william shatner

#888: The Limewire Days

RECORD STORE TALES #888: The Limewire Days

I got into the downloading business later than everyone else. As a Record Store manager, I had zero interest in downloads. I’ve never used Napster and I sided with Lars Ulrich when it came down to it.  You might not have cared about Lars’ bottom line, but I cared about mine.  Downloading hurt us.  And we weren’t a corporate entity, we were just a small indy chain.  Eventually in the year 2001, I relented and began using WinMX and Limewire to download rare tracks. I bought so many CDs annually, I figured “why not”? I quickly discovered all the new Guns N’ Roses songs that they played in Rio.

I still remember the first time using WinMX. It was at an old girlfriend’s house and she was showing me how she downloaded music. Hey neighbour was using WinMX too, and gave her a mix CD of all the tracks she had downloaded. I’ll never forget putting on this mix CD, and suddenly from the speakers it’s “Who Let the Dogs Out”!   As the song went on, I remarked “I don’t think I’ve ever heard the verses to this song before. Just the chorus.” Do you know how the verses go?

I copied what the girlfriend showed me, downloaded WinMX, and before you know it, I was listening to “The Blues” by Guns N’ Roses.

After everything dried up on WinMX, we both switched to Limewire where I continued downloading the odd rarity. I accumulated a large music folder, and began burning all my new tracks to mix CDs. I have several volumes of mixes all with tracks downloaded during this period. But there were always odds and ends that I never fit onto a mix CD. I thought all those tracks had been lost, but I just dug up an old CD labelled “MP3 downloads”. It is here that I burned the stragglers, and then stuffed the CD in with some photo discs and forgot all about it.

The title “MP3 downloads” is misleading as there are video files here too (none of which work anymore). The downloads are also not exclusively from Limewire, as we’ll get to. Let’s have a look track by track at what mp3 files I still had in my music folder back in 2004.


This CD is only 303 mb (of 656).

First, the video files are a weird variety of stuff I downloaded and intended to keep.  I didn’t have cable back then, so “Gene Simmons on MTV Cribs” is one I wanted.  Then there’s a file called “Gene’s hair on fire”.  Then there’s a file called “some jackass tells a cop to fuck off”.  I remember that one.  I think I had been searching for Jackass videos, and came across this idiot getting beat by a cop after walking up and giving him the finger.  Some Star Wars videos include the Star Wars Kid vs Yoda, a deleted scene from A New Hope, and something called “Episode 3 Leaked Marketing Video”.  All the video files appear to be corrupt and won’t play on anything.

Onto the music.  I can see there are some tracks here from albums I didn’t own then, but do now.  From the compilation CD Spaced by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, it’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”, “I Walk the Line” and “When I Was Seventeen”.  These are strictly novelty covers, although Nimoy does give it a good effort.  All of these songs were originally released on separate Nimoy and Shatner albums in the late 1960s.  Related to these, I also have “Shaft” by Sammy Davis Jr.  I have long loved Sammy’s glittery version of the Shaft theme.  Who’s the black private dick who’s a sex machine with all the chicks?  Sammy Davis Jr. was!  The guitar work on this is great slippery fun.  I’ll have to get a copy for real.

A fun treat next:  A full hour Peter Criss interview show by Eddie Trunk.  This is with all the songs and music.  Peter was out of Kiss once again, and he spilled the full beans on his whole perspective.  Doing the Symphony show with Tommy Thayer, Peter complains “without Ace, it’s not Kiss”.  This interview is definitely a keeper.  According to the file name, this interview is from May 4, 2004.

Several of the files are really, really low quality Dokken.  These are tiny files, they are so poor.  Demos of “Back for the Attack”, “We’re Illegal”, “It’s Not Love”, “Unchain the Night”, “Upon Your Lips”, and “Sign of the Times”.  A live version of “Paris is Burning”.  Remixes of “Nothing Left to Say” and “I Feel”.  I could have burned all these to a Dokken rarities CD, but the sound quality is poor, I knew I’d never want to listen to it.

