Monday, November 30, 2020

A Forever Question: They Are Just Words

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

Sir. Must one's dear have antlers?

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Match Points - Chelsea vs Tottenham

Chelsea F.C. and Tottenham Hotspur F.C. are playing. The score is nil nil, or, as we say over on this side of the pond, "nothing nothing". We're now approaching the 90 minute mark....

Hotspur has been hot and alive this year. I'm more of a Man City fan, but I hope the best for Tottenham and its loyal fans.

Speaking of hot: a friend took the lead today when he made a comment in an e-mail to me that made my day....

"... like you say, better to make something at any scale rather than remake the big stuff over and over. I really want to recruit some hot girl to be sent back in time, seduce George Lucas in university, and saddle him with two kids so he has to go get a job and never make Star Wars. We'd all be better off."

(As another friend of mine might quip right now: "Now do Star Trek....")

Sunday Fun: UFO (Repeat)

The 1970 - 1971 television season was exciting for this then child: Gerry and Silvia Anderson's first live-action series, UFO, was the flagship.

The CTV (Canadian Television) network ran the series here in Canada, and the network's flagship station, CFTO, in Toronto, was where the dial turned to on our Zenith Colour television set. My parents watched, too. It was what we would now refer to as "appointment television".

UFO was what now would be considered to be very adult material for that time. For some reason the Brits were ahead of us in some departments on this side of the pond. They would not be afraid to address matters such as a death in the family, or family dysfunction (like a marriage falling apart). Wait a's called "UFO". There was the space stuff, of course, and the show's premise of a hostile alien force attacking us could be exciting, but the best episodes were not space-based -- believe it or not. "Sub-Smash", "A Question of Priorities", and "Confetti Check A-O.K." are standouts. (A few years ago I watched those three episodes, along with a few others, for the first time in decades, and was convinced.)

Unfortunately for the fans, UFO lasted just one season; totaling 26 stories.

Things went downhill after that for the Andersons as a husband and wife production team. Their later interstellar effort, Space: 1999 (1975 - 1977), was a big step down -- mainly in the characterization, acting, and scripting departments -- from what they had achieved with UFO.


I corrected the earlier version (from March 3rd of last year) where I stated: "Things went downhill after that for the Andersons; not only for their marriage, but their careers." While Gerry's own career did reach a low ebb after the let-down of Space: 1999, eventually he got back into the game. And Sylvia went on to work for HBO for three decades. The original posting gave the impression that their careers never recovered.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Friday, November 27, 2020

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Ink & Acrylic on Packing Paper Asks a Question

I posted the above picture in an earlier post, but it seems to be more relevant now: approaching the end of the amazing year 2020.

Click on the pic and see the answer. Maybe that's the joke about 2020.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year Quest

Apparently the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) could not pick just one 'word of the year' for 2020. There are too many to choose from. And they just keep coming.

I came up with a word of my own, one sure to catch on; at least with me:


It's an adjective, its meaning obvious.

A Forever Question: Read Up!

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

Sir. Which is proper, "I read" or "I read"?

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sunday Fun: Pizza Flyer Fortified

For years, decades, I've claimed that advertising doesn't work on me. I buy what I need when I want it.

Imagine the blows my 'code' endured when this four-colour flyer was discovered in my mailbox....

JournalistSi: Pop-Up Homeless Shelters in Toronto

This morning I took a walk down Bloor Street West here in Toronto and came across a flotilla of parked police cruisers. In the line was a car from junky Global News. Like any good accidental journalist/photog, I asked: "What's the special occasion?"

"(An action) group is erecting a homeless shelter." At the foot of 1 Bedford Place, misplaced condo tower of the "Annex" neighbourhood.

I like to think of myself as a Good Lefty, but on the spot I wondered aloud if this is the right way to go about such things: at the base of a tower of affluence. There's my answer. Also: Toronto Mayor John Tory has a condo in this building.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

SpaceX is Go!

A friend, thinking this space cadet, a veteran follower of the Apollo moonshots, might be interested, sent me a link to the above video.

