Saturday, November 30, 2019

At 100,000 + Hits

Yesterday afternoon I noticed that this blog had received just over 100,000 hits. It makes my efforts to "write something!" all worthwhile. As any writing guru will say, or write in one of those books on writing, write something every day, even if it's just a scribble.

All About Amy Whitehouse

This very minute, and for the next 90-minutes, TVOntario is playing the documentary, Amy. The 128-minute film was released in 2015, just four years after the young singer/songwriter died from alcohol poisoning.

The researcher in me loves to learn about someone or something I know next to nothing about. The title or heading "Amy Whitehouse" is followed, minute by minute, by a picture assembling....

Somewhere Out There Back Here


The above photo was first posted on February 24, 2017 as "Somewhere Out There".

Friday, November 29, 2019

Pen and Ink in Ink


The above piece first appeared as "Pen and Ink of Pen and Ink" on February 21, 2017.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Rod Serling on Ideas

“That’s the easiest thing on earth [is] to come up with an idea ... The hardest thing on earth is to put it down.”

Yeah, why is that?

Rod Serling on the Self

"In almost everything I've written, there is a thread of this: man's seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself."

All too common in today's political climate.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Rod Serling on Thinking

“We’re developing a new citizenry. One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.”

Of course it's even worse now with the sheer selection of "things".

Rod Serling on Television

“Television is very much like the weather: Much can be said of it, but very damn little can be done about it.”

Right on, brother. (For the most part, I let it run without me.)

Monday, November 25, 2019

A Forever Question: Special K TV

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

Sir. Why is 'television' in 4K resolution every bit as crappy as it is in 2K?

Sunday, November 24, 2019

An Educational Science TV Show Set Concept

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....


The above piece first appeared on December 15, 2017, as "Film Design: Science Laboratory - Earliest Sketches".

Set Design Concepts for Mr. Science

Last month I wrote a brief piece about a television series pilot/demo show that I produced a few years ago. Mr Science did not have any takers but the process of writing, designing, and producing the one-off was one of those endeavours that I found satisfying on a creative level. There were problems (always), some bumps, but I learned a lot.

The main, and only, standing set was that of a science laboratory. Here is an early concept I sketched:

And here is a floor plan view of that concept:

Eventually, but rather quickly, I finalized my set design. Here is a thumbnail sketch of the floor plan and elevations:

In case the show were to sell, or if I wanted to make the set in a larger scale, I worked out some concepts for something a little more elaborate than what I conceived for the simple pilot show:

Here is a more elaborate version of the design I settled on in that it has a ceiling:

Soon I will post a photograph of the completed set.


The above piece first appeared on February 16, 2017, as 'Set Design: Concepts for "Mr. Science"'.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Michael J. Pollard (1939 - 2019)

Veteran character actor Michael J. Pollard passed away yesterday at the age of 80. Like many people of my generation I was really introduced to him through the Star Trek episode "Miri".

It was not the first time I saw Pollard. I remember watching a Lost in Space episode titled "The Magic Mirror" when I was very young.

Saint Laurent on Bloor Street West - Damn Straight!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Twenty Head Coaches Since 1970, and Counting

With the news here in Toronto about its NHL team's head coach getting canned yesterday, I was prompted to look-up the number of full-time head coaches the hapless Toronto Maple Leafs have had since I started following the league.

"Mike Babcock" is the topic of discussion in this great city.

Since 1970 there have been 20 full-time coaches behind the Leafs bench.

"Sheldon Keefe" is the new name, "number twenty-one" on the long list. The name change means nothing. And the list goes on....

A Day Late (A Month Late)

Yesterday at about noon I witnessed evolution in action. A half-dozen protesters formed at the intersection of Spadina and Bloor streets (here in Toronto) and made some noise. As I quickly discovered after scrutinizing some rather crude signs, they claimed that Justin Trudeau "stole" the federal election held a month ago. Yeah, right. I've long suspected that Mr Trudeau wields great interstellar powers, but I don't think mind-control is one of them. What else would make one vote Liberal when "everyone hates the Liebrals [sic]"?

I meant to walk back down there to take some pictures, but it's probably for the best that I did not: the journalist in me would have asked some tough questions....

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Coming Soon: Book and Television Reviews

Months ago I wrote that I've been revisiting Rod Serling's superior and classic fantasy television series The Twilight Zone (1959 - 1964) and that a series of episode reviews by me is in the works. They were worked. The first episode review I'll post very soon.

Weeks ago I began writing a piece reviewing British writer Andrew Cartmel's book Script Doctor: The Inside Story of Doctor Who 1986 - 1989. In order to give the reader some perspective as to where I am coming from, I recounted my own history with the long-running British SF television series (1963 - 1989). This made for a lengthy introduction to my review of Mr Carmel's terrific document.

