3 Wishes

Chaos in Print

I just saw this great episode of The X-Files a few weeks ago. Mulder and Scully go off to investigate the strange occurrence of a man losing his mouth. In their investigation, they soon turn up an invisible corpse. Their investigation continues, and they soon find the culprit. The invisible corpse just happened to discover a genie before he died, and he made his three wishes: for his boss to shut up (that’s how he lost his mouth), for a yacht (parked in his backyard) and the ability to turn invisible. Yup, a good old fashioned genie. In this case, it was the genie of the rug. Unroll the rug, you free the genie, and you get your three wishes. Things really got funny at the episode’s climax, when Mulder gets his three wishes. But, as always, this episode sparked my creative side. If I had three wishes, what would I wish for? I’m sure everyone who read Aladdin growing up has wondered this at one time or another. So, what would my three wishes be?

I used to think long and hard about this. See, I’ve always had this aversion to hard work. I just plain don’t like it. But, I need money to get ahead in life. If I’m not working, how will I pay for the extravagant lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to? So naturally, the wish would be for money. But for how much? A million dollars? A billion dollars? How much is enough to last you for the rest of your life? Lots of intangibles come up when you are budgeting for the rest of your life. Therefore, I’ve devised what I think is a rather clever wish. My first wish would be for a box. A fireproof, indestructible strong box. And every time I open the lid, I would be presented with $20 million in small, unmarked bills. Now, the rest of my life is planned out. I would buy a house, a car, a whole bunch of furniture, and a sweet home theater with the first batch of bills. After I’m set up, my job would be walking down to the bank each day and depositing $20 million in my bank account. Money would no longer be a concern in my life. I’d have so much money that I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I’d travel the world, giving generously to charities. I would become the ultimate philanthropist and all around good guy. Yup. Wish #1: money.

Now that I’ve got lots and lots of money, what should my second wish be? I mean, I can now buy anything I could ever want: gold, jewels, cars, computers, companies, countries, and sexual favours. I would have all the riches of the world. Ahh, but David Xanatos said it best on an episode of Gargoyles: “What good are all the riches in the world if you can’t enjoy them forever?” This leads to my second clever wish. I would wish to live forever. I would wish to live forever in the body of a perfectly fit 30-year old me. I don’t know why 30, it just seems like a nice round number. Now, free of disease and the ravages of age, I can enjoy my immense wealth for all eternity. I can forever be the ultimate philanthropist and all around good guy until the sun burns out! And when that happens, I’ll start doing it on another planet. Yup. Wish #2: immortality.

Well, seeing as to how I’ve seen Disney’s Aladdin, I’d better wish for the genie’s freedom. Wish #3: freedom.

Now, these wishes are all well and good, but the computer scientist in me is starting to kick in. One of the main doctrines of computer programming is to do it in as little lines of code as possible. The shorter your program, the more efficiently it’ll run. How can I take all three of these wishes and concentrate their goals into two wishes? Or, perhaps even, one wish? How to cut this down into as little wishes as possible really confounded me. Then, as I was watching a rerun of Star Trek one night, it dawned on me. I now knew the cleverest wish of them all. I could accomplish all three of these goals in one wish. So, when that day comes, when I free a genie and get my three wishes, I’ll have only one wish to make.

“I wish for all the powers, abilities, wisdom and knowledge of Q. Yes, that Q. Q from Star Trek.

The genie will then grant my wish, and boom! Omnipotence. Who needs immortality? Taken care off. I’ll live forever now. Hey, I can even go backwards and forwards in time with a thought. And that old consequence of immortality no longer applies. You know, the one where all your friends and family grow old and die while you remain young. We’ve seen Q cavorting in the afterlife, I could go visit them. Hell, I could probably even resurrect them if I wanted to. If I like you enough, I can make you omnipotent too. So wish #2 is taken care of.

