Friday, December 31, 2021

Monday, December 27, 2021

'Khan Noonien Singh' on Man (Part Two)

"Captain, although your abilities intrigue me, you are quite honestly inferior. Mentally, physically. In fact, I am surprised how little improvement there has been in human evolution. Oh, there has been technical advancement, but, how little man himself has changed."

We can make that claim now.

'Khan Noonien Singh' on Man (Part One)

"Nothing ever changes, except man. Your technical accomplishments? Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity, but improve man and you gain a thousandfold."

On the surface, Khan is right.

Conservative Party of Canada Can't Find a Good Date

October 19, 2015
October 21, 2019
September 20, 2021

A Forever Question: Oh, Maître d'!

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

Sir. Wouldn't revenge best be a dish served piping hot?

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Saturday, December 25, 2021

It's Christmas: I'm Allowed to Indulge in a Little Wine

Inniskillin Pinot Noir. Apparently, it goes good (well) with video material. Here's to catching-up with video material....

A Christmas Memory in a Time & Space Warp

Christmas is great when you're a kid. This morning I thought about my favourite memories. Quickly I nailed one: 1970.

(After reading that, pretend you have a faulty memory. "He posted about the Christmas of nineteen-ninety.")

My favourite present that year was the AMT "Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Space Ship Model Kit".

(Star Trek was sparking hot. The series had finished its NBC network run only eighteen months earlier. Toronto television station CFTO was running/stripping the episodes at 5pm on weekdays.)

It was not a simple plastic model kit as it was "lighted". Small light bulbs, included in the box, could be inserted into the top and bottom of the primary hull (the saucer-shaped portion) and at the front-ends of the engine nacelles (those long tubes). The former were capped by green-tinted discs, and the latter were topped-off by amber-tinted domes. My mother helped me with the wiring and the insertion of the lamps' power source: a D-cell, not included with the kit, sat in the secondary hull (the bottom tube-like section).

Building a model kit is fun, but seeing the completed AMT U.S.S. Enterprise suspended from my bedroom ceiling was a trip, and it looked great with the bedroom light off.

I remember something else from Christmas Day 1970. My dad was in the process of carving the turkey when he looked over at the Zenith television: "I'm surprised this is on today." (The episode was "The Return of the Archons".)

Fond Christmas memories.

Friday, December 24, 2021

It Was How Many Christmas Eves Ago?

Christmas' in then West Germany were pretty awesome. Not only do the Germans love to celebrate the season, but they open their presents not on Christmas Day, but on Christmas Eve. This then kid loved it.

We Canadians living in German towns and villages followed the homeland tradition of unwrapping on the 25th, but when our gift-bearing landlord visited us the evening before, the proper thing to do was to open up right there and then.

Above is what I received on December 24th, 1969.

The embossed label underneath the Matchbox vehicle reads:

Made in England by Lesney
Models of Yesteryear
1911 Daimler

Sweet memories.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Conservatives Are Always Angry

Here in Canada during the last federal election, there was a terrible blight: Conservative supporters were vandalizing "Liberal Party of Canada" campaign lawn signs. Every day pictures were posted online showing sliced and/or 'discarded' MP signs; often graffitied with swastikas, and sometimes with "Racist" -- no doubt the irony was lost on the perpetrators.

Why are Conservatives always so angry? It is a serious question. One must look 'inside'.

A conversation I had with a friend a few years ago....

Why are conservatives always so angry?

Because they feel they're picked on all the time.

Well, maybe that's because they deserve it.

Monday, December 20, 2021

A Forever Question: Half Full

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

Sir. In wrestling is there a move called a drill press?

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Where's Winter?

The temperature here in Toronto hit 16 degrees Celsius (61 Fahrenheit) today. Apparently it broke a record set in 2011.

Christmas songs on the radio distort reality.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

300,000 Big Ones

One night last week my blog/website received its three hundred thousandth hit. This makes me happy. Any writer scribbles in the name of creativity and "keeping the pencil sharp" without thinking about any popularity contest, but, it's still nice to be read.

Special thanks to all the readers... and electronic scoopers: it's hard to believe that the following post has actually received over twenty-eight thousand discrete hits:

Dorothy "DC" Fontana (1939 - 2019)


Monday, December 13, 2021

A Forever Question: Zoom In, Eh?

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

Sir. Are we on Michael Snow's wavelength?

Thursday, December 9, 2021

A Special DVD Edition at Bay Street Video in Toronto (Repeat)

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things scared me when I saw it at the Terra Theatre in CFB Borden.

That was the first half of a double feature.

