Thursday, April 30, 2020

Sorry Leafs Fans Fallen to the Cracks of History

"Go ahead, sir. I'm in no rush."

My offer went appreciated but ultimately rejected.

The bloke explained his position: "I'm in no rush, either. There's no Leafs game to watch tonight."

I told him that I'm old enough to have remembered the last Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup victory had I seen it, but I was living overseas in 1967. My memory was in full swing by that point.

As I explained to the gent, "I could tell people that I saw the Leafs win the Stanley Cup". (What a claim that would be. With beer and pretzels.)

Then depression set in. That was a long time ago!

Sorry, Leafs fans. Fallen to the cracks of history.


The above was first posted on April 30, 2019, as "History's What It's Cracked Up to Be".

The Great Soap Bar Depletion

Not long ago I bought an eight-pack of Dove "Beauty Bars". A few days ago I replenished the kitchen and bathroom supplies, and noticed that my once solid block of soap bars was now a flimsy two-pack.

That was quick.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Bit of Shoppers Intelligence

Recently I popped into my local Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up a few vital items. One, perhaps most vital of all, was instant coffee. However, my choices were limited.

On two shelves sat remnants of instant coffee product. What was most jarring about this display was the fact that almost all were of the "Decaf" or "Half Decaf" strain.

Is this a sign of the times? A byproduct of self-isolation? Smart shoppers?

I had no choice.

On Britbox, Cont. From Yesterday: Where and Who?

Here we go, no surprise:

All seven Doctors are here, but for now I must pick just one:

My favourite Doctor Who is that of the Jon Pertwee era, but I think I'll go with Sylvester McCoy since I had long abandoned watching the show by that point, and I understand from the Whovian Universe that the show's quality had picked up greatly here in the kinds of stories being told:

Now for a story. I'll go with "Remembrance of the Daleks":

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

On the Britbox 'Explore' Menu Screen

Now, what do my readers, those who know me best, at least, think I will click on in the above?

There's a good mix of stuff on Britbox. I have many choices....

Mistinguett on a Kiss

"A kiss can be a comma, a question mark, or an exclamation point."

Or, in my case, a period.

Monday, April 27, 2020

A Forever Question: It's the Same Idea

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

Sir. Would not "detoxicate" be a more pleasant term than "defecate"?

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A Presidential Hotline Telephone Call


Obama, old friend!


Look, could you do me a favour and check the spelling on your Nobel Prize?

Of Alfred?

No. Nobel.

Sure I will, old buddy! It is a tough one, and I want to make sure you get the correct spelling. One  minute.

Could you text it to me?....

Jet Fighters Over Toronto Tomorrow

It's a bird!

It's a plane!

It's a Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter jet plane on a North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) training exercise.

The maneuvers will happen Monday morning.

I will look up and listen....

As reported in the Toronto Star

Ticket for Underground: The Funnel TIFF Screening

First off I have to say that the TIFF Bell Lightbox cinemas are great. Peter Howell, film critic for the Toronto Star, said something like this when the complex first opened: "It's as though they've always been there."

In January of 2017 I made a point to attend a screening of various shorts produced by former members of The Funnel. "Underground: The Funnel Experimental Film Co-op 1977-1988" ran for one evening in Lightbox Cinema 4.


From February 9, 2017:

The Funnel Screened at TIFF Theatre 4

On Tuesday evening of last week I attended a screening dedicated to Toronto's The Funnel Experimental Film Theatre. Held in TIFF Theatre 4 and hosted by Mike Hoolboom and Chris Kennedy, "Underground: The Funnel Experimental Film Co-op 1977-1988" was a trip back for this former Funnel patron. My visits fell into the 1984/85 season. As expected my schooling began to take over and, I hate to admit, that was it for my twice-weekly streetcar rides to 507 King Street East.

The film lineup in Theatre 4: 

Ville-quelle ville? (Midi Onodera / 1984 / 4 mins / Super 8 on digital)
DP2 (Peter Dudar / 2014 / 16 mins / digital)
The Iconography of Venus (Annette Mangaard / 1987 / 5 mins / 16mm)
Eye of the Mask [excerpt] (Judith Doyle / 1985 / 27 mins / 16mm)
Canada Mini-Notes (Jim Anderson / 1974 / 15 mins / 16mm) 

Ville-quelle ville? and The Iconography of Venus, especially, sent me back to 1984/85. For one thing, there is something about the Kodachrome "look". Its rich colour palette and the translucency of a 'reversal' stock are perfect mates to an experimental filmmaker. I'm not suggesting that its favouring by experimentalists somehow implies that Kodachrome was born of imperfect imaging technologies -- far from it. I've shot lots of that emulsion myself: Exposed properly, it could produce an image of veritable gorgeousness. (Reversal looked best when exposed about 1/3 of a stop 'under'.)

