Good McMorning!

Chaos in Print

Having grown up in a rural environment, there are many things I enjoy in life that you city folk take for granted. One of the most prime examples is going to the movies. For you guys, it’s something you can just pick up and do on a rainy afternoon. For me, it was always the culmination of a day’s worth of shopping, wandering around malls, and being dragged through the boat show. The same holds true for that simple piece of Americana, the fast food restaurant. Sure, swinging by McDonald’s for a Happy Meal is a common occurrence for the average young suburbanite, but for someone like me, eating a Big Mac was a rare and special event that only happened about once a month. When you look at things in this context, then, there are many things about the normal fast food restaurant that excite me that would probably just bore you.

Take the drive thru for example. Since I only went to a fast food restaurant about once a month, you can just imagine how many of those times involved a drive thru. Up until the summer of 1997, I had only gone through a drive thru about 5 times in my life. I was, and still am, thoroughly enamored with this concept of getting food without ever having to leave your car. You could go get your burger, then go eat it anywhere. ANYWHERE!! That’s why the summer of 1997 was such a turning point. That was my now-infamous “gravel crusher summer,” and I celebrated every payday by going through the drive thru. I would wake up on payday, and ask myself this simple question: “Which drive thru am I going through today? McDonald’s, A&W, Wendy’s, or KFC?” Oh, how I wished that the Arby’s hadn’t closed the year before just so I could have one extra option! But drive thrus are cool. I just enjoy the concept. My mother tells me that in her day, they had these things called “drive-ins,” which were like drive thru, only you’d stop your car, and a waiter/waitress, called a “car hop,” would come out and take your order. That’s like drive thru to the next level. Amazing how with all the progression our society is making, the whole concept of eating-in-your-car is taking steps backward.

And if I get this excited about the drive thru, just imagine what I think about having breakfast in a fast food restaurant. The number of Egg McMuffins I’ve had in my life I can count on one hand. With all those days in the city in my youth, we usually left after breakfast, so it was always either lunch or dinner at a fast food restaurant. You had to get up really early if you wanted an Egg McMuffin. That’s why breakfast at McDonald’s has a certain mystique for me. And it’s always breakfast at McDonald’s. Wendy’s has never done breakfast, A&W only got into it a few years back with their breakfast sandwich, the “Bacon & Egger,” and Burger King didn’t start making a significant impact in Northern and Central Alberta until the mid-90’s. Yup, McDonald’s has always been the fast food restaurant of choice for breakfast. In fact, industry analysts say that breakfast accounts for 25% of McDonald’s revenue.

When you stop to think about, breakfast is the only time of day when McDonald’s is completely different. You walk into a McDonald’s in the morning, and gone are the glossy pictures of Big Macs and Quarter Pounders, replaced with glossy pictures of Egg McMuffins, Sausage McMuffins, and Egg & Sausage McMuffins. When you look over at the deep fryer, the rows and rows of french fries have been turned into rows and rows of hash browns. And instead of asking, “Is Coke OK to drink with that?” the clerks says “Is coffee OK to drink with that?” When you only got to McDonald’s once a month when you were a kid, seeing a McDonald’s like this feels like you’ve stepped into some strange, mirror-universe-McDonald’s. But then, when 11 o’clock rolls around, and they stop serving breakfast, everything snaps back to normal. One of the strangest times I was ever at McDonald’s was in that half-hour between 10:30 and 11, when they still serve breakfast, but they’ve begun serving lunch. It was the only time in my life I could go to McDonald’s and choose between a Big Mac or an Egg McMuffin. It were as through two worlds had collided.

But as strange as this mirror-McDonald’s-of-the-morning feels, there eventually come times when you crave the strangeness. For me, it tends to brew up inside for weeks on end, and I start plotting as to when I could get to a McDonald’s for breakfast. The first of these cravings happened in my senior year at university. I started looking over my schedule to see when would be the best time to go get an Egg McMuffin. Friday seemed to be my best day, as my first class on that day wasn’t until 1 in the afternoon. I was already getting accustomed to being up so early on Friday, as it had also become my laundry day. I quickly learned that the campus Laundromat was pretty much deserted at 8 in the morning. My plan for Friday was simple: get up at 7, have laundry done by 9, and then hop on my bike and head to McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin. My plan went without a hitch, save for one. At the last minute, I decided to have a Sausage & Egg McMuffin instead.