And the first wish, for the money, also taken care off. I could just snap my fingers and conjure up any amount I need. Hell, who needs money? If I want a new computer, I could conjure up a Cray. If I want a home theater, I can conjure up Silver City in my basement. If I want a new car, I can conjure up a Dodge Viper. Or a minivan. Or the General Lee. If I want sexual favours, I can conjure up wanton sex slaves. If I want a house, I can conjure up Olympus. What am I talking about cars for? I can teleport! Not even material goods are needed anymore. I’m omnipotent, baby!

Oh, and freeing the genie. I’m omnipotent, so I can do that with a twitch of my nose. Have a good life, genie.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Hey, I’ve read all those stories about getting three wishes. Most of them usually have some kind of dire consequence. Wishing for omnipotence, that’s going to have a doozy of a consequence.” Why? Have you not been listening? I’m omnipotent now! The first thing I’d do after that first wish is undo any nasty consequence that would have come about. Then, I can enjoy my omnipotence in peace.

I can’t help but think that not only is this wish decidedly clever, but also deliciously evil. I can’t help but do some maniacal laughter while thinking about this. Do you think that absolute power really does corrupt absolutely? Would being given this much power lead me down the wrong path? Would I really wallow in my own greed, filth, and nasty tendencies? Taking a quick and easy route like this, would I really become one with the dark side? Who gives a rat’s ass? I’m omnipotent, baby!

So, bring on the genie! I’m ready for my wish! Oh, you’d probably like to know what Mulder’s three wishes were. Well, for his first wish, he wished for peace on earth. The genie accomplished this by making everyone else on earth vanish. So, for his second wish, Mulder wished that he didn’t make his first wish. For his third and final wish, Mulder started writing out this long, complicated, legal-looking thing to try and eliminate all possibility of dire consequences. Then, Scully walked in, and gave some inspirational words. This led Mulder to follow in Aladdin’s footsteps, and wish for the genie’s freedom. The genie spent the rest of her life sitting in a corner coffee shop, sipping lattes, and watching the world go by. Have a good life, genie.

Movie Review – Mission: Impossible II

Mission: Impossible II

Directed by John Woo

Starring Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Ving Rhames, Richard Roxburgh, and John Polson.

Way back in the summer of 1996, Mission: Impossible was one of the big blockbusters I wanted to see. But, sadly, I did not get to go see it. So, when it came out on video at Christmas 1996, I ran out and rented it. I returned to the floor lounge to find that the woman who hated me, Tara, had already laid claim to the TV and VCR. I begged her to let me watch it, and she said “Oh, like you’ve been dying to see it.” And I said “Actually, yes I have.” And she finally let me watch it. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go through that much trouble to see the sequel.

Since a lot of people didn’t understand the plot of the first one, they decided to keep things nice and simple for the sequel. Sean Ambrose (Scott) is an IMF agent who’s gone rouge, and has stolen for himself the world’s most potent virus and it’s antidote, called Chimera and Belleraphon respectively. Ethan Hunt’s (Cruise) mission, if he chooses to accept it, is to get the virus and antidote back. To do this mission, he must first recruit Nyah (Newton), a jewel theif and former love of Sean’s. They hope that she can use her former relationship to infiltrate Sean’s gang. Padding out the team with computer expert Luther Stickwell (Rhames) and pilot Billy Baird (Polson), they go off to save the world! But, complications ensue when Ethan and Nyah fall in love. Can he complete the mission without putting her at risk?

John Woo is one of those directors with a distinct style. The dramatic slo-mo close ups, people letting loose with a gun in each hand, that kind of stuff. That style definatley adds to the film. This movie is all about the stunts. From Ethan’s rock climbing at the start, to the climactic motorcycle chase, it just doesn’t let up. Scott makes an excellent villain, and now I see why he was the original choice to play Wolverine. Cruise, of course, is Cruise. This is just a great way to spend 2.5 hours in an air-conditioned theater. But, if you’re forced to see it on video, I’ll understand.