In essential terms Midi Onodera's Ville-quelle ville? is about "memory", and because it was made over thirty years ago, it too is memory; perhaps more accurately, "memories". This very well could be why this film was my single favourite of the evening.

Yes, it's all about memories. Indeed.

We, my schoolmates and I who attended the Funnel screenings, were the cool guys hanging out with the cool crowd -- so we may have thought at the time. How did we hear about The Funnel? I don't remember specifically, but as I told Mike Hoolboom after he asked me this very question during a brief chat, it was probably a case of someone at the school (Humber College) telling us about an experimental film theatre downtown. Hearing this bit of fine intelligence no doubt would have been all we needed. When you're that age (young!) you are a sponge; ready to soak it all up. "Keep it coming!" is the mentality. It seems few subjects are of no use to the up-and-coming artist.

All good and experimental things must come to an end: The Funnel ran into financial difficulties and closed its doors in 1988.

After the pictures finished rolling at "Underground" a few of the filmmakers took to the stage to speak about their experiences at the co-op, in addition to making their films.

A bonus was the free copy of Mike Hoolboom's latest book, "Underground - the Untold Story of the Funnel Film Collective".

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Those in the Know Got It (Toronto Sun Letter)

This minor scribe has had a good success rate having letters published in the Toronto Sun, although it's been years since I've submitted any compositions of the type.

The letter below was printed on March 24, 2009, a few years before the Sun lost its last 5% of any journalistic integrity.

Those in the know get it

Like many Canadians I am rather disturbed by the ridiculous, caustic, and childish comments by Fox News Red Eye host Greg Gutfield and his merry band of oblivious panelists.

But when Gutfield mocks Canadian Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie's name by saying "an unusual name for a man," then you know he is not to be taken seriously. And certainly not as a satirist as he claims to be. U.S. servicemen and women know the score.

While in England a few years ago I was travelling on a train and a group of American F-15 fighter pilots were in the particular car where I was sitting. Almost immediately several of them introduced themselves and welcomed me aboard. One particular pilot and his weapons officer took me under their wing and we struck up a pleasant conversation. I told them my own father was in the Canadian air force and this seemed to give us a connection. The young fly-boy said, "you guys have great pilots … we fly with you all the time." Another chap, a cool customer who ignored a drunk who tried several times to ruffle his feathers, told me he had recently been on a pilots' exchange program in Goose Bay and had a lot of fun flying with Canadians.

When we disembarked, the Americans helped with my luggage and wished me a pleasant trip.

My point? Well, we Canadians are understood by those who are in the know. Gentlemen like those I met have the utmost respect for our military and what it represents.

It is an argument or concept not understood by Gutfield and only helps undermine his whole ignorant and  feeble rant.


(Our military: Underfunded, under-equipped and just outstanding.)

Friday, April 24, 2020

Troublemaker to the Toronto Sun - Sun News!

From: July 17, 2010

Subject: A letter I wrote to the editor of Toronto's exemplary newspaper, the Toronto Sun. It was in regards to the highly anticipated arrival of the Sun News Network, and in response to an editorial from the day before. My letter was not alone as there were four others. Enjoy.


Re "Sun TV News makes airwaves" (Editorial, June 16): Here comes the beating of drums -- the sound of "Anger Television." While I welcome any difference of opinion and additions to the airwaves, my feeling is Sun TV News will be a name-calling, shout-down channel. When you don't want to hear or accept anything which veers from the right-wing line, what options do you have? Certainly not "debate." Obviously, Quebecor Media CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau has not seen the CBC's At Issue panel at play: Perhaps someone should tell Andrew Coyne that he is not right wing. I am very patriotic, but I don't need a bunch of drum-beating "journalists" telling me incessantly that Canada is great. I want to watch real news, not a bunch of angry white men trying to articulate.


(Why not wait and see what it's all about before deciding whether you like it?)


Oh, I sure will!

I Ask: How did I know?....

Sun News Network
April 18, 2011 - February 13, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2020

CD: Wood - Moxy Früvous

Moxy Früvous

CD: Vostok 6 - Swinghammer

Vostok 6

Thot for the Day: Shill Chromebook Shill

Nobody needs to act as a freebie shill for Google, but I've seen a television spot extolling the virtues of owning a Chromebook....and I must act.