I was not expecting such quality. The mash-up makers got it right: transposing the SpaceX rocket program to the exciting opening and end titles of the old Thunderbirds television series. A series I loved as a child. (I saw 1968's Thunderbird 6 on the big screen.)

Mention must be made of Barry Gray's thunderously brilliant theme music. A theme! A melody! Can you believe it? (Hans Zimmer need not apply.)

I dig the 'this episode' sequence; a scherzo of rocket failures.

Thanks for thinking about me, Jon!

Monday, November 16, 2020

A Forever Question: Conceptualizing Happiness

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

Sir. Why is it that, for some, two-plus-two-equals-four is an abstract concept?

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Writing Production

Movies. Movies. Movies. I've seen a lot of movies since I was a child. For instance, my father took me to a diverse range of films when I was growing up. And the military base movie theatres rotated a wide range of product, old and new.

Now, try and get me to clear two hours to watch a feature length dramatic film. Something blocks me. For months now, especially, I've hardly popped a flick into the player, nor watched one on one of the many free streaming services.

Just this morning I came to the realization that there is a perfectly valid reason why I've been slacking on "keeping up": I feel I have a lot to accomplish, and the idea of locking myself down to vapourize two hours of my creative life is not part of the plan....or any plan.

Switching gears, or film reels: I'd rather be a successful writer than a successful filmmaker. Also, I worked in film and television for years; been there, done that. That's enough. Besides, I can make films on my laptop now. Why consume when I can, for little to no money, about the cost of a ream of paper, produce video product.

That's it. Produce!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Remembrance Day 2020

The years are passing. In particular, our direct connection with those vets of the Second World War is becoming less.

Above is a photo taken in May of 1945 of RAF No 626 Squadron, my late father's unit. Those guys were brave. Bomber Command had one of the highest casualty rates of any service.

Contrary to what some folk might think, observing Remembrance Day is not a celebration or glorification of war in any way, but to remember those who served.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

It's True What 'They' Say About Fox News

About a week ago I started checking out the Fox News website, due to my curiosity about how they were covering the U.S. presidential election.

I've been continuing to sample. While most of its commentators are as insane as ever, the news division reports the news, for the most part. In fact, many devoted Fox News devotees were upset when the network confidently named Joe Biden as the winner on Saturday.

So, today I updated myself on the bold news service's latest. This snip-clip is from today: a picture speaks a thousand words....

(Click to enlarge.)

Monday, November 9, 2020

Donald Trump Says He'll Run Again in 2024

"Run again"?!

No way.

Mr Trump will be in no shape to run in four years time, figuratively or literally: The 2024 United States presidential election is more than a thousand Happy Meals from now.

A Forever Question: Tunnel Vision

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

Sir. Why do certain folk think that watching hours of "dedicated" YouTube videos qualifies as serious research?

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Schadenfreude is Real

For some reason it's all around us today: Schadenfreude. That German word used to describe one's enjoyment of another's suffering or misfortune.

U.S. President Donald Trump was defeated "at the polls" by Joe Biden.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden gave his victory speech last night, and was the perfect gentleman in giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the opportunity to open the festivities. Right there, alone: What a difference! (And those smiles! Again: What a difference!)

Do I have any of this schadenfreude right now? No. I do not like or approve of that emotion. But, I did spend my formative years in Germany....

Friday, November 6, 2020

Doctor Zachary Smith, Indeed!

I'm seeing a few tweets like this today: "BOTD, Jonathan Harris."

Doctor Zachary Smith was a stowaway on Lost in Space's Jupiter 2 spaceship when it lifted off from Earth on its journey to a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri. The character, as played by Jonathan Harris, started off as a somewhat mysterious "foreign agent" who was an onboard threat to the Space Family Robinson -- his efforts knocked the flying saucer off its flight path; hence, "lost in space". However, as episodes passed throughout the first season of that truly horrible television series, Dr. Smith became a bumbling, selfish, and sneaky fool -- which is how he is remembered today by those who grew up with the show, or watched it in its original run on the NBC network (1965 to 1968).