There is also a smattering of rare Leatherwolf, including some live stuff.  Some were downloads from their social media pages at the time.  “Tension” is definitely one such official track, an instrumental solo that isn’t on any albums.  (You can tell by the file size it’s official, compared to the low quality Limewire downloads.)  I also have “Black Knight” live with original singer Michael Olivieri, and a partial instrumental called “The Triple Axe Attack”.  I’m not 100% certain what these are, but they don’t seem to have originated on the rare Leatherwolf live album called Wide Open.  Best of all the finds are the three official demos they did with singer Jeff Martin:  “Burned”, Disconnect” and “Behind the Gun”.  Martin did not last, and was replaced by Wade Black of Crimson Glory on the album World Asylum.  Fortunately I had already burned these tracks (and “Tension”) to a bonus CD.

There is a smattering of Gene Simmons demos, varying in quality.  “Heart Throb” is almost unlistenable.  “Howling for Your Love” is OK but I can’t identify if it was later rewritten into something more recognizable.  “It’s Gonna Be Alright” is bright and poppy with a drum machine backing Gene.  Then there is “Jelly Roll”, a heavier track with a riff like “Tie Your Mother Down”.  “Rock and Rolls Royce” is the track that was rewritten into “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em” from Rock and Roll Over.  “Rotten to the Core” was recycled way later on 2009’s Sonic Boom as “Hot and Cold”.  Like the Dokken tracks, I never burned these to CD because of the poor audio that I knew I wouldn’t want to listen to.

Other miscellaneous rarities here include Faith No More, Motley Crue and Van Halen.  Faith No More were known to mess around with covers live, and here I have “Wicked Game” (Chris Isaak) and “We Will Rock You”.  Sound quality is awful and neither are full songs, just them messing around on stage.  The two unreleased Motley Tracks are “Black Widow” and something just labelled “unreleased track” which is actually “I Will Survive”.  Both of these are officially released now so I have no reason to keep them.  Onto Van Halen, not everything sounds shite, but “On Fire” is just a few seconds of a demo.  “Let’s Get Rockin'” is complete.  A good sounding track that later was reworked as “Outta Space” on A Different Kind of Truth.  Then I have 90 seconds of the sneak preview single for “It’s About Time” (2004).  And then just two seconds of shred on a track labelled “VANHwhee”.  So strange!

Other rarities include one Def Leppard treasure called “Burnout”, which was an official download from their site.  It was also available on the CD single for “Goodbye” and a Def Leppard boxed set.  I also have an audio rip of “Lick My Love Pump” from the movie This Is Spinal Tap.  I should really take this and add it to the soundtrack as a bonus track!

I downloaded some miscellaneous songs that I didn’t own the albums for, but intended to get later:

  • Blue Oyster Cult – “Don’t Fear the Reaper” (I was watching Stephen King’s The Stand that year!)
  • Budgie – “Breadfan”
  • Buckethead – “Nottingham Lace” (might be an official download)
  • Cat Stevens – “The Wind”
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Down on the Corner” (mislabelled as “Willy and the Poor Boys”)
  • Fleetwood Mac – “Go Your Own Way”
  • Iced Earth – “Dracula”
  • Iced Earth – “Jack”
  • Kenny Rogers – “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”
  • Marty Robbins – “El Paso”
  • Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper – “Elvis is Everywhere”
  • The Pursuit of Happiness – “I’m An Adult Now”
  • The Pursuit of Happiness – “Hard to Laugh”

Of these, there are some I still have not bought and some I have no intention of getting anymore.  I do own the B.O.C., Budgie, Cat Stevens, CCR, Kenny Rogers, Marty Robbins, and Fleetwood Mac.  I’d still like to get Mojo Nixon to be honest with you!

