Jim Bray's Car & Tech rants - publishing online exclusively since 1995
Updated: September 14, 2023

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The Giant Gila Monster

Obscure giant critters get a new lease on life thanks to new film restoration and distribution company

Talk about a couple of monster hits!

Well, they may not have been huge box office successes, though the supplements accompanying this two-disc Blu-ray set say the producer made his investment back multiple times over, but The Giant Gila Monster and The Killer Shrews are well worth your "guilty pleasure" time even though they have never gained the kind of adoration of such contemporaries as Forbidden Planet, or even Them!

Still, if you have a short attention span (the longer of the two films is only 74 minutes!) or just enjoy slumming in the home theatre with a couple of "better than you might think" titles, this new release from Film Masters could be right up your alley.

Both films came out in 1959, and were made outside the traditional Hollywood studio system. Of the two, I preferred The Giant Gila Monster the best, but both have their moments – quite a few of them, actually.

The Giant Gila Monster is the "A" list title here and has not only been upgraded to high definition, Film Masters also gave it a new, 4K restoration – and it shows! But no 4K disc, alas.

Both films were the brainchild of Texas entrepreneur and radio giant Gordon McLendon and they were released as a double bill that was ideal for the drive-in movie crowd (remember drive-ins? They were great ways to catch films when you had small kids, or just wanted to make out with your girlfriend if you didn't care about the films).

But let's talk about the movies themselves.

The Giant Gila Monster, arguably the better of the two, tells the tale of – believe it or not – a giant Gila monster that suddenly shows up and starts terrorizing a small town and its environs. Here's how the PR blurb describes it:

"When two teens disappear from a small Texas town, the locals think they've eloped. But soon it becomes clear that something much more sinister is afoot. And if a giant Gila monster isn't enough for you, there are plenty of cool cars and some ersatz rock 'n' roll sung by star Don Sullivan (The Monster of Piedras Blancas)."

Yessiree, you're not only getting a pretty entertaining giant monster flick, it also features some cool hot rods (and models of same that aren't quite as cool, but needed to be made so the real, live Gila monster they used as their villain looks big enough to be threatening). And, yes, there's some music as well, though if I agreed it was rock 'n' roll I'd probably be struck by lightning.

The last time I saw a flick that offered rock 'n' roll music in an otherwise straightforward (well…) story was Top Secret, though that movie never pretended to be anything other than a broad comedy a la "Airplane!", especially since it was the follow up to Airplane! by the same writer/directors. But I digress… more...

TechnoFile drives the 2023 Lexus RX 350

Lexus downsizes its RX 350's power and upsides its annoyances

Lexus' top-selling mid-size SUV has received a new set of clothes, a new engine, and new interfaces for its current generation. I only wish I could say they're all good things.

I've always liked the RX 350 and the 300 and 330 that preceded it. It's luxurious, comfortable and will probably outlast its owners. But it has never been particularly fun or sporty, despite some versions wearing Lexus' "F Sport" badging that's usually more extra trim and toys than extra oomph and enjoyment.

In fact, in about the mid-2000's I drove a RX 330 while I was working part time as a Lexus customer shuttle driver, and I liked it a lot. It had an automatic transmission that featured a good manual mode and, for sitting in eight hours a day, you couldn't really beat it.

That was then.

Lexus still uses the 350 designation, which once meant it came with the company's really nice, really smooth and really torquey 3.5 litre V6. The mad stampede to save Parent Earth, however, regardless or whether or not it's really warranted, is causing many, if not most, carmakers to downsize their engines, with turbo fours displacing (no pun intended – well, not much of one, anyway) the V6's of the world.

And that's the case here.

So, this fifth generation RX now comes with a 2.4 litre four-cylinder turbo, which actually makes 20 fewer horsepower (275) than the 3.5-liter V6 (295 horsepower) that preceded it. I loved that old engine. The new one, meh.

Oh, there's enough power on tap, but there's also turbo lag now that was never there before, and that helps make the new RX seem a tad more reluctant to take off than it did before. Once you're going it's fine, though. But surely the folks at corporate giant Toyota/Lexus could have figured out a way to get rid of the lag. more...

