the first half of season 2. You know, how sometimes, you miss your favourite TV show for a few months? And then, you sit down one evening, eager to catch up on what you missed? Usually, one of two things happens. You've completely lost interest, and the show now bores you, or you find the show has gotten bad and you think, "God, I'm glad I stopped watching this."

Sports Night had that rare third option. I started watching it again halfway through that second season and thought, "My God. This is a brilliant show! I forgot how amazing it is! I must start watching it again!" And you do.

Sports Night takes place at the fictional Continental Sports Channel (i.e. TSN), and it's all about the behind-the-scenes goings-on at their nightly all sports-news show Sports Night. (i.e. SportsCentre)

And it's just a great show. I'm watching it again on DVD, and once again I'm thinking, "My God. This is a brilliant show! I forgot how amazing it is!" It's been 10 years since I've seen most of these episodes, and a lot of the characters' monologues are still burned in my mind. Watching these DVDs...has been serving to remind me of those whole monologues.

Sports Night rocks, and I suggest you pick it up.

I also finally broke down and bought The Black Cauldron on DVD. The Black Cauldron is one of my favourite Disney animated films. My VHS copy is getting pretty worn out, and when I saw it in the discount bin, I knew I had to strike.

I explained to a friend one time why it's so rare to find Disney animated films in the discount bins. Mainly, it's because of their "Disney vault" strategy. Most of their animated films on DVD go out of print and thrown in the vault before they become discount bin fodder. So I counted my lucky stars when I saw The Black Cauldron for only $10.

Many cool things about the DVD. Firstly, it's in widescreen. Disney has only made three films that were designed and optimized for a widescreen format: Sleeping Beauty, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and...The Black Cauldron. So I'm finally seeing it the way it was meant to be seen.

And it's got a few neat bonus features on it, too. It has a still gallery. At first, I thought it would be the usual assortment of publicity photos. But the still gallery actually turned out to be quite an extensive collection of concept art, character designs, and such forth.

I completely geeked out when there was a whole gallery dedicated to Tim Burton's character designs. You know Tim Burton...one of my favourite directors, gave us such classics as Beetlejuice, the 1989 Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish and, most recently Sweeny Todd. Well, he actually began his career as an animator at Disney. He did a lot of character designs and concept art for The Black Cauldron. And, as the legend goes, when the Disney bosses rejected it all, Burton grew disillusioned with animation and decided to go make live-action films. I always wanted to see his Black Cauldron designs, and now I have.

There's also pictures of the Black Cauldron ride at Tokyo Disneyland. I went on the Black Cauldron ride at Tokyo Disneyland. To be confronted by an animatronic Horned King and an animatronic army of his Cauldron Born (i.e. undead army)...well, I think that was the one day I geeked out the most.

And I know have pictures.

So, again, The Black Cauldron on DVD, highly recommended, especially if you can snatch it up for $10, and I sadly don't think we'll be getting a 2-disc special edition any time soon.

Oh, and lest you think that all I get is obscure stuff, I picked up Iron Man, too.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Zack and Miri Almost Here!

Kevin Smith fanboy that I am, I'm counting down to Zack and Miri Make a Porno, less than two weeks away. However, even though it's almost here, Smith is still running into trouble with the ads.

You remember the poster, right? They got the two stick figures on it, and it says, "Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks made a movie so titillating, we can only show you this drawing." It was designed to avoid controversy, but it's now creating controversy.

Several cities are refusing to put up the posters in their bus shelters for ads. The argument is the stick figures make kids think it's a kids movie, so it's not going to be long before the kids start saying to their parents, "What does 'titillating' mean?" and "I wanna see that Porno movie!"

So, the solution is, they've come up with yet another poster. They've removed the title, and re-worked the tag line so now it reads, "Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks made a movie so outrageous, we can't even tell you the title."

Man, I hope it's a good movie. I've read nothing but good reviews so far.

Here's the original news article.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pictures to get any red blooded Trekkie excited.

2008 has been a frustrating year for Trekkies. We got the first teaser for the new Star Trek film in front of Cloverfield. We were told the second trailer would be coming in front of Indiana Jones Gets Raped by Lucas & Spielberg, and thus would begin a massive promotional blitz for the film's eventual December release.

