Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie

Time to roll again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie and blog about it.  We're going back to the 1990s for the very first Power Rangers movie, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.  This is in my notes at April 1, 2017.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Moana

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, because there's nothing better to do on a Friday night than sit at home, along, watch a movie, and blog about it.  *sigh*  Let's watch Moana!  Well, I watched it on April 1, 2017, and am just now posting it.  That's how far I work ahead on this!

Monday, November 06, 2017

Icy Road to Ragnarok

Well, Halloween is officially in the rear view mirror, which means it's on to Christmas!  We've already had the first couple of Christmas craft fairs in the region, and the Town of Barrhead had their Christmas parade back on Friday.  When I saw that Athabasca University was having their annual Christmas craft fair at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex on Friday afternoon, I thought I'd swing up to Athabasca and check it out.

I don't go back up to Athabasca that often, ever since I transferred down to Westlock almost-5 years ago.  (It'll be 5 years come February!)  I go back up maybe once or twice a year, and it's almost-always because the Athabasca station needs an extra pair of hands for an event.  But I was feeling nostalgic for the Athabasca University Christmas Craft Fair.  I was at the very first one 11 years ago, when it was just a half-a-dozen vendors in the AU's lobby.  Now, it's across the road at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, and they fill the whole darn field house.  It's been fun watching it grow.

So, Friday afternoon, I hopped in my car, and headed north to Athabasca.  I've always been nervous about winter driving ever since I hit a deer with my car almost-5 years ago.  But, 511 Alberta said the roads were good, I've got a new set of tires on my car, so I figured the drive up to Athabasca should be pretty uneventful.

I was somewhere between Perryvale and Colinton.  I rounded a bend to see a car in the oncoming lane, and his lights were flickering like crazy.  I figured he must have an electrical problem or something.  I focused my eyes back on the road, and there, laying in the middle of my lane, was a dog.

I jerked my steering wheel to the left to avoid him.  I jerked my steering wheel back to the right to get back in my lane.  All seemed fine...until I realized the back end of my car was still jerking to the right.  I lost control of the car.  I'm sliding down the highway, fishtailing like crazy.  Everything gets kind of blurry.  I remember seeing a ditch.  I remember seeing a car in the oncoming traffic lane.  I remember seeing the other ditch.  I remember thinking, "This is it.  I'm headed for the ditch."  But then my car finally came to a stop, about six inches from hitting the ditch.

The guy who was driving behind me came to a stop.  He comes running up to me and knocks on my window.  "Are you alright?" he asks.  I just start stammering.  "Yeah...yeah.  There was this dog and I tried to get out of the way."  The dude with the flickering lights comes running over.  "Did you see the dog?  I was trying to warn you by flashing my lights!"

Anyway, I moved my car so I wouldn't be blocking traffic, and then I just sat by the side of the road for a while to calm down.  I tell ya, there was this, and I hit that deer, I think the animals are trying to tell me I'm not supposed to go back to Athabasca in the wintertime.

I finally made it to the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, ran into an old buddy in the parking lot, and after telling him this story, I said, "After what I went through to get here, this had better be the best damn craft show ever."

And it was a pretty good craft show.  Came back with a pretty good haul.  There was a beef jerky guy there who I ran into at the Westlock Ag Fair, who makes great beef jerky, so I treated myself to some.  Ran into a guy I used to work with when I had a second job at Buy-Low Foods.  Now he does the Farmers Markets and the craft shows peddling his kettle corn, so I treated myself to some.  The Athabasca Pottery Club was selling some of their pottery, and they talked me into a bat-shaped Christmas tree ornament.  Perfect for the Christmas tree, or maybe a Halloween tree.  Oh, and I found something that I think will be a perfect Christmas gift for Dad, so I've officially begun my Christmas shopping.

But before I left for Westlock, I decided to check out something at Canadian Tire.  Earlier in the day, one of my Star Wars action figure collecting sites lit up with news of a Star Wars action figure set available exclusively at Canadian Tire.  Now, "Canadian Tire exclusive" is a phrase that has never popped up in my days of collecting Star Wars figures, so I had to check this out.  And yes, the Athabasca location had it in stock, but I chose not to buy it.  I figured I'd already spent enough at the craft fair.  Besides, I've got about $10 in Canadian Tire money in a jar next to my piggy bank.  I think I know what I'll finally use it for.

Needless to say, took it nice and slow on the drive home to Westlock.  And took it nice and slow on the drive into Edmonton the next day.  Since I bought my Dad's Christmas present, I figured I'd buy the presents for my nieces.  I'd known what I wanted to get them for Christmas ever since it went on sale back in the spring, so I figured, "Why keep waiting?  Let's buy it now!"  And I did.  Three people checked off my Christmas list this early into November!  Let's see if I can keep it up!

Then off to my usual haunt of West Edmonton Mall.  They don't have the Christmas decorations up yet, but they do have the usual Christmas pop-up stores, like Hickory Farms and the calendar stores.  Did some browsing in the Disney Store, and had to keep my wallet tucked away.  As Disney does own Marvel and Star Wars, they've usually got some really cool exclusives, and I liked their latest.

So you may remember Disney's toys-to-life game Disney Infinity.  Disney officially pulled the plug on it about a year ago.  Browsing through the Disney Store, I see Disney has kept the art style of the Disney Infinity figures alive in a new, Disney Store exclusive line of action figures called "Disney Toy Box."  They've got nine offerings to start.  Representing Pixar is Woody, Jesse, and Buzz.  Representing Marvel is Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the Hulk.  And representing Star Wars is Kylo Ren, Rey, and a First Order Stormtrooper.  No doubt some of those figures will find their way to my collection.

A quick stop in the food court for lunch.  Trying to expand my horizons a little bit in the food court as there's so many new chains starting to pop up.  Last time I was at the mall, I spied a new chain called Pannizza that I wanted to try.  It's the Subway model, applied to pizza.  You pick your crust, you pick your toppings, the clerk puts it all together for, and then runs it through a Quiznos-style oven.  Voila!  One baked-before-your-eyes personal-sized pizza.  I sampled the Aloha Pizza, which is what they call their Hawaiian Pizza.  I rather enjoyed it, so I could see myself dining there again in the future.  Might not get the combo meal, next time.  Good pizza, so-so fries.

Speaking of Hawaiian pizza, how's my petition to get a Heritage Moment about it's creation going?  Huh...still stalled at 10 signatures.  Moving on.

You know what the West Edmonton Mall food court is missing?  A good chip shop.  I don't think there's been a place to get fish and chips there since Fatburger replaced Joey's Only.  Sorry, I'm watching You Gotta Eat Here! while I write this.  They just did a Montreal chip shop, and now I want fish and chips.

But as you know, all trips to the city for me invariably wind up in the movie theatre, and I bet you know what I was out to see this weekend.

Thor: Ragnarok poster

I really enjoyed this new chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It's easily the best of the Thor films.  It's more in tone with Guardians of the Galaxy than the other two Thor films.

When last we left Thor at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, he went off on a quest to learn more about the Infinity Stones.  But, he got sidetracked along the way, finding the Nine Reals in chaos and whispers of a pretender on the throne bringing about Ragnarok -- the end of days to Asgard.  Returning home to Asgard, Thor promptly unmasks Odin as being Loki in disguise.  Turns out Loki's rule has weakened Asgard's defenses from Hela, the goddess of death.  She returns with a vengeance, claims the throne of Asgard, and begins putting plans in place on conquer the universe.  Thor winds up stranded on the world of Sakaar, where he must make alliances with friends both old and new, and fight his way back to Asgard, defeat Hela, and stop Ragnarok from happening.