My latest craving started brewing about a month ago. Since there is a McDonald’s just three block from work, I knew it would be easy to satisfy. But, I was stuck working a lot of evening shifts. Oh, cruel irony! After working a 9-day stretch, I noticed that I finally got the Sunday of the Victoria Day weekend off. Since all my family were down in Red Deer for that weekend, I decided to make a day trip to Red Deer to be with the fam’. Again, the plan seemed simple. Since I had to swing through the town where I work (and the McDonald’s) I would have breakfast on the road. I left at 9, and popped into McDonald’s at 9:30.

I was transported into my mirror world. McDonald’s breakfast menu had since expanded since my last craving. Now, I have the option of Bacon and Egg Bagels in addition to my assorted McMuffins. As always, the McDonald’s hot cakes were there like a succubus to lure me away from the straight and narrow of the McMuffin family. And, to top it all off, McDonald’s had just introduced something new, the commercials for which were probably the source of my craving: the Breakfast Burrito. Oh, to be confronted with so many choices! Do I go with the reliability of the McMuffins, or go with something new and flashy like the Breakfast Burrito? As always, I was a sucker for the new and flashy.

A Breakfast Burrito is a strange beast. It’s a burrito, filled with omelette stuff (scrambled eggs, green peppers, cheese, and sausage bits). It wasn’t too bad, but it sat kind of heavy for the rest of the morning. But the craving was satisfied. McDonald’s for breakfast.

So for all you city folk who might be reading this, I ask you to take heed! While you feast on your Egg McMuffins and Happy Meals, I would like you to take a moment and think of those less fortunate, like myself, who don’t have the opportunity to sustain themselves on greasy fast food. As you throw out your half-eaten Big Macs and leftover french fries, think of all the poor rural children, like myself, who are forced to grow up on a steady diet of farm-fresh eggs and home-grown vegetables. What’s routine for you, is a rare and special treat for others. Please, appreciate what you have.

Movie Review – Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

Directed by Michael Bay

Starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, Alec Baldwin, and Dan Aykroyd.

I remember shortly after Titanic became the #1 movie of all time. Someone at a website wrote, “Start claiming your historical disasters now, folks! They’re going to be the setting for doomed romances for years to come!” Everyone thought that a movie about the Hindenburg would be next. But no, it took four years, but the first out of the gate was from the people behind The Rock and Armageddon. The disaster of choice? The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, which finally dragged the United States into World War II.

I’m surprised that they were able to pad this plot into 3 hours. Rafe and Danny (Affleck and Hartnett, respectivley) are life-long best friends who share a fascination with aviation. So, we first catch up with them in January of 1941, where they are two of the Army’s top pilots. Things are going great for these two. In fact, Rafe has been dating Navy nurse Evelyn (Beckinsale) for a month now, and he’s convinced that she might be “the one.” But even though the war is still not on many Americans’ minds, Rafe is itching to get in on the action. So, he kisses his girlfriend good-bye, leaves his best friend at home, and joins the British Air Force to help fight off the Nazis. Danny and Evelyn are stationed at Pearl Harbor, where they awaited Rafe’s return with baited breath. But, he is never to return, as word comes that Rafe’s plane went down and his body was never recovered. Distraught over Rafe’s demise, Evelyn and Danny turn to each other for comfort, and soon find themselves falling in love with each other. Just as their relationship seems to be taking off, Rafe returns! It seems that he was captured, and stuck in a prison camp! Now that he’s out, he wants he and Evelyn and Danny to all pick up where they left off, but now this woman has come between two friends. And just as they are all getting ready to start sorting this out, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor and World War II comes home. Oh, and along the way we meet some real-life historical figures like Dorrie Miller (Gooding), President Roosevelt (Voight), Col. Jimmy Doolittle (Baldwin), and Navy codebreaker Captain Thurman (Aykroyd).

OK. Let’s look at what this movie wanted to be: a huge, epic romance set against a tragedy, like Titanic. On that level, this movie is a bit of a let down. You look at our love triangle, and you just want more out of it. There seems to be a genuine lack of true emotion going on between these three. True, while all our leads are good-looking people, and they all do their best, you can’t help but just want more from them. And also, if you wanted the main plot to be the romance, it was a big mistake to let that plot grind to a halt for an hour so you could focus on the bombing. Now, let’s look at this movie for what it wound up being: a huge World War II action film from the director of The Rock and Armageddon. On this level, the movie kicks ass! Lots of good dogfights, lots of big explosions, and no clear-cut heroes, as we are also presented with the Japanese P.O.V. as we are given their reasons for why they did it. If I have one minor complaint about the action bits, it’s Alec Baldwin. Somewhere in his career, he started turning into Bill Pullman, as Baldwin’s Doolittle is a lot like Pullman’s Whitmore in Independence Day. In short, Pearl Harbor is a great old-fashioned war movie, but I know that’s not what it wanted to be.