But then, tragedy struck. Paramount actually saw a rough cut of Star Trek. Paramount deemed the film to be too...good. It was amazing! It was fantastic! It was so good, that they weren't going to waste it as a Christmas release. It was summer blockbuster worthy! The release date got moved from Christmas 2008 to May 2009. Not only would we have to wait six more months for the film...we'd have to wait six more months for the promotional blitz.

There was no trailer in front of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. No promotional blitz started up. When asked about it in interviews, the actors would say how they were sworn to secrecy, and that they couldn't say anything.

The Trekkies were growing desperate for anything--ANYTHING--new about the film. But nothing came.

But, the light is now at the end of the tunnel. With the new film slated for May 2009, that means the six month promotional blitz begins NOW. It's already been announced that the long-awaited second trailer will be in theatres next month, most likely in front of Quantum of Solace.

And the first photos from the film went online yesterday!

I'm going to share my favourite photo...you can find the others online. He were are, on the new bridge of the Enterprise, showing us our first clear shot of the new crew.

From left to right, that's Anton Yelchin as Chekov, Chris Pine as Kirk, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Karl Urban as Bones, John Cho as Sulu, and Zoe Saldana as Uhura.

I like it so far, but it's vaguely reminiscient of Galaxy Quest.

That new trailer can't get here soon enough.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fighting Voter Apathy

Well, here it is, the big election night. I've got the TV tuned to the CBC, and they're already predicting another Conservative government. The only question now is minority or majority. In my home riding of Fort McMurray--Athabasca, they're already declaring a victory for the Conservatives.

Needless to say, I'm kind of enjoying it this year. I'm at home, in my jammies, watching the coverage on TV. The past couple of elections -- the municipal one and the provincial one -- I've been down at the station, covering things live and broadcasting results as soon as they're known. A good portion of me is relieved that I'm not doing that anymore.

Now, in the past, I ran across a couple of people who proudly told me that they refuse to vote. Their reason? "No one worth voting for." A common debate on our system is whether you vote for the person or the leader. Well, these people are choosing neither.

So then, may I make this humble suggestion? Why not vote for the party?

Did you know that political parties get federal funding? It's true! If the party gets more than 2% of the popular vote, then they get $1.75 for every ballot cast for them. It came to light around two or three federal elections ago, when the Green Party was finally on the cusp of breaking 2%.

So I suggest you ask yourself which party is most worthy of your donation of $1.75? Is there a party that you think is feisty and earned your $1.75? Then vote for them!!

And another thing too...look to see if there are any fringe parties in your riding. Communist Party? Marijuana Party? Natural Law Party? Don't you think that candidate would be tickled pink if they actually got a vote cast for them?

So, if you think there's no one worth voting for, I suggest casting your ballot for a fringe party! If you believe your vote to be wasted, then why not use it to make a Marxist-Leninist candidate's day?

I dunno...I'm just being silly. My point is, VOTE!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Music to Play Hockey By

Well, I'm proud to say that I went out there and I voted in most important election this nation has ever faced. I'm also proud to say my candidate won! I am, of course, talking about the election for a new Hockey Night in Canada theme song!

(I also lament that that's the last time I'll be able to use that lame set-up for talking about the Hockey Night in Canada Anthem Challenge)

But on Hockey Night in Canada, they revealed that the new theme song is Canadian Gold, written by Beaumont music teacher Colin Oberst. Oberst wins $100,000 up front and a cut of the royalties. Plus, his song is now the official Hockey Night in Canada theme song.

I will admit, when I first heard about the CBC's plans to turn choosing a new HNIC theme song into just another reality TV show competition, I thought it was lame. But then when I saw the recap show a few weeks back when they unveiled the five finalists, I realized that once a professional music producer got through with them, they all sounded pretty good...and kind of the same.

Except for Oberst's, which had a very different flavour to it. The bagpipes at the beginning really set it apart.

So, here it is...Canadian Gold

Meanwhile, across the street, CTV is waving their arms around, jumping up and down, and going, "Hey, remember us? We bought the original Hockey Night in Canada theme song and we're going to use it as the theme song for NHL on TSN now! Remember when we did that? Remember how cool you thought we were? Remember?"

Well, when the CBC was in the midst of announcing the winner of the Anthem Challenge, CTV made the announcement that they signed a deal with several of the country's top bands. These top bands will be recording their versions of The Hockey Anthem and CTV will be using them for their NHL on TSN broadcasts.

