Thursday, August 29, 2019

Don't Show the Monster Too Much at the Beginning (Poem)

A sick and dying cockroach
traversing a wet cold roof
Old Man’s lot in life
is an empty lot

his mind made of mucilage
in a detritus of thoughts

eligible for citizenship
in a nightmare country
lying peacefully in agony

land mounds built away
from progress of waste

The sun slides silently back
Aurally and visually stunning
Promising a mourning rise

These hills have
Gary Mitchell eyes


Simon St. Laurent

CD: Le Saint-Laurent - André Gagnon

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Starship Enterprise in Miniature Form

Believe it or not, this ol' Trekker existed for many years with no representation of Star Trek's stellar starship. As did many of my peers, I built various AMT kits in my youth -- including the first "U.S.S. Enterprise" kit, which included internal lighting.

My deficit changed the other day when I stepped into BMV Books on Bloor Street here in Toronto. A front table supported a few Star Wars vehicles in little eye-catching boxes. I passed on those since I'm not a fan of that franchise -- and I'm not a geek.

There it was, sitting in the pack; illustrated in the above, in miniature form.

I'm guessing I should crack it open....

CD: Never Mind the Bollocks - Here's the Sex Pistols

Monday, August 26, 2019

A Forever Question: Fool Me Twice

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

Sir. Why is there no Fool’s Platinum?

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Scheer Magic!

Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer is hoping to displace Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in October’s federal election. His angle: tweet after tweet about Liberal Justin Trudeau.

Outside of his obvious obsession with the PM, Mr Scheer feels that details of policy don’t count for much. Mr Trudeau’s miring in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, a scandal which doesn’t seem to want to stick, I should add, is not enough to convince his followers that it’s time for him to “go Harper, 2016-style”. CPC Scheer is preaching to his own faithful, who look at the issue in matching monochromatic tones -- issues of employment, international trade, health care, and more, don’t register as being important enough to charm one's vote. Admiral Scheer does understand something, however, and it seems to inform his obsession with the PM. Trudeau exudes charisma. Scheer has none.

Much in the same way a Hollywood casting director might admit about a actor's miscasting in a film, one could describe the CPC’s pick for leader: “He’s all wrong.”

Friday, August 23, 2019

Re Film Design: Storeroom Concept Sketches

When I'm writing a script or story and I want to get a handle on the layout and look of a location I often sketch out what I imagine that place to be. Sometimes I'll draw up a place to give me story ideas.

I wrote a short-film script a few years ago after I watched the 1924 Russian silent feature film Aelita. The work of its designers, Issac Rabinovich and Victor Simov, inspired me to review Constructivist art. What happened was I stormed-up a story. I could not write it down fast enough.

The sketches above came from my pen when I was writing another story idea.


The above piece was originally posted on December 13, 2017

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Picturing: A Special Rock in The Annex (Toronto)

The 1.5 billion-year-old rock. It sits at the southwest corner of Major and Bloor Streets here in Toronto.

Since I live very close to the rock (a stone's throw?), yesterday I figured I should take some snaps instead of just walking by, oblivious to more than 4000 pounds (2000 kilograms) of granite. Yes, it's actual granite and not Gunite.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Saved from the Star Wars Rabbit Hole

In January of last year I wrote a post ranking the Star Wars movies. In concluding that piece I stated with satiated glee: "I have not seen any SW since Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith."

That all changed late last year when I decided to get bold; I watched Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). My reaction was such that I said "end of story". Not so fast, encouraged a certain friend of mine. He recommended Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) -- "it's a lot better". I sat, I reawakened. It was better in that it reaffirmed: No more Star Wars for me. (Too many movies to see, too many books to read.)

From January 10, 2018:

Rating All the Star Wars Movies

An open and discarded Toronto Sun lay before me as I order my coffee. There's a full page spread rating all the Star Wars flicks, of which there are many now, and increasing in number like bunny rabbits.

