Monday, February 28, 2022

Book: Anger Is An Energy (Lydon)



Anger Is An Energy
- My Life Uncensored -

by
John Lydon

Dey Street
2016

A Forever Question: Short Circuit

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

Sir. Why is it that some people lack a logic circuit?




Sunday, February 27, 2022

Star Trek: The Motion Picture Music New Release



If one is really into film scores, he or she probably knows Jerry Goldsmith's brilliant music for 1979's science fiction epic, Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The production itself was fraught with problems, the primary and underlying one being that the original script was to be the blueprint for a 2-hour telefilm -- actual running time, about 95 minutes. Instead, the core idea stretched out unnaturally to a 142 minute theatrical length. Even with the new extended running time, there did not seem to be enough time for great character scenes and bits, which were the major identifying mark of the original television series; a series with a few outstanding markings, including terrific and memorable music scoring. ("Tunes, man! Tunes!")

As much as I'm into the art and craft of film scoring, I appreciate film music most when it's played with the movie (picture and sound) it was designed to accompany. However, some scores do work very well as standalone works -- Goldsmith's stellar work for ST:TMP is one of them.

In January of 1980, one month after the flick's release, the original soundtrack album LP hit store shelves in my town. And I hit Records on Wheels. But just before I did, a fellow teenaged geek invited me over to premiere his unit of that particular piece of vinyl. His audio system was high-end, and when the music kicked up, at a beefy volume, I felt as though I was listening to something cosmically beautiful. That beautiful.

In 2012, La La Land Records released an "all-in" 3-CD set. I never acquired that boxed set, but I understand that all its versions, variations, and alternate cues, worked well -- certainly for completists.

Last week, La La Land released a new-new boxed set, this one of 2 CDs.


Some sonic samples....

The "overture" (beautiful piece)

Meet V'Ger (the composer gave an all-but inanimate object some dimension and personality)

A Good Start (the Enterprise flies off) (If you heard this on its own you could be forgiven for thinking you just missed a good movie -- you did not.)

Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Filth and the Fury (A Sex Pistols Documentary)

This morning I discovered quite by accident that Julien Temple's 2000 documentary The Filth and the Fury - A Sex Pistols Film is on YouTube.

I love YouTube.

Make a cup of tea, pull out the biscuits, and activate my "punk" mind.

I can't believe I did not appreciate punk music and punk culture when I was a teenager -- in 1976/77 I was a teen.

I've got a little bit of Johnny Rotten inside me....



Monday, February 21, 2022

A Forever Question: A Skin Game

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

Sir. What makes bananas so appealing?



Sunday, February 20, 2022

Sunday Fun: Sun News Network Letter of Request

Nine years ago I wrote a satirical piece mocking a certain "letter". The Sun News Network was a Canadian right-wing television channel of limited means and a short lifespan. Watching it was to witness grand witlessness; hosts, columnists, and newsreaders who were so focused on their own angry view that they failed to realize, and admit, that their audience was too small to support them. Matters got really bad for SNN when the ratings came in, and got worse. Some 'shows' were getting barely ten thousand viewers, with the average count running at about five thousand... no doubt more than a few viewers were like me: there for the laughs.

Below, my schadenfreude kicked in and inspired me.

(Sun News Network: 2011 - 2015)

____




A copy of the Sun News letter sent to their loving viewers, regarding the network's request to the CRTC for a new licence, made its way into my hands. After reading it over, I simply could not resist making a mockery of its desperate pleas.

What struck me while keying-in the text from the letter was at how low a reading level in which it was written. Do they think their feverishly faithful are one step above being functionally illiterate? May be....


Sun News is in trouble and we need your help! (Well, there's not much I can do for you. You have to want to help yourselves.)

In this envelope is a very important set of materials. (Oh, wonderful! Crayons; McDonald's gift certificates; a dictionary; Lorazepam...) We need you to write to the CRTC and speak up for Sun News. (Hear ye, hear ye. I speak for the plebs who can't write above a grade-3 level... ) We've included a postage paid envelope as well as some additional background on our formal application to help you craft your letter to them. (Craft? I'll say this much: In your case, "craft" will be nothing less than critical.)

Our enemies (Enemies?... Are those "commies" still giving you guys a hard time? Hey? Reminding you that you use words incorrectly all the time? "What's a nown?") are trying to stop us from getting a new broadcast license. (Ahh... you mean "licence". This is Canada, the Great, as you keep reminding your dim-witted followers. You are employing the word as a noun, therefore; ah, just refer to the dictionary included in the package that you sent us.) Just like when Sun News launched (on a Saturn V, we hope), the left-wing propaganda machine is in overdrive spewing out attacks ("spewing out attacks"? "Spewing" won't produce effective aim; sounds pretty harmless), raising cash and doing everything in its power to shut us down. (What, like making people change the channel or underhandedly convincing them to not demand the channel? Yeah, they've been excelling at that, ain't they? They must be raisin' cash for something else. You keep an eye on those sneaky "Lieberal" bastards. I know; they're buyin' books with that money! "Scumbags!!!")

