Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Just a Funny Bit of Stephen and Hugh




Once I heard about the Britbox streaming service I took weeks to actually subscribe to it. Once done I had to check out the catalogue. For starters: The Sweeney, classic Doctor Who, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Casualty, and A Bit of Fry and Laurie.

The above video clip is a bit of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. It's funny stuff.

The skit opens with a gent, played by Mr Laurie, wanting to join the SAS, then it leads directly to a piece about a bloke, also played by that Laurie chap, with a rather crude surname asking for a certain book. I was struck by how relevant this bit is in today's polarized world.

Monday, March 30, 2020

A Forever Question: Was My Dad Right?

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

Sir. Why do some people, too many people, take "don't do that" as "be sure to do that"?



Sunday, March 29, 2020

Douglas Adams on Getting There

"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."

Oh, Mister President!....


Douglas Adams on Deadlines

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

Classic and brilliant.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Paris to New York City on the SS Normandie (1939)




Surely one of the most beautiful ships ever, the ocean liner SS Normandie first hit the open seas in 1935. Flagship of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, she lived a short life, capsizing in 1942 as she sat in her berth at New York's Pier 88 while undergoing conversion to a troopship.

Her beauty lives in the above film taken on one of the Normandie's westbound trips. (While the film begins at Paris, the ship's voyage starts at her home port of La Havre.)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Getting Hungry While On Space Patrol

A Forever Question: Double What? (02/18/19)

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

Sir. Why is a "W" instead not called a "double vee"?



Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A Forever Question: Doing One's Job (02/11/19)

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

Sir. Why should showing up on time not be the easiest part of any job?


A Forever Question: A People Race (02/04/19)

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

Sir. With Facebook celebrating its 15th anniversary, can we now call its users a race of people?


A Forever Question: An Irish Spring (01/28/19)

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

Sir. Why does a fresh bar of soap make a bathroom smell so good?


The Ring Modulator Warms Us




In late 1964 a large Dalek force invaded Earth. For reasons not entirely clear, they concentrated on the U.K., with a special focus on London. Makes sense.

Well, they're back. This time a small force is doing the human race a public service favour by warning us to obey the COVID-19 curfew. The above video comes to us from Caerphilly, Wales.

"O-bey!"


Post Script: When I was a young child these guys scared the crap out of me. I can only obey.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Forever Question: An NFL Pay Imbalance (01/21/19)

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

Sir. Why isn't Tom Brady the NFL's highest paid quarterback?


A Forever Question: Quacks Like a Duck (01/14/19)

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

Sir. When someone says "better luck next time", isn't that the same as saying "zero plus zero equals zero"?


Monday, March 23, 2020

50 Best SF Television Shows of All Time (Rollin')

On March 12th, RollingStone published what its staff feels are the best science fiction television shows of all time. Their pick consists of 50 shows, old and new.

Here are the top ten:

10. Firefly (2002 - 2003)
9. Watchmen (2019)
8. Westworld (2016 - )
7. The X-Files (1993 - 2002 / 2016 - 2018)
6. The Prisoner (1967 - 1968)
5. The Mandalorian (2019 - )
4. Doctor Who (1963 - 1989 / 2005 - )
3. Battlestar Galactica (2004 - 2009)
2. The Twilight Zone (1959 - 1964)
1. Star Trek (1966 - 1969)


While I'm hardly a TV space cadet, I do have my own faves -- from the shows I am familiar with, or more than familiar with. Due to insecurity I cannot be so sure of an order. Nor can I pick just one "number one". I would cluster my own top picks and stuff them into the number one spot: The Outer Limits (1963 - 1965); The Prisoner; and Star Trek.


The RollingStone piece:

50 Best Science Fiction TV Shows of All Time
From superhero shows and space operas to creepy anthology series, the greatest small-screen sci-fi of all time



A Forever Question: The Unknowable

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

Sir. Why do the ignorant act stupid during a time of crisis?


