Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Francis Bacon on Truth

"Science is but an image of the truth."

Would the great English philosopher and statesman have believed the abundance of ignorance in the advanced year of 2020?

The Astounding Year 2020 Will Be Here in Hours

When I was a kid I watched a Saturday morning animated show called Sealab 2020.

The short-lived series was produced in 1972, 48 years (yikes!) before the titular year.

It's here....

Here Come the New Year's Resolutions

Monday, December 30, 2019

A Forever Question: Assurance

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

Sir. Why won't insurance companies cover one whose claim gets declined by an insurance company?

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Dad on Too Many Same TV Episode Watches

"Jesus Christ. How many times have you seen this goddamn thing?!"

My dad was into character actors. No doubt he recognized the guest star and thought: "Is he in more than one episode?"

You Talkin' to Me?

Movie-lovers love to quote their favourite lines. ("You talkin' to me?")

There are the usual suspects. Say the famous line and some people will know its source.

I have my own faves. Just a samplin'....

"You get what you pay for, Franz."
- The Doctor (John Considine), Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls (1973)

"He's dying."
- Barrot, the camp warden (William Smithers), Papillon (1973)

"Good afternoon, my ass."
- The farmer (John Baskcomb), Battle of Britain (1969)

"I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do."
- HAL 9000 (Douglas Rain, voice), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

"I'm a lawyer from Denver, Colorado."
- Lt. Harry Brubaker (William Holden), The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)

Any recent movies? I'll work on it....

Why Criterion is Cool (Zeman!)

It's Sunday morning, one thing led to another:

"Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman"

I saw that and knew right away what was going on.

Criterion: Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman
Coming Soon, available February 25, 2020

There are those expected superb Criterion special features....

The Blu-ray set, for sure.

I consider myself lucky to have seen Journey to the Beginning of Time (1955) and Invention for Destruction (1958) on the big screen. These flicks are wonderful. Karel Zeman is one of my favourite complete-package directors.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Tape to Tape Trump Edit Feature

Some memories came back to me after hearing this business, over and over again, about U.S. prez Donald J. Trump and his faithful getting in a knot because the CBC ran Home Alone 2: Lost in New York sans The Donald's seven-second moment. ("Disrupters!")

A few times in my videotape-operator days I received a work order specifying the removal of scenes or shots from a supplied tape of a given feature film. This was, and still is, done to carve special shorter versions of movies. The new cut might be for airlines, television stations/networks, or home-video.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation would have run a trimmed-down version to allow for commercial time. With these necessary edits, a 108-minute film, for instance, could fit comfortably into a 120-minute time slot. (Then there's "time compression".) The Corp claims the edits were done in 2014. Two years before The Man took the White House. I believe them.

That's the way it goes. Trump and his supporters can bellyache and rage all they want. It changes nothing.

It's not personal. It's business.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Bob Monkhouse on Orgy Thanks

"The awkward part about an orgy, is that afterwards you're not too sure who to thank."

I use the opportunity to practice my Oscar acceptance speech.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

They Shoot These Things in Canada, Don't They?

"A romance expert conceals her recent breakup and asks a TV producer to pretend they are a couple before she is exposed as a fraud. When he agrees, she never expects to find herself falling for him."

And that, dear reader, is what my telescreen's "what's playing" display describes as a typical Hallmark Christmas TV Movie.

Maybe if I click on later today I'll get this:

"A gold medal winning figure skater, recently injured at a World Championship, moves to a small town and soon finds herself competing for the affections of a star Beer League ice hockey player."

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Forever Question: Pre Post

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

Sir. Can we be nice before and after Christmas?

Monday, December 23, 2019

It Might Devour You at the Box Office

"Disney stock has taken a bit of a hit." The business news story then got my full attention. "... Due to the less-than-expected performance of the new Star Wars film."

Why am I not surprised? Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker makes a load of money over the weekend but fails to hit the heights of the two previous SW pics, and the money-grabbers are disappointed.

It's very possible that this 'underperformance' is due to Star Wars Fatigue. I also understand that word-of-mouth isn't great with this one -- not that real fans care what critics or their fellow fans think. (For what real SW fans think about what their fellow fans think about TROS, go to the Internet.)