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Top Hughes and Wyler films make their way onto 4K disc

Paramount has released another round of popular titles to their growing library of 4K discs and, while they may not be the most spectacular examples of the 4K disc medium, they both shine on the ultra high-definition discs and are well worth seeing and/or owning.

Ferris Bueller's Day off was a bit of a change of pace for writer/director John Hughes. He spent a lot of the 1980's making teen flicks from "The Breakfast Club" to "Sixteen Candles," but "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is bit of an anomaly, in that rather than featuring an ensemble cast telling their own stories, it concentrates on one fellow – Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) – a smart and popular kid who goes through life as if it's set to music.

One particularly beautiful Spring day he decides that life, whether set to musical accompaniment or not, is too short to spend slaving over books at school. He decides to cut class, dreaming up and putting into motion a well-planned "sickness" alibi – his ninth, apparently, of that particular school semester.

Roman Holiday, meanwhile, is yet another great film from the great William Wyler, who had already made a number of classics, from Wuthering Heights to The Best Years of Our Lives, and would go on to make even more, including the 1959 masterpiece Ben-Hur. Roman Holiday is a 1953 romantic comedy starring Gregory Peck and a young up and comer named Audrey Hepburn, whose performance ended up winning her an Oscar, one of three such statuettes the classic "fish out of water/star-crossed lovers" tale took home that year.

Roman Holiday may not be quite the stature of those above-named films, but that does not by any means indicate that it's a slouch. No, indeed, it's a great movie as well. more..

Ford F-150 Raptor R

Ford Raptor R – R stands for Reality-challenging!

Forgive me if I write this column while hunkering down under my desk, because I'm afraid I might get struck by lightning for actually liking a full-sized pickup truck.

Of course, Ford's F-150 Raptor R isn't your garden variety pickup truck. No, indeed. It's an outrageously in your face vehicle that lets you cut a swath through traffic while also waking the neighbourhood with its outrageous exhaust bellow.

And it's an absolute blast!

And all this truck goodness and fun – all 700 horsepower of it – can be yours for a paltry $150,000 CDN, if you can find one for that price. Apparently, there's a waiting list and the trucks are selling for much more than list. I haven't heard that officially, but I was told that by someone who would know.

Anyway, Ford's Raptor has been around for several years now, but to compare that original Raptor with this one isn't really fair. This is an "UberRaptor" that eschews the regular Raptor's EcoBoost V6 (which works very well) with a big, supercharged V8 – the sort of engine you might imagine in a high-end Mustang (and where I imagine it would be even more of a blast!).

As Ford says, it's "the fastest, most powerful, most extreme high-performance off-road desert Raptor yet."

I didn't go anywhere near off road, let alone off pavement, so my comments deal with having the truck on city streets and paved highway. And as such, it provided the most fun I've had in a pickup truck. Not only is that supercharged V8 powerful and loud, you can tweak it via buttons on the steering wheel to make it "sporty" and that can tighten up the suspension and steering (there are other settings, too, such as for off road and just plain "comfort") as well as make that outrageous exhaust blat even blattier, if there's even such a word.

I wonder if that's why my next-door neighbours suddenly decided to list their house... more...

Rio Bravo

Warner Bros. releases sparkling new versions of a classic western – and a classic "eastern" – on 4K disc  

One of the great westerns of all time, Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo, has made the transition to 4K disc, and it was worth the wait.

Ditto for "East of Eden," Elia Kazan's take on John Steinbeck, a movie I didn't like very much but which many others seem to think is equally classic to Rio Bravo. Those people are wrong, of course, but at least fans of the film now have a much more state-of-the-art version to be bored by. 

Rio Bravo tells the story of Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne), his burned out drunk of a friend and deputy, Dude (Dean Martin) and deputy-sidekick Stumpy (Walter Brennan), along with hotshot new kid/fast draw in town Colorado (Ricky Nelson). The story follows the four of them (Four for Texas?) as they await the consequences of Chance arresting a lowlife, but connected, hood for gunning down an unarmed man.

Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) is that small-time low life, but since he's the no-good brother of a no-good Bigwig – and blood is blood - brother Nathan (John Russell) wants to save his sibling's neck from being stretched by the gallows. And he has plenty of time and resources to do it: Chance is holding Joe in a cell at his sheriff's office, waiting for the federal Marshall to show up a few days down the road. So, Nathan basically lays siege to the town, while sending in hired killers to, if not exactly spring Joe, at least to intimidate Chance and make life as difficult as possible.

Kind of like the Biden DOJ…

It's a great story, though as such character-driven stories tend to, it does tend to meander at a leisurely pace. more...

Mazda CX-90

Mazda's big new SUV bucks trends as well as embracing them

Is Mazda's all-new CX-90 three row SUV another "Mazdapiece" from the Japanese manufacturer?

I'd say yes, having just spent two weeks in two different versions of the vehicle. Now, I'm a Mazda fan anyway, thanks to their Japanese reliability and Mazda's famous "Zoom-Zoom" fun to drive quotient. Even a big SUV like this – formerly called the CX-9 – was more fun to drive than it had any right to be. They don't use that little kid's Zoomy utterance any more, alas, but the vehicles still embody the concept well.

Now, along comes the company with a new and supposedly improved model that, in typical Mazda tradition, marches to its own tune, thumbing its corporate nose in a manner of speaking at the competition for their penchant for downsizing as a way to keep on the good side of the Gaia gurus.

Mazda says the CX-90, its new flagship, is built on its "all-new large platform" and is wider, longer, and features "more aggressive proportions that perfectly blend its high-performance appearance with world-class refinement". It's also available in two "electrified" versions, a new and turbocharged inline six (the nose thumbing version) as well as a plug-in hybrid that toes the eco line in a more conventional manner.

My first week behind the wheel of the CX-90 was in the top line Signature version with the inline six. I was salivating at the thought of an inline six – especially now that much of the competition is eschewing sixes of any persuasion in favour of turbocharged four bangers. Indeed, I'm a fan of that number of cylinders, whether they be mounted in a line, a V, or a "boxer" configuration.

A six is a return to form for Mazda, too, since the CX-9 started life as a V6 and then – like much of the competition – they downsized the cylinder count and added a turbocharger. That turbo four is a peach, and offered plenty of torque for such a large vehicle. Now, that turbo is available in smaller Mazdas, too, such as the CX-5 and CX-50. My best friend has it in his CX-5 and loves it. more...

Jim Bray at his most oafish

Keeping your wheels turning on summer roads requires only some common sense

a special TechnoFile rant

Now that summer is here and many folks are preparing for their vacation road trips, it might make sense to ensure your vehicle will get you where you want to go.

This might seem like a "duh" moment, but it's easy to forget to take a few seconds to give your vehicle the once over – twice, if necessary – to see that it's up to snuff and the chances are minimized that you won't get to your destination, let alone back again.

What can a motorist do without having to break the bank by heading over to your favourite mechanic's?

Well, wouldn't you know, the British site Road Angels, which says its raison d'etre is making "Britain's roads safer through educating and empowering motorists to make more informed decisions about their driving," has come up with a quick list of six things you can do – and if you decide to surf by their site and partake of their various offerings of dashcams, radar detectors, parking aids and the like (available on their site in various currencies including whatever pittance the Canadian dollar may be worth these days), they'd probably be even happier.

Meanwhile, here's what the Road Angels (as opposed to Road Apples, I imagine) recommend, with my comments added. It deals with basic maintenance – stuff so basic that even I could do it, and I'm about as tech-challenged as most people; heck, I can barely check the oil in my A4 thanks to its weird dipstick. But I digress.

First up, they point out that "keeping an eye on oil levels and engine coolant throughout the sunny days will help ensure cars remain cool and prevent them from overheating." This is usually straightforward unless you have a weird dipstick and only requires a paper towel or two and an ability to read the scale on the dipstick.