The first band to record their own rendition is Simple Plan. NHL on TSN will start using the Simple Plan version on October 18.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

No Targ This Week

It's a story as old as time itself...or, at least as long as I've been doing my podcast.

A long weekend is here. I've gone home for said long weekend. Well, not really home. I'm in Red Deer, because that's where the bulk of the family moved to and so it's become the hip, happenin' place to have family gatherings.

Anyway, in my rush to get everything together, and in going to see Kevin Smith, I never got around to recording an episode of U62: The Targ this week.

Don't worry, we'll be back next week!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Democracy in Action

I try to avoid talking about my life in this blog, mainly because I've heard one too many horror stories about people getting fired because of stuff they've written in their blogs coming back to haunt them, but something happened today, that I just have to get off my chest.

As you may recall from Monday's blog entry, Athabasca had its all-candidates forum on Monday night. Just scroll down a little, and you'll see that I chose not to go. It was being hosted by the Athabasca Peace Initiative, and as part of their planning, they were going to ask most of the questions, because they felt, "it's important the right questions are asked." And, if there was time at the end, they'd open it up to the floor for other questions. That, and, early in the campaign, several candidates said that they probably wouldn't come because of how geographically huge the Fort McMurray--Athabasca riding is. To me, it seemed, the only reason to go would be to see who showed up.

The first person I ran into on Monday seemed to confirm my suspicions. From his point of view, the only folks who showed up were "every old hippie in Athabasca" and that it quickly degenerated into an angry crowd demanding that the troops be brought home from Afghanistan. From the way he talked, it sounded like it happened like I thought it would, and that I didn't miss much.

The second person was my learned colleague who works for Athabasca's newspaper. He read my blog entry from yesterday and was none too impressed with my preconceptions. Of course, he was at the all-candidates forum, covering it for the paper, and he found the Athabasca Peace Initiative's format to be "the most logical and best way to present the issues that are of actual importance instead of letting candidates 'tow the party line.'"

He then went on to say that he found it disappointing that I "brandish a 'press pass' yet failed to attend, let alone report on something that affects people, especially when it's politics, especially when it's a snap election and especially when the election is next week." Naturally, I found this statement to be a personal attack on the two years I spent working as the news director for 850 the Fox. It was nuts to you, and the flame war was on, as I proceeded to defend my record as a reporter.

My career politician mother told me when I was a kid that you should never get into an argument with someone who believes themselves to be morally superior to you, because they'll always twist your words to prove their point, and the more you argue, the more ammunition you give them. "When they attack your integrity, or your ethics, or anything like that, it's best to make a brief statement and let your record do the talking," my mother said. And today was one of those days when I should have listened to my mother. After a few hours worth of flaming, it started becoming obvious that I bought a knife to a gun fight, so I made my brief statement and made a hasty exit.

And it's all documented on Facebook for you to read.

The crux of his argument was my press pass. He kept dismissing it as a phony credential. In my final days as the news director, Athabasca was hosting a provincial junior hockey championship. As it had been a hectic week for me, I neglected to phone ahead and let the organizers know I was coming to cover it and arrange a proper press pass and all that. I shared my tale of woe with the manager in my office, and he went to his computer and printed off a generic press pass for me. He slipped his business card in the back and said, "If they hassle you, just show them my card and have them call me." Of course, my worries turned out to be for nothing, because all the organizers recognized me and when I approached the front doors, they just waved me in.

However, I thought this generic press pass was kind of cool, and I kept wearing it to events in my final days as a reporter, and I've kept wearing when I go out to events in Athabasca.

And, according to my learned colleague, it's a phony credential, and I should stop misrepresenting myself, and I sully the reputation of upstanding reporters like him when I wear it.

I'm sure then that, my learned colleague, the fine upstanding reporter that he is, knows the importance of knowing the whole story before rushing to print.

Choosing not to go to the all-candidates forum was a difficult decision for me. There were several events going on in Athabasca on Monday night, and instead of going to the all-candidates forum, I went to my regular, first Monday of every month date. I went to planning meeting for the Magnificent River Rats Festival.

You've seen me blog about it in the past. Heck, you've probably seen my movie about it on YouTube. When I first started in Athabasca as a reporter, I was told that it was one of the meetings that was regularly covered, so I went to all the meetings. For two years. When I got my promotion from reporter to morning show host earlier this year, the company asked me to keep going, but this time, I would be the station's official representative. Granted, it's merely a symbolic gesture. I have no real power to, say, promise the River Rats a zillion dollars in free advertising. But I do have one power there.

