Thursday, February 15, 2024

CD: UFO (Gray)

- Original Television Soundtrack -

Music by
Barry Gray

Silva Screen Records


On Tuesday nights during the 1970/71 television season I was there with my parents in front of the Zenith colour set tuned to Canada's CTV network. British husband and wife producing team Gerry and Sylvia Anderson left their "Supermarionation" puppet show empire behind to launch UFO, a live-action science fiction series set on the moon's surface and here on good ol' Earth, principally in England. "U-Fo" was superior in many areas: one being the music department.

Barry Gray had long been the producers' main scorer, and his efforts for this short-lived dramatic programme were top-drawer, injecting just the right amount of funky Hammond organ fun ― dig that wonderfully spot-on opening theme tune ― and otherworldly bizarreness and genuine heartbreak. While the series could be silly at times, with some episodes seemingly asking, "What were we thinking?", when UFO was good, it was more than good. And its background music was no small contributor, certainly in a telly-series out of this world, even when based here on Sol III.

The perfect capper to any UFO episode, especially one ending on a particularly serious note, was the dissonant and creepy end title music ― not only did it reinforce a sense of darkness that tended to pervade the show format, it functioned as a counterpoint to the (then) contemporary feel of the opening title theme.

End note: This CD of a 72-minute total running time is a fine sampling of episode scores; around five hours of music was recorded for UFO.

The Canadian Flag is 59 Today

And what a flag it is!

On February 15th, 1965, the "National Flag of Canada" was inaugurated in a ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

When I was a teenager a certain subject came up for discussion while I was hanging out with a friend. He said: "I like our flag."

Next to the "Nisshoki" (Japan's national flag), our own red-and-white may pack the most visual punch of all national flags.

She's a beauty! Let's keep honouring her....

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Angel Hair Is On Tonight


Recently I had a discussion with one of my clients, a lovely lady from the Philippines. When I mentioned (mentioned, yes) that I love Filipino dishes, she asked me if I've had Angel Hair.

I asked her:

"Like that from my shedding cat?"

Magic words tickled my ears:

"I would love to bring a container of Angel Hair to give to you next time we meet."


Did I mention that I love Filipino food?

Thursday, February 8, 2024

ReBook: Dreaming Aloud (Heard)

Dreaming Aloud
- The Life and Films of James Cameron -

Christopher Heard

Doubleday Canada Limited


A few years ago a friend of mine met James Cameron here in Toronto ― it was arranged by a client of ours, a mate of the filmmaker's. Mr Cameron was very cordial and a true gent in giving my buddy, a huge fan, some time. The only disappointing part of the brief talk was when Cameron declined, gently, signing Dreaming Aloud. "I'm sorry, Carl, I can't sign that."

Dreaming Aloud is actually a good book. Christopher Heard comes across as being fair to his subject. It's far from being trash writing even when he does speak of some negatives regarding the 'animated' Canadian filmmaker.

Titanic (1997) was still in production when the book's publisher sent it to the presses, so we are blessedly spared the suffering and grating squeaks of "My Heart Will Go On". Heard would have had to go on about that song, otherwise.

James Cameron is a fascinating filmmaker and man.

Toronto Not as Cold as These Pics

Today: 6 Celsius (43 Fahrenheit)
Tomorrow: 12 (54)
Saturday: 8 (46)

Now: scary

The Mystery Books of Sunday Past (Classics)

This past Sunday, I asked two questions: Two Classic Books Need to Be Revisited

It's been a long time since I first read Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (1898).

Two classic books, deserving of a re-read. First, the Nautilus....

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Two Classic Books Need to Be Revisited

From a book I first read in elementary school, its first sentence....

"The year 1866 was marked by a strange event, an unexplainable occurrence which is undoubtedly still fresh in everyone's memory."

Also from my schoolboy years, a book with a most provocative opening sentence....

"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water."

Without Googling, try to identify the above classic books.

As any writing instructor will tell you, you must hook the reader from page one; even better if you can do it from sentence one.