Normally I don't pay attention to TV adverts ("As Seen on TV!"), but repetition can work its way through my defence screens, given the right tickle.

Yes, it is true that Chromebook does not suffer the many ills that work a regular computer's operating system, and seemingly jam its RAM. Most of my general Internet work I perform using the Chromebook; when I opened my laptop recently to check a web bit I realized the point of those Google spots. It came to me quickly.

CD: Bernard Herrmann - Great Film Music

Bernard Herrmann
Great Film Music

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

CD: Citizen Kane - Essential Bernard Herrmann

Citizen Kane
- The Essential Bernard Herrmann Film Music Collection -

A Federal Liberal High

This morning Polling Canada released its latest Federal polling results -- garnered from an online poll done three days ago. It does not look good for the Conservative Party of Canada. One would think that the CPC's continuous, if mindless, attacks on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada might have gained some traction. Guess not. It's just a polling sample, of course, but the margin of error must be attributed to Andrew Scheer.

LPC: 42% (+9)
CPC: 29% (-5%)
NDP: 14% (-2)
BQ: 8% (-)
GPC: 5% (-1)

I wish the Green Party of Canada was able to gain more ground.

Some have already asked: "Why are the Conservatives even that high?"

Quick answer: Its dedicated followers would never budge. Only follow.

ConTar ("Where Canada is Number One.")

Why is there so much pressure in some quarters on the Canadian government to inject money, great heaps of money, into the Alberta tar sands? Sorry....Oil sands?

It's no secret that extracting bitumen from the sands is costly: in money and to the environment. Due to leaps in technologies, the financial costs have come down over the years, but the whole enterprise remains destructive. Outside of providing incomes to oil-industry workers, which is not unimportant, nothing is gained beyond fleeting supplies of gasoline and other petroleum products. It does, however, make some people very wealthy: If this byproduct of such a brutal means of oil production is so important, governments should just give them the cash and bypass the devastation. ("Here's a cool billion. Maybe now you'll stop bellyaching.")

It's really a one-way industry.

Lots of jobs are on the line, that much is clear, and it is an important issue. But is Canada's oil industry built on and around archaic principles? It's a half-question as this very notion is getting some press.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Tales of Television Centre (TV Documentary)

Tales of Television Centre gets one nostalgic for a place of work even if one did not work there. The sprawling complex wasn't merely a place of work, just as importantly, as pointed out by several interview subjects, it was a place of immense creativity.

The BBC's Television Centre was a hotbed of television production for over half a century (1960 to 2013), and its ultimate 'reconfiguration' remains a touchy subject for some. "Why?"

With the help of British television entertainment luminaries such as David Frost, Brian Blessed, David Attenborough, Peter Davison, and Terry Wogan, the how, where, and why are covered briskly but with some necessary detail. And with a lot of smiles.

The Centre was a culture all its own. Magic was in and on the air.

I wish I had worked there. (Here in Toronto we have the CBC's boring Canadian Broadcasting Centre. Only in Canada, eh? Pity.) Many presenters (hosts), actors, comics, technicians, designers, writers, and producers are thankful they did. There's that wistful nostalgia one expects to wrap up a documentary titled Tales of Television Centre.

On a humorous final note, I must mention that one thing I found obvious in the building's architectural style was the overall 'Soviet' vibe. This point is brought up by a few interviewees. The similarities are striking. (Does it mean anything?)

A Forever Question: Wipe-Out

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

Sir. Would "wipes" work better as "wipe-ups"?

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Nothing's Changed at the Toronto Sun

With Andrew Scheer voluntarily stepping down as Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, and wrapped in the still-sticking results of the last federal election, the Toronto Sun appears to be in free fall, dropping behind that broken horizon, possibly never to be seen again.

Messrs Goldstein, Furey, Bonokoski, and Lilley sit on deck chairs, fumbling about, not quite mastering the cello, violin, viola, and double bass -- except in the upper register.

A lookout spots a floating flag: "Postmedia"


The above piece was first posted on December 15, 2019, as "Dusk at the Toronto Sun? (Flotsam)".

Friday, April 17, 2020

How Did I Know? (From Last October)

If it weren't for the fact that I continue to like Justin Trudeau as Canada's prime minister, my vote scheduled for the 21st of this month (or earlier in the advance polls) would be an almost torturous affair. As far as I'm concerned, Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, is a write-off; he and his boys are a joke. That leaves the Greens and the NDP. I like both Elizabeth May (Green Party of Canada) and Jagmeet Singh (New Democratic Party), but it's the old dilemma. As one of my teachers said back in high school, nobody wants to waste a vote on the low-polling.