3 Nibs

Midnight Ramblings XVII

Chaos in Print

NOTE: You all know how it works by now! “Midnight Ramblings” is the code name of America’s #1 freedom fighting force. It’s purpose: to stop Cobra, an evil terrorist organization determined to rule the world!

Hey Neelix!

So, how ya doing? Enough about you! So, I spent another day in Edmonton. Did you know West Edmonton Mall has a hemp store now? It’s called “Two Guys With Pipes.” Fascinating. But what really pisses me off are the prices in Silver City now. For what it cost me to see one movie in Silver City was the same amount it cost me to see two movies two years ago. And the refills! Silver City used to have free refills for large pops and large popcorns. Now, they charge $1. I blame natural gas prices. I bet you that fire-breathing animatronic dragon they’ve got hanging from the ceiling goes through a lot of natural gas.

And my impulse buy of the day! I know my latest column said my Star Wars action figure collection was complete, but when I saw this, I just had to have it. I am now the proud owner of 300th Edition Boba Fett! This is the 300th Star Wars action figure made. Boba Fett is posing in his classic “aiming laser rifle” pose, and has the urban mythological rocket firing action feature!

And in other Star Wars action figure news, available exclusively at the Star Wars online store is the most eagerly anticipated Star Wars toy of all time: The Carbon Freezing Chamber Playset! It’s got a little laser cannon, a holding cell, and a little block of carbonite you can freeze your Star Wars figures in. It even comes with an exclusive Bespin Security Guard action figure! Now, recreate the end of Empire Strikes Back in your own home!

“I love you.” “I know.”

“Chewie, don’t! There’ll be another time! You’ve got to take care of the Princess now.”

“Obi-Wan has taught you well.” “You’ll find I’m full of surprises.”

“But you said Leia and the wookie could stay with me!” “I’ve altered the deal! Pray I don’t alter it any more!”

And the Bespin Security Guard just stands around trying to look all bad-ass.

After browsing at the Star Wars online store, I did some reading up on Hugh Jackman, and ya gotta hand it to the guy. Because he made his big debut playing Wolverine, he could just do nothing but action movies, but he’s not. He’s currently filming a romantic comedy called Kate and Leopold. He plays Leopold, an 18th Century nobleman who’s transported to the modern age by a time travel experiment gone horribly horribly wrong. Now, in the present day, he falls in love with the scientist in charge of the time travel project, Kate, played by Meg Ryan. Jackman’s already got another romantic comedy done, called Someone Like You, if I remember right. It came out a few months back, starred Ashley Judd, was a huge bomb. But, his next movie coming out is Swordfish. He plays the world’s best computer hacker, blackmailed into one last heist by corrupt CIA agent John Travolta. I haven’t been following it’s development online, but the TV ads have begun running and it looks kinda cool. The most shocking thing about Swordfish is who plays Hugh Jackman’s girlfriend in that film: Halle Berry. That’s right! This film features hot sweaty make-out scenes with Wolverine and Storm!

I can’t make a graceful transition into something about video games, so I’ll just launch into it. You once told me that there would be no Super Mario games for the Game Cube, Nintendo’s big next-generation system. Well, guess what? I was watching CNN today, and they were talking to a Nintendo representative about the November launch of the Game Cube. They said that one of the first games would be Luigi’s Castle. In it, you are Luigi, battling all sorts of ghouls and goblins to rescue a kidnaped Mario. I think they just made Luigi the hero to try and calm the backlash that arose when he wasn’t in Super Mario 64. And, of course, keeping with Nintendo’s current flagship line, there’ll be a Pokémon game for it.

I finally bought the first two Pokémon movies on DVD. I was a little disappointed with the DVD of Pokémon the Movie 2000, as it wasn’t as loaded a DVD as the first movie. But, it was notable for one reason. The Movie 2000 has a little featurette about the making of the soundtrack, and it features a few quick shots of “Weird Al” Yankovic in the studio recording his song Polkamon, and he does have a soundbite about “being honored to have the only polka on the album.” Being the Weird Al completest that I am, it was a wonderful unexpected bonus.

