Thursday, September 30, 2021

'Sargon' On Our Ultimate Crisis

"And we survived our primitive nuclear era, my son. But there comes to all races an ultimate crisis which you have yet to face."

But are we ready to face it?

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

'Sargon' on Mental Power

"One day our minds became so powerful, we dared think of ourselves as gods."

That's bad.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Book: These Are The Voyages - Season 3 (Cushman)

These Are the Voyages
- TOS: Season Three -

Written by
Marc Cushman

Jacobs/Brown Press

Monday, September 27, 2021

A Forever Question: As Seen On TV!

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

Sir. Were flatscreen televisions introduced to consumers so that television product today 'displays' better?

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Reading Television (Repeat)

Reading about art of all kinds is something I enjoy. What is the backstory behind that painting, sculpture, or piece of music? Having grown up with series television like most people, I was furnished with an interest in reading about that art form, even if it may arguably be a lesser art form. As for books about movies, I devoured Kenneth Macgowan's history of the motion picture, "Behind the Screen", in my first year of high school. Two years later it was Arthur Knight's "The Liveliest Art", with many more to come.

In fact, 'it' started earlier: One of my elementary schools had, filed in its library's racks, copies of "The Making of Star Trek" (Stephen Whitfield) and "The Making of Kubrick's 2001" (Jerome Agel). Due to the popularity of the former, the school library had two copies of its "making of". How complex pieces of entertainment are put together makes for fascinating reading if you are interested in the art and business of film and television. (Films and television programs of the science fiction strain tend to have the making-of books; for obvious reasons, I suppose. Give me a book on the making of All in the Family, someone, please.)

A few years ago I read a book about the original "Doctor Who" series. As it was a television program I watched in my youth it too made for interesting reading. I mentioned the book to a friend of mine who also grew up with Who. As it turned out, he too had read it. He cracked me up when he added: "Very often it's more interesting reading about the show than actually watching it." Very true.

(Contrary to what Globe and Mail television critic John Doyle may think, most television is best enjoyed as a television schedule listing.)

More interesting to me is the history and business of television. It's a form that occasionally, if rarely, pops out a fine dramatic or comedy series. Fighting off Theodore Sturgeon and his pesky "law" is essential. Somehow art is produced.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Book: Star Trek - A Celebration (Robinson & Spelling)

Star Trek
- A Celebration -

Written by
Ben Robinson & Ian Spelling

Eaglemoss Ltd

Monday, September 20, 2021

A Tweet From Yesterday For Today - Canada Votes!


As I told a friend yesterday, I'm voting, even if my riding is 'set'. As I mark that ballot I will think of all those souls on this planet who are not allowed that option.

Vote! #Elxn44

A Forever Question: Free and Easy

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

Sir. Why do many people who go on about their freedoms not vote?

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Battle of Britain Day: Final Thought for the Day

"Music blazed from sparking loudspeakers as fireworks of all colours and stripes rose streaking from a barge anchored to the sparkling waters before us. For many Brits here, this sight and sound must have been emotional."

- September of 1990, as I stood near the River Thames for a "Battle of Britain" 50th Anniversary commemoration.

Battle of Britain Day: Battle of Britain Day in 1990

The poster said all I had to know. On September 15, 1990, there would be a celebration to remember on the River Thames. That of "Battle of Britain Day, 1990". This history buff did not plan my trip to coincide with the event, but I was in London, England, and would be around to attend the fireworks.

I stood among a large crowd on the river's south bank, metres upstream from Tower Bridge. The sky darkened, the vintage searchlights fired up, probing and irradiating a low cloud ceiling. All that was missing was the drone of unseen Heinkel, Dornier, and Junkers aircraft. The Blitz was terrible for London's denizens throughout the summer of 1940, so nobody was celebrating the act of war, but the repelling of invaders....German "Luftwaffe" bombers. (Since there had been no definitive and crippling blows to the Royal Air Force, necessary if Unternehmen Seelöwe [Operation Sea Lion], the invasion of England, was to have any chance of succeeding, Adolf Hitler lost interest and turned his attention to the east.)

Music blazed from sparking loudspeakers as fireworks of all colours and stripes rose streaking from a barge anchored to the sparkling waters before us. For many Brits here, this sight and sound must have been emotional. I too was feeling it: Composer Ron Goodwin's magnificent themes for the films Battle of Britain and 633 Squadron were the perfect accompaniment, and helped lift us all up high. (Aces High!)

That event was the 50th anniversary of the great battles fought in the skies over England. Now we're at 81.