One last thing that’s annoying me about other reviews for this film. Everyone’s saying it was written by Robert Towne. But, there were two other writers on this film: Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga. Why are they being left out? Because the only other thing they did before this was Star Trek. So do me a favour. When you see this, cheer when their names come on screen.

3.5 Nibs

Real World Politics

Chaos in Print

There’s been this issue facing my mother for a while now, and she tends to talk about it a lot at home. As I think I’ve mentioned before, she is the board chair of Parkland School Division #70. They just had one mother of a debate, and it sure took a lot out of my mom. If you don’t mind, I’d like to pass on the particulars of this issue to you, in the hopes of getting some outside opinions on what went on. All the information I give you I got through my mother, so naturally there’ll be some bias in my reporting. (Aren’t you glad I was up front about my bias, rather than claiming to be neutral like some journalists?)

Let me present the tale of two cities. A city and a town, actually. We have the City of Spruce Grove; a city roughly the size of Camrose. Just five minutes down the road, there is the Town of Stony Plain; a town about 3/4 the size of Spruce Grove. They both reside in Parkland School Division #70. Now, a few years ago, some disturbing statistics were released to the public. The French Immersion program, as a whole in the province of Alberta, has declining numbers. Parkland School Division felt that, with these declining numbers, something should be done to strengthen the French Immersion program. A study was commissioned, and a year and a half was spent studying the problem. Right there, the Parkland School Division earned kudos. Most other school divisions in the province just arbitrarily made decisions about their French Immersion programs with no studies. A good case study is the Battle River School Division. When faced with these declining numbers, they went and axed the French Immersion program altogether, with no consultation with the people. But I digress.

When the study was completed, the recommendation was made to the school board. Three schools offered French Immersion: two in Spruce Grove, one in Stony Plain. The recommendation was that the French Immersion program should be consolidated at one school. One of the schools in Spruce Grove offering the program was best equipped to handle the great influx of students, and so it was chosen to be the French Immersion School. The recommendation passed through the board with a clear majority. I think it went unanimously, but my mother’s not here to confirm that. This was heralded as a great idea. The board was behind it. The people of Spruce Grove were behind it. The majority of Stony Plain was behind it. One of the most prominent French Immersion supporters in Stony Plain stepped forward and said “this is the right thing to do.” One of the most prominent French Immersion lobby groups in the province stepped forward and said “this is the right thing to do.” But….

For reasons unbeknownst to me, this did not sit well with the principal of the Stony Plain French Immersion school. He felt it was a bad idea. When this decision was made public, there was a handful of parents at the Stony Plain French Immersion school who objected to putting their kids on the bus for five minutes a day, when they could just walk to school. So, an opposition group began to form. A very loud, very mean, opposition group. They started publicly badmouthing this decision. They took out full page ads in the local paper protesting this decision. It wasn’t long before they won over one of the trustees on the school board. Now, this trustee started whining and complaining about the bad decision this board made, and she conveniently forgot the fact that she voted for this “bad decision” in the first place. She whined and complained so much, that a motion to reconsider was put on the agenda for the next board meeting.

When that board meeting came, the opposition group mounted a large protest. What I always find ironic is that they pulled their kids out of school for the day to help protest. To show support for the school, they pulled their kids out of the school. Another thing I find funny is that there were also twice as many pro-protesters that day. So, when the meeting came, the opposition group presented their evidence to keep the French Immersion program in Stony Plain. It wasn’t new evidence, though, and it was stuff that the board had already taken into account. With no new evidence, the motion to reconsider was denied, and the amalgamation was set to begin, with the French Immersion school in Spruce Grove opening in September. As far as the board was concerned, this issue was now done. But, the opposition didn’t see it that way.