A Forever Question: The Oddball (01/07/19)

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

Sir. Why can't North American football gain a foothold outside of Canada and the U.S.?


A Forever Question: Transit Metrics (12/31/18)

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

Sir. Why is one prone to miss the bus or subway train by seconds or centimetres and not minutes or metres?


Sunday, March 22, 2020

A Forever Question: TV Tunes (12/24/18)

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

Sir. Why are television theme tunes today so tuneless?


A Forever Question: The Leafs? (12/23/18)

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

Sir. Why do the forever lowly Maple Leafs almost always play well against the Montreal Canadiens?


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Dr. Who and the Daleks - One Dell of a Comic Book



Nineteen Sixty-Six, RCAF Station Greenwood, Nova Scotia. After I received my latest crew cut, my dad bought me the Dell comic book, Dr. Who and the Daleks. It was a fair trade. Funny how little kids will sit still and behave for a few minutes of unpleasantries to get an ultimate and highly valued reward.

I loved that feature film "tie-in" comic in the same way that one's pet cat might love a certain polyester sock. It's very possible I rolled around on the rug with my prize.

Back then the CBC played the television series Doctor Who, from which the above feature film sprung, and I remember being scared sitless [sic] whenever the Daleks appeared in the seven-part serial "The Daleks". (Perhaps it was due to parental discretion that I did not attend the original theatrical release of Dr. Who and the Daleks.)

That book is long gone. Decades ago it was exterminated.

Friday, March 20, 2020

John Waters on The Audition Process

"People should have to audition to be gay."

There might be a lot of broken hearts.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Which One Is Like the Others

"Visits? That would indicate visitors."

"We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future."

"But one thing's sure. Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody's responsible."

"People are dying who have never died before."




Wednesday, March 18, 2020

On Golden Pond

Today I popped into my local grocer to grab some edible items. As I checked out, the Chinese-Canadian lady behind the counter chatted me up.

CASHIER: Do you like movies?

ME: Yes!

CASHIER: You look like Henry Fonda.


I laughed and thanked her for the casual observation. Perhaps I should have joked: "Henry Fonda in?...."

("Once Upon a Time in the West.")

It reminded me that I treated this subject before, here.



Tuesday, March 17, 2020

"The Virus"

I can imagine the cue sheet: Scribbled at the top by the composer is the simple title, "The Virus".

This morning I watched the Citytv morning show, Breakfast Television. The usual ropey-dopey and at times goofy program has tightened with a string of seriousness. Of course news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic is important, but I'm not sure the virus needs its own musical theme.

The downbeat....


Monday, March 16, 2020

A Forever Question: Of Clowns

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

Sir. Was Bozo the Clown a real clown?


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Gustav Holst Makes John Williams Star Wars




In February of 1977 John Williams was given a print of Star Wars so he could write his score for the space epic. Director George Lucas had temp tracked the picture with Gustav Holst's epic work "The Planets" (along with cuts from others). Makes so much sense. So too does the above instructive video.

Oh, there's also some Paul Dukas in there....

Friday, March 13, 2020

That Was Friday the Thirteenth That Was

Non eventful it was.

All in all, a good day.

Bury this day while the good maintains.


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Don't Panic - Really

Yesterday came the news that the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 crisis to be a pandemic. One of the first things that came to me was the very real possibility of citizen panic....or Citizen Panic.

To borrow a line from Douglas Adams:

Don't Panic


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Book: The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy



The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- Five Novels in One Outrageous Volume -

Douglas Adams

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Book: Europe At War 1939-1945 (Norman Davies)

 


Europe At War
1939-1945
No Simple Victory

Monday, March 9, 2020

A Forever Question: Counter Time

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

Sir. Why does time not advance counterclockwise?


Sunday, March 8, 2020

A Forever Question: Getting Even

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

Sir. Why does fate always get even?


