Sunday, September 30, 2018

Tim Horton, Tim Hortons, The Toronto Maple Leafs

Tim Hortons coffee is sub par to me. A friend of mine said it best recently: "You taste the cream and sugar more than the coffee." (With normal amounts of cream and sugar, of course.) It made perfect sense that I drag home a "Tims" coffee. Convenience, no doubt.

On the current paper cup is this:

Tim Horton

Our founder, Miles Gilbert "Tim" Horton,
played 24 seasons in the NHL and won
4 Stanley Cup Championships
with the Toronto Maple Leafs

That reminds me how long ago it was the Leafs last won a Stanley Cup: 1967

Which reminds me.

Again, we're hearing: "this year!"

Didn't we hear that last year? And the year before that?

It was when I was a young boy that the Toronto Maple Leafs made me open up a dictionary and look for the perfect word to describe them: "Got it! Pathos."

Sunday Fun: "Thunderbirds" Opening

Thunderbirds was a special television program in my childhood. The stories of "International Rescue" originally aired in 1965 and 1966, but I caught them a few years later on Barrie, Ontario, television station CKVR.

What was the appeal to a young boy at that time? The fab vehicular machines, and, although we did not know it at such a young age, the fine scripting.

Watching this clip reminds me of another special ingredient: Barry Gray's brilliant theme music -- brilliance which carried over into the background scores.

Before I return to my adulthood I should add this: Each Thunderbirds opening title sequence is slightly different; where the music becomes a scherzo, those rapid clips we see are from "this episode" -- in this case, the premiere episode, "Trapped in the Sky".

Friday, September 28, 2018

Hashtag: Ditch Your Car

Twitter: #DitchYourCar

I move about Toronto using the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). For the most part, it serves me well. No need for a car; especially where I live: The Annex neighbourhood.

Living close to downtown also makes for a nice walk to the city centre if I decide to stay above-ground during my trip.

What can't be forgotten is this area is well-served by the subway. The University-Spadina and the Bloor-Danforth lines make a nice cross.

Day of the Science Fiction Movie Spaceship

"The rocket ships on sci-fi screens today are simply boring, whether they are piloted by earthlings or space aliens."

That is a provocative statement from Toronto Star movie critic Peter Howell in his piece, Where have all the UFOs gone? Blame the movies. I've not seen many SF flicks of recent years, but from what I have seen, in promotional pictures and clips, I would agree.

I'm also in synchronous orbit with Mr Howell in his summations of three space vessels: the flying saucer from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951); the Aries moon lander from 2001: A Space Odyssey; and the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars (1977 and beyond).

Why all the mundane design work in science-fiction movies today? The Lookalike Film Designers Club has an active membership.


"Remember when humans and aliens used to take pride in the design of their spaceships?"

Well, for starters, Walter "Matt" Jefferies died back in 2003.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

I've Had My Fill of the Toronto Sun?

I have a sense of humour, even about myself. Minutes ago I went to the Toronto Sun website and was greeted with a shock; not by one of their mindless editorials, but by this:

You have read your 10th of 10
complimentary articles this month

Subscribe now for full access

Sure, no problem. I'm going to donate money to a right-wing rag.

My real point, and back to my admission about me having a sense of humour about myself: I have read ten articles on the Toronto Sun's website; in less than a week, no less.

Ha! I'll outwit them. I'll just switch to one of my other devices....

Post Script: I'm surprised the banner didn't read as follows....

You have read you're 10th of 10
complementary articles this month

Trump, the Bizarre

While working yesterday I had my trusty radio on. Something caught my attention.

What, they laughed?

U.S. president Donald Trump was speed-writing his speech before the U.N. General Assembly when he made a claim to trump his own litany of false claims:

“In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”

They chortled!

Poor guy.

The video of that is priceless, especially the expression on the president's face after he puts two-and-two together.

More subtle, but more bizarre, to me at least, is this:

"... we reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism." (Emphasis mine.)


That's like saying "at home we embrace the doctrine of wallpaper".

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tuesday Morning Humour Hear

Listening to the business report:

"... shares sold to Facebook."

Maybe it's my coffee, maybe it's combining with this early hour, but I heard this: "two-face book."

I'm not on that social media platform, but I'm sure some Facebook users would understand my miss-hear.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The First Toronto Mayoral Debate is Today

The subject: "Arts and Culture."

That tells me that Ontario Premier Doug Ford will tune-in.

Arts and Culture will survive and thrive here in Toronto, in spite of the Mensa man.

