Sunday, June 30, 2019

Mitch Marner Can Shake-Off the Curse (Move On)

Minutes ago I posted a piece (reposted) about one's ability to predict the predicament of the cursed NHL team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967.

Here's another reposting; this one from April 26th of last year:

The "Leafs Curse" May Be Its Fans

Leafs Nation is not elated today: Last night their beloved Toronto Maple Leafs got trashed by the Boston Bruins in game seven of the best-of-seven series.

It was just the first round of the National Hockey League playoffs, but that's all the Bruins needed to set an example. The ultimate K.O. (Knock Out) round.

"It's over, it's allll over!"

This morning I found out that Leafs star player Auston Matthews produced just one goal in those seven games. Goaltender Frederik Andersen was inconsistent. The defensive line was just a blue line. Theories are abound attempting to explain why the Leafs, who enjoyed a successful regular season, by any measure, lost engine power in just the first round of the NHL playoffs. I do not believe in curses, but, there may be some credence to a "Leafs Curse".

Maybe it's the fans. They show up and pay habitually for massively overpriced tickets, satiating the team's greedy owners, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd (MLSE). Producing a loser is every bit as profitable as producing a winner, it would seem. And keeping fans in line is easy, in more ways than one.

Lay Off the Leafs! Am I?

On October the 12th of last year, I wrote a piece which now illustrates my great powers of prediction -- although this may be due more to the predictability of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Lay Off the Leafs! Will I?

A friend is concerned I'm spending too much time these days fantasizing about the Toronto Maple Leafs' fortunes this year.

Perhaps he's right.


First things first:

Hey, there's Leafs forward Auston Matthews! I should walk over, push him down, and kick snow in his face.

In all seriousness. Woody Allen could make that funny. Time to get back to the creative stuff.

After all, we know what will happen; the Copy & Paste: The Toronto Maple Leafs will play a decent, or even excellent, season only to be ejected early during the playoffs.

It's the Leafs!

Friday, June 28, 2019

5 Pre Canada Day Questions

On Monday, July 1st, will be Canada Day.

A test, eh?

1. In what year did this great country 'patriate' its constitution? (Hint: A few decades ago.)

2. What shipping magnate was born in Halifax, of now Nova Scotia, in 1787? (His name survives today, painted on certain big ships.)

3. Aerodynamicist Jim Chamberlin moved to the United States in 1959 to work for NASA. He became the chief designer for what manned space program? (It was the second manned U.S. space program.)

4. What is the name of Canada's air force? (It's a four-letter acronym.)

5. In what year did Canada adopt its current flag? (It happened in the 1960s.)

Bonus question: Who was Canada's 12th prime minister? (This clue is closer than you think.)

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Walt Whitman on Writing and Telling

”I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.”

Me too.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Holy Time Machine, Batman!

Last week I learned, or was reminded, that Tim Burton's Batman was released thirty years ago this month. While I was a Batman fan, I was in no rush to see the movie. Those readers who were not around back then would not know that there was some controversy when Michael Keaton was presented as the actor to play Gotham's famed caped crusader. ("Mr. Mom?") A comic book fan friend told me that he could not imagine Mr Keaton in the role. I really had no opinion on the matter. I would wait and see.

I did: at Toronto's Hollywood Theatre in September that year, just before the flick was pulled. My movie-mate had seen Batman; this was his second viewing, and he was curious....

"What did you think?"

"It was okay."

He laughed. "Oh, come on, man. You liked it."

I've not seen it since. Time, thirty years worth of time, can change one's opinion. It would be interesting to hear what my buddy thinks of Batman now.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Royal Jealousies?

After catching a few minutes of a doc on the CBC a few weeks ago I started reminiscing.

In late 1981 much discussion took place about the then recent wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. For some reason we young men could not accept this holy union. This toss was between myself, my younger siblings, and their caustic friend "Mark". This character had had enough of what he perceived to be unbridled bitterness. He let us have it:

"You're just jealous because you can't get a chick that good-looking."