Now, some cars don't have dipsticks and do the check electronically (I remember some Porsches were like this), so if you're poring over the engine compartment and the dipstick's location doesn't leap out at you (it's generally right on the engine and fairly obvious), you might have one of these vehicles. In doubt? Check your owner's manual. more...

National Lampoon's Vacation

Warner Brothers unpacks National Lampoon's Vacation for 4K disc

Director Harold Ramis unleashed Chevy Chase and his family's first cinematic vacation on an unsuspecting public back in 1983 and now Warner Brothers, as part of its 100th anniversary celebration, is unleashing it again, this time on 4K disc.

The movie, which if movies can do such things, is also celebrating its 40th anniversary and it was a pretty big hit when it came out. I have to admit, however, that I didn't find it particularly funny back then, despite having been a fan of the National Lampoon magazine and the original Saturday Night Live. And Harold Ramis, of whom I'd been a fan since his days with SCTV.

I'm glad Warners sent me this new 4K disc to review, however, because upon seeing the film decades later, I found it a lot funnier than I had remembered.

In fact, I laughed out loud several times during the opening half of the movie – though I also think it kind of runs out of comedic steam toward the end and I didn't laugh much during later scenes. On the other hand, I experienced extreme jealousy seeing Chase and the "family" joined by the late John Candy on a whole bunch of neat roller coasters when the finally got to Wally World. I'd have volunteered for that!

The movie was written by John Hughes before he was "John Hughes" (by which I mean the famous director), apparently based on a short story of his. It tells the tale of Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), an ordinary guy who's planning a special, once in a lifetime (unless there are sequels…) family vacation, driving in their brand new (and awful) car from their Chicago home to California's Wally World, a typical but in this case imaginary theme park.

The Griswolds are a nice family. Clark means well, which is all that matters to liberals, but he's rather inept. Ellen is a good wife and mother, though the trials and tribulations through which she and the family go are enough to strain the strongest of relationships.

They finally get to Walley World, but of course their troubles don't end there. more...

Honda Accord

New Accord continues Honda's flagship car's overall excellence

Honda's Accord has been a winning choice for car consumers for decades, and this new, 11th generation promises that great ride in the marketplace of life will continue for at least a few more years.

That's a good thing, especially in an environment where some companies are phasing out their cars completely, moving to the SUV market alone. I think this trend is stupid – some companies are abandoning the car vehicle market to the competition, which seems like a pretty lame marketing idea considering pendulums tend to swing both ways and once people are buying cars again some manufacturers will be forced to play catch up.

Honda doesn't have to worry about that, so the Accord and Civic still await discerning customers who prefer their drive to be a little less top heavy than they can get with an SUV.

Anyway, this new Accord is a peach – and I was prejudiced enough by previous Honda experiences to think going in that I'd hate the new generation. Not that previous Accords weren't great cars, it's just that – like many other previous Hondas and some current cars from other manufacturers – I was afraid it was just going to annoy the heck out of me, with their constant and intrusive nannies and the like.

But within a couple of hours, I was loving the Accord – in this case, the hybrid model wearing the "Touring" trim level. Had I had a lobotomy? Had Honda had an epiphany?  Dunno – well, I haven't had a lobotomy to my knowledge – but this new Accord is a great car.

Naturally, it isn't perfect and I found a couple of funny things about it to point out. So, you might as well keep reading!

Besides the great new look inside and out, the Accord is fine to drive, loaded with convenience features (some of which I must admit I could do without), and will probably outlast its owners. more...

Honda Ridgeline

Honda Ridgeline Black a nifty small pickup truck

Honda's Ridgeline is a very interesting pickup truck; it's really a mid-sized, two row SUV whose rear cargo area has been replaced by a pickup truck bed/trunk combo that Honda undoubtedly believes makes it the best of both SUV and small truck worlds. 

You could call it a crossover, if that term hadn't already been stolen to describe what are basically SUV's that don't go off road. And since its original launch more than a decade ago, it pretty much had this "near truck" market to itself.