Part two was my second screening of Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls, which spooked me when I saw it at the base's Astral Theatre. I had to sit through it again?

That was quite the fright night.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A Trek Forty-Two Years Ago Today

Last evening I was reminded by a tweet that Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released forty-two years ago today. How could I have forgotten? It was a memorable night.

Picture a dozen teenagers meeting at the big picture house to see one of the most anticipated pictures ever. Try and imagine our disappointment when the end credits rolled: not that we wanted the show to go on, but more a case of "that was it?"; or as friend Mike said after he turned to me from the seat to my left: "I thought it would be better than that."

The next morning I shuffled to the living room, where siblings were watching "Wink of an Eye". Is this some sort of joke? An editorial on what I saw last night? You thought this episode was bad? Last night's event flick made "Wink of an Eye" look like a masterpiece?

The passage of time has been kind to ST:TMP.

Monday, December 6, 2021

A Double Feature Challenge (Rescreening)

Watching a home-programmed double feature of Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams movies is easy. We know what we're getting.

On the weekend I went random, self-programming two disparate, in time and place (and style), narrative feature films.

Beyond the Time Barrier (1960 - Edgar Ulmer)
True Stories (1986 - David Byrne)

The first picture I saw a few times in my childhood as it played often on television and at least once at my local movie theatre (the Astral in CFB Borden, Ontario). Watching it as an adult makes one appreciate its themes. For a child it was more about the interesting visual stylings, and chills. (Those horrific mutants.) The environmental theme is up front: testing of nuclear weapons 'back' in the early 1970s led to a horrible plague, all but decommissioning the human race. The survivors moved underground; the human birthrate eventually dropped to zero. There's more, all leading to a memorable ending -- I remembered it for decades. This time, Beyond was better overall than I had remembered it being. The passage of time helped. By the way, the X-80 rocket plane, which flies star Robert Clarke to the astounding year 2024, is in fact a Convair F-102 Delta Dagger.

In the mid 1980s I was a bit of a fan of the band Talking Heads, so it made sense that when band leader David Byrne released his True Stories I would arrive at Toronto's (now gone) Uptown Theatre with bells on. I left slightly disappointed. About a dozen years ago I gave the film another shot, this time on VHS. The loosely connected stories about the quirky but human inhabitants of a fictitious Texas town called Virgil resonated more with this viewer that time around. Spinning the Criterion 2018 DVD release made me appreciate True Stories even more. And there're those always cool Talking Heads tunes.

After my double feature finished I realized that both flicks were filmed in Texas. True Story.

PS: What's next? Maybe Aguirre, the Wrath of God and The Endless Summer.

A Forever Question: Key

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

Sir. Is there a passcode to enter the afterlife?

Sunday, December 5, 2021

CD: The Definitive Benny Goodman

The Definitive Benny Goodman

Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

CD: Music from the Hammer Films (TPO)

Music from the Hammer Films
- James Bernard, Christopher Gunning, David Whitaker -

The Philharmonia Orchestra
conducted by
Neil Richardson

Silva Screen Records Ltd.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Book: The Brothers Grimm (Grimm)

The Brothers Grimm
- 101 Fairy Tales -

Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm

Canterbury Classics

Book: Last Stop, The Twilight Zone (Engel)

Last Stop, The Twilight Zone
- The Biography of Rod Serling -

Written by Joel Engel

Antenna Books
(this version)

Book: John Cassavetes Interviews (Oldham)

John Cassavetes
- Interviews -

Edited by
Gabriella Oldham

University Press of Mississippi

Picturing: Pigeons' Obsession

By the time I managed to pull out my camera quite a few pigeons had left the scene. I'm not sure why they were going so squirrelly for this patch of soil. They made a lot of noise.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Film Design: Science Laboratory - Earliest Sketches (Repeat)

Yesterday I posted a piece about my search for a set flat painted pattern. Film Design: Set Wall Panel Patterns featured some of my sketches for a television pilot/demo I independently produced a few years ago.

Affixed above is a very early set sketch for the same show and illustrates how the flats would be positioned in the studio. The flats at this point "floated" and were not interconnected -- that came later. Over pints of beer with a friend (and production partner) I recounted the Time Tunnel set from the old, and very bad, Irwin Allen television series The Time Tunnel.  I liked the idea of a laboratory accessed by some sort of bridge or walkway, which informed my first approach.

My Time Tunnel sketch (click to enlarge)....

And the science laboratory idea from my own project....

Monday, November 29, 2021

A Forever Question: Pomp and Circumstance

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

Sir. In the animal world, are cats royalty?

