Monday, August 31, 2020

A Forever Question: By the Book?

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

Sir. Why do so many people not practice their faith?

Sunday, August 30, 2020

CD: Lexx (Marty Simon)

- Music from the Original Television Sci-fi Movie Series -

Marty Simon

Future Records 1997

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Book: Dreaming Aloud (Heard)

Dreaming Aloud
- The Life and Films of James Cameron -

Christopher Heard

Doubleday Canada Limited 1997

Friday, August 28, 2020

A Twitter Bio Text Form

A few months back I gave some time to coming up with a suitable bio for my Twitter account....

Simon St. Laurent

I'm not a Con, so there's no sense in writing: "I use common sense ; Hate liberals ; Have a life experience PhD ; Use critical thinking." (I curl in comedy.)

It is said that we are made by our environments as we are growing up. Then it came to me....

- Toronto Arts Entity -
Air Force Brat tour of duty: St. Hubert, QC; CFB Greenwood, NS; Bietigheim, Germany; Iffezheim, Germany; CFB Borden, ON.

That comes in just under the maximum word allowance as dictated by Twitter. This limitation keeps me in check; contained. Normally I wouldn't stop there, I'd keep going....

Book: Roger Corman (Gray)

Roger Corman
- An Unauthorized Biography of the Godfather of Indie Filmmaking -

Beverly Gray

Renaissance Books 2000

Thursday, August 27, 2020

I'm Anarkyvist: John Williams - NBC Today - 1989

In early 2011 I felt it was time to start digitizing my VHS collection of over 200 tapes. To YouTube I went and signed up under the improbable and somewhat mysterious name of "Anarkyvist". The project got off to a good start, but after the initial volley, I seemed to lose interest while gaining other convenient distractions. It's time to go back to those VHS boxes and the conversion process, but for now I will take a look back here on this blog....

Yesterday I filed the first posting in the series. That 5-minute video is an NBC Today segment from 1983 on my favourite film scorer, the late Jerry Goldsmith. Today on Today, albeit from March 27th of 1989: a chat with famed Hollywood composer John Williams.

Film critic Gene Shalit interviews the congenial maestro, with a special emphasis on The Accidental Tourist, a film release from the year before. In hindsight, I wish these profile pieces were longer. Now, of course, they'd run for 65 seconds.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

CD: Spaced Out! (Nimoy / Shatner)

Spaced Out!
- A Unique Collection of Songs by Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner -

MCA Records 1997

I'm Anarkyvist: NBC Today on Jerry Goldsmith 1983

In early 2011 I felt it was time to start digitizing my VHS collection of over 200 tapes. To YouTube I went and signed up under the improbable and somewhat mysterious name of "Anarkyvist". The project got off to a good start, but after the initial volley, I seemed to lose interest while gaining other convenient distractions. It's time to go back to those VHS boxes and the conversion process, but for now I will take a look back here on this blog....

I taped the above off of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) in 1983. At the time they had a half-hour entertainment-news program, the name of which I've since forgotten, not unlike Entertainment Tonight. This story, on veteran Hollywood composer Jerry Goldsmith, was filed by reporter Jim Brown for NBC's Today. The CBC picked-up the segment for their own show (the NBC satellite feed, or whatever it was, was fraught with interference).

Interesting that Poltergeist, which was released the year before, is labelled as a Steven Spielberg movie. What happened to Tobe Hooper? There is an error in the story: the narration mentions that Goldsmith worked on the original Twilight Zone television series (he did), and that he incorporated its theme tune, written by "Bernard Herrmann", into his score for the 1983 Spielberg-produced TZ feature film. "Marius Constant" would be more correct.

Hollywood reporter Brown was a big Goldsmith fan, hence multiple reports over the years on the movie music man. (Soon I'll have another.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Book: Führer-Ex (Hasselbach and Reiss)

- Memoirs of a Former Neo-Nazi -

Ingo Hasselbach
Tom Reiss

Random House 1996

Book: Hitler (Bullock)

- A Study in Tyranny -

Alan Bullock

Harper Perennial 1971

Monday, August 24, 2020

Book: An Introduction to American Movies (Earley)

An Introduction to American Movies
- From The Great Train Robbery to Star Wars and Beyond -

Steven C. Earley

A Mentor Book 1978

A Forever Question: Those Grey Routes

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

Sir. As one ages, why does one's hair not change from grey to a colour/tone?