Freed from the confines of journalistic impartiality, I can now vote on stuff. I can now speak up and share my ideas. I can now take an active role in the planning of the festival. And this being the first meeting for the planning of the 2009 festival, this is when all the important stuff was decided. Ticket prices...whether the festival should be on Canada Day (a Wednesday next year) or moved to the weekend before...whether the festival director could be authorized to bring in [name of really cool classic Canadian rockers withheld because they're still in negotiations]. And I raised my hand to vote in each and every one of those issues.

And, truth be told, when I was deciding the ticket prices for the festival, I felt more like I was making a difference than I would have sitting in the theater listening to a bunch of old men debate the issues.

But then really, that's become the real issue, hasn't it? Am I still a reporter -- the impartial observer -- or have I become an active participant? Does wearing the press pass to film the River Rats festival for my YouTube videos make me a fraud as a reporter? I'm reminded of the first words of my news professor at broadcast school, who said that journalism is unique in that it's a profession that has no credentials. Lawyers need to pass the Bar exam. Here in Alberta, teachers need to be certified by the ATA, but journalism has nothing comparable. There's no independent organization to certify reporters. Anyone can be a reporter.

So what is the definition of credentials? When I highlighted my experience in student media, my learned colleague wasn't impressed. "School time is play time," he said, so I'm sure he'll be the first to dismiss education as a credential. Is it being backed up by a major company? If so, my boss's business card nestled in the back of that press pass, stating I work for the second-largest radio broadcaster in the nation, should be enough. Is it having the permission of the organizers of the event your covering? Hey, that's easy, just a couple of phone calls and you're in. Is it experience? If that's the case, then my two years as a reporter in Athabasca should be more than enough to qualify me to cover Athabasca events. Truth be told, journalism credentials are easy to come by.

No, the question here is job titles. Can I keep calling myself a reporter, if it's no longer the job I'm being paid to do? And the answer is...no.

If my evening at the River Rats shows anything, it's that I've made the jump from impartial observer to active participant. I have violated the very core of being a good reporter. I am no longer an impartial observer. So, it's time to hang up the press pass. It's a job that I've moved on from. I think I'll take that press pass and frame it...hang it on my trophy wall, next to my last Japanese business card and my hardhat from that summer on a gravel crusher crew.

The brief statement I used to end the flame war and make my hasty exit was thus:

"Six months from now, you'll have moved on to some daily newspaper in some city, and Athabasca will just be that mark at the beginning of your resume. And I'll still be in Athabasca. And that will be best for both of us."

But he should know this.

When he comes back in the summer to enjoy the Magnificent River Rats festival, and he starts whining that ticket prices went up by $10, he can blame me.

Because I voted.

And he didn't.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

My Second Evening with Kevin Smith

Sorry my picture sucks, but since I had a run-in with the Winspear ushers over the quantity of pictures I was taking at Weird Al, I was doing things on the QT.

As you all know, Kevin Smith, one of my idols, his Q&A shows have become legendary and are just massively entertaining. When I heard he was coming back to Edmonton after 2.5 years, I knew I had to go. I was there 2.5 years ago, and trust me, you may have seen the DVDs, but it's even better in person.

When Smith took the stage, he of course, had to open with his rant against Air Canada. As you've seen me blog, he was supposed to be in Edmonton last week, but Air Canada wouldn't let him on his flight, leading to him to write in his blog a massive rant about Air Canada. Well, last week, he was still able to make his show in Calgary by flying...Air Canada. Apparently, Air Canada read his blog and he got..."special treatment" on his flight. And by special treatment, I mean he was deemed a security risk and was subjected to all kinds of humiliating body cavity searches. He summed up by saying, [he] got spanked by Air Canada.

As we all know, he's also a hockey fan, and being from New Jersey, the Devils are his team. So he was also quick to point out that, last time the Devils and the Oilers met, Devils won 3-1. And he rubbed it in a little.

Smith is always quick to point out that the first question sets the tone for the show. The first question was about Scientology. Kevin-Smith-film regular and star of My Name is Earl Jason Lee is a practicing Scientologist, so this guy wanted to know if Lee ever tried to convert Smith. Smith said, no, that he and Lee have always been respectful of each other's faiths and there's no trying to convert the other in their friendship. He also pointed out that another Kevin-Smith-film regular and My Name is Earl star Ethan Suplee is also a Scientologist, and Smith says Suplee was raised as scientologist and Suplee considers himself "a lapsed scientologist."