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Documentary on Elwy Yost is Now Streaming

Last night TVOntario premiered its one-hour documentary Magic Shadows, Elwy Yost: A Life in Movies. It was good, the subject matter helped, but it could have been twenty or thirty minutes longer. While I very much like the one-hour doc format -- it works for many subjects -- it can suffer from a broken and fragmented structure when trying to cover a lot of ground.

But, it's definitely worth watching. For those of us who watched faithfully the OECA/TVO programmes Magic Shadows and Saturday Night at the Movies, the memory circuits flooded and oozed last night.

Sunday Fun: Toronto's Got Snow!

This reminded me that last winter Toronto did not get a lot of snow. There were no snowstorms... and no cold snaps, outside of the odd cold day. Apparently, this year we are targeted for more of the white stuff and ice stuff.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A Special Documentary to Air This Coming Saturday

Magic Shadows, Elwy Yost: A Life in Movies is to air on Saturday, November the 27th. And I'm to sit in front of my "tube" tuned to TVOntario at 8pm Toronto time (ET).

Two weeks ago I wrote a little piece on this hot doc. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Scanning: Theatre Books Book Marker

Theatre Books was a pretty wonderful go-to place for those of us who worked in "the arts" here in this great city. When I moved to Toronto in 1984 someone alerted me to this bookstore. Trying not to spend too much money there was the hard part. I was in film school, after all, and that was priority, but I did lay down some mid-eighties currency to grab those books which I considered essential and relevant to my studies, like: the American Cinematographer Manual.

In 1992 Theatre Books moved a short distance, to a grand house on St. Thomas Street, where it stayed for years. Spadina Avenue, just north of King Street, became home in 2012. I visited, but the digs were much more conservative, the booklist much tighter. One day while doing some business down in that area, I decided to pop by and it was gone. A couple of pleasant young gents who ran a clothing store next door told me that Theatre Books had closed down suddenly, but the rumour was it would resurface somewhere else. That never happened.

One day last week I pulled a book from one of my bookshelves and a certain marker brought back memories. By the way, the layout on that book marker is pretty rough... this I noticed while preparing the scan.

Postscript: Toronto Star article on Theatre Books' closing....

A Forever Question: On the Wrist

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

Sir. Would a watch be best called a "glance"?

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Sunday Fun: It's the World We Live in Now

I was at my laptop. I had the device plugged into some a/c (alternating current).

As it had been plugged in since early this morning I thought I should check to see where the recharge was at....

I swear it said: "Fully vaxxed (100%)"

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Toronto Sun Letters Comment of the Day

Many of us let the Toronto Sun twist and fizzle in its grief. While these meltdowns at Toronto's simplest 'newspaper' play out, we enjoy the letters editor's comments on a daily basis.

My favourite today:

"(He’s unserious and has already done so much damage to our country and will continue to do so as long as he is in office)"

I must be living somewhere else....

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Russia Tests a New Anti-Satellite Missile

Did you read that bold headline the way I did?

My ideas for a better headline....

Recording captures the moment ISS crew scramble to escape-pods

Recording captures the moment ISS crew scramble to 'escape pods'

Recording captures the moment ISS crew scramble to Escape Pods

Book: Fighting Aircraft of World War II (Gunston)

The Illustrated Directory of
Fighting Aircraft of World War II

Written by
Bill Gunston

Salamander Books Ltd.

Monday, November 15, 2021

A Forever Question: It's Sad

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

Sir. Is saddism bad?

Friday, November 12, 2021

Short: Adam Ant's Real Name

This afternoon I had BBC Radio 2 cooking while I worked. They played an Adam Ant song. I've known about the New Wave singer since high school.

Today I learned that Mr Ant's real name is Stuart Leslie Goddard.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Book: Fitzgerald's Storm (MacInnis)

Fitzgerald's Storm
- The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald -

Written by
Dr. Joseph MacInnis

Macmillan Canada

Remembrance at Native Canadian Centre of Toronto

Book: The Eighth Passenger (Tripp)

The Eighth Passenger
- A documentary account of a World War 2 bomber crew -

Written by
Miles Tripp

1985 (reissue)

Why One Goes to War (Repeat Post)

Last night I watched a fine feature length documentary on WWII. Produced by the National Geographic Channel, "Inside WWII" overviews, in the hyper-speed mode so typical of info-dump docs made these days, the 20th century's largest conflict.

Some of the interview subjects explain why they joined the war. I remember the day in 1984 when I finally got around to asking my own father why he enlisted and why he chose RAF Bomber Command:

"I was pissed off. I was doing poorly in school and my mind was on the war overseas."