Man o man, this film is good.  All of the new characters are great.  Cate Blanchett is wonderful as Hela.  Marvel really hasn't given us a villain who relishes in being evil, and Hela does.  Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, the ruler of Sakaar, is very Jeff Goldblum.  Returning characters are good as well.  We finally get to know Hulk as a character, and there's some good brotherly love between Thor and Loki that looks to finally send Loki down a path of redemption.

Not much to quibble about.  As we saw in the post-credits sequence of Doctor Strange, Doctor Strange does show up, but his appearance serves pretty much the same function as Falcon in Ant-Man.  He's just here to remind you of the bigger cinematic universe at play.

And there's just so much good.  I love the synthesizer-heavy, prog-rock inspired score.  Marvel is certainly getting their money's worth out of The Immigrant Song.  And we're far enough along in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that every callback and in-joke to a previous film is a delight.  I wonder if Hulk fighting that giant wolf was purposely meant to be a reference to 2003's Hulk where Hulk fought some gamma-mutated giant dogs.

It was a good year for Marvel.  I give it 4 out of 4 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

And that was Saturday day.  Sunday morning was spent writing this blog.  It's lunchtime, now, so I'm going to see if I can find me some fish and chips. 

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Rolling out Fishing in the Discount Bin once again, blogging about the movies I own and have recently rewatched so it feels as though my life has meaning.  Today, I tackled the comedy classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  This is in my notes at March 19, 2017.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Star Wars and Black Panther Trailers

So when my Doctor Strange rant went online the other day, I noticed it was my 2800th blog entry.  I also looked at my blog over the past few months and saw I've pretty much been sticking to Fishing in the Discount Bin and not much else.  So, for number 2801, I decided to do some good ol' fashioned trailer blogging.  It's something I don't do as much anymore, mainly because of that darn social media.  I go, "Latest trailer for latest movie!" is up, post the link to my Facebook and Twitter, and call it a day.

And besides, I'd noticed I haven't done my usual thing of blogging about the latest Star Wars trailer.  Holy crap, you guys, that Last Jedi trailer!

You've seen it.  You love it.  I don't know what I need to tell you about it.  Rey begins her Jedi training with Luke, but Luke is apprehensive.  Kylo Ren is still destroying the galaxy, trying to live up to has grandfather Darth Vader's legacy.  Does he kill his mother, Leia?  Looks like Finn and Captain Phasma finally square off, the fight that many say should have been the "Traitor!" fight from Force Awakens.  And we finally meet Snoke in the flesh.

And the much-debated ending.  Is Kylo Ren pulling Rey to the Dark Side?  Or is it just trailer-bait, because everyone keeps screaming, "BUT THE SHOTS DON'T MATCH!"  Yeah, the shots don't match.  So let's keep debating!

December 15 is when we'll get all the answers.  That's 48 days away, according to the countdown app on my phone.

The sweet Last Jedi poster

Not content to let us enjoy all that awesomeness, and because Disney is on never-ending quest to take all our money, it was just a few days later when they dropped the new trailer for the next chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther.

Chadwick Boseman returns of T'Challa, ruler of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, and Wakanda's protector, the hero known as Black Panther.  For those who don't know the comics, Wakanada is one of the most technologically-advanced countries in the world, thanks to being the world's only source of vibranium, the metal that Captain America's shield is made from.  But, based on the hidden city we see in the trailer, it looks as though Wakanda has chosen to hide its technological prowess from the world. 

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, T'Challa returns home to resume his royal duties.  But, he soon dons the mantle of Black Panther once again to protect his land from Erik Killmonger, who seeks to overthrow T'Challa and take the throne.  Luckily, T'Challa has his allies, such as Wakandan secret agents Nakia and Okoye. 

Michael B. Jordan, last seen as Adonis Creed in Creed (and as the Human Torch in the crappy 2015 Fantastic Four) is Killmonger, Lupita Nyong'o is Nakia, and The Walking Dead's Dania Gurira is Okoye. 

Other returning characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe include Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, last seen as one of the administrators of the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War.  In the Black Panther comics, Ross is a US envoy to Wakanda, and becomes one of T'Challa's friends and advisors.  And we've also got Andy Serkis back as Ulysses Klaw from Avengers: Age of Ultron.  As in the comics, Klaw is an international arms dealer based in Wakanda.  And, thanks to Ultron ripping off his arm, he's got his trademark bionic arm with a built-in cannon that he sports in the comics. 

Don't forget, the epic Hulk/Iron Man battle from Age of Ultron actually took place in a Wakandan city, which is what led to Wakanda's support for the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War.  It's neat how they've been slowly building to this! 

What can I say?  The trailer looks awesome.  It's got some of that great action that Marvel has become known for.  I do have to agree with a friend of mine, though.  Based on the trailer, it looks like Killmonger eventually dons a suit similar to Black Panther's and they fight it out.  And we've already seen that in the first two Iron Man films and Ant-Man, so it's kind of overdone. 

But dude.  It looks incredible.  Black Panther hits theatres on February 16. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Doctor Strange

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, watchin' movies and blogging about them.  Time to head back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Doctor StrangeThis is in my notes at March 19, 2017

Doctor Strange poster

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Movie Review - Batman vs. Two-Face

Time to snatch up the newest DC straight-to-DVD animated film, and with it, the latest return to the world of Batman '66.  Yup, I'm going through my new Blu-Ray of....

Batman vs. Two-Face

Directed by Rick Morales

Starring the voices of Adam West, Burt Ward, William Shatner, Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, Steven Weber, Jim Ward, Thomas Lennon, and Lynn Marie Stewart


Well, last year's Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders was such a welcome return to the world of 1960s Batman, that of course a sequel was planned.  I've read over the years how Two-Face was a heavy contender for use in the 1960s Batman TV show, but it never came to be.  One theory as to why it never happened was that his facial scarring was considered too gruesome for a family show, another said that they were holding out for Clint Eastwood to play him.  The latest theory I've read says that an episode actually was written featuring Two-Face, but it was scrapped when the producers got into a pay dispute with the writer.  Anyway, the rumours over the years have led many to wonder how the 1960s Batman would have tangled with Two-Face, and now we have the answer. 


An experimental new "evil extractor" designed to extract the evil from Gotham City's most dangerous criminal goes awry, and Gotham's district attorney Harvey Dent has half of his body drenched with liquid, concentrated evil.  Becoming Two-Face, we're treated to an opening credit montage featuring Two-Face's reign of terror, before he's brought down by Batman and Robin.  Thanks to some experimental plastic surgery, Harvey Dent's face is healed, and it looks like Two-Face is no more.  But then, some new plots by King Tut and the Bookworm don't add up.  It looks like Two-Face has returned, and is manipulating things from behind the scenes.  But how is that possible?  Harvey Dent is healed, and has airtight alibis for both instances.  Has Harvey Dent reverted to his evil ways and become Two-Face once again?  Will Bruce Wayne ever be able to help his old friend Harvey Dent become whole again?

What I Liked

William Shatner was a great choice to play Two-Face, and he adds a nice, menacing growl to his voice whenever Two-Face's evil side comes out.  The icing on the cake is making Harvey Dent look like 1960s William Shatner.  Seeing Dick Grayson get jealous of Bruce Wayne's friendship with Harvey Dent was a cute twist to the characters.  And while the first film focused on Batman's main four villains, it was nice to see beloved 1960s villains King Tut and Bookworm get a chance to be in the spotlight.  And man o man, it was great to see the second Catwoman, Lee Meriwether, show up in a lovely Easter egg.  And they even managed to slip in a 1960s-flavoured Dr. Hugo Strange and Harley Quinn for us, which was nice.