And. The reality is, my riding of "University-Rosedale" is heavily Liberal. I'll toss a penny into a barrel of pennies.


The above first appeared as "Who Do I Vote For? (Got a Penny?)" on October 9, 2019

Thursday, April 16, 2020

H. St. Laurent on Those Things

"If it's not one g*****n thing, it's another!"

Those quotes!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Brian Lilley Asks the Tough Questions (Really)

Brian Lilley of the Toronto Sun proclaims he is the guy who asks the tough questions.

"Someone has to ask the Trudeau government the tough questions."

That's fine; fair and good. He should.


Would he ask the same of Conservative governments? Did he ask the same when Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada were in the top office?

By the way, Mr Lilley considers himself a (political) "Columnist", not a "Journalist" if they are somehow mutually exclusive.

News Flash, sir: The very act of "asking" is journalism.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

H.G. Wells on the S Word

"The New Deal is plainly an attempt to achieve a working socialism and avert a social collapse in America; it is extraordinarily parallel to the successive 'policies' and 'Plans' of the Russian experiment. Americans shirk the word 'socialism', but what else can one call it?"

Let's ask Donald Trump....

H.G. Wells on Mankind

"Our true nationality is mankind."

We're waking up to this notion, hopefully.

H.G. Wells on the Great Race

"History is a race between education and catastrophe."

In action....

It's a Hoax - I'm Bill Needle

Do you know anybody who believes the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax ("it's bullshit!")? Well, I met someone.

It's disturbing. Especially when projected in email form, containing a embedded link to a YouTube video of the "bubble" kind. Hey, I watched a few minutes. Like this: "It's all a conspiracy . . . I know that they'll take this video down soon, so make sure you watch this now!"


I'm Bill Needle.

Monday, April 13, 2020

A Forever Question: I, Think

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

Sir. Why do some people think less when it's time to think more?

The Sweeney: Must See TV is Right

In 2005, ITV aired a tribute program on the classic old British 'copper' show The Sweeney, which was 'must see TV' before that term entered the vernacular.

Presented by Bradley Walsh, The Sweeney: Must See TV overviews the classic programme's influence on later UK television: the gritty stories and production techniques, and the portrayal of copper-blood characters by series leads John Thaw and Dennis Waterman.

The doc's viewers can be forgiven if they think: "What did the real Flying Squad make of the dramatic television version?" Well, it answers that, too. You may be surprised by what some former squad members have to say about The Sweeney (1975 - 1978).

Most enlightening.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

"The Goodies"

Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden

(Photograph: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Tim Brooke-Taylor (1940 - 2020)

I just heard the news that British comedian and actor Tim Brooke-Taylor died today. Days ago I watched an interview with him and Bill Oddie. The Goodies was something I watched on the telly in my youth. The show's oddball mix (Brooke-Taylor, Oddie, and Graeme Garden) appealed to my still-developing wacky sense of humour.

It's so sad that a man who brought laughs to so many should die this way. As Eric Idle said in his tweet from minutes ago: "This fucking virus."

Sunday Fun: "The Sweeney" Front and End Titles

The British copper show The Sweeney (1975 - 1978) was known to me for years in title only. Little did I know, until I did get to see it, that I would be so impressed by its acting, stories, and street vibe.

The two leads, John Thaw and Dennis Waterman, played off one another as though they were real policemen who could act and were cast primarily on that basis. Thaw is no longer with us, but Waterman is still acting. He was a regular in New Tricks (2003 - 2015), of which I've seen a few episodes -- while good, certainly by today's standards, it's not in the same league.

One of the draws for me is The Sweeney's lineup of guest stars: George Sewell; Brian Blessed; Patrick Troughton; Ian Hendry; Lesley-Anne Down; Julian Glover; John Rhys-Davies; Diana Dors; John Hurt; and the list goes on.

As just about any Brit telly viewer of a certain vintage can tell you, the opening and end title music bits were the cop show cues; and they were actual melodies. Imagine that. (Yesterday I posted a piece about the score to the classic Star Trek episode "The Doomsday Machine". I'm detecting a theme here....)

Retained for your viewing pleasure is the classic Thames Television introduction card.

By the way: Put your trousers on, you're nicked!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

"The Doomsday Machine" Scored Big Time

"The Doomsday Machine" Music Revealed from Shem von Schroeck on Vimeo.

As any Trekker can tell you, one big reason for Star Trek's success is due to the varied and outstanding music scores. That stellar program had so many big hitters in the various production departments: cinematographer Jerry Finnerman and associate producer Robert Justman, to name two. We fans know and love the cast of characters, of course, but the "Tech Credits", as the industry papers label them, impress also.