Lost in Space was a treat-bag of absurdities. It was made at the same time as Star Trek, but looked at least a decade older, due mainly to its poor design work....which helped render the series as 'old' right out of the gate.

But there was some appeal in the form of the interplay between the "Robot", Dr. Smith, and young Will Robinson (played by Bill Mumy).

Dr. Smith, to the Robot: "You watch your mouth, you bellicose bumpkin." (Like that.)

Despite a lengthy filmography, Jonathan Harris (1914 - 2002) will forever be remembered for giving life and comedic dimension to Doctor Zachary Smith.

"Have no fear, Smith is here!"

Thursday, November 5, 2020

My Elections Canada Experience

Yesterday, although it seems like days ago, I popped a tweet noting my experiences working for Elections Canada in 2000. With what's happening in the U.S. right now, I'm valuing what we Canadians enjoy at and through the ballot box.

My respect and admiration goes out to all the many election workers in the States right now. They are working hard to keep "America" a democracy.

The tweet:

"I took a break from my career to work in the (November) 2000 federal election. A well-oiled machine. There were a few blips and re-cues in our office, but it went well. With the business happening in the U.S., I'm only more respectful of Elections Canada and our system."

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A Card Game of Trumps

U.S. president Donald Trump and his team want some states to stop counting votes as this may allow Joe Biden to catch up and overtake. Conservatives are mighty upset at those folk who have the temerity to count every vote cast by U.S. citizens.

That's it. Do everything you can to stop the game in progress when you sense that precious lead may slip away.

We may have our own equivalent here in Canada.

Imagine Toronto Maple Leafs fans wanting to stop a game at the end of the second period when their beloved "Buds" are ahead on the score-sheet, suspecting that the enemy might pull ahead and win in the third.

Pull out the Zamboni ! ....

Toronto Weather Snip from November 4, 2020

Toronto is now into a warm weather spell. I don't mind winter weather at all, even when there's actual wintery weather, but this is a spell I like.

Alternative blog post title: From 59 to 68 (Fahrenheit)

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Prediction Re U.S. Federal Election


Teenage Head Documentary on TVO Tonight

On TVOntario tonight at 9pm, Toronto time (ET), Picture My Face: The Story of Teenage Head.

"Canada's Notorious Punk Band", Teenage Head, played at my high school. But this then little punk did not go to the show. I'm much more interested in the band now than I was back then, probably due to the fact that they are now part of Canadian punk band history -- a vibrant history, I might add.

As the TVO webpage says:

"On Tuesday, November 3, 2020, TVO Original Picture My Face: The Story of Teenage Head, will premiere on TVO. It will then be available to stream across Canada on and TVO's YouTube Channel. It will also rebroadcast on TVO on Saturday, November 7 at 9 pm ET and Sunday, November 8 at 10:30 pm ET."

Monday, November 2, 2020

Picturing: Let There Be Snow (There Was a Little)

Picturing: Snow to Come?

A Forever Question: A Certain State

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

Sir. In a state of insanity is it possible to be sane?

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Picturing: Crackly Trees

Looking Back at D.C. Fontana

On December 4th of last year I wrote the following piece on the late television scribe, Dorothy Fontana....

Written by D.C. Fontana

Dorothy Catherine Fontana, perhaps better known as “D.C. Fontana”, was an important force in creating Star Trek and its mythology. Credit too often goes to the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, Gene Roddenberry, as being the great all-encompassing creator of Star Trek. As noted by Desilu studio exec Herb Solow and associate producer Robert Justman, there were many stellar contributors to the show that started it all, including but not limited to: cinematographers; designers; composers; and writers.

With Ms Fontana’s passing, there is not a lot of key Star Trek production people still with us. Gerald Fried is still alive and composing music at the age of 91. David Gerrold, creator of Tribbles, as in “The Trouble With Tribbles”, is still writing and publishing at 75.