Finally, there are bits of pieces of funny things that I liked to have hanging around for making mix CDs.  Many are from a website that used to have mp3 files of movie quotes, and the rest are from Homestar Runner.  Does that take you back to the 2000s?  From Homestar, I have “Alright 4 2Night”, “Strongbadia National Anthem”, “Everybody Knows It”, “Ballad of the Sneak”, “Cheat Commandos”, “CGNU Fight Song”, and a computer voice saying “back off baby”!  I might have been using that as an MSN Messenger alert sound.  Any time someone messaged me, the computer would say “back off baby”!  If I didn’t, I should have.  From the movie Sexy Beast I grabbed a bunch of Ben Kingsley’s best lines.  Saying he’s going to put his cigarette out in somebody’s eye, calling someone “porky pig”, yelling “no!” repeatedly, and announcing he had to take a piss.  Because of course.

The last files I found on this CD are strange, but for the sake of a complete and thorough inventory, they are:

  • no_respect:  24 seconds of the pretty terrible “Rappin'” Rodney Dangerfield song from the 80s.
  • 50_10sec:  Actually 11 seconds of the “Smoke on the Water” riff.  I can tell it’s Blackmore.  Why did I keep this?
  • MM Jukebox Plus Upgrade:  18 second software ad that obviously got left there by something I downloaded.  This is probably the first time in my life that I actually played this track!
  • cant_holdon:  36 seconds long.  This took forever to identify.  Lyric searches told me nothing.  Then I figured it out by uploading to YouTube and waiting for the copyright block to tell me what it was!  “Can’t Hold On / Can’t Let Go” by a band called Thunder, but not the band Thunder that you know today.  Probably downloaded by mistake is my guess.  Sounds like something you’d hear in an 80s Bruce Willis flick.

I don’t know how interesting this will be for you to read, but I found it entertaining enough to do this complete inventory.  I had clearly not tried to listen to all the files before, or I would have weeded at least a few out.  It is likely that in 2004 I was getting a new hard drive put in my computer and hastily burned my mp3 files to CD, intending to eventually put them on mix discs like I did with the rest of my mp3 collection.

After a little further digging, I did find that I had burned some of these songs to a mix CD.  Not all, but some.  You can get an idea here of how I’d make use of weird stuff like this.  The rest of the tracks never made it to the mix CD stage, so finding the original mp3 disc is a fun reminder for me of just what I was doing in 2004.  And I’m going to keep that Peter Criss interview, and a few other worthwhile things too.! Productive morning spent, and I hope you enjoyed this look at the way we did things a decade and a half ago.

 

REVIEW: Leonard Nimoy & William Shatner – Spaced Out! (1997)

LEONARD NIMOY & WILLIAM SHATNER – Spaced Out! (1997 MCA)

Although William Shatner has enjoyed a slightly more high profile musical career, it was actually Leonard Nimoy who struck musical gold first!  Nimoy’s debut solo album Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space beat Shatner’s The Transformed Man by a year, in 1967.  Both records are considered novelties, yet were followed up by even more albums.  Shatner’s last, Ponder the Mystery (2013) featured Steve Vai and Rick Wakeman among many others.

In 1997, the Space Channel assembled a fantastic greatest hits compilation of both Starfleet officers’ best.  In 2017, Sir Aaron the Surprising sent me a sealed copy on a lark.  It was meant to be a gag gift, but little did Aaron know I’d actually wanted this CD for a long time!  After all, Shatner’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” has long been a hilariously bad favourite, and Nimoy’s “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” truly is a hoot.  Spaced Out! is a blast-off!

Shatner’s material tends to the so-bad-it’s-funny side of things.  His spoken-word vocals definitely re-imagine many classic songs, including “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”.  Nimoy, meanwhile, uses his baritone to sing charming ditties like “I Walk the Line” and “If I Was a Carpenter”.  In character as Spock, “Highly Illogical” is highly fun.  Nimoy also had a knack for ballads, and perhaps just missed out on a career as a crooner?

