Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Vid Clip: TTC Subway Train Leaving Yorkdale Station



Riding the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subway system: The video clip starts as the train pulls out of "Yorkdale" station, heading north to "Wilson". No, I did not record this today... today had heavy snowfall.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

A Forever Question: Turn Away

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Is it safe to leave memories pining?


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Vladimir Shatalov on Us

"When we look into the sky it seems to us to be endless. We breathe without thinking about it, as is natural... and then you sit aboard a spacecraft, you tear away from Earth, and within ten minutes you have been carried straight through the layer of air, and beyond there is nothing! The 'boundless' blue sky, the ocean which gives us breath and protects us from endless black and death, is but an infinitesimally thin film. How dangerous it is to threaten even the smallest part of this gossamer covering, this conserver of life."

A Cosmonaut's special view is true.



Alan Shepard on Us

"I realized up there that our planet is not infinite. It's fragile. That may not be obvious to a lot of folks, and it's tough that people are fighting each other here on Earth instead of trying to get together and live on this planet. We look pretty vulnerable in the darkness of space."

We are vulnerable, indeed.



Monday, January 16, 2023

A Forever Question: Mixed-up Emotions?

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Why do the hateful hate love?"




Sunday, January 15, 2023

Soviet Space Program Short Film "Four in the Cosmos"




Studying up on the Soviet space program is one of my research pleasures. The above 20 minute film from 1969 is a fine if unrevealing motion picture document on the Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 orbital docking from January that year.

Used to good effect is Georgy Sviridov's brilliant orchestral piece, "Time, Forward!", originally composed for a film of the same name just four years earlier but already finding a life outside its original intent. (It rolls with driving steel works machinery rhythms similar in collective spirit to those of Alexander Mosolov's 1927 piece, "Iron Foundry".)

My Russian is non-existent, so I asked a Russian friend of mine to translate the screen chatter in basic terms: He said that nothing much is revealed; in particular, the voice-over is a "near-to-empty official story of the flight"; nothing to give anything away. (Not advertised was Soyuz 5's bumpy return to Earth.)

As short-form filmmaking, Four in the Cosmos is effective and, at times, almost poetic.

Book: The Sea Shall Embrace Them (Shaw)



The Sea Shall Embrace Them
- The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic -

by
David W. Shaw

The Free Press
2002

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

... the Budget Will Balance Itself ― In Context

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau gets some people going. A frequent attack on him is the very selective extraction of a certain quote by him; a line from a greater idea. This method is commonly referred to as "quote mining". (Out of context.)

In fact, Mr Trudeau was speaking about the Stephen Harper government's inability to present a strategy to stimulate economic growth. Economists disagree with one another to various degrees on how much such growth leads down the line to less government expenditures. The theory is that increased government revenues through taxation rolls ultimately to a decreased demand for outlays to departments such as employment insurance and welfare. Part of the PM's platform was to support infrastructure building, which hopefully would get the ball rolling and help lead to the above.

The original quote:

"The commitment needs to be a commitment to grow the economy and the budget will balance itself."

In its proper context the idea doesn't sound so harebrained.



Monday, January 9, 2023

A Forever Question: The Blue Mats

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. There are physical exercises and mental exercises, but are there emotional exercises?



Sunday, January 8, 2023

Guidebook: Baden-Baden, West Germany (circa 1970)

Baden-Baden, Germany, is beautiful. It was near that historic town where I spent four years of my childhood, and the memories are strong, especially when I look at pictures in this guidebook from the time I was there.

Welcome to Baden-Baden in "Der Schwarzwald", and these sample pages:

(click to enlarge)















The photo immediately above is of the Rastatt pool. It is where my swimming skills were fine tuned by my swim coach mother. The pool complex was, and still is, I'm sure, a great place. (If the kid who stole my Fina swim ring reads this he should feel bad. At least he had the decency to replace my new one with his old one.)

The racetrack above is in Iffezheim and it's just a few minutes' walk from where I lived. Not only did I see a few horse races at the track, but there was a smashup derby held one night by we Canadians which was a lot of fun. (Cars smashed up, not horses.)

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Flash Poem: whenever

My mind waits
on the day

While in the
daze of sleep

my mind
wanders in
a nightie
and slippers


___

2017
Simon St. Laurent


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

A Forever Question: A Link In Time

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Why is it 2023 when I remember 1966?



Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Book: Soundtrack (Evans)



Soundtrack
- The Music of the Movies -

by
Mark Evans

Introduction
by
Miklos Rozsa

Da Capo Press
1979

Monday, December 26, 2022

A Forever Question: Let's Not Forget

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Did Santa spend some time with those unfortunate?"



Sunday, December 25, 2022

Trekking Back to a Special Christmas Time

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.


Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Eve Story Special: a Christmas in 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 reminded me of my childhood in then West Germany.

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. I remember being summoned by my parents to the entry way of our apartment. Standing beside 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.


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Picturing: Looking Through the Mitchell Mk II

Film Design: Polaroid of Cosmonaut Costume Test



The Polaroid's blank space has nothing written on it, but it should read:

"Cosmonaut flight-suit costume test-fitting, Marty."

I designed this piece of wardrobe for my (unfinished) 35mm short film Hyper-Reality. Two cosmonaut costumes were built, fitted specially for the actors to play them. The above picture was taken in the film studio, here in Toronto, where we were to shoot a few weeks later.

Video: Penny The Talking Cat Plays Trivia!



I don't often visit Instagram, but there must be an algorithm that picks up on the fact that I love cats. One day I saw a particular video posting and thought: "I know that cat!"

Penny is one of many talking cats on the internet, and one of the most charming. Her interactions with her humans are always engaging, and funny.

The above embedded video is a keeper... like Penny The Cat.

By the way, I do know that such videos are silly, as Archie Bunker once said when he and Meathead were arguing about television commercials, with Archie citing an example of why that 'artform' is meant to be ridiculous and, yes, "silly": Morris The Cat commercials.

The man of letters capped off his argument with something like this: "Besides, everybody knows no cat can talk dat good."

But, Penny can....