Now, to honour my post's title, I must pick one and dig in; revisit.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Flash Fiction: Sorry, It's the Robert Bloch in Me

Bobby asked nicely: “Are you done?” All according to plan. Worn work boots dangled fresh laces a metre in front of a slab of meat and bone hooked. Bobby smiled with pride at his work. Its bold statement.

A stylish white-haired lady poured tea into an ornate teacup.

“Ma, I’ve always liked your blend of tea.”

The server smiled. “Oh, Bobby, you were always a sweet boy.” The son sipped, self consciously, as his mother continued: “I was a little worried at first; what you did to those poor little creatures when you were just two really worried me.”

Bobby sipped his hot beverage with more assuredness. “You’re right, Ma. I went on to bigger things.”

Mother had to add “Awww, sweet to the last”. She took a sip then looked concerned, hesitating, unsure if she made English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Orange Pekoe, or… something else.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The CPC Is Polling High; Next Election is in Oct. 2025

October 19, 2015 (the dispatched: Stephen Harper)
October 21, 2019 (the dispatched: Andrew Scheer)
October 20, 2021 (the dispatched: Erin O'Toole)

The Conservative Party of Canada and its brethren have enjoyed three consecutive losses; losses made more potent when one considers that the Liberal Party of Canada was considered to be vulnerable in the federal elections of 2019 and 2021. The final tally wrote a minority, albeit a healthy minority, in both cases.

What gives? Well, for starters, the CPC giveth away and the LPC taketh away.

Much has been made in some quarters about the fact, and it is an incontrovertible fact, that the Conservatives won more votes.

I make much of the fact, and it is a dirty little fact, that Pierre Trudeau and the Liberals won many many more votes in total than did Joe Clark and his Progressive Conservatives in the 1979 federal election.

Liberals: 4,595,319
Progressive Conservatives: 4,111,606

Guess who became Prime Minister of Canada....

Monday, January 22, 2024

Poem: Scanning Between the Lines (Overscan Set)

The Lines are out of Raster
The Raster is out of Lines

Is gone the picture tube
information in pictures
might reassemble

someplace eclectic
a placement of ideas
and thoughts electric

to home base time correction
no Minow needs
correcting for no reason

but what we
see on
the flat screen


Simon St. Laurent

Thursday, January 18, 2024

ReBook: Star Trek - Phase II (Reeves-Stevens)

Star Trek - Phase II
― The Lost Series ―

Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Pocket Books


There was an almost-filmed Star Trek II television series of 1977. It is also known as "Phase II", its original name. I remember seeing TV Guide's end-of-book yellow teletype page noting that Paramount was to produce a new ST series. This probably would have been early-to-mid 1977. Too bad the property didn't stay on television at that time, instead of going to the big screen. Star Trek works best on television.

The book Star Trek - Phase II is a good overview of the almost-series. Authors Reeves-Stevens are weakest when they editorialize, saying that the show would have failed. I disagree, even if I have the benefit of hindsight: Star Trek: The Next Generation was predicted by many to fail, but it survived. Admittedly, popping it into syndication gave it a little more time and room to breathe and find its place in the universe. Had ST:TNG been a "big three" (ABC, CBS, NBC) show it would have enjoyed a larger budget, but it also would have been more scrutinized ratings-wise. Star Trek II was earmarked as the flagship series for the planned Paramount Television Service, a network, but one on par with a syndication service and a platform that would have provided a comfort zone to its star series. A big reason why I feel that Star Trek II would not have failed: with the exception of Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock, since the actor was not interested in reprising his famous role at the time, it featured the original cast of characters. Any reincarnation with that stellar crew would have given the show extra impulse power.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

CD: Time Out (the Dave Brubeck Quartet)

Time Out

The Dave Brubeck Quartet

Columbia Records


Although I had heard pieces like Blue Rondo à la Turk when I was a teen, it was when I took a course in college called "Great Composers" that I really took notice of master jazz man Dave Brubeck. The course's instructor, American-Canadian composer Michael Horwood, showed the class a documentary on great music through the ages. The segment on Brubeck reeled me in.