Less successful, Leonard goes country on “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town”.  He may have been able to play cowboys in movies, but playing one in music is much more difficult.  Nimoy’s music leaned more to the mainstream, while Shatner’s was experimental, bombastic beat poetry to music.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  “It Was A Very Good Year” is highly questionable.

Top Star Trek geek moment:  Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) took its name from a line in Shakespear’s Hamlet (1602).  In Shatner’s musical recording, “Hamlet”, he actually recites that line a couple decades before the movie was made.

Who would fardels bear
To grunt and sweat under a weary life
But that the dread of something after death
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action

For fans, it’s ultimately cool to have a copy of Shatner reciting those lines.

Let’s not deceive anyone, Spaced Out! is a novelty.   You will chuckle and cringe more frequently than you will tap your toes to the music.  Trekkies/Trekkers owe it to themselves to add this to the collection to expand their own universes.

2/5 stars

 

WTF Comments: Discovery of the Lemming edition

Star Trek: Discovery is a controversial series.  Reviews have been very mixed, and fans are split.

Before reviewing, I watched every Discovery episode twice.  Even three times for some.  My review is rather positive3.5/5 stars — and hopeful for the future of the show.  Discovery is not perfect.  Not only is there room for improvement, but things that simply must improve.  But Star Trek has a history of poor first seasons.  Remember The Next Generation in 1987?  Nobody liked Next Generation best in 1987.  It had a rough, rough start.

My review received lots of great comments.  Nobody agreed with my full assessment, just bits and pieces here and there, but comments were helpful and completely relevant.

All but one!  Enjoy this WTF Comment from Dick Dirk.  

He blocked me shortly after.

In the words of William Shatner, “It’s just a TV show!  Get a life!”

REVIEW: William Shatner – Seeking Major Tom (2011)

Scan_20150828 (5)WILLIAM SHATNER – Seeking Major Tom (2011 Cleopatra)

Why?  Why do I keep doing this to myself?  I spend hard-earned money on something I knew would be shit.  I knew it!  Didn’t I?

The hype was palpable in the air.  Two of my favourite worlds collided — heavy metal and Star Trek.  Captain James T. fucking Kirk, doing sci-fi rock classics, with luminaries of the art such as Ritchie fucking Blackmore, Zakk fucking Wylde, Dave fucking Davies and many, many more.  It’s almost as if it was a compulsory purchase.

I…wished I had…resisted.  (notice the Shatner-like pauses?)

You know how many times I have listened to Seeking Major Tom?  Once.

Let’s go in for round two.  Let’s see what happens.

Did I mention this is a double album?  This is a double album.  The original versions of a lot of these songs are deeply ingrained in our hearts and memories.  “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Learning to Fly”, “Iron Man”.  I have a lot of feelings invested into these songs, and deep respect for every musician playing on the album.  There is even a mini Ozzy Osbourne band reunion on Iron Man, as Zakk Wylde and Mike Inez reteam once again.

Shatner first teams up with Nick Lalensi of the Strokes for “Major Tom (Coming Home)”, and musically it’s perfect, and very Strokes-like…Bill’s vocals take some getting used to.  Not bad though!  He’s not attempting to sing, it’s a spoken word performance.  It’s performing the lyrics as if it was poetry.  For “Major Tom”, it actually works kinda brilliantly.  The original “Space Oddity” is next, and this one features one Ritchie Blackmore and his lovely wife, Candice Night.  Candice adds melody enough with her backing vocals, and Bill makes his style work on the song.  Blackmore is the real star here, and it is too bad his electric guitar is low in the mix.  He takes a solo where there would normally be saxophone.

I’m actually surprised by how listenable this is!  Bill manages to evoke emotion with his monotone, which is remarkable to me.