The principal of the Stony Plain French Immersion school refused to begin amalgamation procedures. The parents stepped up their protest, making it meaner and nastier. They threatened to pull their kids out of the French Immersion program. This would mean that there would not be enough kids at the French Immersion school in the fall, and the program would die quicker. At this time, the opposition circulated a “fable,” portraying the board as bunch of reactionary nitwits who were anti-French, and didn’t know the whole story. So, let me get this straight. The board spent a year and a half studying this problem. The opposition spent a week studying the problem. And the board didn’t know the whole story. The fable was written anonymously, but the author claimed to be instrumental in ending slavery in the American south and freeing Nelson Mandela. At first, this fable was only mysteriously stuffed in the mailboxes of the school board trustees. The trustees ignored it. It then appeared in the newsletter of the Stony Plain French Immersion school, thus making the board the laughing stock of the community. But this was nothing compared to what was in store.

Remember that one trustee who sided with the opposition? Well, she did something that all her fellow board members considered a traitorous act. She called up the Minister of Education, said the board was dysfunctional and should be disbanded. I don’t know how well you follow school politics, but this is THE most serious charge you can place on a school board. Now, the Minister of Education was involved.

The Minister determined that the board wasn’t dysfunctional, but still felt it proper to conduct a review of this decision, seeing as to how it had “so much opposition.” The Minister sent out an expert to conduct the review. From day one, it was felt that this expert’s review was biased. Firstly, he only met with the opposition. After meeting with just the opposition, he felt that the board had erred, and was prepared to make his report. After much pleading and cajoling, he met with the members of the school board. But, his mind wasn’t swayed. Now, I know I’m still a novice to politics, but don’t you think this report felt a little one sided? If I didn’t make it clear, his report said that the board had made the wrong decision.

Then came the big meeting with Minister. The Minister gave them two options: either the board could reverse their decision and remain in control of the school division, or he could reverse the decision for them, and pretty much run the division himself. The board chose to remain in control, and begrudgingly reversed their decision. That school in Stony Plain gets to keep their French Immersion program.

So, what’s the aftermath? Well, the principal of the Stony Plain French Immersion school will probably be losing his job for his little insurrection. Plus, the English-speaking families in this school feel alienated over how this principal sacrificed all to save this minority of students. The opposition group is beginning to turn on each other. The author of the fable was uncovered, and legal action is being sought. That one trustee who sided with the opposition has pretty much alienated herself from the rest of the board and has gone into hiding. And Mom? Well, Mom just feels bad because she was doing the right thing, and a select few felt it was wrong. Suddenly this reminds me of the “moral” of an episode of The Simpsons: if you don’t get your way, just keep whining and complaining until you do. All this, simply because a select group of parents objected to a 5 minute bus ride. I want to call this a tyranny of the minority, but feel I would be a little extreme in saying that. All the board wanted to do was strengthen the program, and a select few just didn’t want to stick their kids on the bus. So, the program remains week, but no one has to ride the bus.

Oh, and do you want to know the final irony? The French Immersion school in Stony Plain is a dying school, and will probably have to be closed within the next three years for lack of students.

Movie Review – Dinosaur


Directed by Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton

Starring the voices of D.B. Sweeney, Julianna Margulies, Samuel E. Wright, Ozzie Davis, Alfrie Woodard, Della Reese, Max Cassela, and Joan Plowright.

You’ve got to hand it to Disney. Not content to let Pixar make animated movies for them, they had to go and make their own 100% computer animated film. What’s confused me though is, is Dinosaur really an animated film? I mean, the dinosaurs are animated, but all the backgrounds are real. So, is it animated, or special effects? I let you debate that while you read the review.