Sunday, August 23, 2020

... Looking for CKVR? (Not Anymore!)

CKVR Classic Television - The Classic Schedule

Above is a card that was mailed out to interested parties (like me) outlining CKVR's "upcoming" (summer and fall of 1993) late-night line up of classic television programs: Batman, Mary Tyler Moore, The Fugitive, The Outer Limits, Mission: Impossible, Perry Mason, Star Trek, I Love Lucy, Gilligan's Island, and so on, were shown into the wee hours of the night.

I've not seen that channel for many years. Now it's "CTV-2". (As in: "Crappy Television - Too.")

From OECA to TVO (From the 2020 TVO Calendar)

There is some confusion as to what TVOntario was called for the first decade of its existence. The Ontario Educational Communications Network, or OECA, was the name I knew them by for years. "TV Ontario" just sneaked up on me, without fanfare.

A good friend of mine, a huge movie fan, and, like me, an admirer of TVO's now-gone framework movie series' Saturday Night at the Movies and Magic Shadows and their host, Elwy Yost, was convinced the network always went under the name we know today. He was so convinced, I thought maybe my memory was faulty. I'm kidding. In June of 1977 I visited "OECA". (Just as importantly, in the summer of 1976: "Doctor Who is on OECA this September!")

As the picture above states: OECA "officially" adopts working name of TVOntario in 1981.

OECA is still the name for me, even if I watch a lot of programming on TVOntario.

Book: Dreamspeaker (Hubert)


Cam Hubert

Avon Books 1978

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Book: Rebel Without a Crew (Rodriguez)

Rebel Without a Crew
- Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player -

Robert Rodriguez

A Plume Book 1996

Book: The Outer Limits (Schow and Frentzen)

The Outer Limits
- The Official Companion -

David J. Schow
Jeffrey Frentzen

Ace Science Fiction Books 1986

Friday, August 21, 2020

Book: Jaunt (Davidson)

- An Unofficial Guide to The Tomorrow People -

Andy Davidson

Miwk Publishing Ltd. 2013

Book: Totally Tasteless (Marson)

Totally Tasteless
- The Life of John Nathan-Turner -

Richard Marson

Miwk Publishing Ltd. 2016

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Book: Behind the Screen (MacGowan)

Behind the Screen
- The History and Techniques of the Motion Picture -

Kenneth MacGowan

Dell Publishing Co., Inc. 1965

Book: The Making of Space: 1999

The Making of Space: 1999
- A Gerry Anderson Production -

Tim Heald

Ballantine Books 1976

Book: Destination: Moonbase Alpha

Destination: Moonbase Alpha
- The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Space: 1999 -

Robert E. Wood

Telos Publishing Ltd. 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

A Glass of Chardonnay?

It may be time for a glass of Inniskillin Chardonnay. Productivity levels have been not too bad these last two days.

Last evening I rewatched the 2008 classic rock documentary Anvil - the Story of Anvil, which I blogged about on Sunday. My intention was to write a review piece this evening. Do the creative juices flow better with a glass of fine wine?

Wait. I can't find my corkscrew. I guess it's been a while. Oh. Good. A screw-on cap....

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Brothers (Twins)

Minutes ago I saw a television bit on actor and comedian Howie Mandel. Something hit me immediately: the resemblance to actor Vin Diesel.

I call that "inspired casting". Imagine these two men playing brothers; better still, twins.

And have fun with the accents....

Lockdown Lard

"I've been eating so much junk food."

I'm hearing and reading, and thinking, that a lot these days. Blame the lockdown.

"Junk food" might be best described at this time as any super-salty treat drawn from a four-colour polymer bag. Easy to grab from the store shelves, helped do doubt by eyeballs drawn to four-color plastic bags, these artery stuffers feed our insatiable need for some enhanced sodium action during an essential lockdown.

The fallout?

The fallout will be falling from our hips....

Monday, August 17, 2020

A Forever Question: Steam Punk

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

Sir. How does a steamfitter get any work done when steam is so vaporous?