That's until Hyundai and Ford threw down their corporate gauntlets in slow response to the existence of the Ridgeline with, respectively, the Santa Cruz and the Maverick, both of which are also unibody trucks rather than the body on frame types you find with nearly every other pickup truck you can buy.  

It's a pretty neat vehicle, too, if you don't need a "real" truck, and Honda has also stuffed it with handy features such as a lockable trunk that's built into that bed, so you can store stuff you don't want stolen from the bed while you're in the mall. Assuming that stuff fits into the trunk, of course.

You can also fill the trunk with ice and beer, or whatever, for tailgating or picnicking or just travels on the road. It's very cool.

There's also a "dual action" tailgate, reminiscent of the tailgates on those huge domestic station wagons of the 1960's era: you can lower it as if it were a regular tailgate, but it can also be swung sideways in a nice bit of flexibility that I found makes it easier to load stuff into the bed without having to reach across the tailgate – perfect for the paunchy.

In all, it's a well-thought out and comfortable package with a smooth ride and lots of places inside the cabin to store stuff. The rear seats can fold upward and out of the way, too, opening up a positively cavernous rear floor area you could use for storing bicycles, larger boxes, etc. I don't think it'll hold an adult coffin, but I daresay the bed will if you want to use it for such a thing. more...

Shazam: Fury of the Gods

Shazam sequel proves you can't go home again – and Paramount dips into the vault with a 4K steelbook set of Transformers

Shazam! The Fury of the Gods is the interminable sequel to the mostly watchable and kind of fun original, but it ups the ante substantially and unnecessarily to become a fairly incoherent mishmash that had us checking our watches repeatedly to see if the ordeal was coming to an end yet.

And yet, there's a lot to like with this "Junior Justice League" flick that sees a bunch of kids with superpowers trying to fend off a trio of ancient gods who are hell bent on destroying the earth in retaliation for perceived slights in the distant past.

So, it's kind of like today's Woke with their constant navel gazing backwards and refusal to move on and get life going again.

Still, we get to see Helen Mirren as an evil goddess – aided and evilness upgraded mightily by Lucy Liu – as they wreak havoc on the earth in their attempt to retrieve the superpowers granted to the Shazamophiles.

And the production values are first rate. It just needed a better script and less "mugging" by Zachary Levi.

Meanwhile, Transformers fans who need a major fix on the eve of the seventh movie in the franchise have a very nice boxed set to savour, one that combines all six previous entries in 4K and Blu-ray into a single package.

It's basically a repackaging all the earlier discs, though I kind of wonder why Paramount would release this now instead of waiting to add the seventh disc to the set when it debuts on home video. But, as usual, no one asked me. Meanwhile, Transformers fans who need a major fix on the eve of the seventh movie in the franchise have a very nice boxed set to savour, one that combines all six previous entries in 4K and Blu-ray into a single package.

It's basically a repackaging all the earlier discs, though I kind of wonder why Paramount would release this now instead of waiting to add the seventh disc to the set when it debuts on home video. But, as usual, no one asked me. more...

Toyota Tundra

Toyota Tundra Platinum – a big truck aimed at big truck people

While the "Big Three" North American carmakers have owned the full-sized pickup truck market since there really was such a market, Toyota has been working hard at getting a major slice. And they seem to be making progress, though it's still an uphill battle for the Japanese automotive giant.

First came the T100, which was kind of like a big Tacoma and not really a serious challenger to the likes of the Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram. Then came the original Tundra, which did a better job of going head-to-head with the Americans but still didn't quite take off.

Now we have the current generation of Tundra, the third, which not only has to compete against the brawny competition, it has to do it in an increasingly green way (not that the competitors don't…) in order to suck up to an establishment that seems more interested in preventing us from getting ourselves and our stuff around than it is in facilitating it.

So, we have a full-sized pickup truck that eschews the niche's traditional V8 power in favour of a turbo V6 that claims to be as robust as the old V8's – not that V6's were unheard of across the market, but I daresay the V8 was the mainstay.