No doubt this past weekend's Ford Fest was lots of fun.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

LA Times Look at Star Trek - September 1966

This morning I was reading up on legendary television producer Quinn Martin when I came across a Los Angeles Times article from three years ago. The newspaper story is actually a reprint from September 21, 1966.

"Star Trek is Costly Sci Fi Epic"

I find articles like that fascinating. Yes, what did they think back then of a given show, especially one that would go into the history books, and endless reruns?

In the above example, then LA Times staff writer Don Page was just visiting the sound stages very early in Star Trek's production, so he was not speaking of a completed episode.

If he only knew....

Friday, September 21, 2018

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and His Litracy

"I'm for the taxpayers of Ontario!"

We know. Over and over again.

"... professional protesters!" if I pick up a placard and "protest", that makes me a "professional protester".

I'm already fed up with Ford. I'm tired of his simplemindedness.

I picked-up one of those word-search books in my effort to get him to start reading. If I bump into the premier I'll hand it to one of his associates: "It's a donation. When you give it to Mister Ford, please explain to him how it works. Here's a 2-B pencil and an eraser."

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Hanging Out With Cats in a French Cemetery

I wish it was me. No, it's my old friend JD, and he's on a creative writing holiday in Paris, France. (That sentence is like a rich French pastry. I got gout just writing it.)

He sent me some holiday snaps of cats hanging around aimlessly in the Montmartre Cemetery. JD is planning to go back, this time with some "enticements" in order to bag some closeups of the beasts.

For now:

That's my kind of cemetery!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

It's Called The Vanity Press

“Hugh Grant!”

I had barely gotten “do you know who I look like to some?” out, when he thrust his hand towards me and said: “Don’t! I know who!....”

That was a brief conversation with a client after I brought up the subject by saying, “you bear a faint resemblance to Ben Affleck” His answer: “You think so?”

He said he had never heard that before.

An acquaintance of mine told me she gets “Alanis Morissette” and a lot of looks when she walks through Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood.

So that’s why people look at me when I walk through Yorkville during the Toronto International Film Festival. I’ve long thought it was because I bear a strong resemblance to a stock drug-past “old” rock star.

If only I had Hugh Grant’s charms….

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

What Jet Fighter Says Jet Fighter?

A few years ago I got into a discussion with a friend: "What jet fighter aircraft is most representative of a jet fighter?" We both picked the North American F-100 "Super Sabre". That easy.

Its look is classic.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Women Are All That

This morning I watched a news program where there was a segment with two young women who spoke about an issue I found a little disturbing. There is a series of YouTube videos where girls ask: "Am I pretty or ugly?"

My answer is clear: You are beautiful. All of you.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday Fun: Most Wanted Opening Titles

In 1976 and 1977 I was still watching television on a fairly regular basis -- certainly compared to now. One of "my shows" was a dramatic hour-long program called Most Wanted. Looking at this opening title piece makes me question why I watched Most Wanted.

Yes, Simpsons fans, that Jo Ann Harris.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

We Have Orbital Velocity!


That is the clock I discovered on the Toronto Star's website counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds to the legalization of Cannabis here in Canada.

Cool, man.

For me, this is almost as exciting as a countdown for a Soyuz rocket launch.

Man, I'm gonna set up a pot equivalent of Baikonur.

"Lift off! . . . we have orbital velocity!"

Friday, September 14, 2018

Canadian Political Party Game - Sounds Like....

Maxime Bernier is calling his new political initiative the People's Party of Canada (the PPC). The fiery Quebec MP clashed with Andrew Scheer, the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, and decided to set up his own club.

The new party has not yet been registered with Elections Canada. I hope that Bernier changes the name. Minus the "Canada" part, to me the name People's Party of Canada sounds too much like a right-wing party from the Weimar Republic.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Kept Watching the Skies!

Recently I spoke with a UFO researcher on the discipline of Ufology. He explained a bit about some of his cases: "plasma" was a big one. During our conversation I remembered my own personal story.

Early 1980s.

It was evening and the winter sky was dark -- with the exception of a sky field flicked with stars. I was walking along the street in a small city here in Ontario where the above is fresher and clearer than it is here in the big city, Toronto. Something made me look up. Above, way up, streaked a tiny burning bright. Immediately I discounted it being a satellite or meteorite: the speedy light zigged and zagged as if undertaking evasive maneuvers. The star-field relief gave my eyes some 'registration'; a reference point for the non-static light to play against, confirming to me that what I was seeing might have been piloted by an indecisive, albeit quick-thinking, navigator.