Working from home allows for even more time to write, but that does not always happen; as any writer can tell you.

Monday, November 18, 2019

A Forever Question: Mark the Hallmarks

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

Sir. Can there be a more comical franchise than the Hallmark Christmas movies?

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Who Conducts the Leafs Symphony? (Allegro!)

The final horn blew. It was loss number five (in a row). The Pittsburgh Penguins hammered the Toronto Maple Leafs last night by a score of 6 to 1.

Hockey commentators are trying to explain why the Leafs are playing so poorly this year. "There's so much talent on that team."

Yes, there are some good players. A symphony orchestra can be made up of a lot of talented musicians, but without a good conductor to lead them, they will be a competent group at most. Perhaps the Leafs do have more than one 'first chair', but the guy at the podium is a mystery. There's talk of Maestro Mike Babcock being replaced if his ensemble doesn't start making beautiful music soon.

Who really conducts the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Public Access Television on the CBC

Tonight's broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada will be without Don Cherry and his "Coach's Corner" segment. Mr Cherry was canned by Rogers Sportsnet -- for good reason -- which will leave now former co-host Ron MacLean to his own devices. Rarely do I bother with a television broadcast of a National Hockey League (NHL) game, but tonight is my night. I await eagerly tonight's first intermission -- the great void.

"Coach's Corner" had always looked like a Community Cable (Public Access) show: A riser and two chairs is all you need for a set, certainly in this case. Time for an upscale? Perhaps Cherry's big mouth was a blessing in disguise.

Rogers has stated they have no concrete plans for a replacement segment.

This all makes me miss Bob Goldham....

Friday, November 15, 2019

Whither Facebook? (A New Face on Facebook)

"I don't know what I'm supposed to do with it."

My friend smiled and said, "that's something you don't hear a lot".

That brief discussion took place a few weeks after I had finally signed up with Facebook back in April. ("Three ninety-five?!")

I believe in actually meeting people. Face to face. Coffee/tea to coffee/tea. What a stunning concept, especially so given that I had nothing to do with its creation.

"But it's a great way for old friends to find you", explained another friend of mine when I wondered out loud whether it was worth me signing up for the master social media site -- sucker of personal information. I retorted with: "Web search." (An old buddy found me a few years ago by Googling my name. That easy, even if he did get a few false "pings" due to a Simon St. Laurent of note who's in the XML business.)

For what it's worth:

Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Statistic to Remember

On my rush-hour subway ride this past Monday -- Remembrance Day -- morning I saw one poppy-wearing person: A Filipina-Canadian lady. (Please don't tell Don Cherry.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

'Politically Active', Eh?

With a little too much time on my hands (and too much to do), I've posted a few bits to my Twitter account ( on a political theme. Call it "Cherry and Scheer".

After this, I will get back to the creative stuff here on this blog. Most of the following are responses:

Some folk deny that Don Cherry singled out New Canadians in his rant the other night. The Cherry Incident convinces me there is a legitimate new term: A lack of "hearing comprehension".

What the dickens did [Tucker] Carlson just say? lol

Mr Trudeau has class and is a gentleman; Scheer's a flub.

You are right. While Scheer may be good at riling up his base, even after a devastating loss at the polls, as the late Douglas Adams might have put it: "But he can't actually win an election. That's not good."

Mr Scheer is right in stating there is a need to find common ground, but he may not realize that he too must find common ground. That's how *it* works, believe it or not....

I did not know that the PM was running scared. However, he may be enjoying a laugh at a certain Conservative's expense.

My dad flew on Lancs with RAF Bomber Command. He did not like conservatives. ("___ ____ sheep!")

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Sour Grapes?

On Hockey Night in Canada last Saturday evening Don Cherry went on a rant about Canadians in Toronto and surrounding area not wearing poppies. His co-host on "Coach's Corner", Ron McLean, did not push back at all but gave a thumbs-up at the end of Cherry's singling out of recent immigrants to this great country. "You people" is how he referred to them.

How could this All in the Family fan not immediately make a connection?

Don Cherry: "You people."
Archie Bunker: "Yous people."

Due to push back from much of the Canadian public, Rogers Sportsnet, owner of Hockey Night in Canada, fired Don "Grapes" Cherry.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Forever Question: Alone on Remembrance Day

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

Sir. Why will there be so many lonely poppies today?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Instagram Instapost

I'd not updated my Instagram account in months. Things changed today:

Show that We Care About Our Veterans

With Remembrance Day about to remind us again I thought it time to remember. From 2016:

While on my way to work here in Toronto this morning I could not help but notice that poppies were almost nowhere to be seen. I saw one fellow subway train traveller sporting the powerfully symbolic artificial flower.