A long, long, time ago, the egg of a baby iguanadon was taken from its nest, and this baby was raised by a family of lemurs (voices of Woodard, Davis, and Cassela). This baby grows up to become Aladar (voice of Sweeney), a happy, laid back iguanadon. But soon, tragedy strikes. The first of those planet killers strikes, and the island that Aladar and the lemurs call home is wiped out. After treking through the mainland desert, they soon encounter a herd of dinosaurs of all kinds. It’s rumored that the breeding grounds are still untouched, and that they may find refuge there. Aladar and the lemurs soon befriend Eesa (Reese), a triceratops, and Baylene (Plowright), a brachiosaur. They are old, and bringing up the rear. Kron (Wright) who’s leading the herd, is a vicious dictator. His word is law, and if the weak can’t keep up, then their bones will feed the predators stalking them. Aladar’s work-together mentality doesn’t mesh with Kron’s survival-of-the- strongest, and they don’t like each other. Things even get more complicated when Aladar falls in love with Neera (Margulies), Kron’s sister. Can the herd outrun the carnotaurs to the breeding grounds? Will Kron’s attitude kill them all? Or will Aladar be able to save them all?

One thing’s for sure, the animated dinosaurs are good. I wouldn’t say “10 times better than the ones in Jurassic Park“, but just a smidge better. And at least they didn’t go with the Jurassic Park standard villains: velaciraptors and t-rexes. No, here we get carnotaurs. Think a smaller T-Rex with horns. At first, the mesh of real backgrounds and animated dinosaurs is a bit distracting, but it becomes less noticable as the movie goes on. The characters are good, if a little typical of Disney. And the story’s familiar, if you’ve ever seen The Land Before Time or read the Bible. But all in all, it’s a fairly entertaining film. Check it out.

3 Nibs

A Fool And His Money

Chaos in Print

Now that I’m finally getting some money in the bank, I thought I’d head into the city to blow that first paycheck. On my way home, I noticed that I needed some gas for the car. I was passing the Stony Plain Petro Canada, when I saw the great big sign saying “58.9.” I pulled in, and the friendly attendant bounced out of the station. He asked if I wanted it filled, and I said yes. He stuck in the hose, and started filling. It was at this point when I noticed that the price on the gas pump said “62.9.” I asked the attendant “Hey! How come the gas pump says 62.9, but the big sign says 58.9?” The attendant responded “Oh! That’s the self-serve price, and you pulled up to the full serve island.” I grumbled, muttered a few curse words, but what could I do? The tank was already half-full. I walked into the store, where the manager behind the counter turned to me and said “He forgot to tell you, didn’t he? Yeah, he’s supposed to do that before he starts pumping.” Normally, something like this wouldn’t bother me, but given the ordeal I had to go through to get my second paycheck, I was pissed.

“What ordeal?” you may ask. “Don’t you just bag groceries?” To know what’s going on, you have to flash back a week to what should have been my payday. My employers have me on a direct deposit system, meaning that my paycheck is automatically deposited into my bank account on payday. With the second paycheck coming, the direct deposit should be working for me. So, bright and early on payday, before I went off to work, I dropped by the ATM to see if my check had been deposited. I checked my account to see that I had been paid the grand total of…$35. I found this odd. For my second pay period, I was overworked, and had put in 50.5 hours. At $6.25/h, that meant I should have been paid at least $315.63. But no, just $35. This troubled me. I thought it best to wait until I get to work. Perhaps my pay stub would hold the answers. Maybe I just had to pay the mother of all EI deductions.

So, off to work. After a few hours of bagging the groceries, things slowed down for a few moments. My boss took advantage of this slow spot to hand out the pay stubs. I tore mine open to find that I had been paid the grand total of…$35. I was even more troubled now. When my break came, I sat down and analyzed my pay stub bit-by-bit. According to the stub, I had only worked a grand total of 20 hours. And, I had already been paid $90. Things started becoming clear. Since the direct deposit wasn’t working for my first paycheck, I got cash advanced $90. This was the remainder of my first paycheck. But where the hell was my second? My break ended, and I went down to see the boss, only to discover that, while I was on break, her shift ended and she went home. It would have to wait until tomorrow.