Then I remembered hearing today that Cats underperformed this same weekend. It made 6 million, to be applied against a negative cost of around 100 mill. This comparison is even more distinct when one realizes that that 6 mill is "gross"; the "net" would be 2 to 3 million.

It seems that the box office version of Peg Powler was sleeping.

All Those Christmas Cookies and Treats

I'm watching (while I work) one of those weekday morning television programs where the subject is "lifestyle". Look at all those sugary treats! Are those meant to be consumed? Hopefully not by just one person, or even a small team of sweet teeth. (That's a lot of preparation. I have a hard enough time preparing my tax returns.)

Someone's eating a sugar thing. The audience cheers!

(Am I high on sugar?)

A sugar rush just might be the thing I need to get back to work....

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Leafs Have Won Some Games Trivia

A Leafs fan tells me they won tonight, and that my negativity "is getting old". My predictions, known as "negativity" to some folk, have been accurate these past few years.

What am I going to do? Say that the Toronto Maple Leafs will go to the playoffs this NHL year and win the Stanley Cup?

How am I able to predict what will really happen?

Friday, December 20, 2019

Cats Review Cats

The movie Cats is getting horrible reviews. I just read an article sampling paws-down notices.

That bad. I love cats but I'll watch the real thing, not creepy humans trying to imitate our feline friends.

Yes, I'm sure: "Cats are snickering..."

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Sure to Get a Rise of Some Kind

Late this afternoon I saw a television advert for the new Star Wars movie. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker looks like the kind of movie that attracts customers by offering hamburgers, fries, chocolate bars, and super-sized pops (sodas).

I'm not feeling it.

If it offered sushi I might be convinced to pull out my chopsticks -- I can pretend they're lightsabres.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Makes It All Worthwhile

On the weekend I received a nice concise review. My friend said of my blog postings:

"... your writing is fun, pithy and clever!"

Thank you! Much appreciated.

That email text also provided me with a nice pop-up blog posting; one requiring minimal effort on my part.

Monday, December 16, 2019

A Canadian Knight's Tale (In One Act)

In 2015, Justin Trudeau sent Stephen Harper to the scrapheap.

A Forever Question: More or Less

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

Sir. Why does more so often end up less?

Sunday, December 15, 2019

John Irving in Toronto, Canada

On Thursday afternoon the American writer John Irving became a Canadian citizen. The author of the best-sellers "The World According to Garp" and "The Ciderhouse Rules" has long loved this country, and Toronto, where he now lives with his Canadian love and maintains his downtown office. Irving's not given up his U.S. passport, but his move here is very special to him: during the citizenship swearing-in he was misty-eyed and sang "O Canada" with pride.

I should read one of his books....

From Friday's edition of the Toronto Star: "Ending up here is a love story."

From the Arena

"I see no logic in preferring Stonn over me."

True. Even if that name is rare in these parts.

Some solace: "Having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting."

Dusk at the Toronto Sun? (Flotsam)

With Andrew Scheer voluntarily stepping down as Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, and wrapped in the still-sticking results of the last federal election, the Toronto Sun appears to be in free fall, dropping behind that broken horizon, possibly never to be seen again.

Messrs Goldstein, Furey, Bonokoski, and Lilley sit on deck chairs, fumbling about, not quite mastering the cello, violin, viola, and double bass -- except in the upper register.

A lookout spots a floating flag: "Postmedia"

Friday, December 13, 2019

Free For Download - Leafs!

A few weeks ago the Toronto Maple Leafs head office canned "coach (Mike) Babcock". The team's fortunes have picked up a little bit since they downloaded that plugin, Sheldon Keefe, but the Leafs are still behind the last wildcard position.

All that processing power on the team and it has to be stuck with low memory, and noisy fans.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Day of the Conservatives

Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, resigned from his position today. It was quite the surprise, especially so since he made it known that he would last until the party's next leadership review in April. News followed news today as it was revealed that Mr Scheer was using party funds for his kids' private schooling. (Irony aplenty as he often called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "corrupt".)

Scheer was not the right guy to lead the Conservatives. Some still act surprised that he was not able to take the flag on October 21st.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch (the U.K.), it looks as though today's national election is looking good for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservatives.