I've said many times that I'm not the best one to be reviewing full-sized trucks because I don't really like driving them. On the other hand, I'm not one of those who thinks that because I don't like 'em then you shouldn't be allowed to have 'em; I understand their purpose and their function and while I'll never buy one, I can understand their appeal.

One of the reasons I try to eschew trucks whenever possible is that I'm a short guy who's about as wide as tall and I find getting into and out of full-sized truck very difficult. You can get around some of this with running boards, and they help a lot, but the subject of this review didn't have any, despite its higher end Crewmax Platinum trim level. So, my wife and I (she's sized similarly, but is far more lovely) had to kind of leap up into it, grabbing onto the interior handles for dear life and hauling ourselves aboard that way. Graceful? Hardly, but it worked, while giving our neighbours some comedy relief.

Getting out is a lot easier, thanks to something called gravity, but we still had to be careful lest we face plant onto the asphalt next to the Tundra, giving our neighbours even more comedy relief. more...

Deep Impact

Deep Impact strikes the planet with a brand new 4K transfer

Talk about a "hit" movie!

Deep Impact was one of two "When Worlds Collide-type" movies released in 1998, the other being the Michael Bay/Bruce Willis action/adventure flick "Armageddon." The latter did better at the box office, but pales Deep Impact, in my never humble opinion, in its status as a good science fiction movie. Or even as a good disaster movie.

Still, they're both worth watching.

What's great about the new 25th anniversary release of Deep Impact is that it's now available on 4K disc, which is usually the go-to format if you want the best possible picture and sound – especially picture.

Alas, this is not the best example of a 4K transfer that I've seen – the new Blu-ray looks nearly as good when it's up converted – but it's still a fine release that's quite satisfying.

For those who haven't seen Deep Impact, it opens when a student astronomer (Elijah Wood – yep, Frodo himself, before he was Frodo himself) discovers that a previously unknown comet is heading straight for Mother Earth and it's big enough to cause an "Extinction Level Event," which means, to make a bad pun, he comes up with a brand new "Big Bang" theory.

Fast forward a while and a TV reporter (Tea Leoni, whose character works for MSNBC, no less, which caused me much laughter) stumbles across what she thinks is a salacious story about a politician who's resigning his position supposedly to hide an affair he had with someone named "Ellie". Turns out the guy (James Cromwell) is retiring because he knows about the real "ELE" and wants to spend the remaining days with his family before they all get flattened.

But Leoni's dogged pursuit of the scandal (she wants to be an anchor and a scoop like this could help her rise in the corporate hierarchy) comes to the attention of the powers-that-be, including the president (played beautifully by Morgan Freeman), all of whom think she's about to release to the public information on the ELE, whereas of course she's planning to release the scuttlebutt on Ellie. more...

Subaru Ascent

Subaru's Ascent into the three row SUV market an interesting entry

Subaru's largest vehicle, the Ascent, has received some tweaks and upgrades for the 2023 model year, undoubtedly to help it compete better with such vehicles as Mazda's terrific CX-9, the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, VW Atlas, etc. with which it goes head-to-head.

The Ascent's three rows of seats can accommodate up to eight people, seven if you opt for the optional Captain's chairs for the second row (I'd opt for those, since their comfort beats the pants off a bench seat, while also making it easier to get back into Steerage), and it's roomy and comfortable enough to compete happily in this niche.

It even offers some advantages, such as Subaru's famous "symmetrical all-wheel drive" that kind of emulate what Audi has done traditionally with its famous quattro: instead of the vehicle being front-drive biased that sends torque rearward when called for (like nearly every other one this niche), it defaults to all-wheel drive, though it can still direct extra torque to where it's needed.

I like this system – I've enjoyed the Audi version for more than a decade now and am firmly in the "real" all-wheel drive camp. When you can find it…

This configuration should also make the Ascent more efficient in off-road situations, not that I'd advise climbing a roadless mountainside with it. But for more "pedestrian" off-road uses, it should excel, handling the "ascent" with aplomb.

