Midnight Ramblings XX

Chaos in Print

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Haven’t rambled in so long…I wonder if I’ve forgotten how? I imagine it’s like riding a bike, once you learn you never forget. So long…. Can I keep rambling? Can I still ramble? I mean, the world has changed so much. Is it safe to start rambling again? I say, yes.

Hey Neelix!

Wow, has it been a long time since I’ve done this or what? What can I say? I got in a real groove with my whole “Vancouver series” and just didn’t feel like interrupting the flow. Good thing I’ve been compiling a list of everything I want to ramble about.

Well, I just had a perfectly good waste of an afternoon. There I was, settling in, preparing to do some work on the website, when I felt my stomach growling and went on up to the kitchen for a snack. My Dad had some work stuff spread out all over the kitchen table, and, with his laptop before him, was putting the finishing touches on a Power Point presentation. Then I looked to see that Dad had covered one wall with a sheet. “What’s up?” I asked him. And he showed me. Turns out the laptop was hooked up to none other than…a video projector! Never show me technology like that. After studying it for about three minutes, I came to a startling conclusion: I could hook my DVD player up to it. So, when Dad was done his work, we moved the sheet and projector into the living room, I hooked up my DVD player, and my afternoon was wasted watching DVDs on the big screen.

So, now that I’ve found what channel it’s on, I’ve started watching Smallville. You know, it’s that new teenage Superman show. Anyway, tonight was a good one for guys like me. When the evil football coach gets the ability to start fires with his mind and starts using it to “motivate” his players, it’s up to scrawny geek Clark Kent to take him down. Take that, all you evil phys ed teachers!

You know the premise of Smallville, right? Teenage Clark Kent, coming to terms with his powers while going through all that high school angst. But that’s not all. See, baby Kal-El’s rocket crashed in the middle of a meteor storm. The meteorites were all fragments of Krypton, so the ground is littered with Kryptonite! The background radiation from all this Kryptonite has created all kinds of freaks and weirdos for Clark Kent to try out his powers on. (Thusly, Kryptonite is scattered heavily at the villain’s lair, thus making Clark’s powers unreliable at each episode’s climax.) That, and Lex Luthor has been sent to town by his father’s company to try and get LuthorCorp’s Smallville plant running again. So, the young Clark Kent and Lex Luthor have formed somewhat of a friendship, both feeling like outsiders in this town.

Oh, and trivia notes:

– The actress who plays Martha Kent played Lana Lang (Clark Kent’s high school sweetheart) in Superman: the Movie and Superman III.

– The actor who plays Lex Luthor is actually an accomplished voice actor, who has done many guest voices on Batman Beyond. He’ll soon be voicing the Flash on the JLA cartoon.

– The actor who plays Lex Luthor’s father voiced the Riddler on Batman: the Animated Series.

– And, the actor playing Jonathon Kent is John Schneider, whom I grew up watching as Bo Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard.

Brad Bird, director of my all time favorite film The Iron Giant, was also the director of the very first Sideshow Bob episode on The Simpsons. From day 1, he’s received a credit on the show as an “executive consultant.” That first Sideshow Bob episode is the only one he directed himself. He once explained what he does on the show as an executive consultant. Essentially, he was brought on to design shots and make the show look less like a Saturday morning cartoon and more live-action-like. He even admitted that his involvement on the show has gotten to be less than minimal in recent years.

Watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture on DVD. I’m just fascinated by the character of Ilia. See, back when The Motion Picture was going to be the pilot for a new Star Trek show, Ilia was created to be one of the new resident aliens. She was a Deltan, and I’ve always been intrigued by the concept. Whereas the Vulcan culture is dominated by logic, the Deltan culture was going to be dominated by sexuality. Sex was to have permeated every part of their culture. Sadly, the only things we have to give us an idea of how this would have played out on a dramatic sci-fi show are the handful of notes Gene Roddenberry made when he was hammering out the idea. And, of course, in The Motion Picture, Ilia has a few comments about humans being a “sexually immature species” and “[her] oath of celibacy being on record.” It’s just one of the great what ifs? of Star Trek.

