Sunday, February 28, 2021

Those Germans

Watching Premier League football matches today, as per my usual Sunday (all-day) screening schedule, got me thinking about Germany and certain Germans.

Thomas Tuchel and J├╝rgen Klopp are the managers of two premier football clubs, Chelsea and Liverpool respectively.

Not only are these two men good at what they do, but they lead two very British institutions.

If Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels could be brought forward in a time machine, and saw what played out before them, how would they react?

Would what they witness be "fake"?

Klopp's squad is leading by a score of 1 to nil....

Sunday Fun: "In Search of" (1977 - 1982) Titles (Repeat)

Rarely did I search for in Search of... in the television listings during its original run, but many folk who were around back then have fond memories of being sold the works by that great voice: Leonard Nimoy.

The above video clip features the opening and closing titles from the episode "Earthquakes". (In search of earthquakes? Really?)

For some mysterious reason I now want to don the Ektachrome-coloured glasses and watch a few installments of in Search of....

Freaky theme music! That I remember very well. It was an important part of the show's identity.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Zipping Back to the Zone (Repeat)

The Twilight Zone (CBS, 1959 - 1964)

With the new Twilight Zone television series comes renewed interest in the original, for some of us. After watching just one episode of 2019 -, I pined for the gold standard. It's not fair of me or anyone to condemn an entire series after watching one instalment, but it was so rough dramatically that one can be forgiven for uttering: "Do (the producers) even know what made the original series work so well?"

When I get some time I'll sample more episodes of TZ 2019.

While I'm giving the new some time to unreel, it gives me some time to revisit the old. Over the next few days I'll revisit and write about my favourites; the first of which will be "A Hundred Yards Over the Rim", since I rewatched it last year.

What made The Twilight Zone work so well? Clues: The writing; acting; cinematography; scoring; design; ....

The Twilight Zone Cancelled After Just Two Seasons

In typical me style I watched just one episode of a new television series. This morning I heard the news that the (new, new, new) Twilight Zone series bit the interstellar and interdimensional dust. No shock at my end. There's been lots of chatter over the past 22 months on how bad it was... or, at the very least, how much a disappointment Jordan Peele's version came to be.

The one I watched fell into the "bad" (wretched) category.

The CBS All Access studio execs would have been smarter to call their Twilight Zone something else. As it stood, it didn't stand a chance. The Twilight Zone was up against "Five Characters in Search of An Exit", "Walking Distance", "Time Enough At Last", "The Invaders", "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet", and at least a hundred others....

Sometimes it's best to just walk away....

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Movies About Yesterday (Repeat)

I have no desire to turn this blog into a movie review column, but watching two disparate flicks yesterday has made me give in just for one day. I hope.

Todd Solondz's 2009 Life Under Wartime I enjoyed even though I have not yet seen its ancestor, Happiness. (I have seen Welcome to the Dollhouse.) Watching Life made me think "Woody Allen collides with John Waters". It's a birdcage of humanity.

Now for the second feature in my yesterday. Xanadu is a film I ignored when it hit movie screens back in the summer of 1980, and now I'm glad I did. The reviews were not good. I had no idea that Jeff Lynne and ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) had anything to do with this roller skate wreck. However, I was aware at the time that Gene Kelly was involved and elevated this rubbish somewhat. The climactic last reel featuring the opening of "Xanadu", the club, was hardly worth the wait. It was like getting an okay neck rub after going down with the Titanic....

Monday, February 22, 2021

A Forever Question: That Age

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

Sir. When will we get to an age of enlightenment?

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sunday Fun: The Waltons Opening (1st Season) Repeat

I'll admit right off the top that I was not a regular viewer of The Waltons, a very popular television series from many years ago about a fictitious but authentic American rural family from many decades ago. With the general public, however, the long-running series (1972 - 1981) was good family viewing. I caught bits and pieces.

Created by writer, producer, and novelist Earl Hamner, who based the series on his book "Spencer's Mountain" which was based on his experiences growing up in Virginia during the Great Depression, The Waltons was actually an offshoot of "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story", a television movie first broadcast in December of 1971.

The series version caught on to became a television classic. Classy: The catchy and classic theme music.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Book: Wish You Were Here (Webb)

Wish You Were Here
- The Biography of Douglas Adams -

Nick Webb

Ashgrove Publishing

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Very Real Time Travel Limitation Effects (Repeat)

As any Doctor Who fan can tell you, there is a limiter in time travel. It's called the "Blinovitch Limitation Effect".

The 1972 Doctor Who story "Day of the Daleks" revealed that one cannot go back in time again to change something that one failed to change the first time.

That is basically the sci-fi version of the very real "Maple Leafs Limitation Effect", which was discovered in mid 1968. In that case a certain sorry hockey team cannot go back to the NHL payoffs and win a Stanley Cup, no matter how many times they try.

Monday, February 15, 2021

A Forever Question: From the Briar Patch

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

Sir. Can one make a rabbit stew by taking away its carrots?

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sunday Fun: Square Pegs Opening Titles (Repeat)

By 1982 my television viewing was more or less down to movies and public affairs programs, with a dash of the NHL. September brought a new and interesting half-hour sitcom that got some of my attention span: Square Pegs. CBS might have been accused of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole of a television schedule. The series lasted one season: in this case, 20 episodes.

Why did I watch? It may have been due to the fact that one of my best friends was a fan. During our Friday or Saturday night pick-up ice hockey games, Mark would recount to us lacing-up lads the latest in the high school activities of the Square Pegs gang; almost all of whom, I should add, were actually of high school age.