My pick to replace Andrew Scheer: Peter MacKay.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Tech Talk on BBC Radio 4 (Net Denizens)

Yesterday afternoon I popped on BBC Radio 4 to absorb some talk from across the pond. One segment I caught was a story on a British tech guy (whose name I never got). He was on stage somewhere in England speaking about the Internet.

As I worked on a project I listened, soaking up just bits and pieces. I do remember the story's punchline. The tech talker said: "Take a person from the nineteen-fifties, bring them here and show them the Internet. Explain that it's used for posting cat pictures and arguing with other people."

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A Forever Question: That's More Like It

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

Sir. Why does name-calling sometimes replace thinking?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Star Trek and Star Wars Intermix Formula

I'm watching the news and one of the two hosts admitted she gets Star Trek and Star Wars mixed up all the time. The other host was doing a story on the upcoming Star Wars flick. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is due to be released on December 19th.

The lady broadcaster may not know the difference between those two franchises but she may know more than she thinks. I can't tell the difference anymore. Star Trek: Discovery, a current Trek series, and one I've tortured myself with for just one episode, looks and feels more like Star Wars. The ST feature films are on ice for the time being but clips I've seen of Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and Star Trek Beyond (2016) tell me that something has changed. "What exactly are they trying to do?...." (They don't know.)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Family Feud in Canada, Eh?

Recently I learned that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) will premiere a new series which can only get my fellow Canucks and I super excited. Family Feud Canada is exactly the king of programming the Mother Corp should be playing. It's almost incredible it took so long. What a concept. Someone and something were bereft of ideas.

Actor and stand-up comedian Gerry Dee was hired to do the kissing; starting this coming Wednesday.

Forty Years Ago, Yesterday (Trek Back With a Wink)

Last evening I was reminded by a tweet that Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released forty years ago yesterday. 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.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Minor Niner's Decline

Here in Canada the other day, several 'pot shops' were raided by police forces and people were arrested. While illegal at the moment, these dispensaries may soon be able to exist as legitimate businesses.

This reminded me of my first day of high school, mid 1970s.

As I moved somewhat self-consciously down an end hallway a well-dressed young man in flared jeans and matching jacket, and sporting long hair with matching facial hair, approached me with a signature drooping walk. He had what I assumed to be some kind of survey question, the kind dispensed to "minor niners" like me:

"Hey, man. Wanna buy some grass?"

At first I remembered what my parents said to me before I boarded the school bus earlier that morning: "If someone asks you if you want to buy some pot, say 'yes'." Or was it?....was it "no"? Darn. Nobody told me that high school was this hard! I then remembered that my mother gave me twenty dollars, but my memory told me that the money was not for "grass". Wait a minute....no, it was for "pot", not grass.

I told the gentleman: "I want to thank you for your concern and consideration, kind sir, but my answer is 'no'."


The above was first posted on March 14, 2017, as "My First Day of High School - Imagine!".

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Written by D.C. Fontana

Dorothy Catherine Fontana, perhaps better known as “D.C. Fontana”, was an important force in creating Star Trek and its mythology. Credit too often goes to the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, Gene Roddenberry, as being the great all-encompassing creator of Star Trek. As noted by Desilu studio exec Herb Solow and associate producer Robert Justman, there were many stellar contributors to the show that started it all, including but not limited to: cinematographers; designers; composers; and writers.

With Ms Fontana’s passing, there is not a lot of key Star Trek production people still with us. Gerald Fried is still alive and composing music at the age of 91. David Gerrold, creator of Tribbles, as in “The Trouble With Tribbles”, is still writing and publishing at 75.

In the then male-dominated dramatic television arena, undoubtedly it was a woman’s touch that helped humanize Star Trek, supplying vital stories and dialogue to characters powered by what my brother describes as “The Beatles Cast”. Ms Fontana had said in interviews that there were female writers working in television in the mid-1960s but they tended to work on non-drama programs. Roddenberry assigned Fontana, his then assistant, the story editor position after he read what she had rewritten of "This Side of Paradise", a script by another writer. (She had earlier written "Charlie X" -- the 5th episode shot in series production.) In this coveted staff role Fontana not only wrote her own scripts, but, as per the job requirement, rewrote others, helping shape the stories into the series whole. Along with other staff writers, she even took a stab at polishing Harlan Ellison's "The City on the Edge of Forever". (When I interviewed Mr Ellison in 2007 I did not broach the subject of "City" since his feelings are well documented; including by him.)