The second question was from a young religion major who said that he wrote a dissertation on Dogma and wanted to know "How come Catholics can't take a joke?" Smith then questioned this guy on the faiths he's studied. Turns out the guy also studied Satanism, so they discussed Satanism for a bit.

I, personally think, the most memorable one had to be this one woman.... Apparently, in one of Smith's recent podcasts, they bring up the subject of choking your partner during sex, and Smith was like, "How can people do that? It's gotta be degrading to the woman." And this woman got up to say that, no, choking your partner during sex is quite OK if your partner is into it and that she enjoys being choked. That led to a lengthy discussion about her sex life. She was flat-chested, and she said that you could find naked pictures of her on this website called My Free Implants.com, where flat-chested women post pictures of themselves and beg for money for free implants. Smith originally misunderstood, and thought she was the owner/operator of the website, but she correct him and said that she just posts naked pictures of herself there. She said that she was 31, had her first child when she was 17, has kids by three different fathers, and that her current boyfriend is 22. "How did you two meet?" "I'm his boss." "So not only are your a cougar, you're a sexual harasser." She'd brought her purse with her up to the microphone...a common Kevin Smith bit is, when a woman brings her purse up the microphone, he talks her into showing off what's in her purse. She then simply said that, yes, there are sex toys in it, and that she finally realized she said far too much about her sex life, and brought it to an end.

(I see in the Edmonton Journal's review of this show, they dismiss this woman as simply wasting time to plug her website.)

That, or the guy who fainted while asking his question would be the most memorable. Smith said, out of all the years he's been doing this, that's the first time it happened. The guy was really, really nervous. He had two questions...his first one was that he had recently been vacationing in Spain and found a convenience store there called Quick Stop, so how did Smith come up with the name "Quick Stop?" And no matter how hard Smith tried, he just couldn't convince him that Quick Stop is actually a really common name for convenience stores, and that he filmed "Clerks" at a real convenience store called Quick Stop. the kid's second question was whether Smith had ever gotten so mad at someone that he got into a fist fight. Smith started to answer it, and all throughout his answer, stopped to ask the kid if he was OK. The kid kept saying he was fine, but then, he fainted.

Now, those Winspear ushers frighten me, ever since one threatened to smash my camera for taking pictures at the Weird Al concert. Out of nowhere, this Winspear usher appears, grabs the kids' unconscious body by the ankle, starts dragging him towards the Winspear catacombs, and barks at Smith, "GO TO THE NEXT QUESTION!" Of course, Smith didn't. Constantly kept asking the ushers back stage if the kids was OK...when the guy fainted, three people -- including a pregnant nurse -- jumped up to catch the guy and administer aid. Smith riffed with them about their heroic efforts and how it was like "watching the origin of the Justice League." Smith then finally brought it to a close by yelling out, "If you can hear me, I've never been in a fight!"

And that was immediately followed by a woman who took off her shirt for Smith. Don't worry, she was still wearing another shirt underneath and finished asking her question fully clothed. What happened was it was a "Fuck Air Canada" T-shirt, so she decided to give it to Smith as a souvenir. What was her question? Everyone was still distracted by the fainting and then the stripping that even Smith himself admitted he was quite flustered.

Oh, wait, now I remember! Her question was about Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and in the opening scene, when baby Jay starts chanting "fuck," was the baby actually saying "fuck" or just a word that sounded like "fuck"? Smith said that the baby wasn't saying anything at all, they put in "fuck" with special effects, and that led to a discussion between Smith and the woman about the swears they've taught their children.

Speaking of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, there was this one with an inspiration story. Several years ago, she was suffering from depression and almost attempted suicide. And she said that, when she was recovering, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was the first movie that made her laugh again, so she wanted to thank Smith for that. Her boyfriend was standing next to her the whole time for moral support, but seeing as to how he couldn't keep his hands off her and was pulling her away from the mic every 30 seconds to kiss her, I think he was more distracting than supporting. Anyway, it turns out her question was she wanted to invite Smith to her wedding, but they weren't engaged yet. So Smith goaded the guy into proposing to her before committing to come.