Monday, June 24, 2019

Book: Woody Allen - The Insanity Defense

A Forever Question: The Pickle Barrel

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

Sir. Why do we have the saying “I’m in a pickle” when at most some end up pickled?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Yesterday Was So Yesterday

This morning I heard a radio advert for a new film. Yesterday sounded interesting until I learned it's a dramatic film.


I was expecting a documentary, and had planned to visit the local cinema. Minutes ago I read up on the flick: Danny Boyle directed, and Richard Curtis scripted.


Want Some Chilly on Your Ford Fest Hot Dog?

On the television news last night came something chilling.

From the (DougFord Fest yesterday:

The Premier himself, Doug Ford, stood before the mic sounding as though he was campaigning:
"(The Liberals are) taking money from your pocket!" (Those little bastards are still doing that?)

A field reporter interviewed a young man who was clearly a faithful Ford supporter. The journalist had to ask: "How about the cuts to education and health care?"

The answer was precious. At least it was an actual answer and not the expected "because".

There was some hesitation as he searched for just the right words. They came:

"There are more important things."

Friday, June 21, 2019

Did It Break in Half Below the Waterline?

Doug Ford, captain of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, shuffled his cabinet yesterday: presumably the unit in his first-class suite on RMS Titanic. What cards have been moved about the ever tilting deck? Quite a few, actually. But most importantly, at least to me, is that Lisa MacLeod and Vic Fedeli have been relieved of their posts and moved to compartments less flooded -- we can assume.

McLeod and Fedeli could not answer simple questions thrown their way. They had a stock answer for just about everything: “The Liberals!”

Oh, yes. That party which no longer has any influence in Ontario politics. Makes sense they are the answer to your own failings.

Mr Ford’s multiple course corrections are what I refer to as “rearranging the Titanic’s debris field”.

Hey! Mr Ford! “C.Q.D.”

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A New Major Motion Picture For The People

Sir Run Run Ford

A story of cuts. Of hate. Of anger. Of telling lies. Of getting even.

It’s the story of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and its bully-dolt leader, Doug Ford.

The Unconscious - The Child Within

Keep repeating:

It’s only a movie.
It’s only a movie.
It’s only a movie.

A Forever Question: 02 - 22

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

Sir. What does it mean when one’s credit card and bottle of pain reliever share the same expiry date?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's Day - RCAF and RAF Style

H.W. St. Laurent, Royal Canadian Air Force
and Royal Air Force

Franco Zeffirelli (1923 - 2019)

This morning I received the news that Italian film director and producer Franco Zeffirelli died yesterday at the age of 96.

The first thing that came to mind was my stumbling across the shooting of his Hamlet when I was visiting Dover Castle in England.

From April 1990....

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Parade of the Toronto Raptors

Cue Miklós Rózsa's brilliant piece, "Parade of the Charioteers":

Everything you need to know about the Raptors' victory parade Monday

Even though I saw absolutely no basketball action involving the Toronto Raptors, or any team, I wouldn't mind attending -- with camera in hand.

Ontario's Premier, Doug Ford, has made it known he will not attend. He claims that a politician should not make an appearance at such a celebration. Ford is free to feel this way -- Toronto Mayor John Tory says he will not be there, probably because he was a constant presence during the actual games, an attendee at Jurassic Park -- but some pundits think the province's Bouncing Baby Boy is afraid he'll be booed should he show up. No doubt.

Mr Ford would probably think that Mr Rózsa's stirring and triumphant work was written for him. ("Ben who?")

Friday, June 14, 2019

Raptors & Warriors Final: Post Series Analyses

"The Raptors won because the Warriors lost Kevin Durant."


"When you lose too many key players, don't expect to win."

But sport can be unpredictable, which helps make it exciting.

"Raptors, minus Kevin Durant, equals The Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy."


"We'll take it."