Music composers will say that talking or writing about music is clumsy. Best to listen to the music. The same could be applied to writing about writing.

The following quotes are out of context for the uninitiated, but one can surmise what is going on. It also shows how in television drama writing, every word must count. Not only moving the story forward, but revealing character.


From "Charlie X":

KIRK: You go slow. You be gentle. I mean, it's not a one-way street, you know, how you feel and that's all. It's how the girl feels, too. Don't press, Charlie. If the girl feels anything for you at all, you'll know it. Do you understand?


KIRK: Charlie, there are a million things in this universe you can have and there are a million things you can't have. It's no fun facing that, but that's the way things are.

From "Journey to Babel":

SPOCK: Any competent officer can command this ship under normal circumstances. The circumstances are not normal. We're carrying over one hundred valuable Federation passengers. We're being pursued by an alien ship. We're subject to possible attack. There has been murder and attempted murder on board. I cannot dismiss my duties.

AMANDA: Duty? Your duty is to your father.

SPOCK: I know, but this must take precedence. If I could give the transfusion without loss of time or efficiency, I would. Sarek understands my reason.

AMANDA: Well, I don't. It's not human. That's not a dirty word. You're human, too. Let that part of you come through. Your father's dying.

SPOCK: Mother, how can you have lived on Vulcan so long, married a Vulcan, raised a son on Vulcan, without understanding what it means to be a Vulcan?

AMANDA: If this is what it means, I don't want to know.

SPOCK: It means to adopt a philosophy, a way of life, which is logical and beneficial. We cannot disregard that philosophy merely for personal gain, no matter how important that gain might be.

AMANDA: Nothing is as important as your father's life.

SPOCK: Can you imagine what my father would say if I were to agree, if I were to give up command of this vessel, jeopardise hundreds of lives, risk interplanetary war, all for the life of one person? 

AMANDA: When you were five years old and came home stiff-lipped, anguished, because the other boys tormented you saying that you weren't really Vulcan. I watched you, knowing that inside that the human part of you was crying and I cried, too. There must be some part of me in you, some part that I still can reach. If being Vulcan is more important to you, then you'll stand there speaking rules and regulations from Starfleet and Vulcan philosophy, and let your father die. And I'll hate you for the rest of my life.

SPOCK: Mother

AMANDA: Oh, go to him. Now. Please.

SPOCK: I cannot.

From "This Side of Paradise":

LEILA: I love you. I said that six years ago, and I can't seem to stop repeating myself. On Earth, you couldn't give anything of yourself. You couldn't even put your arms around me. We couldn't have anything together there. We couldn't have anything together anyplace else. We're happy here. I can't lose you now, Mister Spock. I can't.

SPOCK: I have a responsibility to this ship, to that man on the Bridge. I am what I am, Leila, and if there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else's.

MCCOY: Well, that's the second time man's been thrown out of paradise.

KIRK: No, no, Bones. This time we walked out on our own. Maybe we weren't meant for paradise. Maybe we were meant to fight our way through. Struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can't stroll to the music of the lute. We must march to the sound of drums. 

SPOCK: Poetry, Captain. Non-regulation.

KIRK: We haven't heard much from you about Omicron Ceti Three, Mister Spock.

SPOCK: I have little to say about it, Captain, except that for the first time in my life, I was happy.

From "Yesteryear", from the animated Star Trek series:

SPOCK: Every life comes to an end when time demands it. Loss of life is to be mourned but only if the life was wasted.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Dorothy "DC" Fontana (1939 - 2019)

This afternoon I read the news that television writer Dorothy Catherine Fontana died yesterday at the age of 80. For old Trekkers like me, the onscreen credit of "Written by D.C. Fontana" was familiar.

Over the years I found out that her contributions to Star Trek (1966 - 1969) were significant. Tomorrow I'll post some thoughts.

A Forever Question: Who Dun It?

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

Sir. Would "whodunit" read more properly as "whodidit"?

Sunday, December 1, 2019

How We Always Judge


The above was first posted on February 24, 2017, as "Four by Three: How We Judge".

You Tell 'Em


The above was first posted on January 25, 2017, as "Four by Three: Optics (Optical Tricks)".