What I Didn't Like

Well, some of the meta-humour of the first film, with all the winks and nods to other facets of the Batman mythology are lacking.  We're treated to something more akin to a typical episode of 1960s show. 

Final Verdict

Another fine outing for the 1960s Batman, if lacking some of the freshness of the first film.

3 Nibs

Bonus Features

For bonus features on the Blu-Ray, we're treated to a bunch of featurettes focusing on Burt Ward and Julie Newmar, we get a tribute to Adam West, and a deleted scene that I'm fairly certain was originally meant to be a post-credits stinger. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sunday Sick Day

I seem to have been neglecting this blog as of late, as it comes to chronicling my weekend adventures.  But that all changes today, as I'm fighting some manner of flu bug and have decided to spend Sunday just relaxing at home, focusing all energy on fighting this thing.  So, what better way to pass the time than by catching up on the blog? 

Well, that, and I haven't had a lot of weekend adventures in the city as of late.  August was a pretty quiet month.  I only went once in September, and once in October.  In September, it was with the primary purpose of seeing Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Kingsman the Golden Circle Movie Poster

I loved the original Kingsman.  I mean, it's the creators of Kick-Ass doing to James Bond films what Kick-Ass did for superheroes.  And while I did love The Golden Circle, it tried just a little too hard to capture the coolness of the first film. For example, in the first Kingsman, there's that standout fight scene...the shootout in the church that's set to Freebird.  In The Golden Circle, there's not one, not two, but three attempts at doing a similar music montage/fight scene. 

The plot:  when the super-spy agency known as Kingsman is all but wiped out by a mysterious organization known as the Golden Circle, the remaining Kingsman agents are forced to team with their American counterparts, Statesman, to get to the bottom of things.  I did find Statesman to be a neat concept.  They're all cowboy-themed and their HQ is a bourbon distillery in Kentucky.

The villain was an interesting concept, but they had to throw in an extra plot twist too many.  As I said, they were trying too hard.  But still, I enjoyed it.  2.5 Nibs, full review on the website.

The only other thing of note from that September trip was paying my first visit to Sunrise Records in West Edmonton Mall.  For those just joining us, the last great Canadian record store chain -- HMV -- closed its doors and had its liquidation sale back in the spring.  However, the small Ontario-based record store chain Sunrise Records decide to acquire most of HMV's old locations, and finally expand their operation to nationwide.  Now, I knew of a few music geeks who were quite giddy at this development.  Apparently, in Ontario, Sunrise Records has developed the reputation for always having the rarities and oddities in stock.  It's where you go when you can't find it anywhere else.  So, their excitement has carried over to me.

And, well, my first impression of Sunrise Records is...meh.  I have no doubt that the music geeks are digging their selection and drooling over the expanded selection of vinyl.  But, I have always been more of a movie geek than a music geek, and I find that their selection of Blu-Rays and DVDs is still somewhat lacking.  For me, personally, I looked to HMV for the rarities and oddities, like the newest Criterion and Shout! Factory releases.  But Sunrise just doesn't have that yet.  So, yeah.  I'm still underwhelmed by their movie department.

Trip #2 was just last week.  Had to catch the latest chapter in the Lego Cinematic Universe, .
Lego Ninjago Movie poster
The Lego Ninjago Movie

For those who don't know, Ninjago is one of Lego's more popular in-house franchises.  It's a mash-up of ninjas and kung-fu and giant robots and pretty much every Asian pop culture artifact.  It's had a popular Saturday morning cartoon for some time.  In fact, a Lego Ninjago Movie was in development long before The Lego Movie became a giant hit.  When The Lego Movie hit, the creators of Lego Ninjago got new marching orders:  make The Lego Ninjago Movie more like The Lego Movie.  And here we are.

Ninjago City is always under threat of invasion from the evil warlord Garmadon.  But, Garmadon's forces are always defeated by a group of mysterious ninjas.  The Green Ninja holds a dark secret, though.  He is Lloyd Garmadon, Garmadon's estranged son.  Needless to say, Lloyd's civilian identity gets him a lot of hate and some serious daddy issues. 

During one skirmish, Lloyd decides to unleash the Ultimate Weapon, to be rid of Garmadon for good, but in doing so, he releases the great beast Meowthra.  And now, Garmadon and Lloyd must join forces to go on a quest to the find the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon and defeat Meowthra.

So, it's not quite as funny as The Lego Movie or The Lego Batman Movie, although I think Meowthra is the greatest "Lego world meets real world" gag since the third act twist of The Lego Movie.  SPOILER WARNING:  Meowthra is just a regular house cat, who wanders around, knocking over buildings.  But while the jokes aren't there, there is some surprisingly poignant father/son stuff between Lloyd and Garmadon.    A lot of heart in this film.

In the end, The Lego Ninjago Movie is the Cars of the Lego Cinematic Universe.  Not the best, but given the other films in the franchise, better than most other films.  2.5 Nibs, full review on the website.

And then, as always, a new fast food discovery for lunch.  Me and my morning guy recently did a bit about what businesses you'd like to see come to town, and we were both surprised that Edo Japan got a lot of votes.  So I started doing my research.  Edo Japan is a fast food chain, still largely only in Western Canada, serving up Japanese food.  In the past, they were centered mostly in food courts, but their recent expansion plans have included adding more standalone stores in power centres.  So after The Lego Ninjago Movie I decided to give them a go.

They call their combo meals "bento boxes," because of course.  To fill my bento, I had their sukiyaki beef with gyoza and tempura shrimp.  It was not too bad.  The shrimp was nice and crispy.  The beef was good.  The rice was good.  And the gyoza was way better than the frozen stuff I treat myself to from down at the grocery store.  I'll probably give it another go. 

Anyway, this is out of my system now, so I'm going to go back to the couch and keep being sick. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Jem and the Holograms

Well, it's a film I've been dreading watching and writing up for Fishing in the Discount Bin for some time.  It's the live-action Jem and the Holograms.  This is in my notes at January 22, 2017.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - A Night to Remember

Here we are again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  This entry from January 15 2017 expands upon my New Years tradition of watching Titanic by throwing A Night to Remember into the mix.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Army of Darkness

Boldly marching along on Fishing in the Discount Bin, watching the movies I own, blogging about them, attempting to give my life meaning.  Time for the cult classic Army of Darkness.  This is in my logs at January 15, 2017.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, watching movies and blogging about them because my best friend told me once it would be a neat thing for me to do.  This time out, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.  This is in my notes at January 15, 2017.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, giving my life meaning by blogging about movies.  This time, we blog about Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.  This is originally in my notes at January 15, 2017.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Suicide Squad

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, as I ramble about one of the movies I own.  Today, we get to one of the biggest shrugs of 2016, Suicide Squad.  This is in my notes at January 6, 2017.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

And here I have the problem with doing Fishing in the Discount Bin months in advance.  It's September, but I'm doing a Christmas special!  I originally jotted this one down on January 6, 2017, so it seems like I was always running a little behind on this one.  Anyway, my thoughts on Santa Claus is Comin' to Town.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Black Cauldron

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie and blog about it in a futile attempt to bring meaning to my life.  Taking a look at a Disney animated film that I love, but doesn't get a lot of love in general.  That would be The Black Cauldron.  This is in my notes at January 6, 2017.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Finding Dory

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, just some random ramblings about one of the movies I own.  This time out, I'm rambling about Finding Dory.  I originally jotted these ramblings in my notes on November 20, 2016.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Independence Day: Resurgence

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the movies I own because I have no social life whatsoever.  Today, we go after my biggest letdown of last year, Independence Day: Resurgence.  I originally watched it and wrote this on November 13, 2016.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Star Trek Beyond

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the movies I own.  The #1 blog on the Internet, according to my cousin whom I just saw at the last family reunion and admitted to reading it.  So...hi, Shane!  Anyway, today it's the better-than-expected Star Trek Beyond.  This is in my notes at November 13, 2016.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Confering With Yoda

Sunday night, I got a text from one of my dearest friends.  He's now an animator.  He says, "Hey, remember that little side project you put together when you were in broadcast school?  I think I'd like to animate it.  Do you still have the audio?"