Many years ago I watched a documentary on the World Wars where at the film's conclusion historian Dr Noble Frankland spoke of his concern that future generations could lose any understanding or appreciation of the selfless sacrifices in those devastating conflicts.

The number of people wearing poppies is not necessarily the indicator of how much of this understanding and appreciation there is out there, but to me it certainly is the domestic canary.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Semantics, Perhaps, But

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer cannot accept defeat. The results of the Canadian federal election, held on October 21st, reaffirmed Justin Trudeau's desk in the top office. The government is now a minority situation but the win was still convincing: 157 seats to the Conservative's 121.

Mr Scheer must move on. The Conservatives need an inspiring leader, not someone who tells the press this after the election:

"Our country is so divided right now. And one thing I know is that only Conservatives can keep this country united."

I would disagree. Canada certainly has division, but I don't think it's divided. I also think the Conservatives encourage division. It's their power source.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Get a Poppy for Remembrance Day

With Remembrance Day almost upon us, I thought about a story of my own regarding that special day; and its special symbol: The poppy.

In early November in the late 1980s (I'm thinking 1989), I hopped onto a TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subway train car. With the seats being all but fully occupied I took the famous door position as the doors closed behind me. Sitting on the other side of the car, with his poppy box resting on his lap, and looking sharp in his uniform, was a veteran.

Immediately I remembered that a few minutes earlier I had shoved a two dollar bill (remember those?) into my shirt pocket. I approached the vet as I drew out the money. He got up from his seat and carefully pinned the poppy to my lapel. I thanked him and went back to my first position. Then, all of a sudden, and in the style of an over-directed film, several other riders popped open their purses and pulled out their wallets.


The above piece was first posted as Human Nature and Remembrance Day on November 6, 2016.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Martin Scorsese Started Something Good

Film director Martin Scorsese started a little upset when he said that the Marvel films are "not cinema". More specifically: “... isn't the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

The damage was done with just a "not cinema". People got their backs up and reacted accordingly.

I've never had a problem with the comment.

In essence, Mr Scorsese may be right. There is a difference between "cinema" and "cinematic".

'I sing the body cinematic' may be what's at work here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Midway Between Real and Unreal

Roland Emmerich's new mega flick, Midway, looks like a video/computer game more than a movie. I'm basing my impression solely on the trailer but it doesn't look good in the sense that I will more than likely take a pass.

The "Battle of Midway" was a turning point in World War ll's Pacific theatre. I wish we could get a turning point in Computer Generated Theatre (CGT) where imagery actually looks real.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Historical Dramatic Canadian Television

Last evening I watched two one-hour dramatic 'cop' shows from Canada's past -- one episode from each: Night Heat (1985 - 1989); Wojeck (1966 - 1968).

(I did not plan to watch two cop shows, but when the double feature ended I made the connection.)

Actually, Wojeck was not a police procedural show as such, but more 'coroner'. The titular coroner was played by one John Vernon, before he went Stateside to pursue a fairly lucrative career. He was outstanding as Steve Wojeck.

Night Heat was okay, at best. Scott Hylands and Jeff Wincott were fine but the scripting too often felt like manufactured entertainment built for the U.S. market. Toronto starred front and centre, but nothing was framed (no CN Tower) as to give the audience the impression that the series was produced anywhere but the States. Kanada Kitsch?

If it's a contest, the winner is Wojeck. The episode I watched last night first aired on September 13, 1966. "The Last Man in the World" is as potent today as it was 53 years ago. (Nothing's changed, eh?)

Monday, November 4, 2019

A Forever Question: Learn It

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

Sir. Why is learning considered distasteful by some folk of a certain political stripe?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

A Love Story, Not

Love Story (1970). Remember that one?

The film contained a line (inspired by a line from the book) that became popular on its own:

"Love means never having to say you're sorry."

I would take the more cynical approach:

"Love means never having to admit you're a dick."

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Re Reading Television

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.


The above first appeared as Reading Television on February 14, 2017.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Biggest Ice Hockey Arena Ever

The news is flying about here in Toronto about a proposal to build another ice hockey arena. It will be "the biggest one in the world". That's awesome.

Now. Make it with an Olympic-sized ice surface. The current NHL standard of 200 x 85 feet makes for restricted play. (Actually, that's been the standard ever since I can remember.) The Olympic, or International, dimension is 15 feet wider, making the total 100. Fifteen extra feet so players can actually make their way down the ice. (What a concept.)