So, I’m gearing up for the big final episode of Star Trek: Voyager, and I’m stunned that they wrote Neelix out of the show with two episodes to go! I guess they felt it best to wrap up his character’s arc before they wrap up the arc. And reflecting on Neelix leaving, it was kind of nice the way Tuvok said good-bye to Neelix. The episode started with a party scene, and Neelix trying to get Tuvok to dance. Tuvok said, “Vulcans don’t dance,” to which Neelix replied that before they reached Earth, he’d see Tuvok dance. So, at the end, as Neelix is boarding his ship, the crew of Voyager is all lined up to see him off. As Neelix turns to board, Tuvok says, “Mr. Neelix!” Neelix turns, Tuvok steps forward, does a couple lame-ass dance steps and says “Live long and prosper.” Even though they didn’t like each other that much, they evolved this mutual respect that was good. I think, originally, they wanted Tuvok and Neelix to be like Spock and Bones of old; one the down-to-business logical one, the other the great defender of all things emotional.

And in HMV today, you’ll never believe what they are selling now. They are selling the movie poster for…Transformers: The Movie!! And along with it, they have two other Transformer posters: one that’s simply the Autobot logo, and one that’s simply the Decepticon logo. This got me to thinking about what kind of advertising campaign they could have had for Transformers: The Movie. Picture this. Two teaser posters. One featuring the Autobot logo, the other the Decepticon logo. Of course, they’re redone slightly, perhaps made to look metallic and given a bit of a 3-D quality. And, on each poster, above the logo, it simply reads, “One shall stand. One shall fall.” And below the logo, “Summer 86.” Or, as a bit of foreshadowing to Optimus Prime’s ultimate fate, the DECEPTICON poster could simply read, “One shall stand,” and the AUTOBOT poster could simply read, “One shall fall.” I tell you, I should get into movie marketing.

Another dream of mine is the live-action movie version of Gargoyles. Yeah, I know, it probably won’t get made unless I become a film-maker and make it myself, but I’ve already got the teaser cut together in my head. My inspiration was the teaser for The X-Files movie, where we see a whole bunch of obscure clips while a narrator talks about aliens and conspiracies, and we’re not sure what movie it is until we here Scully’s voice simply ask, “Mulder?” So, this is how my Gargoyles teaser would go. We would have a montage of clips from the movie, but never showing us a whole gargoyle. It would be things like: a statue cracking, exposing flesh underneath. Steel Clan robots marching down a street. Xanatos at this desk. Elisa doing cop things. Shadows of gargoyles moving along walls. Jackal and Hyena. And, over these clips, our narrator reads snippets of the cartoon’s classic opening narration: “Stone by day. Warriors by night. Betrayed by the humans they had sworn to protect. Frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years. Now, in Manhattan, they live again.” “They live again,” is spoken over complete darkness. Then, we hear Goliath speak, and his line is a tip of the hat to Transformers: The Movie. Still in darkness. “Xanatos must be stopped.” Lights come on. A beautiful CGI shot of Goliath, flexing his wings, preparing to take flight. “No matter the cost.” Goliath, flanked by the others, takes wing into the night. The classic Gargoyles theme roars through our THX sound system! Huge battle scenes between the Gargoyles and others! Ending with “Gargoyles. Next summer.”

And that was my day in the city!


Movie Review – Shrek


Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson

Starring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, John Lithgow, Cameron Diaz, and Jim Cummings.

When it comes to lovers of computer animation, it seems as though battle lines have been drawn. Either you like Antz or A Bug’s Life. I’m a Bug’s Life guy. But still, there were parts of Antz that I liked, making me wonder if the people who made Antz could do something better for their second effort. Their second effort was Shrek, and, at least I can say, it’s better than Antz.

Shrek (voice of Myers) is an orge. He lives in a swamp in the kingdom of Duloc, and pretty much keeps to himself. One day, he manages to save a talking donkey (Murphy) and, like it or not, Shrek aquires a sidekick. Then, stange things start happening. All these fairy tale creatures start appearing in Shrek’s swamp. Seems that Lord Farquaad (Lithgow), the ruler of Duloc, has taken to deporting these people so he can create a perfect kingdom. Shrek goes to Farquaad to try and get his swamp back, and he and Farquaad make a deal. It seems that Farquaad can’t become a king until he marries a princess, so, if Shrek goes and rescues the Princess Fiona (Diaz) for him, Shrek gets his swamp back. So, Shrek and Donkey rescue Fiona, and head back to Duloc. But, complications begin to ensue as Shrek and Fiona begin to fall in love. Will Shrek get his swamp back? Will true love conquer all? And what exactly is Fiona’s dark secret, causing her to take cover every nightfall?