In another of the most memorable moments of the night.... The line for the microphone to ask question went down a staircase. This one guy comes up to the mic and says, "Actually, I'm just standing in for that guy," and he points at a guy in a wheelchair at the top of the stairs. "Can I run the mic up to him?" Smith said, "Of course!" First up, the guy in the wheelchair said that he thought Randall's rant about people in wheelchairs in "Clerks II" was funny as hell. Then, he asked his question. Does Smith regret getting married so early in his fame that he never got to sleep with any celebrities? And that led into a typical Smith rant about how he's madly in love with his wife and he regrets nothing about his marriage. Smith started wrapping up that tale by saying it'll be his 10 year anniversary next month, and wheelchair guy said, "Wow. Next month it'll be MY 10 year anniversary in the chair." Smith asked how it happened...guy simply said, "Hit from behind playing hockey." Since it's a hockey town, and Smith is a well-known hockey fan, sympathies immediately went out. Guy went on to say that his spinal injury might be curable with just a little stem cell research, and he did a little rant about George W. Bush. And then Smith had to relate an article he'd recently read about circumcision and stem cell research. Apparently, when a newborn baby is circumcised, the discarded foreskin is just loaded with stem cells, so from Smith's point of view, here we have a way to harvest stem cells that should make everyone happy. Smith wrapped it up by saying, "Dude, it's been 10 years, so you're probably sick and tired of people coming up to you and saying, "Dude, I'm so sorry," but dude, I'm so sorry."

One guy asked about Smith's experiences with technology, and if he has a horror story about his computer crashing and him losing all his work. Smith said, "Nope, I use a Mac!" Smith is a well-known, long-established Apple aficionado. That led into a quick discussion about actor Justin Long. He was with Smith in Live Free or Die Hard and has a role in Smith's next film Zack and Miri Make a Porno, but is still best-known as the Mac guy in those "I'm a PC/I'm a Mac" commercials. Smith said he never asked Long about those commercials until they were making Zack and Miri and Long whipped out his iPhone. Smith said to Long, "Dude, you must get all kinds of free stuff from Apple." Long said, "No, but they pay me a shitload of money!"

I want to keep writing, but, wow my fingers are getting tired. There was the usual Kevin Smith wackiness. Apparently, working with Seth Rogan on Zack and Miri, Rogan re-introduced Smith to marijuana, and there was a list of Smith's exploits while high. Smith blames with marijuana for his recent massive weight gain because he'd get high, get the munchies, come down, get depressed about being fat, get high, get the munchies, and it was all a vicious cycle. So step 1 to his latest weight loss regime was give up marijuana.

I will end with what I think was the funniest incident of the night. This guy comes up to the mic....

Guy>> Dude, I've been thinking about this long and hard, and I've got a question here that I know no one has asked you!

Smith>> Right on!

Guy>> I've got a new interpretation of Clerks, it's going to blow your mind.

Smith>> Well then, let's hear it.

Guy>> When you making Clerks, did you ever think that Dante was who you were, and Randall was who you wanted to be?

Smith stands there in silence for a few seconds...dumbfounded and slightly annoyed. He finally speaks.

Smith>> Yes. I say that on the DVD running commentary. I've said it in hundreds of interviews.

Guy>> Oh. Uh...well...uh...your cameo in Superman/Doomsday was awesome. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Weird Al's New Song!

Great day for me on so many levels. First, lets get the most important thing out of the way.

Happy Birthday, Jason and Jeanette! Yup, it's my brother's AND my sister's birthday today. And despite the alliteric names, they aren't twins.

Secondly, the Kevin Smith Q&A in Edmonton? That was cancelled last week, leaving me swamped with disappointment? It's a go for tonight, and I'm going! And I successfully got tomorrow off to recover, so yay!

And finally, my hero, "Weird Al" Yankovic released a new song today! During his last tour, Weird Al said that it was time to experiment with alternate forms of distribution...mainly, releasing his parodies online as soon as they're recorded so that way they're current.

He tries it out today with his iTunes exclusive release of Whatever You Like, a paordy of Whatever You Like by T.I.!

Sadly, it's only available on iTunes USA, but God bless YouTube!

(For those reading my blog, Midnight Ramblings, here's where you'll see the embedded YouTube video of "Whatever You Like." For those of you reading this in Facebook and think I posted a note, I urge you to go to my blog, Midnight Ramblings, to see the embedded YouTube video and my handcrafted blog format.)