Poem: Cool Relief

Cool air is back!
It surrounds us

Gone for months
I missed it so much

Stifling, life-sucking
super-heat came
back in the spring

Taking energy away
replacing it with lethargy

Shirt-soaking humidity
Much worse in the city

cursed words out loud
looking for a rain cloud

Was it so hard to ask
for relief from
extreme heat and its blast?

we asked
How long can it last?!

Cool air came back

and it kisses me.

Hope it lasts....


Simon St. Laurent

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Two Movies on DVD

Recently I walked past BMV Books on Bloor Street, here in Toronto, and decided to poke around inside the store.

Down to the basement where the DVD, VHS, BD, CD, and LP collections are kept.

As I've mentioned on this blog before, I'm not a big collector of movies-on-DVD. Call it "being cheap"; call it "I love movies but not that much", where I must have a copy on my shelf.

"Anvil." (Good price, I'll grab it. It is a terrific documentary.)

On my way to the desk a title caught my attention. I remember when The Warriors was released to theatres in 1979. It was a big deal in that some people released some violence in their local movie houses, deciding to settle old scores. These unfortunate events made the news, and, from what I understand, gave the film an undeserved bad reputation. Its fans say it's really a cartoon of sorts. (The label says $4.99, which means this disc is mine.)

I've never seen the flick, but I know its famous line: "Warriors, come out to play-i-ay."

Time for me to "play-i-ay" The Warriors....


Post Script: As I was preparing the photo above I noticed some similarities. Interesting.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Seventeen Years Ago, Eh? (The Phantom Menace)

Minutes ago I was reminded that it was seventeen years ago today that the big power outrage happened in Ontario, Canada, and many of the U.S. eastern states.

That was a day to remember. I was lucky in that my power snapped back on in my Toronto neighbourhood at about 9:30 that evening. A friend who lives just east of me waited for a few days. He told me that he and his wife lost about two-hundred dollars worth of meat -- they had shopped just the day before.

When power was restored I was sitting at home, chilling, relaxing: a mass of LED lights popped on around me, reminding me how much "phantom" power there was about. That was sobering. We are electricity pigs.

Memories, here.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Fans of Summer

This heat and humidity here in Toronto, Canada, is basically unrelenting. We're now into months (plural) of continuous atmospheric oppression.

While I work during the day I listen to BBC Radio 2. The UK is enjoying much the same story. The radio presenters (hosts) quiz one another on air: "How did you sleep last night?" The respective answers, variations on: "Badly. And I had two fans going." (I wonder why well-paid BBC employees won't take the plunge and buy an air conditioner. My theory is they don't get enough days and nights of H&H to warrant the purchase price.)

This past spring I promised myself I would buy an air conditioner. Calling myself an "environmentalist" is fine and dandy, but sleep is a real bargain. Fine. My fan does the trick.

There's relief next week: around 25 Celsius.

This is beginning to look real good right about now....

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Birth of a Giant

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).


First posted as "Canadair CL-28 'Argus' Film from the NFB" on August 11, 2019.

Promo Film for Canadair Yukon and CL-44

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....


First posted as "Canadair CC-106 Yukon & CL-44 "Swing-Tail" Promo" on August 10, 2019.

Monday, August 10, 2020

A Forever Question: Fire Wall

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

Sir. Why do angry people become brave behind emails and text messages?

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Martin Landau, Actor

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".


First posted as "Memories of Martin Landau" on August 3, 2019.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

And Cut to Clay, Now!

It was a long distance telephone chat with an old friend….an editor by trade.

One brief discussion was about “fan edits”. These wishful versions of films always run at a deficit since the source footage is from a final cut. Unless one has access to raw footage such endeavours stay the domain of the hobbyist. If you're not a Kevin Brownlow, chances are you’re not going to get access to a movie’s original film/digital elements.

I asked my friend: “If there is only one film that needs not one frame changed, what would it be?” (It’s absolutely perfect the way it is.)

He missed not a beat: “Plan Nine from Outer Space.”

Only an editor would know the correct answer.


First posted as "Mister Wood Has Final Cut" on July 27, 2019.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To escape the death camp.


First posted as "An Ethical Question" on July 19, 2019.