We can't let them get away with it. (No. We can't..... Get away with what?) We need your support. (Nah, it'll take more than anything I can give to support your creaky organization. Hey, I know a guy who does demolitions....) We need you to take action. (... I'll call him and give him your number.)

Why do we need this new license? (Because there's an "s" in this one, instead of a "c"? That rascally "verb". They deliberately misplace themselves to make you look bad; if I were you, I'd be really mad.) Because right now we're getting the shaft. (No comment.) Many local cable providers are refusing to offer Sun News! (Offer what to Sun News? A sacrifice? Oh, I get it now -- you mean, as a sacrifice.) In fact, we're only allowed in 4 out of 10 households. (Is that anything like "four out of ten"? Introducing a new virus is something that should be done slowly at first, so the public can build up an immunity. Hey, it's working.) It probably won't surprise you to learn that CBC News Channel and CTV News Network are available almost everywhere (as long as those clowns aren't in my shower again; I want them on my television) -- same for America's CNN (sounds to me as though they intimidate you). But it gets worse (Don Adams-like voice: "It gets worse?!"): in some cases, it's easier to get Al Jazeera than Sun News! (That is outrageous! I'm sure you'd agree it's easier to get "the clap" than "Sun News!".)

We are asking the CRTC to offer Sun News exactly what they mandated for CTV News Channel and CBC News Network when they launched. (What, toilet paper for the lavatories?) Nothing more, nothing less. (What the average viewer expects: journalistic integrity -- nothing more, nothing less.)

You know what Sun News stands for. (I sure do: incompetence; emotional unwrapping; dishonesty; less-than-rudimentary thinking. "Yeah, but what other ways?") You know how important it is for our great country that we succeed and continue to spread the truth (that you're really not worthy of this "great country"?).

Without your voice being heard by the CRTC, the playing field will be left to the next CBC, Toronto Star or Canadian Press hit piece on Sun News. (Oh, right. Yeah, they keep coming for you, don't they? "Is there like a suppository somewhere?" Wait a minute, don't you guys always do hit pieces on the CBC? Well, fair is fair, my brainless buddies.) We all know the left has powerful friends in the media. Don't let them get away with it! (Get away with what?... Not offering napkins with the Value Meal? Yeah, the "Left" -- that certifiable proper noun -- is known for doing that. I'm convinced they want to see you drip catsup down your t-shirt.)

The CRTC is very specific as to how to write your letter (because someone there knows how to write, and certainly above a grade-3 reading level), so we've included a checklist for you to follow. (* 2-litre bottle of pop, check; * large bag of potato chips, check; * new batteries for the TV remote, checkaroo.) Please, pick up a pen and paper and write to the CRTC today! (I will!... After I watch the CBC News! Post Script: Sorry, I must have forgotten to send off that letter. It's not as though someone would have any reason to think about you. Besides, my cat needed his litter box cleaned. By the way, I think you meant to say, "... write to the CRTC, today!". That would make more sense; even if "sense" is not one of your strong points.)

Yours in freedom, (Sorry, I take my Freedom with a capital "F"!)

The Sun News Team (You'd think a whole team would be able to come up with something better than the above. "Because at Sun News, 2 + 2 = 0.")

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Book: Moments of Perception (Shedden & Sternberg)



Moments of Perception
- Experimental Film in Canada -

Edited by
Jim Shedden & Barbara Sternberg

Goose Lane Editions
2021

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Commonplace Book Sample 2 (On Bukowski)



John Milton kept one, and I keep one. A commonplace book is a great method for taking notes when one comes across an interesting song lyric, a poem, a quote, a conversation overheard, something witnessed, a random idea that hits with little or no provocation or warning.

These bits can be put down in text form, sketches, or both. Whatever works best for the notetaker at that stitch in time. Referring to a commonplace book and its contents weeks, months, or even years after the ink was set on paper, can be inspirational and instructive. "Oh, that's what spurred me on."

I'm good at making mental notes, but more often than not, if it's "not written down" when the bolt strikes, it eventually, at times too quickly, gets lost with the storm as it moves on.

If you read a lot, a commonplace book is a good companion; for writers, this book is essential, or at least it should be.


In early 2015 I was going through another Bukowski phase -- barely a year after my previous such foray. "The laureate of American lowlife", as Time magazine famously labelled him, Charles Bukowski came from the streets, in a sense. Living for a time off one chocolate bar per day, washed down with whatever alcoholic beverage is at hand, while 'existing' in a run-down flat, inspires the creative brain. (I've never tried that nutritional plan since I very rarely have a taste for chocolate bars, and alcohol-leaden drinks are something I experience when there's someone sitting across from me.) Puttering through life as a "lowlife' definitely garners story material not terribly familiar to those who live off the backs of Bukowski characters. (Years ago a friend visited me in my abode and said: "Simon, I can see you're living the good life . . . but it's not really an artist's place." Nice that he referred to me as an 'artist', though.)

The poet, short story writer, and novelist, ran half a lifetime as an everyman: enlisted in the millions of Americans who just get by, financially -- in his case, as a worker for the post office. Eventually, an offer in 1969 from a publisher to write full-time allowed Bukowski to quit his letter-carrier job, and not long after this career change he completed his first novel, "Post Office". (Write about what you know.) This book, I should add, was my real introduction to the scribe... outside of "Charles Bukowski". During my read I got that buzz one enjoys when one tastes something resembling art mixed with the art of living.