Tomorrow came alright, but, to my disdain, my boss had that day off. Who the heck was I supposed to talk to? My troubles seemed to grow. But, at this point, one of the punk ass teenage baggers came in, and he was screaming, yelling, and demanding blood. Turned out the same thing happened to him, and it brought out his inner Klingon warrior. He demanded to speak to the boss now. So, the supervisor called the boss, and she said she’d come down to sort this out. But, before the supervisor could pass this info on to the punk ass teenager, he stormed off into the night in disgust. Soon, the boss showed up. Now that she was here, I summoned up my courage, and asked if I may have a moment of her time. “Let me guess,” she said. “You didn’t get paid either.” She then went on to explain how there was a new person working payroll, and this new person forgot to send in a few time sheets. I was the fourth person in the store that this had happened to. She called the Big boss, the store manager, and relayed my problem. As soon as she was off the phone, she said that they would have a cash advance prepared for me on the next day I was in: Monday. This, of course, was Friday, and I had the weekend off. A whole weekend without money.

Monday came, and again my boss had the day off. So again, I had to spend a troubled day at work wondering if I would be able to afford gas to get to work the next day. Tuesday came, and my boss was working! I approached her. She said she had the paperwork all prepared, but the Big boss had the day off, and wasn’t around to approve it. Again, I was devastated. I mean, hey, sure I live rent-free in parents’ basement, but part of the deal of me using the car this much means I have to take care of it. And taking care of a car isn’t cheap.

Wednesday came. Again, I asked for my pay. This time, the Big boss was in meetings all day, and couldn’t approve the paperwork. Again, I went home distressed. Now, my inner Klingon warrior was starting to emerge. In my family, whenever legal matters arise, we all go to Mom, seeing as to how she’s turning into a career politician and is a former Justice of the Peace. My father, being a longtime member of the Alberta Union Of Provincial Employees, was also qualified to give advice on this matter. After I laid out my problem for them, I asked who was the higher body I complain to, and when would I be justified in doing so. They said that, after waiting a whole week for my pay, I’d be qualified in going to the Labour Relations Board. Ever notice how the more peaceful solutions tend to be more painful? I mean, you can demand blood, but cuts heal. A complaint to a governing authority, however, results in black marks on a permanent record that tend to haunt a person for a while.

I had Thursday off. My boss said that if the paperwork was approved, she’d call, and I could run on down to collect my pay. I canceled all my plans I had for Thursday, and spent the day waiting by the phone. Although I’ve never dated in my life, I now know how it feels to be stood up. Even though my pay was now one week late, I formulated my plan of action. If I didn’t get paid on Friday, I’d be placing a call to the Labour Relations Board.

Friday came. When I showed up, the first thing my boss said was “Today! I promise!” Halfway through my shift, the Big boss showed up for work. Three-quarters through my shift, my boss came up to me and said I could pick up my paycheck before I went home. I finally got my second paycheck. It was a eight days late, but I got it. Good things really do come to those who wait.

And that brings us to my excursion to the city. With two paychecks behind me, it was time to blow the first one. I purchased a video cassette copy of that great sci-fi movie that came out within the last year and a half. I had been dying to get it ever since it came out on video. Yes! I bought Star Trek Insurrection! Oh, and with the money that was left, I bought some little movie called Episode I. I vaguely remember seeing it, but from what I remember, I liked it.

So, what have we learned here today? Two things: good things really do come to those who wait. Patience is a virtue, and I am fortunate to have learned it at such a young age. Secondly, based on how that gas station manager and pump jockey laughed and gloated about how they “suckered another one,” I am never going to the Stony Plain Petro Canada again.

Midnight Ramblings IX

Chaos in Print

NOTE: Premises, premises. I’m sure you know this one. I e-mail my buddy “Neelix.” I tell him what’s currently bugging me about culture, pop and the other kinds. Yadda yadda yadda. On with the show.

Hey Neelix!

Before we begin our correspondence, I’d like to take a moment to complain about one of my other friends. You know who I’m talking about. Arlo. I mean, he is worse than you when it comes to responding to my e-mails. About two weeks ago, I knew that his semester at Augustana would be winding down, so I sent him an e-mail just asking him how it’s going. And, in his true fashion, he never responded. For all I know, he died and I missed the funeral or something. He has just ceased to exist to me. So, if you happen to run into Arlo, could you just get him to put a brief message in my guestbook or something, so I know he’s still alive? Thanks.