This movie just plain rocks! From the opening gag to the closing credits, I just couldn’t stop smiling. It also helps the every Disney cliche gets a kick in the pants, from subtle digs at Disneyland to characters pleading with others to stop the singing. The animation is definitly up there with Pixar’s quality, and a great selection of classic rock songs fill the soundtrack. Myers is great as Shrek, but Murphy really steals the show as the Donkey that just won’t shut up. And, in the end, it’s got a great, not-so-subtle moral. This is one to be treasured for the ages! Since (as of this writing) it’s the #1 movie of 2001, I suggest you go see it if you haven’t already. This is just one funny movie.

3.5 Nibs

Stories of the Star Wars Action Figures

Chaos in Print

For those who have never seen my inner sanctum, let me give you a brief tour. To my immediate right, dangling from the wall, is my Star Wars action figure collection. Recently, as I turned to gaze upon it, I had a startling thought. It is complete. I can look upon them and think to myself, “I don’t want any more.” I have a grand total of 14 Star Wars action figures. Each one is a jewel in a shining crown. Each one has it’s own little tale of how it came into my collection. Each one offers a little lesson in life. They’re more than action figures, they are my history. Come now, let us voyage into my past as each of these figures sheds some light on how I grew up to become who I am.

Living In The Moment
The latest collection of Star Wars action figures hit toy shelves in the fall of 1995, to coincide with the final video release of the original Star Wars trilogy. I was still new to the realm of action figure collecting, but I knew that these Star Wars figures had to be mine. Following the directive I had laid out with my Star Trek figures, I had decided to limit myself only to my favorite characters. That meant I really only want one Star Wars figure: Luke Skywalker. I went to Toys R Us one day, and headed straight for their action figure section. I began pouring through their Star Wars collection, but I began to panic. There were no Luke Skywalkers! I searched and searched, and no Lukes! I started to remove the figures from the shelf one by one, in the desperate hope that there would be at least one Luke left for me. Finally, way in the back hidden by a row of C-3P0s, there was one final Luke! I snatched it up. I had the last one! I HAD THE LAST ONE!! Words could not describe the feeling of pride I had. It was there, waiting for me. I was destined to have the last one. I could not escape my destiny! It was the only one, and it was waiting just for me! I walked towards the checkout line. There, by the checkout, they had a second display of Star Wars action figures set up. It consisted of nothing but Luke Skywalkers.

Being In The Right Place At The Right Time
Of course, what good is a hero without a villain? I knew I had to get my favorite villain of the Star Wars saga: Boba Fett. A few months after I got Luke, I headed back to Toys R Us to pick up Boba Fett. I returned to the Star Wars section only to find that they had no Boba Fetts left. I was preparing to go home and lick my wounds when a shelf stocker came out with these brand new, unopened cases of Star Wars action figures. She opened up one, then remembered that she forgot something in the back room and left. Being the snoop that I am, I walked over to the open case and began nosing through it. I practically had my hands in the cookie jar when the shelf stocker returned. “Can I help you?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. “I’m looking for Boba Fett. You have none left on the shelf.” She did a quick scan of the case, reached in, and pulled out a Boba Fett just for me.

It was Boxing Day of 1999, and I was quite saddened as a collector. Because of the glut of the first wave of Episode I action figures, the second wave was not to be found in stores. I had searched high and low, and just could not find a Destroyer Droid. Leaving the city and its Boxing Day sales, my parents had the urge to stop in at Canadian Tire in Spruce Grove. We went in. They went off to housewares and wherever else they go in Canadian Tire, and I gravitated towards the toy section. There was a small selection of Star Wars figures left, and I started thumbing through them. Hidden way in the back was one last Destroyer Droid. Needless to say, it was mine.