I’m not familiar with the U2 song “In a Little While” at all.  The space connection here is that astronaut Frank De Winne once read the lyrics live from the International Space Station, beaming his vocals to a U2 concert, recorded for the DVD U2360° at the Rose Bowl.  Bill is joined by an unlikely guest, Lyle Lovett, but once again I am surprised by how well this works.  Lyle’s still got it, I’ll tell you that much!  This segues into a reprise of “Space Oddity”, and then the Steve Miller favourite “Space Cowboy”.  Brad Paisley and Steve Miller himself (he still plays brilliantly)  join Bill on this one, which…well, it crashes and burns in the atmosphere.  Bill takes on the persona of a drunken cowboy (?) and it’s just a bit too weird.

“Space Oddity” returns once again, but this time, we’re going “Space Trucking” with Ian Paice and Johnny Winter…acoustically.  “Come on!  Come on, let’s go Space Truckin’!” invites Bill, coming across more as a creepy old guy than the kind of person who drives a space truck you’d feel comfortable jumping into.  Just wait until he screams, “Yeah, yeah yeah yeah!”  No, no, no, no.  “Rocket Man” (Elton John), featuring progressive rock veteran Steve Hillage, works much better.  Hillage creates sounds similar to the “space whale” call from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Bill’s interpretations of old classics work better when he’s not hamming it up.  Much like his acting.  And ham it up is exactly (predictably) what he did with “She Blinded Me With Science”, featuring Bootsy Collins.   Since the original is so goofy, this works plenty well.  Reggae veteran Toots Hibbert lends some credibility to the Police classic, “Walking on the Moon”.  This is pretty good too!  The ever-excellent Peter Frampton drops by for “Spirit in the Sky”, a song I usually find irresistible due to the vocal melody.  Unfortunately that melody has been gutted, and without it, there’s not much left in terms of a song.

The first (and last) time I listened to this album, I remember being repulsed by “Bohemian Rhapsody”.  You can picture it, can’t you?  It’s terrible.  “I’m just a poor boy,” whimpers Bill, and it’s awful.  “Mama,” he cries, and I’m crying too.

Thankfully, Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine” (with Wayne Kramer and Carmine Appice) is a lot better than that.  It actually rocks pretty heavy, and Bill finds the right tone for his vocals, no problem.  This is noisy goodness and quite possibly the best track on the disc.  A segue back into “Major Tom (Coming Home)” leads into a Sheryl Crow original called “Mrs. Major Tom”.  This is a very nice piano based ballad, showcasing Sheryl’s powerful pipes.  It’s a sequel of sorts to “Coming Home”, about what happens if he doesn’t come home.  Bill doesn’t even appear on this one, strangely enough!  It closes the first disc on a somber but very classy note.

I don’t know where Bill heard The Tea Party, but that’s who he’s covering on “Empty Glass”, featuring Michael Schenker.  This track was from The Tea Party’s final album before breakup, Seven Circles, which I own but can’t remember at all.   I should revisit it soon, because “Empty Glass” (which references Major Tom, a Starman, ground control, and Diamond Dogs) is damn good and heavy.  “Lost in the Stars” is from the 1949 musical of the same time.  The dusky, sparse piano accompanies Bill’s deep speaking voice perfectly.  Still mellow but in tune with the Pink Floyd original is “Learning to Fly”.  The only thing wrong with this version is that there is nobody who sounds like David Gilmour, and his guitar hook is such an important part of the original classic.  Bill sounds perfectly at home, and the musical background is sturdy enough.

The Kinks’ Dave Davies helps Shatner out on guitar, for the Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman”.  It has that campy feel that doesn’t particularly work well.  It’s amusing, but a novelty.  “Twilight Zone” by Golden Earring (known for that chorus of “When the bullet hits the bone), rocks.  Warren Haynes from the Allman’s kicks every ass in the room on his extended guitar solo.  There is then a Shatner original called “Struggle”, written with his producer Adam Hamilton (ex L.A. Guns).   This soft dramatic piece seems vaguely familiar, like a U2 outtake, and is very good in fact.