Anyway, on to my current obsession. I’m currently pouring over the multitude of facts that are available on the Internet about one of my favorite toys growing up, Masters Of The Universe. Of course, to many kids it was just known as He-Man. He-Man rocked! I’ll never forget the very first He-Man toys I got. For Christmas 1982, I got Skeletor, Faker (the evil robotic duplicate of He-Man), and Point Dread & the Talon Fighter. That was just so cool! But, my favorite memory of these toys has to be about a month later. I had come home from school. Mom had cleaned my room. And there, on top of my dresser, she had placed Point Dread, with the Talon Fighter on its perch. In the Talon Fighter was Skeletor at the controls, and Faker in the co-pilot’s seat. It just looked so much like that Golden Idol in the beginning of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Very cool.

You know, more so than with G.I. Joe, Transformers, or M.A.S.K., it’s Masters Of The Universe where I remember exactly when and where I got each and every toy I had. My absolute favorite one has to be my seventh birthday. Or was it my eighth? But it was my birthday. That year, my birthday happened to fall on a Saturday, so I was naturally up before everyone else to watch my cartoons. I tiptoed out of my room, so as not to wake my brother. I tiptoed past my parents’ bedroom, so I wouldn’t wake them up. I tiptoed through the kitchen. I turned, entered the living room, and came face-to-face with…Castle Greyskull. I had spent so much energy into being quiet that seeing this was a complete shock. I yelped in terror, turned around, and did a tiptoe sprint back to my room where I hid under my covers. I stayed there for about half an hour. Then I heard some rustling from my parents’ room. I poked my head out the door, and saw that my Dad had gotten up. He motioned for me to follow him, and we walked hand-in-hand into the living room. I didn’t just get Castle Greyskull, I also got Battle Armor He-Man, Battle Armor Skeletor, and Mekaneck. And how’s this for a sequel? That Christmas, my uncles failed to talk to each other, so I didn’t get one, but two, Snake Mountains. One uncle took his back. He never got me a replacement gift, though.

I also remember that last Masters Of The Universe toys I got. My last vehicle was Blaster Hawk. My godmother gave that to me for Christmas 1987. Because the disks it shot flew so far, my mother decreed I could only play with it outside. That also ensured I lost the disks faster. The last figure I got was Snout Spout. Remember him? He was the guy with an elephant head, and he shot water out of his trunk. But anyway, my parents’ had returned from my Great Opa’s funeral in Regina. My siblings and I didn’t go because it was May, and my parents weren’t going to pull us out of school for a week. So, when they returned that Friday night, my brother got a Billy Idol tape, and I got Snout Spout. This would have been, what, 1987 as well.

But what distresses me the most is how my love of Masters Of The Universe ended. It was summer of 1988. My interests had fully turned towards Transformers and G.I. Joe, so I decided to sell all my Masters Of The Universe at a garage sale. It all sold. So now, I have none left. Since I simply outgrew my G.I. Joe and Transformers, all that stuff is still lying around. But I have no Masters Of The Universe for me to play with when I get nostalgic. I’ll probably wind up buying Skeletor for $95 on eBay or something like that.

Oh, and for the record, these were all my heroes: Battle Armor He-Man, Prince Adam, Mekaneck, Man-E-Faces, Moss Man, Roboto, and Snout Spout. My villains: Skeletor, Battle Armor Skeletor, Dragon Blaster Skeletor, Faker, and Spikor. I was always distressed at how my villains were outnumbered. But I digress. My birthday’s coming, so if you’ve got $95 to blow at eBay….