Wayne and Shuster Play City Golf in Toronto (1971)




When I was a kid I looked forward to the Wayne and Shuster television specials.  Though the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) was the electronic home of Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster, Canada's greatest comedy duo, they travelled outside our borders. Perhaps the biggest proof of their comedic mobility is the number of times they met with Ed Sullivan stateside on his long-running and highly-rated series, The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS, 1948 - 1971): a total of 67, according to one source.

The above clip, from a Wayne and Shuster special from September 19, 1971, is funny because it's absurd. Playing a game of golf among pedestrian and automobile traffic is not something you would've seen in 1971; try it now and you'll get arrested. By the way: Did Toronto police officers 'dress' like that back then?

My guess is I saw the above when it first aired. Watching it now, I find I'm playing a game of "Name the Location". Our stellar city has changed so much since then. The CN Tower was on the drawing board.

Tee up!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

The Message is Out in Time for Easter

Many years ago my roommate at the time and I decided to have some fun: we recorded a message for answering machine which could be best described as "daring".

Dave had a four-track audio recorder; it used cassette tape, the kind of tape used as the 'outgoing' message on my Panasonic answering machine. Inspiration hit the two of us fast and hard. We wrote the script quickly and prepared to record the message. In my music collection I have a CD titled "Hollywood's Greatest Hits Volume Two". On one track Dave and I laid down Elmer Bernstein's theme from the 1956 opus The Ten Commandments, specifically, the pastoral passage right after the bombast proper -- the background music we hear playing under the voice of God.

Next: Dave's recording of the voice of God. His voice was better than my nasally own for this important document. After we had the two tracks down it was a matter of giving the commanding orator some reverb. (A dry voice track would inspire no one, no matter how persuasive the text.)

We were very happy with our effort.

As the British would say, "the show went out".

The reaction was much greater than what we were expecting. Callers who got the outgoing message thought it was very funny, hilarious. What happened was the word quickly got around about our answering machine commandments. People would call just to hear the message, and since Dave and I were busy guys, chances were that callers would get the machine.

A mutual friend went into hysterics when we gave him a live playback, but after he regained his composure, he told us his concern that some folk might not find our commandments humorous.

After some time Dave and I pulled the work. Unfortunately it's gone; we know not where.

Here is a reasonable facsimile:

"Luuuke. I mean....Mosesss. Thou shalt leave a message at the tone. Leave thy name and numberrr... (at this point Dave's voice speeds into a 'Maxwell Smart') ... And when I get a chance, I'll call you back!"

___

The above was first posted as "Leaving a Message" on March 21, 2018.


Jerry Goldsmith on Music

"If our music survives, which I have no doubt it will, then it will because it is good."

It survives.


Friday, March 6, 2020

John Williams on the Star Wars Films

"I let it go. I have not looked at the 'Star Wars' films, and that's absolutely true."

True, there are more-interesting things to look at.


Thursday, March 5, 2020

Weather Toronto, As Predicted

This coming weekend Toronto will be enjoying warm temperatures for this time of year. In the first week or two of March we tend get a little heat bump.

Sunday is scheduled for a daytime high of 10 degrees Celsius, and Monday, same. (That's 50 Fahrenheit for you followers of that scale.)

"Normal" for this time of year in this city is about 2 degrees.

It looks as though I will be doing my winter coat dance: Heavy to light, to medium, to light, to medium....


Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Picturing: Lunch Beer on Bloor (Toronto)



Note: I was careful not to title this post "Beer Lunch on Bloor".

Monday, March 2, 2020

A Forever Question: Signals

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

Sir. Why is green sometimes red?


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Terry Gilliam Introduces Karel Zeman's Munchausen




A few days ago I posted a picture of the new Criterion Blu-ray set Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman. In the above short video, filmmaker Terry Gilliam introduces a special screening of 1962's The Fabulous Baron Munchausen, one of Czech filmmaker Karel Zeman's masterworks. Gilliam's enthusiasm for the fantastic film is infectious. He talks briefly about a certain direct connection to The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), his own filmed version of the fictitious German nobleman's tall tales.