Winding things down, Sabbath’s “Iron Man” featuring Ozzy’s old band members Zakk Wylde and Mike Inez is an easy one to screw up, and Shatner does so gloriously.  He sounds appropriately Dalek-like on the opening line, “I am Iron Man!” but he attempts to sing the song.  I repeat: he attempts to sing the song “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath.  This goes about as well as you would expect.  Zakk backing him on lead vocals only creates an irritating cacophony.  The album ends on a very different note:  “Planet Earth” by Duran Duran.  Not having any particular attachment to the original, I quite liked this one.  Hamilton plays some killer disco bass on it.  It sounds like “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”.

Going into this for the second time, I fully expected the album to suck again.  The truth is, it doesn’t.  It sure didn’t click with me the first time, but it is truly not a bad album.  Metallica made a double album with vocals like this once; I think it was called Lulu.  From this two disc set, you could extract one good solid CD of enjoyable William Shatner interpretations.  So, given that:

2.5/5 stars

DVD REVIEW: Free Enterprise (1999)


 

FREE ENTERPRISE_0001FREE ENTERPRISE (1999, 2006 “Five Year Mission Extended Edition”, Anchor Bay)

Directed by Robert Meyer Burnett.

I’ll admit I never saw the original cut of this 1999 cult indy classic. I’d heard of it back then, but never saw it. All I’ve seen is this recut version, and I am pleased to bits over it. Not knowing what to expect, I popped the movie into the DVD player. This movie was a good 15 years ahead of its time. Now you can see this every week on The Big Bang Theory. I’d almost go as far as to call Big Bang a ripoff. Almost. Big Bang never got Shatner on their show.

I was immediately inundated with sci-fi and pop culture references to make Kevin Smith wet his bed. Anyone born in the 1970’s will understand. Yet, this is not as cheesily done as the disappointing Fanboys.  Something about this strikes the nerve of authenticity.  From re-enactments of Logan’s Run (“Run, runner!”) to geekouts over Wrath Of Khan laserdiscs, and incorporating Terminator quotes into everyday life, if you’re a sci-fi geek, you will never find a more wretched hive…sorry, got carried away there. Throw in Swingers influences for the late 20’s crowd in the late 90’s and you have a pretty entertaining film.  Although in the wake of Big Bang Theory, I fear viewers today will simply feel they’ve seen this before.

FREE ENTERPRISE_0004Eric McCormack is a struggling writer (his latest screenplay, Brady Killer — a horror movie set in the Brady house — is pretty much junk).  Rafer Weigel (who?) is a film editor for a tiny studio, making movies like Beach Babe Bingo Fiesta. Their lives consist of trying to score, geeking out over Star Trek (“only original, only classic!”), and in Rafer’s case, paying the bills without hawking his Trek goods. Their lives take a turn for the interesting when they are browsing books and run into…William Shatner (browsing porn), as played by William Shatner.

This is, in my own humble geek opinion, Shatner’s best movie. At times he plays himself understatedly dark, other times with panache, and outrageously at others. Most of all, Shatner’s Shatner is whacko. A lonely whacko, and lovable, but also out-of-his-tree whacko, as if every story you ever heard about his ego was true. He is working on his own film project, a little epic. William Shatner and William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. A musical version. Six hours long. Three intermissions. With Shatner playing all the parts. Except Calpurnia. He was thinking about getting Sharon Stone for that part.

Shatner, as great as he is, is only the background for this lovingly made film. He appears in childhood dream sequences, and he pops up unexpectedly when the characters need to confess their problems to what essentially amounts to a friendly, lonely stranger. Our main characters are going through their own late-20’s problems, mostly with women. The performances are merely adequate, certainly not Oscar-worthy, but damned if McCormack doesn’t do the best Shatner monologue that I’ve ever seen.  It’s a very, very good Shat.

This is not a complex story, but it is a warm one about friends and Trek, and is infinitely re-watchable. I pull it off the shelves every year or so to enjoy and geek out. I can’t say the same thing about Fanboys.  Its only flaw is its ending, which is a shame since the ending is kind of the important part.  Considering that the ending is a musical performance by William Shatner though, there’s some camp value to it.  It’s just…not very good.