Batman of 1989

Last week I learned, or was reminded, that Tim Burton's Batman was released thirty years ago this month. While I was a Batman fan, I was in no rush to see the movie. Those readers who were not around back then would not know that there was some controversy when Michael Keaton was presented as the actor to play Gotham's famed caped crusader. ("Mr. Mom?") A comic book fan friend told me that he could not imagine Mr Keaton in the role. I really had no opinion on the matter. I would wait and see.

I did: at Toronto's Hollywood Theatre in September that year, just before the flick was pulled. My movie-mate had seen Batman; this was his second viewing, and he was curious....

"What did you think?"

"It was okay."

He laughed. "Oh, come on, man. You liked it."

I've not seen it since. Time, thirty years worth of time, can change one's opinion. It would be interesting to hear what my buddy thinks of Batman now.


First posted as "Holy Time Machine, Batman!" on June 26, 2019.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

A Great Science Fiction Movie Never Made

The Greatest Science Fiction Movie Never Made
Jodorowsky's Dune

So emblazons the DVD/Blu-ray case insert sleeve. I rewatched this fascinating documentary. In ninety minutes we find out how much work Alejandro Jodorowsky and the creative team put into developing his motion picture take on "Dune", Frank Herbert's classic 1965 science fiction novel. The great and innovative filmmaker promised an artful epic: something, as a few interview subjects share, the average studio executive does not want to imagine funding -- especially one in 1975. Apparently the production needed about another five million (1970s) dollars guaranteed before hammers could start swinging. Fifteen million in total was desired, but no doubt much more would have been needed before a release print met a projector gate. The mathematics of dollars and cents is what killed this dream realization.

My reaction upon completing my second viewing was the same as the first: It's a good thing Dune never met production status. I'm convinced it would have been a disaster. A financial disaster. I can't imagine a Jodorowsky Dune being anything less than great film art -- something rarely seen.

CUT TO: 1984 - December

With a film school classmate, I exited the Imperial 6 theatre's main doors. Something happened that could have been right out of a movie; one of those too common occurrences the audience does not buy since they're just too coincidental to believe. A fellow classmate walked by. "George!" He stopped and turned to us.


"We just saw (David Lynch's) Dune."

"How was it?"

"It wasn't very good."

It's a shame Alejandro Jodorowski never got to make Dune.


First posted as "Jodorowsky's Dune See" on June 13, 2019.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Flash? Ah Ha.... (But Brian Blessed Was Great!)

While listening to BBC Radio 2 yesterday I learned that the 1980 Dino De Laurentiis feature film release, Flash Gordon, is enjoying a re-release in UK cinemas.

I saw that picture when it first hit theatres, and thought it was just good enough that I didn't wish for a money back guarantee. Visually, the film was beautiful. The design work was upper craftsman. Colours curled and flowed, broken by vertically-charged gleaming sets expected in such a big budget production.

No expense was spared, but the script, what made it to the final cut, was sparse: wrapped in moments demanded, too fearful of straying from halftone origins. The result was something we'd seen many times recently before. Just a few years earlier, similar influences had been re-spun, and most effectively, with audiences thinking they were seeing something new.

I've known for a few years now that British audiences took more readily to De Laurentiis' Flash Gordon than had we North American cynics, hence the 4K remastered release projected in selected UK cinemas. Had I known....

From the website, "Top10 Films":
“Flash Gordon” Returns To UK Cinemas For 40th Anniversary
Flash Gordon will return to cinemas for its 40th anniversary.

Steven Spielberg's After Dark

A headline from this morning, alerted me to something potentially scary:

Spielberg's After Dark: New horror series by iconic director can only be watched at night

I remember the debacle titled Amazing Stories. The year was 1985, the year of the television anthology format, and we waited with some enthusiasm for Steven Spielberg's effort to tell some "amazing stories". Well, that did not happen. With very, very few exceptions, the show was a complete and utter dud.

Decades later some of us old enough to remember "the show with just a name" might not be so entranced.

Spielberg states that Spielberg's After Dark will be watchable only when skies are dark.


Like my television/tablet/phone.

(The horror!)