Toronto Raptors 114 - Golden State Warriors 110

The Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship. That's great news. I got the news early this morning via a town crier's "Let's Go, Raptors!"

Can you imagine if the Toronto Maple Leafs had won?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Jodorowsky's Dune See

The Greatest Science Fiction Movie Never Made
Jodorowsky's Dune

So emblazons the DVD/Blu-ray case insert sleeve. I rewatched this fascinating documentary. In ninety minutes we find out how much work Alejandro Jodorowsky and the creative team put into developing his motion picture take on "Dune", Frank Herbert's classic 1965 science fiction novel. The great and innovative filmmaker promised an artful epic: something, as a few interview subjects share, the average studio executive does not want to imagine funding -- especially one in 1975. Apparently the production needed about another five million (1970s) dollars guaranteed before hammers could start swinging. Fifteen million in total was desired, but no doubt much more would have been needed before a release print met a projector gate. The mathematics of dollars and cents is what killed this dream realization.

My reaction upon completing my second viewing was the same as the first: It's a good thing Dune never met production status. I'm convinced it would have been a disaster. A financial disaster. I can't imagine a Jodorowsky Dune being anything less than great film art -- something rarely seen.

CUT TO: 1984 - December

With a film school classmate, I exited the Imperial 6 theatre's main doors. Something happened that could have been right out of a movie; one of those too common occurrences the audience does not buy since they're just too coincidental to believe. A fellow classmate walked by. "George!" He stopped and turned to us.


"We just saw (David Lynch's) Dune."

"How was it?"

"It wasn't very good."

It's a shame Alejandro Jodorowski never got to make Dune.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Jet Blast from the Past

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (@CWHM) tweeted this morning that their CF-104D "has received a new paint job and is now closer to being remounted in front of the museum".

A jet blast from the past:

Notes from a Dependent Brat: CF-104 "Starfighter"

Writing my recent piece (here) on the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) Canadair CC-106 "Yukon" transport aircraft stirred up more memories regarding my "brat" past: Memories about RCAF Station/CFB Baden-Soellingen (4 Wing).

Back in those days, the mid-late 1960s and early 1970s, the RCAF's main front-line jet fighter/interceptor was the CF-104 "Starfighter". Built under license (from Lockheed) by Canadair at its Cartierville Airport plant in the Montreal suburb of Saint-Laurent, the "one-o-four" went on to enjoy a long life with Canada's Finest Service; eventually being replaced by the CF-18.

With such a high-performance aircraft, especially one originally designed for high-altitude interception but re-geared for a low-level strike and reconnaissance role, there were bound to be more than a few accidents. During the years I lived in Iffezheim, West Germany, 'we' lost several 104s from 4 Wing. The most memorable incident happened in July of 1969 when two collided over the countryside. I remember vividly my father darting off for two weeks as part of the recovery/investigation team and, upon his returning, with redundant bags of sugar and other such foodstuffs, him recounting the commotion at the crash scene when they arrived: "It (a farmer's field) was crawling with Polizei." Apparently the two jets "locked wings" which sealed their fate; one pilot managed to eject while the other went down with his machine -- some of what my dad described about the impact site was pretty gruesome.

There was another: Soon after I got to school one morning my teacher told the class that a Starfighter had crashed not long after we had been bused in. (My family and I lived off-base, and not in the local "PMQs" [Private Married Quarters]. I have long been thankful that my parents wanted to live with the Germans, and not in a semi-sheltered environment called "Kleinkanada". There were lots of Canadian kids in my neighbourhood -- offspring of other smart parents.) If I remember correctly, that pilot managed to eject safely from his aircraft, despite the fact that he was in "take-off" mode.