Patience Is A Virtue
It was the fall of 1997 when I first read about it. Kenner had finally decided to make one of the most requested Star Wars figures of all time: Princess Leia as Jabba’s Prisoner, who is now known in the collector community as Slave Leia. For those not in the community, this is Princess Leia as she appeared in Return Of The Jedi after she had been captured by Jabba the Hutt. That mean ol’ Hutt forced her to wear nothing but a gold bikini. So, this action figure was known to me as Princess Leia in the Gold Bikini. I wanted this figure. I lusted for this figure. But, every time I went to Toys R Us, I was rejected. They just didn’t have Princess Leia in the Gold Bikini. I would frequently head to Comic King in West Edmonton Mall, and toy with the notion of paying $40 for one imported from the U.S. But, I always chose not to. Why pay $40 for it when it’ll be at Toys R Us soon enough for a paltry $7.99? And so, I waited. And waited. And waited. Then, in the summer of 1998, almost one year later, I went to Toys R Us. My faith was diminishing. This had become more routine than anything. I walked over to the Star Wars section, and with a minimum of digging, I found Princess Leia in the Gold Bikini.

But I was already in the midst of a similar wait. For, earlier in 1998, I had heard that the Ewoks were on their way. They would be putting out two of the most popular Ewoks: Wicket and Logray, in a 2-pack. Again, I waited. And waited. Then, finally, in the fall of 1998. Chuck and I were at the Duggan Mall in Camrose to see Antz. While Chuck was getting a haircut, I was wandering through the Bay, and there, staring me straight in the eye, were a pair of Ewoks.

I’m sure that we all remember when the Star Wars: Special Edition trilogy came out in 1997. I was still an eager young university student. It was in that February, as we were anticipating the release of Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition that I was making a sev-run to get a Slurpee and some Doritos. There, in the Camrose 7-11, I saw the Lay’s potato chip display. With only 2 proofs of purchase from Lay’s Potato Chips and $3.99 shipping and handling, get and exclusive Star Wars action figure: the Spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi. I knew I had to have it, and so I bought a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips instead of my Doritos. Do you know what I learned about Lay’s Potato Chips? I can eat just one. Lay’s suck. But I only had to choke down two bags. When I went home for Spring Break the next week, I dug around at home, found my checkbook, and wrote out a check for $3.99. I fired off the order form and my two proofs of purchase and began to wait. It was the summer of 1997, and I was just completely hating my job on the gravel crusher. I was going home for the weekend, and when I arrived, my mother said, “Oh. This parcel came for you.” Sure enough, it was the Spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Indulging Oneself In Flights Of Fancy
It was the fall of 1996, and the video game everyone was playing was Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. I hadn’t played this game yet, but I’d heard a little about it. The main character was “Dash Rendar.” What a cool name, “Dash Rendar.” While browsing in Toys R Us, I noticed that Kenner made a line of Shadows of the Empire action figures. I snatched up “Dash Rendar.”

In the summer of 1999, a wave of classic trilogy action figures was released to ride on the success of Episode I. As part of this set, they released the Gonk Droid. What a funny name, “Gonk Droid.” So, when I was one left on the shelf in Wal-Mart, I just had to get it.

Remember Your Childhood
I remember being 6 years old and watching TV commercials for Return of the Jedi. I even remember commercials for the Return of the Jedi action figures, but one always stuck out in my mind. It was TV commercial for a mail-away exclusive Emperor Palpatine. “Wow,” I’d think to myself. “That’s gotta be a really cool action figure if the only way you can get is to send away for it.” In the fall of 1997, as I was returning to Augustana, I swung by Zeller’s in the Duggan Mall. Sitting there, on the shelf was Emperor Palpatine. That TV commercial from 1983 flashed through my head, and I bought it.

You Really, Really, Like Me
Kenner/Hasbro started pushing the Episode I action figures during the Christmas season of 1998 with two “sneak peak” figures. There was the mail-away exclusive Mace Windu, and the STAP with Battle Droid. Since I had no desire to buy the 6 action figures required to get Mace Windu, I kinda thought the STAP and Battle Droid would be kind of cool to get. So, I was over at my friend Dexx’s place to watch his new DVD of Army of Darkness. As my gaze wandered around his room, I soon started going into convulsions. He asked what was wrong. I pointed my finger to his shelf and started stammering, “The STAP! The STAP!” He then looked over and saw what I had seen. Dexx had bought the STAP and Battle Droid and he had it squished between a few textbooks, so as it would not be noticeable. Why would you do this to the STAP? I soon found it. Dexx walked over to it, pulled it down from the shelf, and handed it to me. “Merry Christmas,” he said. I still have it on my shelf, and it is still mint in package.