The Ufologist nodded. He looked as though he believed that I had seen something not of this Earth. I'm not sure I believe it. But that's my UFO story.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What's the Story of Doug Ford?

Ontario's Premier is a bit of a character, not unlike his contemporary down south, and like Donald Trump, Doug Ford comes across as unread, crude, and lacking a few social graces. But what I find most stunning is the deficit in verbal communication skills. As a friend of mine said, "(Ford) can barely articulate a sentence". Needless to say, these skills are, or should be, essential when leading a political party.

There's more to governing than bullying. There's debate and reason.

Doug Ford could use some logos.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

On the Books? What Books?

On Monday Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba struck down Ontario premier Doug Ford's emotion-laden attempt to halve Toronto city council, deeming Bill 5 unconstitutional.

Ford: "I was elected. The judge was appointed. He was appointed by one person, (former Liberal premier) Dalton McGuinty." Never mind the fact that Superior Court justices are federal appointments.

Mr Ford plans to invoke the "notwithstanding clause" of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in order to override the court ruling. Not wanting to risk being labelled a "one-hit wonder", he's already threatening to use the claws for future similar inconveniences.


Ontario has a little despot. One who's an adherent of a culture of convenient illiteracy.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Dam Busters - Canadian Airmen of "Chastise"

Canadian airmen in the Royal Air Force is a story that appeals to me especially since my own father was of that special crew -- RAF No. 626 Squadron as opposed to 617, the "Dambusters" squadron.

"Operation Chastise" involved Avro Lancaster bombers delivering special ordnance against German dams in May of 1943.

When I was twelve or thirteen years of age I read my elementary school's copy of "The Dam Busters" (Paul Brickhill). "Dam Busters - Canadian airman and the secret raid against Nazi Germany" is next.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

It's the Big NFL Game Play

The 2018/19 NFL (National Football League) season started on Thursday in unspectacular fashion -- so I heard. Today CTV (Canadian Television) has two games in the lineup. Football itself does not interest me, but the threat of players kneeing in protest during the national anthem, does.

It's now part of the great American game.

As much as I have not even a fleeting interest in the NFL, I do respect and admire the players who make a big game day play.

A Time for Class Distinctions

From April 14, 2016:

The Creative Writing Class

When I was going to high school, many and still-classified years ago, there was a push afoot to open up the curriculum and introduce programs not just "three Rs". One I took was Mr. Kelly's terrific "Creative Writing" class. It was a challenging but comfortable affair which nurtured the writing soul in me, and the souls of my fellow future Flauberts. ("Floberts? Doesn't he play for the Leafs? If he does he can't be very good.")

At the end of the year Mr. Kelly organized an "Academy Awards" for best writing in various categories. Over the course of a week or so we were to go through our classmates' writing files, which were open for all to see and review, and then make nomination lists. Mr. Kelly showed us an example of the trophy itself, a modified liqueur bottle. ("I want that bottle.")

One day I could hear a group of huddled students laughing and whispering. "This is so funny! He's hilarious!" Once I overheard this I sniffed and went back to my own writing, looking for just the right word.

Days later was Awards Day.

The air was tense with multiple categories.

"The Award for Best Male Humourist goes to....Simon!"

"Who, me?!" (Of course.)

I walked rather self-unconsciously to the front of the class to accept the award. I had been building, cultivating, a reputation for being 'out there', so I thought that since my fellow award winners thus far were self-consciously accepting their well-deserved trophies but not saying anything outside and above of "thanks", I should put my own spin on the festivities:

Once the prize was securely in my hands, I said, half-seriously: "I have no one to was just me."

The class laughed, so too did Mr. Kelly, and immediately I thought, "Gee, I guess I'm not just funny looking".

It was a good class; a good bunch; good times.

Post Script, and "as a comic, in all seriousness", as Bobby Bittman was prone to say: Brian Kelly was one of the outstanding teachers in my years of schooling.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Re Design on a City's Future

From May 12, 2016:

Film Design: The Atmosphere of Johnny Shortwave

Johnny Shortwave is a black-and-white feature length film that was shot in late 1988 and early 1989.

Early in the design phase I grabbed a stick of charcoal and quickly whipped up what I called an "Atmosphere Sketch". As depicted in the screenplay, the future is not rosy in more ways than one, which is what I tried to convey in the drawing.

I'll have more material from Johnny Shortwave very soon....