That (no doubt 'complimentary') copy of the rapidly depleting rag got me thinking. ("The Sun got you thinking?") What are my favourites and in what order do they fall?

1. Star Wars
2. The Empire Strikes Back

Numbers 1 and 2 are interchangeable, really. (I have not seen any SW since Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Forever Question: Re Soul

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

Sir. Can one be re-souled?

Monday, August 19, 2019

A Forever Question: Tough Stuff

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

Sir. Why do souls never wear out?

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Terrific Television Program Scores

In the past few weeks I've posted a few times about favourite motion picture film scores. Good, and not so good, movies can be enhanced further by an appropriate music track.

How about television programs? How could I let that one go?

Television programs of all sorts have fine theme tunes, but a few have had terrifically appropriate background scores. Consistently so.

Some of the best come from classic television shows. Dramatic television series' tend to capture this market. This is even more the case for fantasy/SF shows, with the type's inherent variety and tableau of stories calling out for special scoring.

Two prime picks:

The Twilight Zone (1959 - 1964)
Star Trek (1966 - 1969)

There must be recent examples....

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Re Artwork: Boxing in Boxes


The above was originally posted on December 26, 2017.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Picturing: Stout and Beer on Bloor Street

On a Long Pier

Yesterday I heard the news that there’s a proposal here in Toronto to build a deepwater pier at the Ontario Place site. For a while now I’ve been meaning to post something about this city needing a pier.

Here it is:

The great lakefront city of Toronto needs its own “Southend”.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Re How to Make a Monster (Mask)

Back on Halloween (Tuesday, October 31st [2017]) I posted a behind-the-scenes photograph from my unfinished 35mm epic, Hyper-Reality. The film's resident monster was something I designed and built using the old, and very bad, television series Lost in Space as my template. (It makes sense, if the film ever gets finished. As I've mentioned on this blog a few times, "HR" may get submitted by me to a crowd-funding platform very soon.)

The photo above: This monster-build started on my office's work table. I bought a theatrical mask from Malibar, here in Toronto, and used that as my starting point. From a hardware store I grabbed a tube of urethane foam and a star was born.

Yes, that is the National Post underneath my work of art.


The above piece was originally posted on November 9, 2017

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

There's Humour on the Toronto Sun Boards

"its a lefty moron"

That would be my guess.

A Forever Question: Match Point

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

Sir. What happened to Eugenie Bouchard?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Picturing: Toronto Clouds on Weekend

A Forever Question: Games of Tennis

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

Sir. Why is there no sport called Water Table Tennis?

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Canadair CL-28 "Argus" Film from the NFB

Beautiful bird.

I remember the Argus maritime patrol aircraft very well. When I lived in then RCAF Station Greenwood, Nova Scotia, they were a presence at the air base.


Whenever an Argus was parked in a hangar for maintenance work the tail would jut from the building's closed doors.

I boarded an Argus during one Armed Forces Day; I remember thinking how comfortable the plane's interior looked.

What I liked in those RCAF days was the great "electric bolt" painted on the aircrafts' sides. (I wish the air force would bring back that livery.)

Below is a wonderful, at least to 'brats' like me, NFB (National Film Board of Canada) documentary from 1957 outlining the Argus' design and development and test flights.

Two program notes:

* On a Canadair plant status board are listed T-33 and F-86; these aircraft types were licence-built here in Canada.

* Lost in Space (CBS, 1965 - 1968) fans will recognize a certain computer interface board. This panel model somehow ended up on the Jupiter-2 (a supposedly futuristic machine).

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Canadair CC-106 Yukon & CL-44 "Swing-Tail" Promo

As I've posted here before, the Canadair CC-106 Yukon was a special transport aircraft with the Royal Canadian Air Force, and Canadian Armed Forces: Article Sample: "Yukon Crews"

Here is a promo film produced in 1960 for the "Yuke" and its civil variant, the CL-44. Great stuff....