Perhaps my fondest memory regarding the CF-104 Starfighter is of the machine's sound; that sound. One would hear the roar of jets in formation, and look up to see whether they were Canadian or German -- the Luftwaffe, too, operated the Starfighter. One beautifully sunny day my Grade 2 school teacher walked us out to the airfield; why exactly I did not know -- I'm sure Mrs. Gunnery said something, but I could not have been paying attention (surprise?). Upon taking position at our stations my school mates and I looked off over the flatness of the strip to the horizon. Suddenly there were several descending trails of black smoke which, of course, I was familiar with; moments later I noticed a series of landing lights seemingly suspended over the field. Suffice to say the 104s were flying very low, just over the deck, as they raced past us: What a noise! I love jets, and the racket they make, but really!

Ah, yes. The blessedly interesting life of a brat....

Stay tuned, Brat Fans, for my next blog posting. Same Brat Time; same Brat Channel!

Steven Spielberg's Dark Television Series'

A headline from this morning, alerted me to something potentially scary:

Spielberg's After Dark: New horror series by iconic director can only be watched at night

I remember the debacle titled Amazing Stories. The year was 1985, the year of the television anthology format, and we waited with some enthusiasm for Steven Spielberg's effort to tell some "amazing stories". Well, that did not happen. With very, very few exceptions, the show was a complete and utter dud.

Decades later some of us old enough to remember "the show with just a name" might not be so entranced.

Spielberg states that Spielberg's After Dark will be watchable only when skies are dark.


Like my television/tablet/phone.

(The horror!)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Raptors 3, Warriors 2 (Best of Seven)

The Toronto Raptors lost last night to the Golden State Warriors. I was not surprised to hear that news this morning. NBA statistical history is on the Raps' side, but one never knows.

We the North?

Could be.

They Gone South.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Re State the State of Canadian Films

A few days ago an old friend told me that this coming Wednesday's scheduled TIFF Bell Lightbox screening of Guy Maddin's 1988 epic tale, Tales from the Gimli Hospital, has been unscheduled. Too bad. I was looking forward to seeing it again on the big screen -- which was the way I first saw it.

Mr Maddin is a unique talent among his fellow Canadian filmmakers, and non-Canadian filmmakers.

From April 21, 2017:

The State of Canadian Film

The Agenda with Steve Paikin, TVOntario's outstanding public affairs program, did an hour-long program two days ago on the state of motion picture making in Canada as part of its celebration of Canadian film.

The first part of the program is titled "What's Wrong with Canadian Film?"
Watch here.

The second segment is more 'positive': "Why Canadian Film Matters."
Watch here.

It's an argument I've long heard: "Canadian films are bad." I would disagree. Without getting into an essay here, bad films are not a Canadian domain. There are loads of bad films generated in the U.S., and elsewhere. The only theory or argument I would agree with is that too many Canadian filmmakers try to copy their favourite films, in style and content; and most of those are head-of-the-line and top-of-the-line Hollywood productions. Instead of self-consciously, or, as some cynics might say, unconsciously, imitating expensive Hollywood films, why not try doing something that is "you" (and more the scale of your own wallet)?

The Toronto Raptors Could Take it Tonight

The Toronto Raptors are one win away from winning the NBA playoffs. That could happen tonight. In front of the hometown fans. I learned that the Golden State Warriors are laced with injuries. As I heard yesterday, if the "Raps" win it all, it'll be "with an asterisk".

Then it dawned on me: What if the Raptors win it all and it turns out to be their "1967"?

Go forth, Raptors!

A Forever Question: It's So Natural

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

Sir. Why are humans so mean to nature?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Paul Darrow (1941 - 2019)

British actor Paul Darrow died last Monday. He was best known for playing the charismatic character of Kerr Avon on Blake's 7, a science fiction television series which originally ran on BBC1 from 1978 to 1981.

"Avon", whose electronics and computer skills were as tremendous as his greed, was just one of the astounding space characters in the renegade band of Roj Blake. The series' titular leader sparred often with his tenuous ally. But Avon was just the man Blake needed in his efforts to overthrow the totalitarian Terran Federation.

Blake's 7 was referred to by some as "Star Trek on a budget", but that did not matter since the scripting and characterizations set it apart from most television SF pap. (Still do.)