Battle of Britain Day: Battle of Britain (1969)

As part of a downsizing project [twelve] years ago I purged most of my pre-recorded VHS tapes. I've never been a big collector of movies -- my DVD library is fairly small -- but the fact is I had accumulated around 70 tapes:

Battle of Britain (1969) A troubled production complete with massive cost overruns and a shoot that seemed to have no end, this historical aviation epic provides some satisfaction for those movie fans who want to see a breed of filmmaking that will never be seen again. No film company today could afford to make a film like Battle of Britain, at least not one using exclusively the same production methods -- much of it would be done using fake CG fakery, by people who've never taken the time to see how an aircraft, like a Spitfire or Heinkel, twists and turns in the sky. (Try YouTube.) As far as the film as a film goes: It depends on whether the viewer can enjoy a 132-minute story about a critical moment of history. The Royal Air Force's warding off of the mighty German Luftwaffe during the summer of 1940.

What one sees are grand air battles and an abundance of name-actors (at that time, of course). Christopher Plummer, Susannah York, Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Curt Jurgens, Robert Shaw, and Trevor Howard are a few of those stars who play historical characters or 'average people' swept up in that pesky thing we humans almost never ask for but often get: War. In this case World War II.

A highlight of many: The Battle in the Air. It makes me a firm believer in cinema's capabilities.

Kudos must go to director Guy Hamilton (1922 - 2016) for giving a somewhat unwieldy story, one with necessary density, some personality; and for remembering the people, who are so often forgotten in these epics.

My dad took me to see Battle of Britain when it hit the CFB Baden-Soelligen movie theatre. Tomorrow I will post a sort of 'VHS extras' piece....

Battle of Britain Day: Battle of Britain Special Features

My dad took me to see Battle of Britain when it hit the CFB Baden-Soellingen movie theatre. We were living in then West Germany, specifically in a small town, surrounded by Germans, which somehow enhanced my movie-going experience. Not only do I love the sound of that language but in this movie the Germans actually speak Deutsche.

To illustrate how big of a deal this movie was at the time, there was a live-from-London television special one evening celebrating its premiere. German television network ARD or ZDF (I can't remember which) picked up the live feed: There were searchlights and men dressed in vintage uniforms manning an ack-ack gun placement. I could hardly wait to see the movie.

Unfortunately, producing-studio and distributor United Artists lost a lot of money on Battle of Britain. The film did not 'travel' much outside of Europe (read: the USA), which it had to do in order to make back the investment. As a tie-in documentary hosted by actor Michael Caine outlined most effectively, regular folk, including those on the Isles, could tell you next to nothing about the battle. And this was less than thirty years after the events. The idea of an ignorance of one's own history as being an 'American' thing is a false one. (Author Clive Cussler recounts a sobering personal experience in his non-fiction book, The Sea Hunters, where he was taken aback by some of his fellow Americans -- politicians in this case -- not knowing, or, more importantly, not even caring about their own history.)

Director Guy Hamilton, guiding light of Battle of Britain, claimed that United Artists lost ten million dollars (late 1960s currency) on the deal.

As a child what I liked was Battle's spectacle: The wide-screen; the colour; the music; the you-are-there vibe.

The now-defunct "Festival Theatres" repertory chain here in Toronto would screen the film every few years, and I would be there with interested friends.

As I've told people over the years, "Battle of Britain was my Star Wars."

Battle of Britain Day: Battle of Britain on DVD

Battle of Britain

Directed by
Guy Hamilton

United Artists

Battle of Britain Day: The Movie Scores

Battle of Britain
- Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack -

Music Composed and Conducted by
Ron Goodwin

"Battle in the Air" Composed by
Sir William Walton

Battle of Britain Day: William Walton Film Score

Battle of Britain Suite
- Sir William Walton's film music Vol. 2 -

Sir Neville Marriner Conducts
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields

Chandos Records Ltd

Battle of Britain Day: Book on the Battle

The Battle of Britain
- The Greatest Battle in the History of Air Warfare -

Richard Townshend Bickers

Salamander Books Ltd

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Flash Flash Fic: "Sorry, It's the Robert Bloch in Me" (Repeat)

Bobby asked nicely: “Are you done?” All according to plan. Worn work boots dangled fresh laces a metre in front of a slab of meat and bone hooked. Bobby smiled with pride at his work. Its bold statement.

A stylish white-haired lady poured tea into an ornate teacup.

“Ma, I’ve always liked your blend of tea.”

The server smiled. “Oh, Bobby, you were always a sweet boy.” The son sipped, self consciously, as his mother continued: “I was a little worried at first; what you did to those poor little creatures when you were just two really worried me.”