Well, I couldn't find the audio, but I did find this.  I remember scrapping the side project and turning this in for that assignment.

This was for production class.  The assignment was, as I recall, "Go nuts and do whatever you want.  You just need to hit these three criteria to show that you've picked up this particular set of skills."  And we were off.

Now, we had a guest speaker recently who referred to our production instructor as "the Yoda of production," so we were giving him a hard time about that.  This was also around the same time that the original trilogy had finally hit DVD for the first time, and so I was watching it quite a bit.

And then it hit me:  I would me and some Yoda clips together and set it up like I was asking my instructor for help with the project.

We didn't have the tech to rip audio from DVDs, so I grabbed the audio the old-fashioned way.  I checked out a portable audio recorder from our equipment stores, took it home for the weekend, ran the audio outputs from my DVD player into the portable audio recorder and grabbed the clips that way.  I grabbed the Yoda clips I wanted to use.  I also grabbed the ambient sound from several establishing shots.  I figured it would be easier to use that to fill in the gaps, rather than try to build my own Dagobah soundscape.

For the first half -- where I try to record something and it comes out all messed up -- I just took my voice over and threw about a dozen different effects on it to get it as messed up as possible.  The creepy "seven days" was voiced by one of my classmates who I grabbed in the hallway.

Piece it all together in CoolEdit (the forerunner to Adobe Audition) and voila!  Assignment done!

The class got a charge out of it.  The instructor loved it.  At the end of class, he pulls me aside and says, "Do you mind if I play that for future classes?  Because you do illustrate some common problems, and I think it would be useful."  I said, "Sure, why not?"

I reached out to that instructor about two or three years ago for a little help, and he said, "Oh, by the way, I still play that Yoda thing for the class."  So if you came up through NAIT's RTA program in the last 10-12 years and you heard that...yeah, that was me. 

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Ghostbusters (2016)

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about I movie I own.  Today, we get to the surprisingly controversial Ghostbusters reboot.  This is in my notes at October 30, 2016.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Rockin' and rollin' again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about one of the movies I've recently re-watched in a desperate attempt to give my life purpose.  Today, we roll out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the ShadowsThis is in my notes at October 10, 2016.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin -- X-Men: Apocalypse

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my blog about movies I own.  Today, we tackle the latest chapter in the X-Men franchise, X-Men Apocalypse.  This originally appeared in my notes at October 6, 2016.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Catch-Up Info Dump

Well, I've been mostly separated from my computer as I've been off on vacation over the past week.  Well, not completely separated...I maxed out my data plan on Friday night, thus not allowing me to share all the cool stuff that was popping up online over the weekend.  So rather than flood my Twitter feed with a bunch of day-old news, I figured I'd just make a big list of everything here at the blog!

Of course, most of the news was coming out of D23, the official Disney convention that Disney puts on, as they went over their upcoming slates.  Things kicked off on Friday night with the most anticipated trailer of the evening that wasn't Star Wars or Marvel...the first trailer for A Wrinkle in Time.

Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay brings the legendary YA sci-fi novel to the big screen, with an all-star cast.  Young Meg Murray's father unlocks the secrets of the tesseract (not the Marvel McGuffin) to traverse time and space, but gets captured by something evil along the way.  Now, Meg must go on a quest to save her father, and is guided along the way by three celestial beings:  Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kailing).

I'm not too familiar with the book...all I really know was a friend in college cited it as one of her favourites growing up, and the last time they attempted an adaptation was a really crappy TV movie in 2003.  But this trailer has me intrigued.  It comes out March 9, so lots of time to check out the book at my local library.

Also on the live-action side that caught my eye was Disney has officially begun production on their live-action remake of Dumbo, from director Tim Burton.  How are they bringing it to live action?  More humans, of course!  Humans barely figured into the original, but now we've got Colin Farrell as Dumbo's trainer, Danny DeVito as the circus owner, and Michael Keaton and Eva Green as the ones who teach Dumbo how to fly.

I was about to give this a pass until I saw Keaton in the cast.  Tim Burton and Michael Keaton, together again since Batman Returns in 1992.  If they bring the wacky like they did in Beetlejuice, this just might be worth a watch.  Disney's aiming this one for a Spring 2019 release.

Over on the animated side, not much new.  Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4, and Frozen 2 are all on track.  One of the show-stoppers was the first footage from Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.  The plot:  when Sugar Crush, Vanellope's game, starts crashing, threatening Vanellope and all the denizens of Sugar Crush, it's up to Ralph and Vanellope to venture onto the Internet to get the parts to fix the game (i.e. download a patch).

The sequence shown was a very meta one, where Ralph and Vanellope stumble upon the Disney website and we get cameos by every Disney princess ever.  And yes, every Disney princess has their original voice actress, because that's how Disney rolls.  Wreck-It Ralph 2 comes November 2018.

Meanwhile, over at my beloved Pixar, they gave updates on Coco (this November), Incredibles 2 (next summer) and Toy Story 4 (Summer 2019).  And then...what comes next.

What comes next is a very personal story from Monsters University director Dan Scanlon.  Scanlon opened his presentation by explaining that his father died when he was very young, and as such, he never knew his father.  He only knows his father's voice thanks to a cassette tape of a family gathering that a relative gave him, in which his father utters just two words:  "Hi" and "Bye."  From that inspiration, Scanlon came up with this.

Set in a world populated with magical creatures -- fairies, elves, trolls, "anything painted on the side of a van in the 1970s" according to Scanlon -- these creatures actually abandoned magic long ago and embraced technology.  Two elf children who lost their father when they were very young decide to gather up what magic remains in the world to see if they can use it to spend one last day with their father.  Sounds like it could be an emotional gut punch.  No release date as of yet.

Meanwhile, over on the Star Wars side, we got a new behind-the-scenes glimpse for The Last Jedi.

Nothing really to add...still looking awesome. Still can't wait.  The other big news was the Star Wars Land now under construction at Disneyland and Walt Disney World has an official name:  Star Wars:  Galaxy's Edge.

And on the Marvel side, they showed the first footage from Avengers: Infinity War, and apparently, it's amaze-balls.  Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet to literally pull down the heavens upon our heroes.  Nothing official has shown up online yet....just wait until after this weekend and the San Diego Comic Con.

And that's everything that caught my eye from D23.

Over in non-Disney news, we have the Thirteenth Doctor on Doctor Who!

Jodie Whittaker is playing #13, and we have our first female Doctor.

I won't get into all the hate going on right now about how women can't be Doctors.  Let's be honest, they've been toying with doing this since the show's heyday in the 1980s, and with the phenomenal response to Missy (the Doctor's arch-enemy the Master, regenerated into a woman, in case you haven't been watching lately), you knew this was happening.

If anything, the comments I'm reading online are saying that a lot of people wandered away from the show during the Peter Capaldi era, and that this is the creative shot-in-the-arm to bring them back to the franchise.

And don't forget, we're getting a whole new creative team behind the scenes when #13 takes the stage next year.  I think there are very interesting times ahead, and it's going to be good.

We'll get our first look at #13 in action in the Christmas special, airing on Christmas!

So where was I the past week that I've got to play catch-up like this?  I was on vacation! 