Enhancing the AWD system is the X-MODE system, which Subaru says is meant "for when the going gets really tough," i.e. snow, ice, really crummy roads. Apparently, it adjusts the engine's torque output and where it's sent, depending on where it's needed.

Power for the Ascent, regardless of trim level (from Touring to Premier) comes from a 260 horsepower, 2.4-litre direct injection turbocharged four cylinder "boxer" engine. A boxer engine, as opposed to an "inline" or a "V" engine, sees the cylinders mounted facing each other, the cylinder motion looking kind of like boxers punching at each other. Subaru has used this "lower centre of gravity" configuration for years and, as with their awd emulating Audi, the boxer configuration is reminiscent of Porsche.

Hey, if you're going to rip off the Germans, you could do worse! more...

Ekrin B37

Ekrin Athletics' massage gun - aye, there's the rub!

Do you like to have your sore or tight muscles massaged, but don't like having to trek down to the local masseur/masseuse/masswhatever all the time?

Well, there is a number of massage tools available for such folks, from products dedicated to a particular body part (such as your feet or neck) to hand held massager "guns" that bring their own calibre of performance and flexibility to the task.

I looked at such a hand-held beast a couple of years back, the Theragun Elite, and though I don't use such things very much, my dear wife liked it a lot, and in fact uses it to this day. She likes the concept because she now has a machine that rubs her the right way, unlike her husband.

Then, Ekrin got in touch and offered a sample of their B37 gun to try, a product that's similar in concept but quite different in execution from the Theragun. Naturally, we (well, she) wanted to give it a try.

Ekrin admits it's playing in a crowded marketplace, but says there are several ways in which their B37 is best:

• Quality. We back it up with our unprecedented lifetime warranty!
• Premium performance, design, and fit and finish – all at an affordable price
• Unique 15-degree handle allows for better reach and leverage
• Extremely quiet
• Ultra-long battery life (8+ hours)
• Thousands of satisfied customers with our 4,000+ reviews and 4.8-star rating
• Trusted by the likes of The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Ryan Reynolds & Blake Lively, physical therapists and doctors, and professional athletes – just to name a few.
• In the massage gun world, we've been around awhile – established in 2019.

Our cats love the massagers and when my wife fires one up they're there for some "robo-petting." So there's another marketing point Ekrin could use! It's pussy cat-compatible! more...

Star Trek TNG

Star Trek's Next Generation films hit 4K and Blu-ray

Paramount Pictures has finally released the quartet of Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, and it's about time.

Now, TNG movies have been pilloried for years as not being up to Trek snuff – and I generally agreed with the pillorying over the years. Now, however, having not seen any of these films for at least a decade, my revisiting the collection has given me a, perhaps, more mellow feel toward them.

Don't get me wrong, First Contact (the second of the TNG films) is still a pretty first-rate Trek outing, but this time around I noticed that Generations, Insurrection and Nemesis seemed to be not as bad as I remembered them, especially Nemesis which, in my original review of the DVD, I said was the (channelling The Simpsons' Comic Book guy) "worst episode ever."

Maybe it's because I recently sat through all the Original Series movies again when Paramount released them onto 4K disc. That's also a motley assortment, from the pretentious and ponderous "The Motion Picture" through the fine "Wrath of Khan/Death of Spock/Save the Whales trilogy," the not particularly outstanding "Final Frontier" and the better but still less than classic "The Undiscovered Country."

Or maybe it's just because I'm older. I actually enjoyed watching all four of these movies, the boxed set of which also contains remastered Blu-ray versions. Sure, the plots may not have been masterpieces, even masterpieces of Trek canon, but I'd argue that even Insurrection and Nemesis are no worse than "The Motion Picture" and "Final Frontier."

I mean, since when aren't there plot holes in Star Trek?

Anyway, it's only logical, and about time, that these Next Generations films made it to the world of UHD 4K, and Paramount has done a fine job of it. more...

TechnoFile publisher Jim Bray's print columns are available through the
TechnoFile Syndicate.
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