Take Five
Kathy's Waltz
Pick Up Sticks


The coolest: man, men, and album.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Four Canadian Prime Ministers ― Liberals All

A picture from 1967 featuring Liberal Party of Canada politicians: Pierre Trudeau; John Turner; then prime minister Lester B. Pearson; and Jean Chrétien.

Trudeau, Turner, and Chrétien would become prime ministers of this great country.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Conservatives Know It All, All

After some serious research online as to what makes up a real Conservative, I've come to the conclusion that they possess great knowledge on any number of subjects. Just read the comments below any Twitter (X) posting or newspaper article that invites, begs, an angry right-winger to set the record straight, or to reaffirm what was stated in the 'above', and you'll be impressed.

They are experts on, but not limited to, the following....

The Sciences (don't exist)
Liberal Arts (as we all know, only Liberals take "Liberal Arts")
Cognition (?!)

Note: I left out Philosophy as that may invite Semantics; and Pragmatism.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Monday, December 25, 2023

A Christmas Trek Tradition

Christmas is great when you're a kid. This morning I thought about my favourite memories. Quickly I nailed one: 1970.

(After reading that, pretend you have a faulty memory. This is more correct: "He posted about the Christmas of nineteen-ninety.")

My favourite present that year was the AMT "Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Space Ship Model Kit".

(Star Trek was sparking hot. The series had finished its NBC network run only eighteen months earlier. Toronto television station CFTO was running/stripping the episodes at 5pm on weekdays.)

It was not a simple plastic model kit as it was "lighted". Small light bulbs, included in the box, could be inserted into the top and bottom of the primary hull (the saucer-shaped portion) and at the front-ends of the engine nacelles (those long tubes). The former were capped by green-tinted discs, and the latter were topped-off by amber-tinted domes. My mother helped me with the wiring and the insertion of the lamps' power source: a D-cell, not included with the kit, sat in the secondary hull (the bottom tube-like section).

Building a model kit is fun, but seeing the completed AMT U.S.S. Enterprise suspended from my bedroom ceiling was a trip, and it looked great with the bedroom light off.

I remember something else from Christmas Day 1970. My dad was in the process of carving the turkey when he looked over at the Zenith television: "I'm surprised this is on today." (The episode was "The Return of the Archons".)

Fond Christmas memories.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Notes from a Brat: Christmas Eve in West Germany

Having a father in the Canadian Armed Forces plopped me down into a slightly different culture: West Germany ― the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany). While listening to the radio a few years ago I heard a piece about whether or not it's cool to let the little ones open their gifts the night before Christmas. This brought back memories: some bright, some dark.

As is the tradition in that great nation, opening the boxes and wrappings is done the night before. A then little one, me, not only did not complain but decided then that Germany is one great nation. I remember well one Christmas where our landlord and his wife came up to say hi and to present us with presents. I remember mine: a Matchbox toy of an early 20th century automobile.

Roll back a few years to my first Christmas in Germany. Santa Claus back in 1960s Deutschland was not a big thing ― if you'll pardon the expression. Saint Nick, however, was. Well, let me tell you what that man did to this then five year old. One evening my parents summoned me to our apartment's entrance. Standing inside the door was a tall figure, a woman (probably a teenager), dressed up in full Saint Nick attire. My mother said "look dear" as she pointed at my shoes which were parked neatly on the mat. I saw it, an inanimate thing in one of my shoes... a lump of coal. ("Noooo!")

I, dressed fashionably in what some crude folk might refer to as a "wife-beater shirt", held both hands up to my face and started crying. My parents laughed. It was not funny.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Majel Barrett ― Number One

Majel Barrett's first appearance in Star Trek was in "The Cage", the first pilot show. Here, playing Number One, she was billed as "M. Leigh Hudec", which was her real name ("M", short for "Majel", of course). 

For the series proper, the actress, now "Majel Barrett", played Nurse Christine Chapel. The frame below is from the first-season episode "The Naked Time".

As illustrated in that early episode, and later in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", Ms Barrett was a fine actress ― perhaps Nurse Chapel was underused.


Majel Leigh Hudec

February 23, 1932 - December 18, 2008