I started things off by watching Spider-Man Homecoming.  Loved it!  The core theme was definitely people in suits, and whether it's the suit that makes the hero or not.  We've got Iron Man, who's Spider-Man's idol, and he's constantly trying to impress.  I loved that they turned the Vulture into a kind of "dark Tony Stark," and rather than just a pair of wings, his costume is his own Iron Man-esque suit that he's made from scavenged parts...a very literal reworking of his name and gimmick.  And in the centre of it all is Peter Parker, with a hi-tech Spider-Man suit that he's been given, trying to find his place as a hero. 

Tom Holland is great.  He brings the youthful exuberance that a high school aged Spider-Man needs.  And it's just nice to see Spider-Man in the Marvel universe where he belongs.

I'll write an official review on the main site in the days ahead.  But...3.5 Nibs.

And then I was off to the family reunion, down south, just outside of Red Deer.  It was a lot of fun, and good seeing so many family members again. 

The drive home was nice.  Normally, to get from the Red Deer area to Westlock, I just head straight north on Highway 2, using the Anthony Henday Drive to circle around Edmonton.  Normally, I go around the west side.  But, now that the Henday is complete, I decided to mix things up and go around the east side.

The east side of Edmonton is where Edmonton's oil refineries are, and it was quite the site.  Storm clouds were rolling through, so things were dark.  I don't know if it was smoke from the fires in BC, or just the exhaust from the refineries, but there was this orange haze in the air.  And it was dark enough that all the refineries were lit up.  I find a strange beauty in industrial sites at night...just these metal frames, all aglow with their safety lights.  And all enshrouded in an orange haze...it was like being on Cybertron. 

I was tempted to pull over and take a picture, but probably not a good idea on a busy freeway like the Henday. 

Anyway, I'm about rambled out and I'm getting tired of writing.  Time to head back to work! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Transformers: The Movie

Fishing in the Discount Bin time, where I blog about a movie I own and have recently re-watched.  A frequent problem is how do I tackle a film I have loved since childhood, have constantly blogged about over the years, and don't know what more to say?  It's a problem I ran into on September 18, 2016, when I watched and wrote about The Transformers: The Movie.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Captain America: Civil War

We just keep rolling along on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my testament to how little a life I have by watching a lot of movies AND blogging about them!  Today, we get to Marvel's biggest movie of last year, Captain America: Civil War.  I put this in my notes at September 18, 2016.

Captain America: Civil War Poster

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Titan A.E.

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, as I blog about one of the many DVDs I own.  I'm now picking apart the 2000 animated film Titan A.E..  This is in my notes at September 10, 2016.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Cars 3

I went to see Cars 3.

Cars 3 Movie Poster

Yup, that's pretty much all that's in this blog post.  No other grand adventures in the city.  It's starting to be the busy time of year for us radio folk, with every weekend full of festivals and fairs that we're live on location from.  So, no time for lollygagging on my day off!  It was just go see the movie I wanted to see then come back home!

Although, I really haven't done a true lollygagging day in a while, all the way down to West Edmonton Mall.  Last one was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 back at the start of May.  I think I'll have to make the effort for Spider-Man: Homecoming, though.  I've seen every Spider-Man film at the Scotiabank Theatre in West Edmonton Mall.  Hell, I've been watching Spider-Man films there back when it was Silver City.  So I must maintain the tradition!

But until then, Cars 3.  I love Pixar.  Always try to make it out to their films.  But the Cars franchise has always felt a little...phoned in to me.  It lacks that trademark heart that's made Pixar famous.  I put down Cars as "good, but not great."  Cars 2 was the first film that made me say, "No thank you," to a Pixar film.  Skipped it in theatres, but I still bought the Blu-Ray because I couldn't have a gap in my collection.  Watched it and...yeah.  It was worth skipping.

But that first teaser for Cars 3 where our hero, Lightening McQueen, gets trashed in an accident had me go, "Ooo.  Interesting."  And so I went to see Cars 3.

Cars 3 has something in common with another Pixar sequel, Monsters University.  They both get into the topic of the death of dreams.  I liked Monsters University because it captures that melancholy moment in our lives when we realize that, no matter how hard we work or how much effort we put in, we just may not achieve our dreams.  Cars 3 tackles the question, "Where do we go once we've peaked?  What do we do when the dream starts coming to an end?" 

Lightening McQueen has been the king of the raceway for about a decade now.  But one by one, he sees his compatriots begin to retire as the next generation of racers begin nipping at their bumpers.  When McQueen attempts a desperate move to defeat a cocky upstart named Jackson Storm, it leads to the wreck that we see in the teaser.  

After spending the off-season sulking, McQueen decides he'll retire on his own terms, and sets out to get his mojo back.  His new sponsor sets him up in one of the most state-of-the-art training centres in the league, and McQueen gets to work with his new trainer, Cruz Ramirez.  Frustrated at his slow progress under Cruz's statistics-based training regime, McQueen decides to hit the road for some old school training.  With Cruz in tow, and the first race of the season coming up quick, can McQueen and Cruz get McQueen back in fighting shape to take down Storm? 

This has got to be one of Pixar's most photo-realistic films.  I swear, some of the backgrounds look just like live-action pictures.  But, Pixar always brings it in the animation game.  Voice acting is solid, as usual.  Cristela Alonzo voices Cruz Ramirez, and brings enough joy to the role to show that she's passionate about the sport, and just not another Queen of Numbers.  Nathan Fillion is good, too, using his natural charm for a slightly darker purpose as Sterling, McQueen's new sponsor. 

And for those who didn't like Larry the Cable Guy's Mater the Tow Truck, and really didn't like Mater taking centre stage in Cars 2, will be relieved to know that Mater is back to being the comedic sidekick.  In fact, his role is so reduced, I'd almost call it an extended cameo. 

But...it's still Cars.  The plot is rather predictable, and as I did see the big twist coming, I like the fact that at least they tried.

Cars 3 finally has some of that heart that Pixar is known for.  Not much, but there's a little peaking through.  I liked it.  3 Nibs.  Full review at the website.

Lou, peaking out from his lost and found box

Oh, and as is the Pixar way, it started with a short film.  Lou is about a sentient lost and found box at a school playground, and his efforts to make sure everything gets back to their rightful owners.  And then Lou has to do battle with a bully who steals stuff.  It's really cute, and honestly, has a lot more heart than Cars 3

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Iron Giant: Signature Series

Here we go again on Fishing in  the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about my recent re-watching of one of my DVDs.  Or Blu-Rays.  Or VHS tapes.  Pretty much any movie I own.  Anyway, this time, we're taking a look at the newer director's cut of The Iron Giant.  This is in my notes at September 10, 2016.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Wonder Woman and the Rest of Summer

Alright!  Last week, I went to the city to see Wonder Woman.  I've been putting off all week sitting down and writing my usual "I went to the city and saw a movie and did stuff!" blog entry.  But now, I've got some time set aside on Sunday night, so let's do this.

Wonder Woman is awesome and you should go see it.

The end.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan -- Theatrical Edition

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, as I ramble about one of the many movies I own on Blu-Ray.  Gotta revisit the classics with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  This is in my notes at September 8, 2016.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Pokemon 3 The Movie

Fishing in the Discount Bin just keeps rolling along, as I blog about one of the many DVDs, Blu-Rays, and the odd VHS that I still own.  We round out in the initial Pokemon trilogy with Pokemon 3 The Movie.  This is in my notes at September 7, 2016.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Thoughts Drifting Off to Sleep

Just some random thoughts I had as I was drifting off to sleep last night, and they're a little too long to tweet.

Firstly, I can't believe how excited I'm getting for Spider-Man Homecoming.  The film's composer, Michael Giacchino, posted this to his Twitter feed a few weeks ago.  I've listened to it hundreds of times, and it always makes me smile.