Friday, August 9, 2019

Pierre Trudeau Raises a Son

"My father raised us to step toward trouble rather than to step away from it."

You were raised well, sir.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Re What's With Animals Posing As Humans?

As much as I love cats I would never buy insurance from one -- and certainly not life insurance.

From July 13, 2017

What's With Animals Posing As Humans?

There is a bank ("financial institution") here in Canada which seems to think that animals act like human beings and take hotel rooms and hang out in outdoor cafes.

Just recently I saw a television commercial for another company that uses the same premise. In this ad campaign is an Owl dressed in a bathrobe; a rather sporty and sharp bathrobe, but a bathrobe all the same.

I love animals, but find the idea of them trying to be 'us' absurd.  Wild animals are too smart for that nonsense.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Music is in the News (Snagglepuss)

Duncan, British Columbia, denizen Dee Gallant and her dog Murphy were out for their evening walk when they noticed they were being stalked by another local denizen: a cougar.

“Bad kitty.”

She tried waving her hands to scare it off. Didn’t work. She decided to give a piece of music a spin. Maybe her phone emitting some Metallica would work….

In January of 1990 Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was bottled up in an embassy by U.S. military forces. On loudspeakers U.S. troops blasted an assortment of rock music. Didn’t work. Someone on duty thought to honour a great American general: Blast the theme to the movie Patton (1970). It worked. Noriega handed in his resignation. That piece rocks military bravado. “We’re comin’, and watch out!”

From Dee’s smartphone blared “Don’t Tread on Me” and the cougar retreated.

"Exit, stage left. Quickly!"

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

A Forever Question: Here's the Rub

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

Sir. Can one rub alcohol the wrong way?

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Admiral's Ship Has Sunk

This year's Vancouver Pride Parade took place yesterday, where three Canadian political party leaders marched in unity....and pride:

Elizabeth May (Green Party of Canada)
Jagmeet Singh (New Democratic Party)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Liberal Party of Canada)

Notably absent:

Andrew Scheer (Conservative Party of Canada)

There is no need for me to editorialize the above.

Re The Space Probe Golden Film Record

You have two thousand or more feature films in DVD or Blu-ray form (and perhaps VHS) but you've been ordered by an accountant, wife, lover, child, to downsize radically. "Will you please get rid of those bloody movies!" ("Son, please don't say 'bloody'. Especially when referring to my precious movies.")

However, your accountant, wife, lover, child, wants to be fair about it. You may keep one....just one.

What would you pick?

From October 15, 2017:

The Space Probe Golden Film Record

You may pick just one feature film to be included in the Golden Record on the next interstellar space probe. It must represent what mankind is capable of doing in the motion picture form; which is why Forrest Gump cannot, or should not, hitch a ride on a vehicle that may go on its forever journey -- eventually to be found by another race of beings. (Now that I think about it, Forrest Gump himself might be a prime candidate for the trip to somewhere, some millennium, never to be seen again; at least not by humans.)

Back to the probe: My own pick might just be:

Metropolis, Fritz Lang's 1927 epic. The imagery is so forever, the film as a whole, so quoted and referred to, that, to me, there is no better representative feature-length motion picture.

A few years ago I got into a discussion with a friend about the matter and he said his pick would be 2001: A Space Odyssey, another "forever" piece of film art.

As much as I like Annie Hall, Bicycle Thieves, and Patton, I don't feel they best represent the 'bandwidth' possible in the art form.

What? Plan 9 from Outer Space? I had forgotten about that one....

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Re Missed Movie Music Titles

Last week I posted a repeat of an article from two years ago titled "Movie Music of Memory". Below is a repeat of a post listing some missed movie titles....

[On September 20, 2017] I posted a list of movies that, I think, have outstanding music scores. During my transcription from my handwritten notes I somehow missed Jaws. How could I not notice it missing?