This was pure Avon:

"Listen to me. Wealth is the only reality. And the only way to obtain wealth is to take it away from somebody else. Wake up, Blake! You may not be tranquilized any longer, but you're still dreaming."

Great stuff.

Paul Darrow could have been born to play Avon.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

In China the Toronto Star Is Now Blocked

On the news this morning: Chinese citizens have reported that their government has blocked access to the Toronto Star.

(Already blocked: The New York Times, The Washington Post, HuffPost, The Guardian, NBC News, and The Globe and Mail.)

My first thought after hearing the news minutes ago: Wouldn't it be funny if China gives a pass to the Toronto Sun? Jokes would fly. "The Chinese government blocks newspapers."

A Mysterious Unknown Force Pulls Me

Yesterday I filed a book picture posting: Destination: Moonbase Alpha - The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to Space: 1999

From author Robert E. Wood:

"Ultimately this [a loyal cult following] is a vindication against whatever the harshest and most biased of critics could hurl at it. This book is presented in the desire to provide that conclusive reckoning owed to Space: 1999 ...."

Okay, you lost me right there: page one of the "Introduction".

The Eagle has landed. With wires cut.

Lost in space? Not quite.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Twilight Zone vs. Outer Limits

For some, the issue of which is the better television series is of the utmost importance. I like both equally, and, they are actually two different shows once one gets past the anthology format, which both share equally.

The Twilight Zone (1959 - 1964)
More fantasy than science fiction.

The Outer Limits (1963 - 1965)
More science fiction than fantasy.

I have a first-hand story regarding that great and often fought battle.

Years ago I was visiting my neighbour. The food and drink came out, but nobody got drunk. The ensuing discussions were of the type expected at a friendly get together.

It happened. Scott, boyfriend of my neighbour, seemed to have a problem with my holding The Outer Limits in the same esteem I did The Twilight Zone. "Oh, come on, man. The Outer Limits was so bad. There was that episode that was so typical. The one with the robot boxer."

A challenge. I was thrown back into the ring: "That episode was called 'Steel'. It starred Lee Marvin. And it was a Twilight Zone episode."

Passion. The fists flew. Well, he pointed. "You're wrong." And continuing variations on that theme.

I went back to my apartment, and from my bookcase I pulled The Twilight Zone Companion (Marc Scott Zicree). Back to the battlefield.

With the book opened at the proper page, the chapter on "Steel", Scott's jaw dropped. In the manner expected of a soul converted by a well-placed "K.O.", he emitted a feeble, but emotive: "This is a conspiracy."

On such matters, don't argue with Uncle Simon.

No. "Uncle Simon" is a Twilight Zone episode.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Some Vinyl Grooves From the Bookstore

I really enjoyed The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax (2016). It is the first of now four novels in the series written by Andrew Cartmel.

Now I'm in the groove for The Vinyl Detective: The Run-Out Groove.

The Vinyl Detective: Readying The Run-Out Groove

Last year I read, rather, spun through, British novelist Andrew Cartmel's The Vinyl Detective - Written in Dead Wax (2016). This enjoyable book was number one in the chain, which consists of four links now that The Vinyl Detective - Flip Back is on the table.

My enjoyment of "Dead Wax" was such that I felt I had to write a review. Re-reading that review has motivated me to cue up the book's follow up, The Vinyl Detective - The Run-Out Groove (2017). In the groove. Today.

From July 22, 2018:

It Is Written - In Dead Wax

One thing led to another last week and I picked up the book The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax. Writer Andrew Cartmel is a name I learned from my interest in television writing: he was the script editor for Doctor Who during the Sylvester McCoy years -- 1987 to 1989. While I had long before those dates stopped watching the British science fiction television program, and television in general, I was familiar with McCoy's "Doctor". That era of DW was fraught with problems: a reduced budget (actually, "static budget", nibbled by constant inflation); disinterest in the program from the BBC's sixth floor; and the passing of many years since DW's first era. (To put things in perspective, and to call out the Beeb on its then disregard for a show that was once a British Institution, my British mother told me when I was a child that whenever Doctor Who was on, the streets were barren of children.)