It was May 3, 1999 when the Episode I action figures hit stores. I thought I’d be smart. On that day, I’d just go to the online Star Wars store and buy myself Darth Maul and Obi-Wan Kenobi online. Too bad about 1,000,000 other people had that idea and the Star Wars online store crashed. Things were looking dire. I wasn’t going to be heading back into Edmonton anytime soon, so it looked like I wouldn’t get my Darth Maul and Obi-Wan Kenobi. But, on May 4, my mother had business in Edmonton. When she came home that night, she said that she had something for me. She reached into her Wal-Mart bag and pulled out Darth Maul and…Qui-Gon Jinn. Close, but not there. But, I didn’t want to hurt my Mom’s feelings. So, I thanked her, and gave her a big hug. I bought Obi-Wan Kenobi on my next city trip.

The Point Is There Is No Point
The final figure in my collection is Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. Not much of a story behind him, I just bought him because I thought he was cool.

And that’s the collection. I look upon it, and feel as though I am complete. Well, until Episode II comes along.

The Nowhere Man

I’ve been watching a lot of Pokémon lately. Well, I’ve been watching a lot for the past two years, now. One character that always astounds me is Gary. Gary is also from Pallet Town, and is Ash’s greatest rival. At the end of the first storyline, Gary had 10 gym badges, and Ash only had the requisite eight. Ash placed in the top 16 at the Pokémon league championships at the Indigo Flats, while Gary washed out. In the Orange Islands storyline, it didn’t matter that Ash returned home the Orange League champion. That honor was belittled by Gary. Ash challenged Gary to a one-on-one match, and Ash lost. Gary has yet to make an appearance in the Johto League storyline, but Ash did start his pokémon journey in the Johto league if only to beat Gary at the championship. Why does Gary both Ash so much? I mean, Ash has accomplished quite a bit in his pokémon journeys, but it means nothing as soon as Gary shows up and makes a few nitpicky comments about Ash’s style. Ash then loses to Gary, Gary gloats over his win, and then vanishes. Why does this bother Ash so much, when Ash is clearly the better trainer? Why do these occasional losses to a hometown rival bug him so much? The thing is, I think I’m figuring it out.
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Movie Review – The Mummy Returns

The Mummy Returns

Directed by Stephen Sommers

Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr, Patricia Velasquez, Freddie Boath, and the Rock.

How’s this for an allegory of my life? Two years ago, I get a call from my friends in Edmonton, asking if I want to go see The Mummy. I didn’t really want to, but I was eager for an excuse to get out of the house and hang out with my friends. Now, in the present day, do I get any such phone call? No. It seems my friends have forgotten all about me. So, I was on my own to see The Mummy Returns. But, since it did set new records for biggest non-holiday weekend opening ever, I knew I had to go see it.

It’s eight years after The Mummy, and we find that our heroes from the first film, Rick and Evie (Frasier and Weisz) are married, have a son Alex (Boath), and are in the throes of living happily ever after. They desicrate another tomb to find the Bracelet of Anubis. This just happens to be the key to the tomb of the Scorpion King (the Rock), and little Alex gets it stuck to his wrist. And where is our mummy? Well, it seems that his beloved whom he was trying to resurrect in the first film has gone and gotten herself reincarnated (Velasquez). So, she goes and resurrects Imhotep (Vosloo). Reunited at last, they seek to conquer the world. If the Scorpion King can be defeated in battle, the winner will get command of the army of Anubis. And to get to the Scorpion King, they need the Braclet of Anubis. So, they kidnap Alex and head off to the Scorpion King’s long lost tomb. Rick and Evie, Evie’s brother Johnathon (Hannah), and ass-kicking warrior Ardeth Bay (Fehr) head off to rescue Alex and send Imhotep back to the underworld again.

This movie is a just a big, fun summer action film. And, like most big, fun, summer action films, it tends to drag a bit between the big special effects sequences. But they are good special effects sequences, easily topping what we saw in the last film. Another top notch job by ILM. The performances are pretty good. Frasier is still good as his Indiana Jones-ish hero, and Vosloo, as Imhotep, is just a great villain. A man of few words, just ass-kicking. And, with all the fuss over the Rock as the Scorpion King, he’s just in it for about 5 minutes. But, all in all, if you liked the first one, you’ll like this one.

3 Nibs