His rationale for joining the bomber force as a gunner was expedient:

"You got overseas quickly that way . . . It was an eight-week air gunners' course in Montreal."

(He knew that flying as "aircrew" in Bomber Command was dangerous work. Many young men, men too young, got "The Chop".)

As was the norm at the time in this neck of the woods my dad was sent to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) grounds for dispersal. From that famous Canadian site began the process of getting "shipped overseas", but as this was wartime it wasn't quite that easy. German U-boats roamed the North Atlantic in search of prey, and a steamer loaded with fresh faces was a prime and highly-prized target.

I will stop here: The above bits and pieces are stressful enough, never mind the few combat stories my dad did let out over the years. (While on one of my trips to England, as part of my ongoing research on RAF Bomber Command I spoke with historian Martin Middlebrook and he gave me some sage advice which I understood too well: "Don't ask your father. He won't tell you anything.")

A few years after the war ended he joined the RCAF and enjoyed a long career with Canada's finest service.

I left the best for last; the big "and" part of my dad's explanation for wanting to see action overseas:

"... And I wanted to get the Germans."

(A childhood friend did not come home; he died when his bomber was shot down over France. Kinda sobering, ain't it?)

Passions of the time, those were.

My father loved Germany and the Germans. We moved to West Germany in October of 1966, just twenty-one years after he flew in a Lancaster bomber doing a job he felt he must do.

Royal Air Force No. 626 Squadron - May 1945

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Magic Shadows, Elwy Yost: A Life in Movies

When I first heard that TVO was working on a feature length documentary about legendary, at least in these parts, movie-lover Elwy Yost, I had flashbacks to all the movies he programmed over the decades... and all the "film people" that he interviewed, not just actors but interesting creatives and techs of all kinds.

I had all but forgotten about, what is to me, one of the most anticipated docs of recent years.

This proud TVO Supporter decided to open that envelope, the one mailed to me a few days ago, the one which contained the latest issue of TVO Impact magazine, sitting unloved on my desk.

As soon as I pulled out the folded mag from the hastily-torn envelope, I 'knew it'. "That's Elwy!"

Magic Shadows, Elwy Yost: A Life in Movies premieres on Saturday, November 27th, at 8pm.

click on

Book: Digital Babylon (Roman)

Digital Babylon
- Hollywood, Indiewood & Dogma 95 -

Written by
Shari Roman

Lone Eagle Publishing Company

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Blu-ray: Jonny Quest - The Complete Original Series

Jonny Quest
- The Complete Original Series -

Warner Archive

Monday, November 8, 2021

A Forever Question: Screwy

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

Sir. If one wants to screw someone over, what's best, clockwise or counterclockwise?

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Sunday Fun: How Much Do I Love Cats? This Much....

There are lots of cute 'enhanced' comedy shorts on YouTube, but Jurassic Park But With a Cat may be the funniest I've stumbled upon. It certainly is much better than the film it draws from.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Two Toho Studios Monster Fans - Godzilla Day!

The combination of Godzilla and Toho film studios makes for a formidable tag team. The famous Japanese production complex is so synonymous with the rubber-made monster that it's hard to believe that it actually has produced non monster movies.

However, the purpose of this piece is to go for the studio's biggest star: Godzilla.

In the late summer of 1988 I became friends with a chap who had been living in the same building as me for four years. We hit it off right away once we decided to converse with one another. He, Richard, was in the midst of his physics master's degree program at the University of Toronto, and I, a recent film-school graduate, was working very occasionally as a designer on films and television commercials.

How tickled I was when he told me that he was a big fan of the Godzilla pictures.

A pot of tea, a bowl of unhealthy potato chips, two geeks in front of a VCR-powered television set: Godzilla; Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster; Godzilla vs. Mothra; King Kong vs. Godzilla; Destroy All Monsters; Godzilla, 1985; you get the picture.

Richard earned his PhD, and I stomped around in the film and television business.

Michael Coren on Tonight's Edition of The Agenda

I'm in the process of reading Rev. Michael Coren's latest book, "The Rebel Christ", and I can say that I'm enjoying its breezy and accessible writing style, with its ideas conveyed in convincing logic -- even to this atheist.

Tonight at 8pm, and repeated at 11pm, is an interview with the book's author. Steve Paikin, host of TVOntario's outstanding public affairs programme The Agenda, no doubt will ask the big questions.

One must always have an open mind....

Monday, November 1, 2021

A Forever Question: The Pain, The Pain

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

Sir. Would "stubbing one's toe" be better expressed as "agonizing one's body"?