Have you ever heard the classic Spider-Man theme sound so grand and epic?

Some 20 years ago, when I first discovered the Internet on a late night in Augustana's computer lab, the first thing I typed into a search engine was "Spider-Man Movie," and I just started reading every bit of news I could.  For those who don't know the history, back in the 1990s, the movie rights to Spider-Man were stuck in a legal quagmire.  It looked like a film that would never be made.  But finally, in the year 2000, the complainants were whittled down to just Sony and Marvel, who settled out-of-court, thus paving the way for Spider-Man to hit theatres in 2002.

So, yeah.  I'll never not get excited for a Spider-Man film, because I'll never forget those days where it seemed like a legal impossibility.

That being said, it always easy to look back with disappointment.  With my excitement building, I popped The Amazing Spider-Man into my Blu-Ray player last night and watched a bit of it.  After five minutes, my frustration started boiling to the surface again.  The Amazing Spider-Man films represent everything that's wrong with Hollywood's "gotta build a franchise" mentality.  Those films are just so overstuffed.  The entire attitude is, "Let's throw everything at the wall and see what pays off later."

When The Amazing Spider-Man was first announced, reaction was, "We'll be fine with it, as long as you don't rehash the origin story."  And what did they do?  They rehashed the origin story.  If they skipped the origin story...if they cut out that "mystery of Peter Parker's parents" BS...if they cut all that out and just focused on a proper "Spider-Man vs. the Lizard" story, it probably would have been a much more decent Spider-Man movie.

Same with its sequel.  For some reason, they decided to resurrect "the mystery of Peter Parker's parents" and tried again to make that work.  They awkwardly shoehorned in the Green Goblin just so they could work in the death of Gwen Stacey.  If they cut all that out and just focused on a proper "Spider-Man vs. Electro" story, it would have been a much more decent Spider-Man movie.

Which makes me wonder why Sony is pushing ahead with their "Spider-Verse" cinematic universe plans.  The Venom film has been resurrected, with Tom Hardy playing Eddie Brock.  The film about a to-be-decided-later female character from the Spider-Man universe is going ahead, with the female characters being Silver Sable and Black Cat.  And there's an animated Spider-Man film in the works, focusing on Miles Morales.

For what seemed like an impossibility for so long, we really are lucky to have so much to complain about.

The Mummy hits theatres this Friday, and with it, we get the launch of Universal's "Dark Universe," their attempt to create a new cinematic universe out of their classic monsters.  I'm on the fence about going to see The Mummy, as the Universal Monsters are a franchise I've always been indifferent towards.  Plus, I'm not so sure if I can commit myself to another cinematic universe.  I'll probably give it a few weeks, see what the reviews are like, and then check it out.
But, with that cinematic universe, things seem to be progressing nicely.  It was announced a few weeks ago that the second film will be a remake of The Bride of Frankenstein, from director Bill Condon, who just gave us Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast.  That's slated for Valentine's Day 2019.  With that came the announcement that Johnny Depp has joined the Dark Universe as the Invisible Man, and Javier Bardem is on board as Frankenstein's Monster.

And then yesterday was the announcement that, along with the best-known monsters like the Mummy, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, and Dracula, they're going with some of their deeper cuts like the Phantom of the Opera and the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one where people are scratching their heads, as the Hunchback has never been portrayed as a monster.  But then, as I was drifting off to sleep last night, I had a thought.  Igor, Dr. Frankenstein's long-suffering assistant, has long been portrayed as a hunchback.  What if they're turning The Hunchback of Notre Dame into Igor's tragic backstory?   I mean, the original novel ends with the Hunchback being buried alive next to his beloved Esmeralda.  What if Dr. Frankenstein rescued Igor during one of his grave-robbing expeditions to get parts for his Monster, and took him in?  I guess we'll know for sure if/when we get to that chapter in the cinematic universe.

And then there's the Phantom of the Opera.  I don't know...I've got a little bit of bitterness towards the Phantom.  Back when I was a kid, the Broadway musical of The Phantom of the Opera was still new and a very big deal.  The Canadian touring show had just launched, and it's only Alberta stop was going to be in Calgary.

Now, back in Entwistle School, the Grade 9 class always gets to go on a massive year-end class trip called the Grade 9 Farewell.  When I was in Grade 8, the Grade 9 Farewell was going to be down to Calgary to see The Phantom of the Opera.  A few students pulled out, so the teacher in charge, Mr. Twerdoclib, decided to hold an essay contest among the Grade 8 students to fill those empty seats.

I entered.  I lost.

Don't get me wrong.  I deserved to lose.  I wrote the whole thing in the backseat of my family's car coming back from a weekend trip in Red Deer.  My bitterness stems from how Mr. Twerdoclib informed me as to how I lost.  One day, he pulls me out of my nice, comfy science class, brings me into his Grade 9 English class, puts me at the front of the room, and proceeds to dress me down as to how lame my essay was.  It was the kind of public humiliation that my 13-year old self never really got over.

I learned two things from that incident.  Firstly, the winning essay was about comparing various branches of the federal government to positions on a baseball team.  I thought to myself, "Huh.  Teachers really like this 'comparison' thing."  So I used that as the formula in every essay I wrote for the rest of my academic career and aced everything.

The second:  Mr. Twerdoclib is a dick.

Anyway, I see the latest touring show for The Phantom of the Opera hits Edmonton next month.  Maybe I'll go.  Get some closure.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Pokemon the Movie 2000

Still boppin' along on Fishing in the Discount Bin, watching movies and blogging about them.  I seem to have hit a run of Pokemon movies, as I'm looking at Pokemon the Movie 2000 this week.  This is in my notes at September 4, 2016.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Funeral for a Friend

Here's an old thing I made while cleaning out my hard drive, so I thought I'd share it with the world.

A few years back, one of my dearest friends was nearing her 30th birthday.  She had read the statistic that, if a woman is unmarried by the age of 30, she may as well be dead, because that's how sharply her marriage prospects drop off.  With that in mind, for her 30th birthday party, she decided to throw herself a funeral.  She asked all her friends to submit eulogies, and her boyfriend was going to read them.  (And if you're worried about her marital status, her boyfriend put a ring on it a few months later.)

I was sad that I couldn't be there, because, at the time, she was in the magical, faraway land of Scotland, and I was a broke young man at his very first radio gig in the equally magical, but not as faraway, land of Athabasca.  As I sat down one afternoon to write it, it occurred to me:  I work in radio.  I have the set-up to record stuff.  Why don't I record myself saying it, and send her boyfriend the MP3?

And, as a firm believer in the power of production, I decided to raid my collection of film scores and put in some appropriate music.

I didn't get her reaction until a year later.  She was back in the country when my 30th birthday rolled around, and decided to pop in for the party.  According to her, my eulogy was definitely the highlight.  It was getting a little monotonous, as most of her friends just jotted down a sentence or two that boiled down to, "She's my friend and now she's dead and I'm sad."  Then her boyfriend stood up and said, "And we've got one last one here, that comes to us all the way from Canada," and he hit play, and the room was enraptured.  She even says that one of her friends instantly fell in love with me, and is waiting to greet me with a kiss should I ever find myself in Edinburgh.  (In my dreams, it's Karen Gillan.)

Anyway, I found it gathering dust on my hard drive, so I thought I'd dust it off and post it online.