FREE ENTERPRISE_0005The DVD bonus features are pure awesomeness at warp 9. My favourite was a pilot for a series called Cafe Fantastique that was never picked up, but damn, it should have been. The makers of Free Enterprise came up with a series where they just discuss science fiction news and films over drinks in a bar with special guests. Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) appears in this pilot. It’s kind of like that show that Jon Favreau had where he just hangs out at dinner with his friends. Shoulda woulda coulda been a series. I would have watched it, and so would you.  Lastly there is a large booklet with lots of pictures and essays, and a glossary of geek speak.  For example “Soylent Green is people!”

Pickup Free Enterprise if you:
a) are a Shatner fan
b) love Kevin Smith style films
c) think Han shot first.

3.5/5 stars. An indispensable part of my Trek library.

 

DVD REVIEW: Fanboys (2009)

FANBOYS_0001FANBOYS (2009)
Directed by Kyle Newman

For what seemed like years, we waited…and waited…and waited…for what seemed like it could be the funniest movie ever made. Details trickled out. The trailer came long before the movie. And then when the movie itself finally arrived, that terribly familiar thud of disappointment sank in.

There are so many movies that do what Fanboys does, but so much better. Free Enterprise is a good example. Paul is another. It’s unfortunate that with a decent cast and great spoof material, they could not do better. At least the movie studio didn’t excise the cancer storyline as they wanted to, but what disappointed me was that the movie didn’t live up to the hype — cancer or no cancer, it’s weak.

Funny bits: I liked the Rush references, but they were done better in I Love You Man. I liked the Shatner cameo, but I liked it better in Free Enterprise. I liked Billy Dee Williams as “Judge Reinhold”, but come on…that Reinhold joke has been used twice before, on Arrested Development and Clerks: The Animated Series! I liked the Seth Rogen cameo(s), especially as the hapless Star Wars fan who thinks he’ll be the coolest guy ever by getting a full back tattoo of Jar Jar Binks. That was funny! Also cool was Ethan Suplee as Harry Knowles (Ain’t It Cool News).

Your story (such as it is): It is 1998. Linus has terminal cancer. He will not live long enough to see Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which he and his three friends have dreamed about since childhood. The plan: break into Skywalker Ranch, and steal it. Brilliant setup.

This sets into motion your typical road trip movie. Sidetracks into the desert, biker bars, being forced to strip, peyote…I’ve seen this all before: Beavis and Butthead and Detroit Rock City anyone? Take your favourite modern road trip movie and superimpose it over Fanboys. They are the same.

The movie ends with one funny but ominous line: “What if the movie sucks?” And it did, and after waiting this long, Fanboys didn’t fare much better.

2/5 stars

Sam Huntington … Eric
Chris Marquette … Linus
Dan Fogler … Hutch
Jay Baruchel … Windows
Kristen Bell … Zoe

MOVIE REVIEW: The Captains (2011)

This review is for Sebastien!

CAPTAINS 1

THE CAPTAINS (2011, directed by William Shatner)

Who else but William Shatner should do a documentary on all the major Star Trek captains and the people who played them? Shatner obviously knows the rigors of a weekly TV series, and the impact that Star Trek has on a career. With that in mind, Shatner boards a Bombardier jet to speak with Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula, and Chris Pine.

William Shatner is excellent as an interested, intelligent interviewer. Just watch him with Patrick Stewart. Listen to his questions, as he probes. These are some of the best, deepest Star Trek interviews you will ever see. Shatner clearly has a talent for conversation. This is a remarkable side of the man that has carefully crafted a later image as a funny guy. The only place he awkwardly stumbles is with Avery Brooks.  Brooks, also a very intelligent man, chooses to answer many of his questions by tinkling away at a piano. That must have been strange….