As for my assessment? Well, it pains me to say this about my hero, but it seems a little weak. I give it 3/5

Monday, October 06, 2008

Various Election Thoughts

Tonight is the night of Athabasca's all-candidates forum. I'm still debating with whether I want to go or not. I will admit, I'm kind of frustrated with how it's being run.

Here in Athabasca, the all-candidates forum is being hosted by the Athabasca Peace Initiative...an organization dedicated to fostering peace around the globe. And how they've decided to run this is that only the Peace Initiative will be asking the questions. In an interview with the Peace Initiative President in last week's paper, the president said that they're doing it like this because "it's important the right questions are asked."

From what the president alluded to in his article, the "right questions" tend to involve foreign policy and when the troops are coming home from Afghanistan and stuff like that.

Granted, they'll open it up near the end so average folks like you and me can pose their questions, but still, I don't feel like it's worth it. I just don't like being told that my questions aren't "the right questions."

Well, they are to me!

Besides, with my riding of Fort McMurray--Athabasca being so geographically huge, several candidates made it clear early on that they might not be making it this way because they can't afford to travel.

So if I'm not going to be able to ask my questions, and not all the candidates will be there, what's the point?

And sometimes, I'm glad that our elections don't get as...sensational as the American elections.

People were horrified on Friday when Hustler Video -- the porn movie studio of Hustler Magazine -- announced that they're making a pornographic film about the life of Sarah Palin, to be entitled Nailin' Paylin.

I'd just like to make it clear that I don't spend all my free time, hunched over my keyboard, tracking the latest developments in the porn industry. I only know of this because one of my favourite movie gossip sites, Ain't It Cool News, decided to run this on slow news Sunday.

Don't believe me? Here's Ain't It Cool News's article

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Latest Targ's Up!

It's Sunday morning! I've got a new episode of The Targ!

This week, it's Episode 2.5: Stickers & Apologies. We go live on location to downtown Edmonton to chronicle my sadness and disappointment that Kevin Smith was postponed. Yay, for live on location!

Give it a listen!

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Finest Things in Life: Weird Al and Batman


We're getting a new "Weird Al" Yankovic single next week!

All throughout his last tour, Weird Al would say that, with his next album, he was considering persuing alternate forms of distribution. His idea was that he could release his parodies to iTunes as soon as they're ready, so that way they're still fresh and current and not a year behind by the time his full album comes out.

Well, Weird Al announced on his MySpace page that he's ready to give this a shot. He just finished recording the first parody for his new album, and he's releasing it as a single on Tuesday! October 7! It'll be available on iTunes exclusivly for the first 2 weeks, and then be released to all other website where you can buy MP3s.

Weird Al isn't saying yet what his parody is called or what it's a parody of...just that it's a parody of a song "that was recently #1...it may even still be #1."

We'll know what it is on Tuesday.

And hey! The biggest movie of the summer is coming out on DVD in time for Christmas!

The Dark Knight will be unleashed on DVD on December 9. There'll be three version: single disc, 2-disc special edition, and 2-disc Blu-Ray edition. The breakdown is like this.

Single Disc
Just the movie. No bonus features.

2-disc Special Edition
- The movie
- the documentary Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene
- The Dark Knight IMAX Scenes, where you can watch all the scenes filmed in IMAX in their proper aspet ratio.
- 6 episodes of the fake news program Gotham Tonight
- movie poster galleries and behind-the-scenes photographs.
- a digital copy of the film.

2-disc Blu-Ray Edition
Everything mentioned above, plus....
- Batman Tech: the Incredible Gadgest and Tools featurette
- Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight featurette
- MORE galleries, such as concept art and the Joker's cards
- the trailers and TV spots

So, yeah! If you're feeling like getting me a Blu-Ray player for Christmas, this'll make a nifty first title.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Comic Book Logic

Just reflecting on yesterday's post about the classic G.I. Joe cartoon The MASS Device and how the teleportation device was powered by radioactive crystals, heavy water from the bottom of the ocean, and a meteorite floating in a pool of lava in a volcano.

It reminded me from what of my favourite jokes from a Ninja Turtles comic when I was a kid. In the future, Donatello decided to build a time machine. The first one was to be powered by a cold fusion generator, but Donatello's design was flawed and it self-destructed as soon as he turned it on. For his second time machine, he decided to power it with artifacts that had an unnaturally high amount of energy in them. Such artifacts included the corpse of the alien that crash-landed at Roswell, New Mexico and Hitler's brain. Yeah...the Ninja Turtles comic could get weird....