For those curious, the music:
  • "Leaving Home" from Superman, composed by John Williams
  • "To the Stars" from Dragonheart, composed by Randy Edelman
  • "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jolity," from The Planets, composed by Gustav Holst
  • "Augustus Gloop" from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, composed by Danny Elfman
  • "Happy Birthday," written and performed by "Weird Al" Yankovic
  • "Remains of the Day" from Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, composed by Danny Elfman

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Pokemon the First Movie

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly rant about one of the movies I own.  It's time we touched upon one of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures, the Pokemon animation franchise.  We kick things off with Pokemon: The First Movie.  This is in my notes at September 3, 2016.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Daredevil: Director's Cut

Here we go with Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the many movies I own.  I'm taking a look at Daredevil again, because I just got the director's cut out of a discount bin.  This was originally in my notes at August 27, 2016.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Grown Up Stuff

A couple of weeks ago, I was out driving my car to work, when I rounded a corner, and it made a strange grinding noise.  It sounded a lot like when my car scrapes the bottom on an unplowed, and since we'd had a late April snowstorm, I wrote it off as the snow.  But as the days went by, and the snow melted, the grinding noise didn't go away with the snow.  I started to get worried.  So, I finally sucked it up and got my car into the shop.  According to the mechanic, my front brake pads had completely worn away, and the grinding noise was the brakes grinding into the rotors.  $600 to get the brakes done.  But, it was very important that I had to get it done by May 6.

I needed my car in tip-top shape to hit the city and see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Guaridans of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Poster

*sigh*  It's becoming more and more important to see these Marvel movies on opening weekend, because by Monday morning, the Internet is full of spoiler-filled articles dissecting every Easter egg and explaining the post-credit sequences.  In case you haven't heard yet, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has a record-setting five post-credit sequences, so be sure to stick around for all of them.

I quite enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  Just like the first film, what blew my mind the most was the music choices.  I mean, we're so conditioned to hearing the Jerry Goldsmith trumpets whenever a spaceship pulls into orbit around a planet.  But here, we hear My Sweet Lord and damn it, it works.

I also like that this one is a lot more character-based.  There's not as many big action sequences as it instead focuses on Peter Quill/Star-Lord as he meets his long lost father Ego, Gamora heading towards a reckoning of sorts with her sister Nebula, Drax opening up to Ego's consort Mantis, and Rocket and Yondu just being badasses.  And Baby Groot occasionally popping up to be adorable.

I also liked that Guardians of the Galaxy is still set in a remote corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, far removed from Earth.  That means it gets to be more of a direct sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy rather than having to worry about acknowledging Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and whatever else came out since that last one that I seem to be forgetting.

If I have to dig up one quibble, it would have to be your standard sequelitis.  Being the second film, it lacks the freshness that made the first one such an unexpected treat.

All in all, a great kickoff to the start of summer blockbuster season.  I give it 3.5 out of 4 nibs.  Full review over on the full website.

And then, heading home, I decided to break out of my culinary norm.  Some folks around the office were asking about a new fast casual place popping up in power centres across the land called Mucho Burrito, and if anyone had tried it yet.  Since I knew of a power centre that contained one on my drive home, I decided to try Mucho Burrito for supper.

My initial impression of Mucho Burrito is that it's very much like Taco del Mar, just a touch more upscale.  (i.e., fancier decor, more topping options, they serve booze.)  But it's pretty much the same.  You place your order the clerk, they make it all right in front of you, asking what toppings you'd like as you go along.  As has become my way in these new franchises that I try, I asked the clerk what I should try for my first time.  She recommended I go with their standard beef burrito.

Honestly, I found it a bit bland, but I blame myself.  This being my first time, I decided to take it easy on the options.  But next time, I'll probably go for the medium salsa instead of the mild, and maybe not drown it in every sauce because I want to try everything.  I do like shrimp, and I see one of their meat options is Cajun shrimp.  So I'll probably keep heading back to try a few more options before making a final judgement.

And that was my trip into the city last week.  As I headed home, I went back to fretting about my car, and what more needed to be done.  While my car was up on the hoist, the mechanic did say my tires are on their last legs, and that it's time to get some new ones.  I've been worried about the tires and pricing out a new set for about a year now, so it's finally time to pull the trigger.  I think I've found a set I like that works within my budget, and if the Fates are with me, I'll be getting them next week.  And as for the budget, it turns out paying for things is easy if you don't mind going back in debt.  Finally paid off my car in 2015, and I've had this lovely two year streak of being debt-free.  Oh, well.  Desperate times and all that.

For the most part, I think I'm doing a good job of this being a grown-up.  And it means I can go see my silly superhero movies whenever I want.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Roxanne

Time to go Fishing in the Discount Bin again, as I watch and reflect upon one of the many movies I own.  This time up, it's Steve Martin's classic 1980s romantic comedy Roxanne.  This is in my notes at August 22, 2016.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

It's Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly rambling about one of the many movies I own.  Time to bust out one of the most talked-about movies of this time last year (but not in a good way), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  This is in my notes at August 14, 2016.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Scarecrow Goes to Popeyes Chicken

I was in the city last week for some meetings at head office.  While there, I turned to some of my co-workers, and talk soon turned to Popeyes Chicken.  Popeyes Chicken -- officially known as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen -- is an American fried chicken chain.  They've made the news recently as they were just bought up by Restaurant Brands International -- the consortium that now owns Burger King and Tim Hortons.  But before that, back in the fall, they announced that they were finally beginning an aggressive expansion into Western Canada.  One of my co-workers from Toronto says they've had them in the Golden Horseshoe region forever, but they've never ventured further west than Ontario.  That all changed when, with much hype and ballyhoo, they opened their first Western Canadian location in Edmonton in November.

And being obsessed with fast food, I knew I had to try it.

Now, they're first location in Edmonton was down on the south side...kind of where the east leg of the Whitemud Freeway meets the Anthony Henday.  It was a long drive from head office, but doable.  But after chatting with some of my Edmonton colleagues, they revealed that the second location had just opened up...just north of the Yellowhead on 97 Street.  That was a lot closer.  So, when the meetings were done, we were off to Popeyes Chicken!

We made it to the restaurant OK, thanks to every phone having GPS navigation these days.  We arrived, and people were lined up out the door.  I hadn't seen that since my very first trip to Wendy's when I was a kid.  Maybe it was the first Wendy's in Red Deer, and that's why it was so crowded.  Huh... I never thought of that.  Anyway.  Half of our group went and grabbed a table, the other half stood in the line to place the orders.  I was in the order group, which gave me lots of time to ponder the menu.

Like most chicken fast food places, they've got your usual assortment of chicken dinners, chicken fingers (they call theirs tenders), chicken nuggets, and chicken burgers.  They've also got some seafood options, but chicken is what they're known for, so that's what I was getting.  What got me was the variety of side dishes.  Let's be honest, fast food, generally your side dish options are fries, poutine (because Canada), and maybe onion rings.  But in addition to those, Popeyes also has mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and so many others.

Popeyes has two kinds of combos:  the combo and the platter.  Essentially, the combo has one side dish and the platter has two.  Since it was my first time, I decided to go with the platter to sample more sides.  I went with the three tender platter, with corn on the cob and red beans and rice for my sides.

Oh, and I should mention you get the chicken in spicy and mild.  I went with spicy, with buttermilk ranch for my dipping sauce.

Alright.  Once my meal came, I tied into it.  My thoughts:

The chicken - It had just the right amount of spice.  I find, sometimes, the fast food places can overdo it.  But there's just enough to give it a kick without overwhelming the taste buds.  The batter had a nice crunch to it.  And I found it to be less greasy than the rest of the fried chicken choices out there.

Red beans and rice - I actually found it kind of bland, but given the spicy chicken, it was a nice way to cool things down.

Corn on the cob - Wow, this was really juicy.  Like, dribbling down your chin juicy.  But yeah.  Nothing really special about it.  Just good ol' corn on the cob.