Andrew Cartmel survived those years with some grace and style and decided eventually to pen a 'personal' novel. He's interested in coffee, cats, collecting records, and a few other things. His mate, and peer, and former collaborator on Who, Ben Aaronovitch, encouraged him to take his interests and put them to good use (paper).

From the publisher, Titan Books:

He is a record collector — a connoisseur of vinyl, hunting out rare and elusive LPs. His business card describes him as the “Vinyl Detective” and some people take this more literally than others. Like the beautiful, mysterious woman who wants to pay him a large sum of money to find a priceless lost recording — on behalf of an extremely wealthy (and rather sinister) shadowy client. Given that he’s just about to run out of cat biscuits, this gets our hero’s full attention. So begins a painful and dangerous odyssey in search of the rarest jazz record of them all…

Enjoyable reading. I too love cats, coffee, and a few other things. I don't collect anything in particular, not in the traditional sense, but I appreciate those who do. And I like most things music: Carmel laces his book with not only intrigue, but names: Gil Mellé, Russell Garcia, Bernard Herrmann, and a few of special note and more familiar to the average reader.

What I also responded to was the humour ("I suppose the fifteen thousand albums of show tunes he owned might have been a clue"), not "writers' room" one-liners affixed to any character just to get a laugh, but jokes from within and around. The story plotting carries some serious and dramatic weight, and the humour, as in most good humour, flicks from a few unfunny situations. However, there are those interpersonal barbs which we can all appreciate. A portion of Vinyl's comedy comes from the protagonist's two cats, Turk and Fanny. It's obvious the author knows and understands the beast. (Cats: those mini mirrors of our big oaf selves.)

I just blew through the book. The Vinyl Detective - Written in Dead Wax is recommended, certainly to those readers who like cats, coffee, and collecting things. And a well thought out and entertaining story. A nice blend.

"The next morning I made real coffee. I'd discovered the trick for enjoying this every day. On waking you have a cup of instant to give yourself the energy to embark on the ordeal of making the real stuff."

I'm sitting in my local coffee shop: now for my second cup....

Tuesday, June 4, 2019


Heather Reisman, of Indigo Books and Music, founded the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. This initiative donates books to Canadian public elementary school libraries, thereby promoting reading and the love of reading. I remember pulling books from my school library when I was very young.

As Samuel T. Cogley (Elisha Cook Jr.) once said:

"Books, young man, books. Thousands of them.  . . .  My library. Thousands of books."

On average I'd rather read than watch television (including movies). For all I care, a television set can take a long climb up a short telecommunications mast.

Monday, June 3, 2019

CD: Crazy for Gershwin

A Forever Question: All That Stuff

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

Sir. Why did Little Miss Muffet sit on her tuffet while eating her curds a way?

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Film Opticals of Canada Ltd. Business Card

Film Opticals of Canada Ltd. closed its doors in 2005, but it lives on for me in business card form. During my years there we produced titles and optical effects for films such as The Sweet Hereafter (1997), American Psycho (2000), and Ararat (2002).

I was one of two optical printer/camera operators. Those days! And late nights.

Of course, what "Film Ops" did then we can now do on a computer in our basement. Faster, cheaper, and with a heck of a lot less (potential) stress.

Toronto By Any Other Name

With the NBA final round now in the air, journalists from out of country are here to undertake the necessary coverage. (As boring as I find basketball to be, the fact is it's popular worldwide; no doubt due to its simplicity and ease of play.)

What's more interesting to me is how our visitors say "Toronto". We Torontonians have a tendency to pronounce the city name as "Tronno", "Tronna", "Toronno". You get the idea: a missing consonant.

I've long known that visitors say "Toronto", as in all consonants nailed. Americans, the United States variety, tend to pronounce properly our great city name.

That is so hot.