Speaking of Star Trek, it has recently occurred to me how many interesting tales can be told from the fragments thrown out in the back story. For example, what’s Jack Crusher’s story? Dr. Crusher’s husband, Wesley Crusher’s father, and friend of Capt. Picard, who died making the ultimate sacrifice to save a crewmember. But how exactly did he die? How did he become the exemplary officer he was reputed to be? Popular fan speculation says that he served under Picard on Picard’s first command, the Stargazer. He may even have been Picard’s first officer. There’s a story there. And how about the tale of Tasha Yar’s homeworld? This was a Federation colony where everything that could go wrong went wrong. It renounced its Federation membership, warring factions drew lines in the sand, and the planet was gripped in total war. Yar would tell horrifying tales of running from rape gangs that roamed the deserted cities. How did this colony get this way? How was Tasha Yar eventually rescued from it? There’s another good story in here.

So far, I’ve only found one instance of someone trying to tell the one of these interesting back stories. On my last excursion to Chapters, I noticed that someone is trying to tell the story of Kahn. According to Star Trek, for most of the 1990s, Earth was gripped in the Eugenics War. A team of misguided scientists tried to produce genetically superior human beings. Of course, these beings, with their absolute power, were corrupted absolutely, and set about conquering the planet. The most successful of these was Kahn, who, from 1992-1996, ruled 1/4 of the planet. Someone now has told the tale of how he was created, rose to power, and eventually fled the planet with 80 of his fellow genetically superior beings to conquer the stars.

Well, with these new ReBoot TV movies on the horizon, I’m starting to get all obsessed with ReBoot again. I remembered that some anime company had released all of season 3 on DVD a year or so ago, so I’ve been searching my favorite online stores for it. Sadly, no one seems to have it any more. So, I’ve tracked down the official website that put out the DVDs, and I can buy them straight from the company. Only $25 US/disc. And guess what? They’ve also put out on DVD another of my favorite Mainframe shows, Shadow Raiders. The entire run has been released, resulting in 6 DVDs.

I’ve come to a weird realization about Enterprise. We have yet to meet the ship’s cook, referred to only as Chef. So, I’m starting to think he’s Chef from South Park. I can see it now. A scene in the mess hall of the Enterprise:

Chef>> Hello, Captain!
Archer>> Hey Chef!
Chef>> So, how’s my little space traveler today?
Archer>> Lousy, Chef.
Chef>> Why so, Captain?
Archer>> Well, I’ve met this green skinned alien woman, but I don’t know how to tell her how I feel about her. You know, what can I do to make myself different from everyone she’s ever met?
Chef>> You mean, besides the fact that she’s green and you’re pink?
Archer>> Well, yeah.
Chef>> This is an easy one. You’ve got to seek out the clitoris.
Archer>> What?
Chef>> Seek it out, and she’ll be yours forever.
Archer>> I don’t think this is what they meant when we were told we’d be boldly going where no man has gone before.

I was putting up Christmas lights with my Dad today, and I had one of those ideas that could make someone rich. How many of us, helping our fathers put up Christmas lights, ever ran into this problem? You plug in the lights to check them out, and come across a bulb that’s burnt out. You wiggle it a bit, to see if it’s loose, but it’s not. It’s burnt out. So, you put in another one. This new bulb fails to light up. So, you try again. And again. And again. And finally, it dawns on you. The bulb’s are fine. It’s the socket that’s fried. So, you put up the lights, but you’re all depressed because, thanks to that one bad socket, there’s one bulb that’s always out. So, here’s my idea: glow in the dark light bulbs! You screw them into these bad sockets and, at night, they glow, and thus there are no unsightly gaps in your sting of lights.

One of the biggest revelations I ever made in my life was that indoor Christmas lights and night lights take the same bulbs. How is this cool? Well, for nightlight bulbs, they make these really soft pastel pink and blue colours, and they just look cool on a Christmas tree. Especially those blue ones.

Just an interesting observation I’ve made. It’s a real testament to how mainstream DVD has become. When DVD first came out in late 1997/1998, all the TV commercial would say, “Now available on video. Also on DVD.” Then, around 1999/2000, the TV commercials would say, “Now available on video and DVD!” Now, with the ads for Pearl Harbor, they’re saying, “Now available on DVD and video!”