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Restoring a Film School Film - Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap (1985, Super-8, 6 minutes)

The epic short documentary was more a tone poem than a conventional doc. Images and music to tell a story: taking the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subway train to school and about the city. My interest in transportation matters kick-started the first-year film school project; a "personal documentary". (My love of civil aviation would have permitted a film treatment shot at Pearson Airport, but the subway was less problematic.)

As I stated, "tone poem". But there was drama. I had an old friend, Jonathan, play the part of a traveller running to make his commute on time. (This we shot at "Eglinton West" station.)

As soon as the (minor) restoration is complete I'll upload the film and post a piece.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

My Summer Weather Station

Since late May, we Toronto city dwellers have experienced almost unrelenting heat and humidity. I know it's bad when a friend of mine who hails from Jamaica says he's looking forward to the fall.

Today: 32 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit); 40 on the Humidex (104).

There's so much water in the air that I'm suffering a form of "swimmer's itch".

Ah, yes. That snow shovel never looked so sexy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Welcome Back Paikin

After a summer off, the superlative Steve Paikin has returned to TVOntario with his exemplary agenda: The Agenda.

Tonight's program is running right now, with Todd Smith, the Ontario Minister of Government and Consumer Services, the guest as I write this:

Good ol' Paikin is pushing.

"A promise broken. How do you explain it?"

I love it; and I'm glad he's back....

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labouring Labour/Labor Day

It's "Labour Day" again. How much has changed after all these years? Some "things" here in Ontario, Canada, have picked up.

Interesting fallout from the Ontario Liberals' raising of the minimum wage to $14 an hour. The expected, at least by some folk (pundits and the 'not up'), mass closing of small businesses has not happened.

From September 5, 2016:

Happy Labour Day; Ontario Style

Today's special significance reminds me of how pay has not kept up with inflation.

Here's my story: After I finished high school I scored a nice job at Canadian General Electric. I say "nice" as the pay was eight dollars per hour; my dad laughed when I told him the rate of remuneration. Even though I long had plans to go on to post secondary education, the idea of getting a good paying job the summer after graduating from high school was appealing to me. (I should note that that pay rate was for a relief worker, which is what I was to CGE.)

Here's the rub. I checked the Bank of Canada's 'cost of living' website and used its onboard conversion calculator. That eight dollars in 1981 is the equivalent of twenty dollars in today's currency.

Now, where am I going with this?

Next time you chat with a recent high school graduate, ask them what kind of pay they've been offered in their quest for a summer job; if they can even get a summer job. I'm amazed at how many young people I meet who cannot get work for the summer. They have to take volunteer work just so they have something for the resume. (Volunteer work is valued, of course, but paid gigs are nice, especially in anticipation of moving on to university or community college.)

My first summer here in Toronto was in 1985, and jobs were aplenty back then. I had two offers; I just took the first one that came along.

Just as insidious are the "staffing agencies". Companies pay them about 17/18 dollars per hour, per person, and the agency turns around and pays the worker minimum wage. (The adult rate in Ontario is $11.25 per hour. Do the math.)

It's all about keeping people poor. It's also artificial and unnecessary. These companies have to be regulated and bound with restrictions as to how much they can "skim". (Governments won't make a move because they don't care about the working poor.)

Yes, Labour Day. We have a long way to go, baby; or, even better, we have a long way to go back. Baby.


The change I touched upon at the top. Positive change:

From July 20, 2017:

Employing a Question of Labour

Some parties here in Ontario, Canada, are whining about a proposal by the Kathleen Wynne government to raise the minimum wage from $11.40 to $15 per hour.

It's not just small businesses that are worried about the admittedly substantial in an all but one-shot increase, but big ones too.

What? Why?


In 1981, while I whistled while I worked at CGE (Canadian General Electric) my efforts were rewarded with a rate of $8 per hour ($20 today). In 1984, as I did some last minute saving-up for school, the Radio Shack warehouse paid me over $6 per 60 minutes. (In both cases I was not 'union'. It's a brain-busting case, I know.)

Dirty little secret: Today, 2017, many if not most companies of industry pay "staffing" agencies 17 - 19, sometimes more, dollars an hour per employee. These middlemen turn around and pay workers our now gorgeous minimum wage.

Go figure it out.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Honour in Washington, D.C.

A headline in today's Boston Globe:

John McCain is remembered as a hero, patriot, and inspiration

How will Donald Trump be remembered?

During yesterday's honouring of McCain at the Washington National Cathedral former U.S. president Barack Obama said this: “So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse, can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult, in phony controversies and manufactured outrage.”

Perhaps that is how Trump will be remembered.