The picture embedded above is a scan drawn from my commonplace book. I sketched those notes in May of 2015 while reading Barry Miles' outstanding biography, "Charles Bukowski".

Monday, February 14, 2022

A Quote For This Valentine's Day?

"Meeting one's deathbed
having never met love."

No, that isn't about me, but I was hit with the above after I thought of all the lonely hearts out there who may have suffered on this day.







A Forever Question: A Misnomer?

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

Sir. Is Valentine's Day due for a name change?



Sunday, February 13, 2022

CD: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Various)



The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Music by
Goldsmith, Stevens, Scharf, Schifrin, Fried, Drasnin, Shores

Turner Entertainment Co
2002

CD: The Best of Burt Bacharach (Bacharach)



The Best of Burt Bacharach
- The Millennium Collection -

Burt Bacharach

A&M Records, Inc
1999

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Me on Cats

"I'm not so sure a cat is an animal as much as it is a state of mind."

Now I'm sure....



Friday, February 11, 2022

Book: Charles Bukowski (Miles)



Charles Bukowski

by
Barry Miles

Virgin Books
(reprint edition)
2010

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Douglas Trumbull (1942 - 2022)



Late last evening I read the sad news of a great motion picture visual effects artist's passing. Douglas Trumbull's big widescreen break came when he was cast as a major contributor to, what would become, groundbreaking VFX for the great 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). He was just 23 years of age when director Stanley Kubrick hired him in 1965. "The Big Four", my own name for the space epic's "Special Effects Supervisor" team, consisted of Trumbull, Con Pederson, Wally Veevers, and Tom Howard. The visual success of 2001 shot the then very young Trumbull to the top shelf of experienced visual effects artists.

He was also a director: Silent Running, which I saw and enjoyed when it was first released in 1972, was packaged as another space film; but one with an on-its-sleeve heart, brought to life through a very fine performance by Bruce Dern -- guided by someone considered an 'effects' man. The ecological message inherent in Silent Running would have been newsworthy in the early seventies, but for some reason even this propellant did not make the relatively low-budgeted film earn its money back.

Mr Trumbull later directed Brainstorm, but unfortunately, the death of actress Natalie Wood before principle photography had been competed put a thorn into the side of the intended story. The director had to rewrite the script somewhat to account for his loss. Trumbull's insistence on completing the film did not go over well with MGM, which was willing to cut its losses then and there, and the director's name was then entered on a blacklist of sorts. The flick was released in 1983 and it tanked, unfortunately for the talented director helmsman. (I saw Brainstorm projected in 70mm at the Ontario Place Cinesphere, but its superior imagery and imaging was not enough for me. "There's an interesting idea in there, somewhere.")

Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Yes. The great Douglas Trumbull was convinced to take the visual effects helm on that one; a troubled production that, it could be argued, had access to way too much money and faith from Paramount Pictures (holders of "The Seven-Nine Jewels"). He explains the production's complications and successes, here in the very fine TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) video short embedded above: Douglas Trumbull - Lighting the Starship Enterprise

Final note: As a teen, I was aware of the man genius who had worked behind the scenes on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Silent Running, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This lead to me, ultimately, working in visual effects as an 'optical camera/printer operator'. (Compositing.)

Commonplace Book Sample 1



John Milton kept one, and I keep one. A commonplace book is a great method for taking notes when one comes across an interesting song lyric, a poem, a quote, a conversation overheard, something witnessed, a random idea that hits with little or no provocation or warning.

These bits can be put down in text form, sketches, or both. Whatever works best for the notetaker at that stitch in time. Referring to a commonplace book and its contents weeks, months, or even years after the ink was set on paper, can be inspirational and instructive. "Oh, that's what spurred me on."

I'm good at making mental notes, but more often than not, if it's "not written down" when the bolt strikes, it eventually, at times too quickly, gets lost with the storm as it moves on.

If you read a lot, a commonplace book is a good companion; for writers, this book is essential, or at least it should be.

Above is a sample from my commonplace book. As indicated at the top of the page, I sketched this bit on September 19th, 2015 while reading Alfred Price's 1976 book The Bomber in World War II. Rereading the pages now reminds me how air power has its limitations. I'm interested in military history, so the quote is in synch with my interests... which is generally a hallmark of one keeping such a book.

More pages to come....

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Blu-ray: Space: 1999 - The Complete Series



Space: 1999
- The Complete Series -

Shout! Factory
2019

Monday, February 7, 2022

A Forever Question: By the Carton

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

Sir. Is a joke a part of the egg family?



Wednesday, February 2, 2022

CD: Checkmate (Wiliams)



Checkmate
- Original Music from the CBS-TV Show -

Music Composed and Conducted
by
Johnny Williams

SONY BMG Music Entertainment
(this release)
2006

CD: Rhythm in Motion (Williams)



Rhythm in Motion

Johnny Williams And His Orchestra

SONY BMG Music Entertainment
(this release)
2006