Actually, this reminds me of something I recently read about the state of bonus features for DVDs. Apparently, some of Hollywood’s major talent is now charging big bucks for their involvement on DVDs. The one that every news source cited was that Arnold Schwarznegger got $10,000 to do a running commentary on Total Recall: Special Edition. This is making studios wonder if such star involvement is warranted for DVD. Adding to this is the fact that the DVD for How The Grinch Stole Christmas did amazingly well, even though there is no running commentary by director Ron Howard and next to nothing in the way of involvement from star Jim Carrey. Or how about Pearl Harbor? It briefly held the record for fastest selling DVD of all time, even though the super-stacked three disc special edition isn’t coming out until May.

I just got Disney’s big Davy Crockett DVD for Christmas. I have a certain nostalgia for Davy Crockett, even though it was on TV 22 years before I was born. Remember the early days of video? When you had to rent both movies AND the VCR? Well, I remember being a kid of about 6 years old, and one of the first movies Dad brought home with a rented VCR was Disney’s Davy Crockett, and I went nuts for it. Even today, it’s still a pretty cool show, even though it’s not quite PC anymore.

Actually, speaking of the early days of video, I have a story for you I read online. This is one of the theories as to why George Lucas has given us about three dozen versions of the Star Wars trilogy on video, but has yet to release it on DVD. Back in the early days of video, late 70s/early 80s, all the big studios were desperate to get big titles in their video libraries. So, 20th Century Fox naturally begged George Lucas to let them release Star Wars. Lucas finally said yes, and when he saw the first ever video version of Star Wars, he was horrified. The first film-to-video transfer process wasn’t very good, and Lucas was disgusted at how much the picture and sound quality degraded in the transfer. So, as the years went by, the film-to-video transfer process was improved, and with each improvement, Lucas re-released Star Wars. It has become Lucas’ obsession to get a theater-quality sound and picture on video for Star Wars, all because that first version was so crappy.

So, flash forward to 1997, when DVD is first starting to hit the market. Again, all the big movie studios were desperate to get big titles in their libraries, and fox again begged Lucas to let them release Star Wars. This time, though, Lucas saw history repeating itself, so he put his foot down and said, “NO! I’m not getting burned twice! I’m not putting it on DVD until the technology is perfected.” Fox persisted, though. They said, “Well, George, you’re the expert on these things, when do you think it’ll be perfected?” Lucas blurted out the date that was most predominant on his mind: “When I’m done the new trilogy; 2005.” And that’s why we’ve got to wait until 2005 to get Star Wars on DVD.

And speaking of Disney, remember for a while when Disney was on every day after school? There was one Disney show I watched that I kinda liked called Swamp Fox, about a member of the volunteer militia during the American Revolution. Only recently did I learn that Swamp Fox, for a while, was the only Disney product banned in Canada! Here’s the story. Naturally, the saga of the Swamp Fox had to be Disney-fied, and Disney needed a really dastardly villain. So, the villains were the Loyalists, those aristocrats loyal to England who fled to Canada when the Revolution began. They were portrayed as being a secret society, almost, who ran things from north of the border, trying to win back America for the crown. Now, as any Canadian who took third grade history can tell you, that’s just not true. The Loyalists came to Canada because THEY WANTED NO PART OF THE FIGHTING, and wanted to stay British. They have become quite an exalted part of Canadian history. So, when Disney first showed Swamp Fox in the late 50s, early 60s, the Canadian government took offence to this portrayal of these early Canadian settlers, and the House of Commons voted to ban Swamp Fox in Canada! The ban must have eventually been lifted, because I saw it on Canadian TV in the late 80s. And do you want to know the final irony? The Swamp Fox was played by the great Canadian actor, Leslie Nielsen. That’s how I learned of the ban, Nielsen and his brother were being interviewed on CBC and it came up. Nielsen’s brother, as it turns out, is a long-standing Member of Parliament, and was even Mulroney’s Deputy PM.