In the then male-dominated dramatic television arena, undoubtedly it was a woman’s touch that helped humanize Star Trek, supplying vital stories and dialogue to characters powered by what my brother describes as “The Beatles Cast”. Ms Fontana had said in interviews that there were female writers working in television in the mid-1960s but they tended to work on non-drama programs. Roddenberry assigned Fontana, his then assistant, the story editor position after he read what she had rewritten of "This Side of Paradise", a script by another writer. (She had earlier written "Charlie X" -- the 5th episode shot in series production.) In this coveted staff role Fontana not only wrote her own scripts, but, as per the job requirement, rewrote others, helping shape the stories into the series whole. Along with other staff writers, she even took a stab at polishing Harlan Ellison's "The City on the Edge of Forever". (When I interviewed Mr Ellison in 2007 I did not broach the subject of "City" since his feelings are well documented; including by him.)

Music composers will say that talking or writing about music is clumsy. Best to listen to the music. The same could be applied to writing about writing.

The following quotes are out of context for the uninitiated, but one can surmise what is going on. It also shows how in television drama writing, every word must count. Not only moving the story forward, but revealing character.


From "Charlie X":

KIRK: You go slow. You be gentle. I mean, it's not a one-way street, you know, how you feel and that's all. It's how the girl feels, too. Don't press, Charlie. If the girl feels anything for you at all, you'll know it. Do you understand?


KIRK: Charlie, there are a million things in this universe you can have and there are a million things you can't have. It's no fun facing that, but that's the way things are.

From "Journey to Babel":

SPOCK: Any competent officer can command this ship under normal circumstances. The circumstances are not normal. We're carrying over one hundred valuable Federation passengers. We're being pursued by an alien ship. We're subject to possible attack. There has been murder and attempted murder on board. I cannot dismiss my duties.

AMANDA: Duty? Your duty is to your father.

SPOCK: I know, but this must take precedence. If I could give the transfusion without loss of time or efficiency, I would. Sarek understands my reason.

AMANDA: Well, I don't. It's not human. That's not a dirty word. You're human, too. Let that part of you come through. Your father's dying.

SPOCK: Mother, how can you have lived on Vulcan so long, married a Vulcan, raised a son on Vulcan, without understanding what it means to be a Vulcan?

AMANDA: If this is what it means, I don't want to know.

SPOCK: It means to adopt a philosophy, a way of life, which is logical and beneficial. We cannot disregard that philosophy merely for personal gain, no matter how important that gain might be.

AMANDA: Nothing is as important as your father's life.

SPOCK: Can you imagine what my father would say if I were to agree, if I were to give up command of this vessel, jeopardise hundreds of lives, risk interplanetary war, all for the life of one person? 

AMANDA: When you were five years old and came home stiff-lipped, anguished, because the other boys tormented you saying that you weren't really Vulcan. I watched you, knowing that inside that the human part of you was crying and I cried, too. There must be some part of me in you, some part that I still can reach. If being Vulcan is more important to you, then you'll stand there speaking rules and regulations from Starfleet and Vulcan philosophy, and let your father die. And I'll hate you for the rest of my life.

SPOCK: Mother

AMANDA: Oh, go to him. Now. Please.

SPOCK: I cannot.

From "This Side of Paradise":

LEILA: I love you. I said that six years ago, and I can't seem to stop repeating myself. On Earth, you couldn't give anything of yourself. You couldn't even put your arms around me. We couldn't have anything together there. We couldn't have anything together anyplace else. We're happy here. I can't lose you now, Mister Spock. I can't.

SPOCK: I have a responsibility to this ship, to that man on the Bridge. I am what I am, Leila, and if there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else's.

MCCOY: Well, that's the second time man's been thrown out of paradise.

KIRK: No, no, Bones. This time we walked out on our own. Maybe we weren't meant for paradise. Maybe we were meant to fight our way through. Struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can't stroll to the music of the lute. We must march to the sound of drums. 

SPOCK: Poetry, Captain. Non-regulation.

KIRK: We haven't heard much from you about Omicron Ceti Three, Mister Spock.

SPOCK: I have little to say about it, Captain, except that for the first time in my life, I was happy.

From "Yesteryear", from the animated Star Trek series:

SPOCK: Every life comes to an end when time demands it. Loss of life is to be mourned but only if the life was wasted.