First posted as "Steven Spielberg's Dark Television Series'" on June 12, 2019.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A Forever Question: Soft Furry Dreadnoughts

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

Sir. Why are cats cute, soft, and squeezable, but armed with claws and sharp teeth?

Plastic Model Kits on Wires

Yesterday I filed a book picture posting: Destination: Moonbase Alpha - The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to Space: 1999

From author Robert E. Wood:

"Ultimately this [a loyal cult following] is a vindication against whatever the harshest and most biased of critics could hurl at it. This book is presented in the desire to provide that conclusive reckoning owed to Space: 1999 ...."

Okay, you lost me right there: page one of the "Introduction".

The Eagle has landed. With wires cut.

Lost in space? Not quite.


First posted as "A Mysterious Unknown Force Pulls Me" on June 6, 2019.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Keep It, Picard

This past week I saw a link to the teaser-trailer for the new television series, Star Trek: Picard. Patrick Stewart once again helms a Trek show; the first being Star Trek: The Next Generation, a series which did not exactly captivate me, principally because of its staffing of too many two-dimensional characters.

The video embedded above is a teaser: shots of a vineyard and wine bottles mixed with the face of Jean-Luc Picard. It looks 'interior'. In my Starfleet Manual, that would put it at an advantage. I might want to watch. Of course, I'll do my usual: Watch the first two episodes, and stop there.

Maybe not. I'm capable of surprising myself.

Subspace message to Picard's showrunners from this old Trekker: Keep the show about "character"; focus on the interior. While I admit I watched around 40 episodes in total out of a possible 178, my favourite episode of ST:TNG was "Family". In that one, Picard went home to his family's vineyard in France, as he tried to replenish his soul after being released from Borg-assimilation. (Jeremy Kemp was outstanding as Picard's elder brother, Robert.)

In my rule book, with few exemptions:

* I don't want to see any goofy space battles.
* I don't want to hear any ridiculous techobabble.
* I don't care about more Klingons, or Romulans.

Give me Star Trek: with genuinely engaging characters and stories.

Bring on Picard.

Oh. I had forgotten about the fanboys....


First posted as "Keep it Picard" on May 26, 2019.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Most Awesome Movie Credit Ever?

Action Sequences
Directed by

Okay, that single credit impressed my moviegoing pals and I as we watched the 1974 blockbuster movie The Towering Inferno on 'opening night'.

Our little popcorn-munching faces: "Wowww."

Good times.

Scoring Horror Films

Music scoring is important for many strains of film, but it may be most important for the horror film.

My go-to examples:

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Dracula (1958)
Psycho (1960)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The Exorcist (1972)
Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls (1973)
Jaws (1975)
The Omen (1976)
Suspiria (1977)
Halloween (1978)
The Amityville Horror (1979)
The Shining (1980)


First posted as "Horror Film Scores of Notes" on May 25, 2019.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Pizza Delivery

Hidden charges. We all know them.

Two years ago I placed a pizza order. The last time I took advantage of such a service was many years in the past. The Romans and Carthaginians had gone at it a few times since had I last picked up the telephone and called in a pizza pie.

“... Pizza Pizza. Can I have your order please?”

Sure you can. The flyer I referenced from had a special offer: a large pizza with three toppings, for $12.99.

“That’ll be (around twenty) dollars.” Since I was in a busy headspace, the total cost went by me.

It came.

When the delivery guy repeated the total cost I made an interjection: “I thought it was $12.99 (plus tax, of course)!”

“There’s a five dollar delivery charge, sir.”

The order taker did not say that.

My memory is such that I can replay a conversation when I need to check details. I let it go. That pie smelled really good.

In hindsight, I should have put two and two together, if not add (about) seven dollars.

A few months later I ordered again, just to do a little quality control and a needed customer service check.

This time around I pressed “record” on the ol' reel-to-reel.

“... Pizza Pizza….”

I wanted the same special.

“That’ll be (around twenty) dollars.”

I knew it. “I thought the pizza was twelve ninety-nine?”

“There’s a five dollar delivery charge, sir.”

Just to get technical: “You should say, ‘so you know, with deliveries there is a five dollar service charge’.”


We’re surprised?


First posted as "Telephone Order Pizza With Care" on May 22, 2019.