Finally, I followed a link on one of my movie gossip sites to the official website of Peter Laird. This is the comic book artist who got his 15 minutes of fame in the late 80s/early 90s as a co-creator of Ninja Turtles. Anyway, in it he was talking about how he recently met with Steven Barron, director of the first Ninja Turtles movie, to talk about an upcoming movie project that they’re working on together. Barron said, “Hey! I’ve got a present for you,” and he gave Laird an original, rough cut of the first Ninja Turtles movie. Laird says that it’s really rough; there’s no music yet, some scenes are longer, and it’s the original puppeteers doing the Turtle’s voices. But, what amazed Laird was that the original ending was actually filmed, and was included in this rough cut! I’m familiar with this original ending, as it made it into the comic adaption and novelization, both of which I read 11 years ago. Anyway, you know how April was doing all those sketches of the Turtles in the first film? This original ending was the payoff to that. The original ending featured April in an office, and some kind of publisher guy looking at her sketches. The publisher then turns to April and says, “Well, these sketches are good, and it’s an intriguing premise, but I’m afraid that, as a comic book, it’s just too unbelievable.” The camera then pulls back, to out on the publisher’s windowsill. We see the Turtles sitting there, eavesdropping. Raphael turns to his brothers and says, “Too unbelievable?” and then the Turtles, Batman style, jump to the street below.

And then, Laird ended his rough cut description with the statement that caught the eye of my movie news site: “You know, we [himself, Ninja Turtles director Steve Barron, and Ninja Turtle co-creator Kevin Eastman] have got to start bugging New Line (the studio who made the Ninja Turtles films) about doing a special edition DVD.”

Saw something on TV last night I thought you might like. It was the first teaser for Men In Black 2. Here’s the trailer as best as I can remember….

It opens in space. It’s the final shot from the first movie, only running backwards. The narrator talks about an evil force threatening our planet, and that there’s only one organization that can stop them. Not the FBI. Not the CIA. Only…. The camera zooms into Earth. It zooms closer and closer until we’re on the front steps of…the United States Postal Service! We go into the building, where we see a “Kevin,” played by Tommy Lee Jones, rejecting a package saying it “violates section 12 of the US Postal Code.” He tosses the package aside and says, “Next!” and up walks J, again played by Will Smith. J looks at him, Kevin’s name-tag, and says, “Wow. It stood for Kevin. I would have never guessed that cuz you just don’t look like a Kevin, ya know.” Kevin stares at J in an annoyed silence. J says, “OK. The whole story. You used to be the best agent in a top secret organization that polices extraterrestrials on Earth.” We then cut to the MiB HQ, and it’s a scene-for-scene recreation of J’s first day on the job from the first film. As J takes Kevin through the hall, with Kevin staring in awe at all the aliens, J’s speech continues, and it’s a re-working of the “We are the best kept secret in the universe” speech that K gives in the first teaser to the first film. J’s speech is only interrupted once, when they bump into the coffee drinking “worm guys.” They look at J and Kevin, turn to Kevin and exclaim, “K! You’re back! They told us you were killed!”

J and Kevin then enter this room. J ends his speech and tour by saying, “And this is the de-neuralizer. Soon, you will be flooded with (technobabble) radiation, old memories will be unlocked, and you will hold the key to the fate of this planet.” Kevin just says, “Cool.” He then points to the piece of equipment in the middle of the room and asks, “What’s that thing?” J, with a somewhat confused tone in his voice, says, “The…de-neuralizer.”

It then flashes on the screen. “Next summer.”

K rips off the postal worker uniform.

“The men are back…”

K throws on the black suit of the MiB.

“…in black.”

J and K don their sunglasses. They cock their BFGs, and kick in a door. Like in the teaser for the first movie, the door is the “i” in “MiB.” Only this time, the “i” is a roman numeral “II.” So, yeah, it says, “M II B.” the narrator says, “Same universe. New scum.”

We then cut to a scene on a subway. J addresses the passengers, “Ladies and gentlemen, could you please move to the front of the train. We have a bug in the electrical system.” No one moves. J shouts out, “DIDN’T YOU HEAR ME PEOPLE? WE HAVE A BUG!” Still, no one moves. J hears a noise behind him, turns around, and sees the back half of the train being eaten, and that he’s staring down the throat of some mammoth alien. It cuts to the release date: July 3, 2002. In voice over, we hear J: “Oh, NOW you’re moving to the front of the train.”

It’s no Spider-Man or Episode II, but I’ll still be there.

And that’s it! I have rambled long enough! I am back in the groove! So long Vancouver series! Let’s get back to whining about my job and complaining about being a 24-year old virgin living in my parents basement!


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