Anyway, this second time machine was promptly stolen by future-Shredder who was using it to assist his past self. The Future-Turtles built a third time machine, and came back in time to help their younger selves. And I'll never forget future-Donatello as he finished telling the tale of the three time machines he built.

Present Donatello>> Wait a minute. How are you powering this third time machine?

Future-Donatello>> I just plugged into the nearest electrical outlet. I'm going to hate to see the power bill next month....

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Why didn't they have this when I was a kid?

I'm sure it's no secret that I collect action figures. I love my action figures! And, with last year having been the 25th Anniversary of G.I. Joe, there's all kinds of classic G.I. Joes from my childhood being re-released for collectors like me, and I'm just geeking out.

Who can forget the classic G.I. Joe cartoon of the 1980s? It was unique in that it started with two, 5-episode mini-series before becoming a full-fledged cartoon. Each season of the cartoon then kicked off with a 5-episode mini-series.

The first mini-series was called A Real American Hero, but was later dubbed The MASS Device by the fans, mainly because the MASS Device was the weapon of mass destruction that was integral to the plot.

For those who don't remember, COBRA got their hands on the MASS Device, a teleportation machine capable of stealing national monuments, kidnapping world leaders, and instantly sending COBRA troops to any corner of the globe. G.I. Joe decides the best way to combat this is by getting their own MASS Device to neutralize COBRA's. G.I. Joe and COBRA then battle all across the globe, collecting the three rare elements required to power the MASS Device.

Those three elements are:
  • Radioactive crystals found only in a mine north of the Arctic Circle
  • A rare isotope of heavy water found only in a pool at the bottom of the ocean
  • Fragments from a downed meteorite floating in the middle of a volcano

So, the race is on to collect the three elements and save the world!

Now, Hasbro, those wiley folks, they had a clever idea for these classic mini-series, and how to make new toys to celebrate G.I. Joe's 25th annivearsy.

The end result? The DVD Battle Packs! You get a DVD containing one G.I. Joe mini-series, and 4 action figures, appearing just as they did in that mini-series!

And I finally got my hands on the DVD Battle Pack for The MASS Device!

The MASS Device Battle Back

Let me take you through the four figures in this pack, from least cool to coolest.

Number 4: Cobra Trooper with the MASS Device Elements

Cobra Trooper

Every world dictator wannabe needs henchman, and the Cobra Troopers fill the bill! This one comes with the three elements required to power the MASS Device, so he can be a good li'l trooper and load up the mass device.

Number 3: Jet Pack Stalker

He only wears a jet pack in the opening credits, but that was notable enough for the makers of this pack to include Stalker. Stalker has his jet pack and a rifle, suitable for blowing bombs out of the sky.

Number 2: SCUBA Gear Baroness

The one action scene that I found really weird in The MASS Device was when they had to collect the heavy water from the bottom of the ocean. It was guarded by giant tube worms! G.I. Joe and COBRA had to temporarily join forces to fight them off. Baroness led the COBRA's at the bottom of the sea, and she comes decked out in her red COBRA wet suit, her SCUBA gear, a pistol for double-crossing the Joes, and the fancy thingie to collect the heavy water. Notice she still has her trademark Coke Bottle glasses on underneath her diving mask.

And finally, the coolest figure in the bunch...Radioactive Snake Eyes!

I remember watching The MASS Device on TV when I was a kid. And the most striking image to me...the one forever burned into my mind...was Snake Eyes, everyone's favourite G.I. Joe, marching alone through across the Arctic tundra, glowing red from radiation sickness, knowing that no matter what happens, his mission must be completed!

Snake Eyes has several body parts made out of translucent red plastic to duplicate the "glowing red from radiation sickness" effect. He comes with the canister of radioactive crystals, and his pet wolf Timber, who made his first appearance in this episode.

And, the icing on the cake, each of these 5 DVD Battle Packs comes with piece of the MASS Device, so when you collect all five, you can actually build the MASS Device and have your Joes and COBRAs fight over it!

What can I say. The grown up in me is just really excited to have this piece of his childhood re-created. My inner six year old is suicidal over what a fat geek he'll grow up to be.