The movie voice passes away

Getting into radio, I came up with my best impression of Don LaFontaine[wiki], but it never quite worked until I was able to take that element and combine it with the Dragonball Z[wiki] announcer to come up with something of my own. That makes this news a little more noteworthy to me.

Don LaFontaine, the voiceover king whose “In a world …” phrase on movie trailers was much copied — and much parodied — has died, according to media reports. He was 68. [cnn]

Movie previews might never be the same. All fifteen minutes of them.

A great scene from The Great Dictator

TruthDig passed this on today, and they were pretty spot on when saying that it seems to ring true today just as much as the wanning days of WWII when Charlie Chaplin[wiki] did this talkie. There were numerous films by Chaplin that I’ll forever hold close to my heart, but The Great Dictator[imdb] transcends that which he was so well known for, that bumbling tramp who had crazy, silent adventures.

SiCKO and the American health care debate

sicko.jpg Since I watched SiCKO[imdb] the other night, I figured I would loft some thoughts out about it. It’s not easy because I certainly have an appreciation as much as a total annoyance with Michael Moore[wiki]. It’s nothing politically related, just a matter of preference. He’s good at what he does, but there is a certain point where you just want stop watching or listening to the guy for the sake of enjoying the silence.

Overall, a pretty good movie. Even being a documentary, it entertains as well as educates people on the reality of the health care system in the states. Being in Canada, there are people here that are surprised by it. It’s rare, but some folks, even this close to the border, have no frame of reference as to the state of the system in the U.S.

“But you guys are supposed to be one of the richest nations in the world.”

I’m not going to get too deeply into that statement, but the reality of it should give any American a reason to say, “Yeah, you know, you’re right. But why don’t I have any health care coverage unless I have a sweet job with sweet benefits?”

I had a job with the University of Iowa, a state owned and funded institution, for nearly a year before I started to display my lack of satisfaction with the position I had. Being a broadcast engineer, I was working with high voltage equipment on a regular basis. I even crunched my hand under a 200-pound power supply to a FM transmitter, covered by workman’s compensation but no broken bones or bleeding.

It was that instance that freaked me out. You’re told how vital you are to an operation like that, but working in the most hazardous position in the whole place, they never gave me medical coverage at the start. I mentioned that I was going to have to find something else with benefits, meaning leaving the stations. I had medical within a week or so after that, dental came a little while later.


My story pales in comparison to some, but it’s tough for nearly anyone. You can get any job anywhere, but the first question out of anyone’s mouth is, “Benefits?” Sometimes that American dream gets limited by what job you can or can’t do simply by working the job you hate because it has more benefits than the job you want or love. It’s an awful catch.

The one point that I constantly point out to people about this subject is that the main reason we don’t have anything protecting the health of the U.S., such as a universal or socially controlled medical program, is taxes. That American dream is the ability to have whatever you want, as much as you want, and the opportunities are, supposedly, limitless to achieve it.

But don’t you dare make Americans pay taxes. No one wants to pay extra money to the government for anything, even if that means that universal health care coverage would mean anyone working a white collar job to the three part-time jobs, single mom of two kids would have the same amount of medical coverage in the event that either of them contracted a life threatening illness like cancer or TB. The only difference between those two people being socio-economic status, and there is a good chance, rich or lower class, neither would budge on the thought of giving more of their money to the government in exchange for free health care or reduced cost of medication.

That’s when the title of SiCKO starts to make sense to me. It’s a sick circle that the U.S. has gotten itself into. I would love for it to change, but that would really take a revolution of a magnitude that I can’t fathom. That’s not to say that the system here in Canada is the perfect example of what to do, but there isn’t far to look for the positive effects this could have for an entire nation. After all, wouldn’t it be nice if the government cared more to spend money on its own people?

Punk’s Not Dead

Following my own link on my last post about T(I)NC, I found a news update about the documentary Punk’s Not Dead. Apparently the band, among many others, lent some time towards the filming of this movie, and it made me interested to find out more about it. From the IMDB entry:

On the edge of the 30th anniversary of punk rock, Punk’s Not Dead takes you into the sweaty underground clubs, backyard parties, recording studios, and yes, shopping malls and stadium shows where punk rock music and culture continue to thrive. Thirty years after bands like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols infamously shocked the system with their hard, fast, status-quo-killing rock, the longest-running punk band in history is drawing bigger crowds than ever, “pop-punk” bands have found success on MTV, and kids too young to drive are forming bands that carry the torch for punk’s raw, immediate sound. Meanwhile, “punk” has become a marketing concept to sell everything from cars to vodka, and dyed hair and piercings mark a rite of passage for thousands of kids. Can the true, nonconformist punk spirit still exist in today’s corporatized culture? Featuring interviews, performances, and behind-the-scenes journeys with the bands, labels, fans, and press who keep punk alive, Punk’s Not Dead dares to juxtapose pop-punk’s music and lifestyle against the roots in the 70s and 80s, resulting in unexpected revelations. A DIY search for the soul of a subculture and a celebration of all things loud, fast, and spiked, Punk’s Not Dead shows punk is stronger and more relevant today than it’s ever been. [imdb]

Basically, I think this seeks to answer the question as to if punk has sold out. I’ve seen plenty evidence to say yes, but there is a boat load of examples to say the exact opposite. Just depends on your point of view.