Bobby sipped his hot beverage with more assuredness. “You’re right, Ma. I went on to bigger things.”

Mother had to add “Awww, sweet to the last”. She took a sip then looked concerned, hesitating, unsure if she made English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Orange Pekoe, or….something else.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Picturing: Canada Geese Sentries

A Forever Question: Colour Temperature

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

Sir. Can an orange be blue?

Sunday, September 12, 2021

In Front Of and Behind the Mitchell BNC

On Monday, September 6th, I posted a piece about Star Trek's world premiere on CTV. Yesterday I remembered that the Toronto Star did a story in early 2019 about one of their photographers visiting the Desilu sound stages in the spring of 1966.

Two pics from that collection....

And a front-of-the-camera pic from my piece from last Monday....

This designer and shooter loves that stuff.

Enough of that. I must return to Planet Earth for some Premiere League football action: Leeds United and Liverpool are matched up for 11:30am, Toronto time (ET), today....

Picturing: Riffraff in Fine Feathered Forms

"Why, there were at least a dozen Canada Geese sitting around, doing nothing, but watching...."

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Documentary on Elwy Yost Coming Soon to TVOntario

The latest edition of TVOntario's "Impact" magazine came in, and while giving it a look through something caught my full attention....


I had forgotten that a documentary was being made on my "film school in a box".

Emblazoned in red type: "Coming Soon"

Magic Shadows Elwy Yost: A Life in Movies cannot come soon enough, for some of us.

Book: East Germany (Charles River Editors)

East Germany
- The History and Legacy of the Soviet Satellite State Established after World War II -

Charles River Editors

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Conservatives Are Always Angry - Why?

Here in Canada, these days, there is a terrible blight: Conservative supporters are vandalizing "Liberal Party of Canada" campaign lawn signs. Every day pictures are posted online showing sliced and/or 'discarded' MP signs; often graffitied with swastikas, and sometimes with "Racist" -- no doubt the irony is 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.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Monday, September 6, 2021

Star Trek Premiered on CTV 55 Years Ago Today

I'm old enough to have remembered Star Trek first airing but I must have missed it. Maybe my parents saw the trailer on CTV for the opening episode, "The Man Trap", and its great and scary monster, and made the decision to make sure I missed it.

CTV (Canadian Television) actually opened the series two days before NBC, on September 6, 1966, effectively the "world premiere".

The charade had to last but a few weeks: In October we left for West Germany, and I don't remember ZDF, ARD, or the French channels, running the program. (However, I did watch the telefantasy series' Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Invaders, and The Prisoner on French and/or German television.)

I first saw Star Trek in June of 1970. My British cousins were watching it on BBC2 -- in colour -- and I joined them in silence while visiting.

Back here in Canada, CTV's flagship station, CFTO, began its long run of "stripping" Star Trek. In September of 1970 a regular Monday to Friday at 5 p.m. screening schedule started the magic for many of us. What is this exciting, striking, beautiful, and colourful show?, I must have pondered at the beginning as I got lost in Trek's vortex. This was a communal experience for many viewers, for in the syndication market it was a true "water cooler", certainly "water fountain", television series.

My own private joke regarding my own fandom: It was just four years ago that I bought the complete series on Blu-ray. Before that I had just odds and ends on VHS and DVD. As for the Blu-ray format, I've watched just one episode.

But I am a fan.

How many dramatic television programs are, or will be, remembered fifty-five years after they hit the video airwaves?

Perhaps I should pop on "The Man Trap" this evening....

A Forever Question: Time Spins Still?

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

Sir. Is there a passage of time at the center of the Earth?

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Air Show

Wow. That was some roar. A CF-18?

During the CNE International Air Show a fighter jet will race south over Toronto's "Annex" neighbourhood, making a racket: a crackling and roaring noise to make birds fly from their perches. (And babies cry.)

I love that sound, as military jets are part of my 'brat' background. But, I can see (hear) why some new Canadians would find such noise traumatic.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Toronto's Welcome Cooler Air - Onward to Victory!

The air is fresh (for a city), the breeze is refreshing. I'm relaxing on my balcony with a book and tea. Those weeks of heat and humidity have come to an end.

Right now, 23 Celsius (74 Fahrenheit) is just right.

Perhaps it's time to start reading Victory Disc, the third book in the wonderful "Vinyl Detective" series. (It's been in the queue for almost two years. Unacceptable, especially so given that I enjoyed Written in Dead Wax and The Run-Out Groove so much.)

Thunderbirds are go!....

Picturing: Toronto Cloud High Rise