If you are a fan of Star Trek, old generation, next generation, any generation, then this movie is recommended. It will certainly help you get to know and appreciate these great actors who played the captains. William Shatner accomplishes this with an appropriate mix of humour (watch how he meets Kate Mulgrew) and feeling. Mix into that some wonderful footage of him clowning around at conventions, too.

Great film. Shatner’s best directorial offering.

4/5 stars

Part 121: Movies

RECORD STORE TALES PART 121:  MOVIES

 As a movie buff I was glad when one of our stores decided to carry VHS tapes!  My movie collection grew massively at the time.  I had access to lots of cool items, in widescreen format.  I bought virtually everything that we saw come in, if it was in widescreen format.  The staff, T-Rev in particular, knew to keep an eye out for widescreen movies for me.  This opened up a whole new retail world for us, for now we had customers that were not interested in music at all, just movies.  Of course movie knowledge now came into play, especially when customers would ask a question like, “Do you have that John Wayne movie where he’s after the outlaw guys?”

In 1998 or 1999, I bought my first DVD player.  We started carrying DVDs at that time as well.  That was exciting too.   A lot of people had been asking about them.

When they were still big, you could expect to pay $8.99 to $11.99 for a used VHS tape.  $5.99 if it was a cheapie bin special.  For DVDs, you might expect to pay $16.99 to $19.99 for a used one.  That was in the beginning, prices dropped quickly and within five years, DVDs were almost as cheap as CDs!  We even had laserdiscs, on the rare occasion that they came in.  They were giant.  If you don’t remember what I’m talking about, here’s a size comparison to a CD.

We learned right away though that handling DVDs was not the same as handling CDs!  Maybe the plastic they were made of was softer, because they scratched so much more easily than a CD, and the scratches were so much harder to remove.  This trouble was doubled with the 2-sided DVD discs.

Fixing a scratched double sided DVD was very, very difficult.  You could spend 5 minutes buffing the scratches out of one side, only to find that handling the disc put more scratches in the other side.  They were very tricky, and a lot of the DVD discs that we sold in the early days looked terrible, for that reason.  They would work fine on most players (most), but looked cloudy and streaky.  And a lot of our DVD customers were really, really picky.

Eventually the 2-sided discs became a lot less common.  In the meantime, we had to set up display spaces for DVDs, figured out how to store the discs themselves behind the counter without damaging them, and so on.  Even slight handling or dust could create problems.  Dusting the DVDs could often make them look worse, as the wiping left slight but visible scratches.

At first the selection was pretty poor.  Sony were giving away a number of titles for free with their players, so we had a lot of copies of Sphere, and The Negotiator.  Trade-ins started after a few months.  We started seeing box sets, before they were really common, Criterion Editions, all kinds of stuff.  It happened quick, our stock grew and grew….

…And so did my own personal collection!  Ain’t it the way?

Continued in Part 284:  The Impact of Movies

Part 86: Captain Gold Shirt

One time, we almost got sued for wrecking some guy’s golden shirt.

We had this annoying sidewalk sign.  Everybody hated it.  When the wind caught hold of it, it would always fall over, if not go for a short jog.  Some days I didn’t bother putting it out, I hated it so much.

I never hated it more, however, than the day that idiot in the golden shirt walked past.  Our sign took up half the sidewalk (another reason I hated it) and this idiot wasn’t looking where he was going and sideswiped it.  I knew right away because I heard the sign crash.  I looked outside and I saw this guy stumbling next to the downed sidewalk sign.

“Oh shit.” I concluded.

One of the girls immediately ran out to see if the guy was OK.  Yeah, he was fine.  Not a scratch.  But his golden shirt was torn!  Oh my God!

He threatened to sue!  He wanted the owners name and contact information!  We provided the requested data.

“You’re going to get a call from my lawyer about this, you wait and see,” said Captain Gold Shirt.

Pffftr.  Gold shirt?  Who do you think you are, James T. Kirk or something?