Find out more on, and check out the following preview via YouTube. I know I’d like to check it out.

The (International) Noise Conspiracy – up for sale

Been hit with a bit of a head cold over this weekend, so that found the TV being a major source of comfort today, especially with a number of documentaries that I’ve been meaning to watch for a while. After watching SiCKO[imdb], Cocaine Cowboys[imdb], and The F Word[imdb], it reminded me of this video from T(I)NC that I was surprised to find a number of weeks ago. Didn’t even know they made a video for this song.

Can’t wait for the new album that they are working on, but The Lost Patrol Band is filling in the gaps nicely until then. Gotta see them the next time they come to town as well.

Obligatory post about seeing Transformers

A lot of the people that I have been talking to about the new Transformers[imdb] movie have often been very excited about it, but many of them follow up with saying that they were never a fan of the original cartoon series. You know, “back in the day”?

I’m starting to wonder a couple of things. Is it too nerdy or geeky to admit that you watched this as a kid? On the other hand, was I just paying attention at the right age to let it take affect? Somewhere in my parent’s house, I still have a variety of Autobots[wiki] and Decepticons[wiki], some with more missing parts and pieces than others. I’m not afraid of saying that I loved the series growing up.

Ahead of seeing a killer futbol match this past Saturday, Rebecca and I caught the flick with Duane, John, and Travis downtown in a surprisingly half-full theatre. That only strikes me based on the $67.6 million that it took in over the weekend, and I’m ok with helping support that.

Optimus Prime

Bottom line, good movie. I was highly entertained, and that is always what I asked for in any movie that I watch.

What you want to know is if it does justice to what I remember as a kid, right? Well, it doesn’t, and I didn’t expect it to. There certainly is some homage to my oh so found memories of waking up very early on Saturday mornings to patiently wait through Jem[wiki] in order to hear that sweet theme song come on(this is prior to cable, and there wasn’t anything else to watch on the other three channels). I was once scolded in kindergarten for humming the tune far too loud for my teacher’s liking. If you think that’s bad, I had a fellow classmate in second grade who thought he really was a Transformer. When asked to transform, he always gave the excuse that there wasn’t enough room for him to do it.

Still the effects are outstanding. When you see Optimus Prime[wiki] for the first time, you can’t help but get a slight smile on your face. Then his voice kicks in, and I was instantly transported to those pre-sunrise hours of my childhood. Strange how Peter Cullen[wiki] can do that nearly twenty years later.


I’m still upset that Bumblebee[wiki] isn’t a Volkswagen Beetle, but there is subtle homage to his original identity when he first makes an appearance. Jazz[wiki] was pretty spot on with his character, and there is a lot to the robots’ characters that reflect back to the cartoon series to keep things old school while getting an updated, Hollywood remake done to it.

It’s true that there are some plot line issues, and some details kinda skip along like a rock across water. Welcome to the world of summer blockbusters, and this is exactly what I expected going in. I wouldn’t say that my hopes were low, but there was a lot of satisfaction by what I experienced. I say that by taking it for what the movie was, not over thinking about the series I grew up with.

Simpsons craze in the lower mainland

I know that I am completely behind on the hype, but in case you missed it, here is something completely worth noting. Rebecca and John Biehler have both been to and posted pictures of the smartest pieces of marketing that I have seen in a long time, if not the most brilliant.

Flickr photo by miss604
Photo credit: Miss604 on Flickr

Around the world, 7-11 has turned a selection of their stores into “Kwik-E-Marts” in anticipation of the upcoming Simpsons movie on July 27th.

Over the weekend, 7-Eleven Inc. turned a dozen stores into Kwik-E-Marts, the fictional convenience stores of “The Simpsons” fame, in the latest example of marketers making life imitate art.

Those stores and most of the 6,000-plus other 7-Elevens in North America will sell items that until now existed only on television: Buzz Cola, KrustyO’s cereal and Squishees, the slushy drink knockoff of Slurpees. [yahoo]

Dan Lilly has a great series of pictures on Flickr, and I had a chance to talk to him the other day about it. He had a good point. There are numerous cities, around the world, that have one of these. New York, Chicago, Dallas, etc. All these large cities, and the one in Canada ends up in Coquitlam.