But let us turn our attention to something more grown up: Disney animated movies! My sister borrowed Peter Pan and The Jungle Book from one of her friends recently. As I was watching them, it dawned on me. One of the recurring themes in all Disney animated films is the loss of innocense. In Peter Pan, just take a look at Wendy. She willingly goes off to NeverNeverLand with Peter Pan because her father orders her to “grow up.” So, she runs off in a desperate bid to hang on to her youth, and thus innocense. But, at the end, she learns that we must all grow up, and thus willingly kills her innocense. Then, in The Jungle Book, it ends with Mowgli and that girl going off to live together in that village. So, that makes the entire movie one last innocent romp before Mowgli decides to grow up, and enter the human (i.e. adult) world. Loss of innocense all over again. Then, there’s Snow White. Accepting that apple caused her loss of innocense. The Lion King and the death of Simba’s father. The death of Bambi’s mom! Need I say more?

Actually, this analysis frightens me. Reading up on the film American Psycho, apparently the lead character (and the titular psycho) dissects brainless pop songs the way I just analyzed these Disney films. So, does this make me a Canadian Psycho? Like what someone wrote on a message board: “Should we be more worried about the grown men who rent 14 hours worth of porn, or 14 hours worth of Disney cartoons?”

One last thing before I go. I don’t know if you heard, by Bob Homme just died. He will forever be remembered by legions of Canadians as the Friendly Giant. He was 81, and suffering from a long bout of prostate cancer. Actually, there were a lot of interesting facts about him in the paper. Like that other Canadian icon, Mr. Dressup, he was an American. He started The Friendly Giant in 1953 as a radio show in his home state of Wisconsin. CBC brought it to Canada, and TV, in the late 1950’s, and it had a lengthy run until 1985, when CBC pulled the plug. For a long time, the show shared a sound-stage with that other Canadian institution, The National. Bob Homme was not just the show’s star, but the (only) writer, creator, and owner of the show. He would tape 3 shows a day. He even ad-libbed most episodes! Oh, and he got the Order of Canada in 1998.

Bob Homme also had a passion for jazz and swing music, and he spent his retirement years wandering the streets of his hometown of Grafton, Ontario with his clarinet, giving impromptu concerts at the inns and restaurants. So, from now on, look up! Look waaaaaaaaaaay up, because that’s where the Friendly Giant will forever be.

And that’s all! Time to return to my newest obsession: looking for an Intelevision emulator so I can play my favorite Intelevision game of all time: Utopia. Wish me luck!


Movie Review – Gladiator


Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Russel Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, and Richard Harris.

Now that I have a job, and tend to get just about every Thursday off, I figure it was time to do one of my double-feature days. And what better way to kick off this summer of double-features than with the first big summer blockbuster, Gladiator?

Maximus (Crowe) is the best general in the Roman Empire. But, he is also a man of simple tastes. He longs for his tour of duty to end so he can return home to his wife and son. But, things don’t go as planned. Marcus Aurelius (Harris), ruler of the empire, is dying. His son Commodus (Phoenix) is too corrupt, so he asks Maximus to make sure that rule is restored to the senate in a safe and orderly fashion. Commodus doesn’t like this idea one bit, so Commodus murders his father, and then orders the death of Maximus and his family. Maximus escapes, but is too late to save his family. He is soon picked up by wanderers, and sold as a slave to Proximo (Reed), who seeks to train Maximus as a gladiator. Maximus soon rises to be the best, and with the help of Commodus’ sister, Lucilla (Nielsen), soon seeks to gain vengeance for his family, and fulfill the final wish of Marcus Aurelius.

This movie is pretty good. The battle scenes are some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen (and definitely some of the bloodiest). Even the special effects are amazing! There’s this one shot of ancient Rome that looks like they actually flew a helicopter over ancient Rome to get it! Crowe, as Maximus, is everything a hero should be: devoted to his cause and family, and always fighting for what’s right. Phoenix makes Commodus a particularly slimy villain, one who’ll scheme and plot and just do whatever it takes to get the throne. All in all, a great way to start the summer.

3 Nibs