Biscuit - Every combo and platter at Popeyes comes with one of their signature buttermilk biscuits.  Nice and fluffy.  I don't know if the warmth came from being oven-fresh or under a heat lamp, but it didn't have they drying-out that comes with the heat lamp.  So it was good.

All in all, I was quite pleased with my Popeyes Chicken experience.  I found the chicken quite good, and was tickled with the variety of side dishes.  I'll probably be heading back...once more locations open and it's not such a journey to get to one.

And now, the scene from Little Nicky we were all quoting on the drive down.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Scarecrow Goes to IKEA

When last we left our intrepid hero, he came home from work on Thursday afternoon, ready to enjoy the Easter weekend, when he met tragedy in his living room.  The tempered glass top shelf of his entertainment centre had shattered, leaving broken glass all over his floor and one upside down TV.  Here's the pics, in our "pics or it didn't happen" world.  Once I got the glass cleaned up and verified that the TV was still functional, the question turned to needing a new entertainment centre.  So as one does in this day and age, I hopped on line and went to the IKEA website.  I found one I liked that was within my budget, asked my parents to meet me there (because things like "size" confuse me so I wanted to borrow my Dad's truck in case it was needed), and plans were made for a road trip!

Rolling into Edmonton, I was pondering the last time I went to IKEA.  It had to be when I was a kid...way back when IKEA was still in West Edmonton Mall.  Yes, Edmonton's IKEA was originally in West Edmonton Mall, way back when the Mall first opened in the mid-1980s.  The Mall has always prided itself on bringing in many retailers to Alberta for the first time, and I'm pretty sure the West Edmonton Mall IKEA was the first one in Alberta, if not Western Canada.  In the late-1990s, as the South Edmonton Common became a thing, they moved down there.  For those who don't know their West Edmonton Mall geography, IKEA was originally where the Sport Check and Bed, Bath, and Beyond currently are.

But no, they moved to South Edmonton Common, reviled by many in Edmonton for being the very definition of urban sprawl.  The massive, sprawling power centre, taking up a good portion of Edmonton's south side.  At least it's really easy to get to, now that the Anthony Henday Drive is complete.  Take the Henday all the way around to Gateway Boulevard, head north into the city, and BOOM!  It's your first exit.  I entered the Common and was instantly lost, as rather than the massive parking lot that most power centre have, it has built up its own maze of streets and avenues.  Luckily, IKEA is massive, so I just set my sights on the massive blue and yellow building on the horizon and drove towards it.

I arrived about a half-hour before my parents, and decided to browse the showroom while I waited.  As it was Saturday, it was understandably crowded.  The showroom was as I remembered from my youth, a winding maze taking you through many model rooms, showing you what the furniture looks like all assembled.  I spent a lot of time in the living room section.  I'm also in dire need of a new sofa, but even IKEA sofas are pretty pricey on a small market radioman's salary.  Hell, the only reason why I could afford the new TV stand was, in one of those strange karmic things that runs the universe, my tax refund arrived on the same day as the shattering.

I wandered over to the living room storage section, where I found the TV stand I had my eye on.  Looked like it would have fit in my trunk with no problem, so looks like I didn't need to invite my parents along.  Speaking of, that's when I got the text message from my mother that they had arrived.  Now came the most stressful part of my trip to IKEA...going against the flow of the people going through their showroom so I could get back out to the entrance.  Once I got back out to the front, took a moment to calm down, and met with my parents, it was back into the showroom, because they wanted to check out some stuff.

Seriously, though, I don't know if it was the legendarily high stress environment of IKEA on a Saturday, or me, because I was feeling pretty stressed out in IKEA.  Sometimes I think I should see a doctor about anxiety issues because I've never done well in big crowds, but it's getting worse as I get older.

Saw more great stuff in the showroom.  There was a nice glass display cabinet that would be prefect for my action figure collections, should I ever get a bigger place or more money.  They had bookshelves on sale, and I've considered getting a third one as my current DVD shelves are full and spilling out into little piles all over my floor.  Mom took down the number for that one in case I changed my mind by the time we got down to the warehouse.  And some mattresses as well, as my original IKEA mattress is starting to get pretty worn out.

Even thought I haven't been to IKEA in 30 years or so, a lot of my furniture is IKEA.  My armchair, my dining room set, my bed, my dresser, and my computer desk.  I have my parents to thank for that.  The standard housewarming gift that my parents settled on when me and my siblings all got our first places was $1000 worth of flatpacked furniture.  So within a week of being at my first apartment at my first radio gig, my parents and my brother showed up with all these IKEA boxes and we spent the day setting it all up.  I still use pretty much all of it because, well, I'm cheap and it works, so why not?  But the mattress on my bed is starting to wear out.  and IKEA's got some comfy ones.

We finished up in the showroom, the codes for my TV stand in hand, and it was time for lunch.  So we dined in the famous IKEA restaurant.  It really was a cafeteria, though, as you grabbed your tray and got in line.  I grabbed a glass to hit up the soda fountain, but while looking through the cooler full of bottled juices, I saw a juice box of an IKEA exclusive called "Elder Flower Juice."  Intrigued, and no doubt thinking of the classic insult from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I decided to grab it.  For lunch, I dined upon the IKEA specialty of Swedish meatballs with gravy and mashed potatoes.  It suffered from the standard cafeteria problem:  it had been sitting in the steam trays a little too long and had dried out.  But still, pretty good.  The Elder Flower Juice had a sweet, slightly tart flavour.  It tasted vaguely familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

With out bellies full, we went downstairs.  Here, IKEA turned into a more conventional store, as the shelves were lined with all kinds of housewares and other knick-nacks for your home.  As Mom remarked afterwards, she wound up spending more money there than I did, as she got some new lamps for the guest rooms, some new towels, and various other sundry items for the home.  It a situation where I'm definitely going to have to go back someday, and check out all the other neat stuff.  Especially the lamps.  Lots of neat lamps.

Now that Mom's shopping cart was full, it was into the warehouse to pick up my entertainment centre.  With their cutesy mock-Swedish names, my TV stand was the Besta.  But it turns out, the Besta is a modular system, with dozens of different variants.  Took us a while to go up and down the aisles, getting all the parts for the particular Besta I had seen in the showroom.  But we found them.  With those precariously placed atop our shopping cart, my mother said, "So...is there anything else we're getting?" as she pulled her notepad from her purse, with the numbers for the bookshelf I was eyeing.  I frightened my mother by responding with a Rick and Morty quote:  "Nobody exists on purpose.  Nobody belongs anywhere.  Everyone's going to die.  Let's get the bookshelves."

We got everything into the back of Dad's truck, and made our way out of the city and back to Westlock.  Mom and Dad volunteered to stick around for a bit and help with the assembly.  Dad and I got the Besta put together OK.  I did get a little worried when Mom told me to take a break and she and Dad got to work on the bookshelves.  There was a viral story not too long ago about a certain IKEA cabinet that a marriage councilor had dubbed "the divorce-maker" because of all the arguments it started as couples put it together. Luckily, my parents got through it unscathed.

As my parents left, my mother did have a few surprises.  Some of the new towels she bought were for me, and she also found a bottle of Elder Flower Juice concentrate so I could brew some at home.  As I was getting ready to mix up a pitcher, I had an inspiration.  I fired up my SodaStream, ran the Elder Flower Juice concentrate through it, and made my own Elder Flower Soda.

Guess what?

With bubbles, it tasted just like ginger ale.  That was the vaguely familiar flavour.  It was flat ginger ale.

This whole adventure happened to me about a week ago.  I've been enjoying my TV on my nice new Besta stand, and drinking up the last of the Elder Flower Juice.  Needless to say, IKEA was quite the journey.  And like many other stores, I think I'll be going back someday when I have more money.