Flickr photo by Dan Lilly
Photo credit: zonaboy on Flickr

Buh? I have a hard enough time teaching some of my American friends that I live in Vancouver, not to mention that I live nowhere near Toronto or the frozen north. Perhaps this was a matter of the location meeting the requirements needed to make it look like an Apu-run Kwik-E-Mart, but the trek to get there is something many, hardcore fans are doing.

I’ve heard reports of people sticking to the floor around the “squishee” machine being worse than any movie theatre that they have ever been in, and there are 7-11’s in the downtown area selling plenty of merchandise to buy Matt Groening[wiki] another yacht yet.

30 years of Star Wars

Darth Vadar and Bobba Fett on their hogs? I realize that it’s the 30th anniversary of Star Wars this week, but what really gets to me is this action figure package that I found in a Toys R’ Us a few weeks ago.

When, at any point, did Boba Fett[wiki] or Darth Vader[wiki] ride a motorcycle? And if they did anything remotely close to riding a said, similar vehicle, you can bet your butt that it didn’t have wheels on it. Am I right or am I right?

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the first three flicks. We even taped Star Wars[imdb] onto beta when they played it on national TV, and I watched that tape over and over until you could barely make out the video on the screen. I must have been four at the time, and affinity has wained very little, more so for the original three. As cool as Samual Jackson is with a light saber, I just can’t wrap my appreciation around the last three. Well, the battle with all the wookies in #3 was pretty awesome, but the rest left me a little unsatisfied.

Alas, the 30 year empire of George Lucas[wiki] is going strong. Good for him, but senseless toys like this make me sad. Legos I get, but stuff that wasn’t even in the movie is just ridiculous.

He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny

Easter Bush

On a very serious note, it was really sad to hear that director Bob Clark passed away last week. He was killed in a car accident, along with his son, by a drunk driver while driving around L.A. Clark was the man behind a constant staple of quotes in my daily vocabulary, not to mention the mandatory watching of A Christmas Story[imdb] every year… at least twenty times… in one day.

Not to be a complete downer, I do hope that your Easter was a good one and you enjoy the Easter Bush. In a week, my parents will be visiting Vancouver for a little while, so our long weekend will be spent preparing for their arrival, not to mention figuring out where to explore while they are here, not to mention being just in time to experience playoff madness as the Canucks take on the Dallas Stars in round one. Woo! Should be a blast.

Note: The Easter Bush is a personal creation. We took Rebecca’s official, A Christmas Story Ralphie (action) figure and removed the pink bunny outfit that comes with it. We then applied that to a George Bush figurine that my parents gave me, comically, for my birthday one year. Thus, the Easter Bush has been born.


I saw 300[imdb] about two weeks ago, but it didn’t hit me to mention anything about it until now. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Was it not memorable enough that I had to rush home and write up something about it? Not particularly. I think the main thing to blame is the fact that it was St. Patrick’s Day and we caught the Canucks on HD at our friends on the north shore that night (but that’s a post for another time).

300Let me just say that I am sick of people saying that it has historical flaws. You think?! It’s based on a graphic novel[wiki], which is just another way of saying “fancy comic book”. The story is based on an actual, historic event, sure. But it’s still a graphic novel, meaning amazing, conceptual designs by creative minds not bound to traditional forms of storytelling.

It’s words with really cool pictures. I think it’s safe to say that anything can happen.

With that out of the way, I liked it a lot. Nearly everything is touched with CGI, but it doesn’t get in the way of the film itself. It’s a great story with just the right amount of acting for a movie on this scale.

300 - Ripped SpartansI do want to know the secret of getting that buff though. Is it a Spartan thing, blue screen technology, or what? Regardless, it paid homage to the legend that the Spartans mostly likely wanted to leave behind in light of the story that this film portrays. Well, maybe not completely.

There was a moment just after a battle where the Spartans were standing there in victory, music faded away, and it was all quiet in the theatre. Someone in the back whistled at the shot on screen in a very loving manner. A bunch of sweaty, blood covered, dirty warriors stood there as the camera slowly panned back, all wearing their capes, Spartan speedos, sandals, and not much else, maybe a helmet. The whole place laughed at the perfect timing.

On a note of the music, there is a little bit of the industrial rock vibe here and there, but it doesn’t hurt the film as a whole like I feared it could. Orchestra pieces waver in and out of the movie as well, but that Nine Inch Nails vibe comes at perfectly timed moments, especially the battle scenes, which there are a few of.

So on a personal level, I was entertained for close to two hours, and that is the one thing that I ask of any movie. Shot well, great story, and it didn’t feel like I was watching Gladiator at all. The only thing that made me uncomfortable was some of the battle scenes, but that’s not a bad thing. Make me feel a little squirmish, I don’t mind. Movies that make your emotions trigger is all good.