The music department scored big time.

Some episodes with standout scores:

"The Naked Time" (A. Courage)
"The Conscience of the King" (J. Mullendore)
"Who Mourns for Adonais?" (F. Steiner)
"Amok Time" (G. Fried)
"The Trouble With Tribbles" (J. Fielding)
"Metamorphosis" (G. Duning)
"I, Mudd" (S. Matlovsky)

"The Doomsday Machine" rocks, rolls, and touches in brilliance. Its brass section blazes with 4 trombones, 3 trumpets, and 4 French horns. Those crackerjack session players ("West Coast musicians") plied their trade in Paramount Pictures' Stage M that day, with composer Sol Kaplan conducting them through the charts.

American composer/musician Shem von Schroeck produced the above 60-minute video. He starts off by breaking down the score's essential parts -- there are many -- then runs "The Doomsday Machine" with onscreen text denoting what instruments and instrumental groups are playing at any given moment. His method is academic but easily understood by those folk who can't tell a kettle drum from a double bass, or a bassoon from a cello.

Schroeck's affection and admiration for Star Trek and its scores is evident, and infectious.

Outstanding. The instructive video reminds me why I got into the business.

Friday, April 10, 2020

DAZN Darn (One Must Show Support)

Due to reasons most valid and vital, sports streaming service DAZN is not carrying "ball games" at the moment. Of course my luck is such that I decided to sign up for the channel just before our world-wide health crisis took hold, but I had managed to see a few Premier League football matches, which reminded me how much I love that team sport. There are some archived matches on DAZN, but I decided to pull the plug for now.

From an email sent to me by the company:

"... We're sorry to see you go. When you're ready to watch sports again, jump straight back in."

Dear Sirs,

Oh, believe me. I will.


A British friend of mine told me a funny story from when he was a teenager: He was walking down a path with a good mate of his when they were approached by young football supporters.

A discussion ensued:

(with some aggression)
What team do you support?!

Foot ball? I don't like foot ball.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Education of Peter MacKay

Peter MacKay, candidate for new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, sent the following email blast. It's quite the blast. (Posted to Twitter earlier today by National Post "Parliament Hill" reporter Brian Platt. Bold emphasis is in the original.)

Dear Brian,

Canadians are a resilient people.

We have overcome diversity before. We will do so again.

In the face of struggle and hardship, heroes have emerged. Acts of kindness have inspired us.

It's a matter of time before mitigating measures and new medicines will defeat the virus. But then what?

We must be ready as Conservatives to lead the recovery effort, to rebuild what has been broken and come out of COVID stronger than ever as a country.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A Forever Question: Food for Thought

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

Sir. Why does junk food seem like such a good idea during a time of great stress?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's Special Message

In March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a special message aimed at kids during one of his daily COVID-19 press briefings. Winnipegger Tyler Walsh and his two sons released this afternoon a Lego video matching the PM's speech.

This is wonderful stuff. (It also reminds me that we Canadians have exactly the right leader at this trying time.)

Book: Film Art - An Introduction

Film Art 
- An Introduction -

David Bordwell & Kristin Thompson

Saturday, April 4, 2020

H. St. Laurent on the Easy Following

"People are goddamn sheep!"

As I get older I find I'm accepting of many of my father's witticisms.

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Witless Donald J. Trump in Book Form

I have a book titled "The Wit and Wisdom of Archie Bunker" *. It's funny and, at times, disturbing.

A publisher should compile and print "The Wit and Wisdom of Donald Trump". It'll be a best seller, just like "Quotations from Chairman Donald J. Trump".

(* The subject of a future blog post.)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Video to Eat Dinner By

This information junkie needed to clear his head while enjoying dinner this evening. A submarine dive video did the trick.

Two GoPro cameras were attached to the deck of HMS Torbay in May of 2017. Spectacular footage it is. Thanks to the video's producer music wasn't laid in. ("Please. No Hans Zimmer, please no.") It's so much nicer to hear those waves sliding and gurgling over the topside as the machine fills its water tanks.

Two months after this video was taken, HMS Torbay was decommissioned by the Royal Navy.

I'm wondering if YouTube has any episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea aboard. (The submarine Seaview was decommissioned by ABC in 1968.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

It's No Joke

I missed the April Fools jokes this morning: heard none and produced none.

This just in: "The Society for the Preservation of Conservatives" announced today that it'll break precedent and issue a reading list to its membership.