Here are more titles; again, listed in no particular order:

1. Jaws [Williams]
2. Super Fly [Mayfield]
3. The Sand Pebbles [Goldsmith]
4. The Ten Commandments (1956) [E. Bernstein]
5. The Swimmer [Hamlisch]
6. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back [Williams]
7. Superman (1978) [Williams]
8. Rocky [Conti]
9. The Right Stuff [Conti]
10. Islands in the Stream [Goldsmith]

Many are missing, but that's enough. I had a hard time coming up with more recent titles. The state of film scoring today is pathetic, and has been for years.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Memories of Martin Landau

The following is a piece I roughed-out back in July of 2017 -- days after character actor Martin Landau passed away. It got forgotten through the passage of multiple blog posts....

Like many young people who populated the mid 1970s, I discovered Martin Landau through a television series: Space: 1999 (1975 - 1977)

As I quickly discovered while watching the show, which I did from day one, it was lame -- a young teen was disappointed. As I realized later, after seeing it in late night reruns, Mr Landau was miscast as "Commander John Koenig". I discovered a few years ago that he was highly critical of 1999. He would write comments on his scripts berating the producers and writers for what he considered to be substandard material. Landau was right. One scribbled comment I remember reading about went like this: "This makes absolutely no sense! . . . Let's get some real writers on this show."

The man had been around the actors' block for some time by this point; working with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock and Lewis Milestone. Landau enjoyed great success as "Rollin Hand", one of the key IMF agents on television's popular dramatic series Mission: Impossible (CBS, 1966 - 1973). It was because of that series' name-brand quality that he was cast as series lead in Space: 1999. (Editorial: Hiring Landau and his then wife Barbara Bain was a big mistake. But they were 'names'; which, as it turned out, did not help the series succeed -- over and above some interesting visual stylings. As 1999 producer Sylvia Anderson said in an interview, Martin Landau "is" an excellent character actor, but not a leading man. Trivia: She wanted to cast Robert Culp.)

If one wants to stick with SF episodic television featuring the actor in guest-shot roles, watch the Outer Limits episodes "The Bellaro Shield" and "The Man Who Was Never Born".

Landau was memorable -- I would say "terrific" -- as "Leonard", implied lover of James Mason's Phillip Vandamm in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic North by Northwest.

More films to check out: the underrated Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), the essential Ed Wood (1994), and the superb Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).

Television episodes to check out: "Devil's Planet" and "The Bringers of Wonder".

Friday, August 2, 2019

Restoring "Mind the Gap"

Mind the Gap (1985, Super-8)

The epic short documentary was more a tone poem than a conventional doc. Images and music to tell a story: taking the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subway train to school and about the city.

Slightly earlier that school year (1984-85) my fellow crew and I made a Super-8 epic titled The Chase which involved some shooting on the transit system. "Yorkdale" station was featured prominently at the film's beginning; intrigue on the platform was the setup to the story. This experience convinced me that the subway would make an interesting subject for the required first-year "personal documentary". I had no desire to do a dry treatment. My interest in transportation would ensure that the mechanics of moving people about in a city would star front and centre. Also, the subway was convenient since I took it everyday to school. Pearson Airport would be a more problematic shoot. (I love the mechanics of moving people places on aircraft.)

As per the course requirements I had to pitch my film idea to my instructor, Pat. He gave the project the thumbs up after I presented the script and several pages of storyboards illustrating key moments.

The screening: The instructor was surprised by the end result. He said he was expecting something a little different.

After the class screening a few days later, Pat said: "It's a tone poem."

(Exactly. It's the better way.)

Mind the Gap is in restoration....

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Rodney Dangerfield on Ice Hockey

"I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out."

As much as I love the game of ice hockey, I hate, absolutely despise, fighting. For some reason many fans think it has to be part of the game. For some strange reason, fighting is banned in certain 'leagues' -- like the Olympics -- and for a matching strange reason, the ice hockey match is exciting.

(The National Hockey League would gain many more fans if it banned fighting. It would lose a few, but that league needs a much larger fan base.)