My admission: Tracy Nelson. Perhaps it's an exaggeration to say that her character of Jennifer DiNuccio was the only reason I'd waste a half hour of my life almost every week, but she certainly did not hurt the eyes. Those eyes! She was also funny: "Gross me out."

One of the best characters was Johnny "Flash" Ulasewicz, played by Merritt Butrick. He looked a tad too old to be in high school and he was. His manic moves and utterances were instant sellers.

Looking at it now, Square Pegs is very '80s. A totally different head... totally.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

"It's Cold Outside, Really Cold" (Repeat: 13-02-16)

The newsreader on 680 News (CFTR, Toronto) just wrote my headline for me. Yes, it is cold out there, indeed. The base temperature -- sans "wind chill" -- right now is minus 23 degrees Celsius. That is cold, all right.

When I was a young one, and would complain about how cold it was outside, my father would say: "You think that's cold... you haven't been to Alert."

The "Alert" he was referring to was the Alert Wireless Station (known as Canadian Forces Station Alert, after unification in 1968). Built in 1957 as part of the Distant Early Warning Line, the so-called "Dew line', the facility is located in Alert, Nunavut – way, way up at the top end of Ellesmere Island.

Back in the late 1950s, servicemen would have been transported to and from the base on a Canadair North Star. When aircraft park up there, shrouds are thrown over the engines and heaters supply warm air through ducts to the four idle blocks of metal -- otherwise, your ride home isn't going to happen.

I have not been to Alert but my feeling is Toronto, this day, is a reasonable approximation.

Post Script: Alert popped into the news back in November of 1991 after a CC-130E "Hercules" crashed while on approach to the base's landing strip. A year later film cameras started rolling on Ordeal in the Arctic, a made-for-television flick recounting the story. While the completed telefilm was entertaining enough, two things read as odd to me:

* Richard Chamberlain, as fine an actor as he is, was too old to be playing the pilot, John Couch. "Herc Drivers" are much younger.

* For the Herc interior, the film's sound effects guys chose to mix in the drone of piston engines. (My guess is they got their audio track from an old sound effects LP record.) During flight the "cabin" of a Hercules is loud; especially on takeoff. As Douglas Adams might have said: "It is loud. Really loud. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly loud it is. I mean, you may think it's noisy riding in a Volkswagen Beetle, but that's just peanuts to a Hercules."  In Ordeal the actors are chatting to one another as though they are sitting in a coffee shop.

Those Allison turboprops are magnificent: a future blog posting....

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Book: Eraserhead, The David Lynch Files: Volume 1

Eraserhead, The David Lynch Files: Volume 1
- The full story of one of the strangest films ever made -

Kenneth George Godwin

BearManor Media

Monday, February 8, 2021

A List of CV Things: Updated 08-02-21

So you, the reader, know what it is you're getting into when you come here, I thought it was time I post my latest CV. And here it is, in "dust jacket bio" point form:

* photographer (general)
hospital photographer (public relations, general, haematology, surgery)
hospital A/V tech (live streaming, teleconferencing)
brewery worker (Molson Brewery: line and maintenance)
factory/warehouse worker
lighting cameraman (short film, music video, video production)
television studio camera operator
designer (feature film, television commercial, short film, web-series, exhibit)
optical camera operator (feature film, television film, television series)
set construction & prop building (feature film, TV commercial, independent production)
writer (print, short film, video production)
consultant (television commercial, 'process' screen, historical aviation screenplay)
researcher (film/television history, aviation, Soviet space program, general history, etc.)
producer / director (independent film & video production)
film programmer (Toronto Public Library)
* manager (self-storage; video duplication)
projectionist (film, digital; T.I.F.F.)
film festival technical director (R.P.F.F.)
instructor (film & video production; L.I.F.T.)
video tech (duplication, film-to-tape transfer)
web design
archivist (film/television)
baseball umpire (Ontario Baseball Association)
* ice hockey player - forward & goaltender (B.B.M.H.A.)
ice hockey coach - Bantam (Knights of Columbus)
football (soccer) player (B.B.M.S.A.)
siding installer & general construction
* sales agent / customer service

A Forever Question: Fighting Words

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

Sir. Why are insults more than words?

Sunday, February 7, 2021

The Sport that Won't Travel (from North America)

Minutes ago I learned that the Super Bowl is today. I'm too busy right now watching football -- Sheffield United vs Chelsea.

Passball (Gridiron Football, or North American Football) holds no interest for some of us. I'll take a pass.

It's at 6:30pm? I'm sorry....

Cheers! Welcome to England, Mates! (Repeat)

My first trip to England as an adult happened in April of 1990. After my Air Canada Boeing 747 landed at Heathrow, and I had been processed at customs, I made the necessary trip down the airport's moving walkway to the exit doors: to be ejected into British society.

My stand on the walkway was the introduction part. A newly arrived Canadian needed a good taste of that 'angry Brit' behaviour -- that stereotypical behaviour.

I heard a fast approaching voice behind me. "Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me...." A young woman, with hands up, was pleasantly pushing her way past the standing crowd, obviously in a rush to get somewhere, like the end of the moving walkway. Another voice caught my attention; I looked over to see a scruffy-looking gentleman, a guy who looked like he could have been a grumpy brother of film director Stanley Kubrick.

"Ah, what makes you so privileged?" The happy vaulter answered: "Just making my way through." Like a schoolmaster who had to educate his Canadian students (tourists) he addressed us with a sweep of his saucer-like eyes: "She must be from Birmingham!"

All I could come up with was: "Welcome to England!" -- to myself.

Sunday Fun: Most Wanted Opening Titles (Repeat)

In 1976 and 1977 I was still watching television on a fairly regular basis -- certainly compared to now. One of "my shows" was a dramatic hour-long program called Most Wanted. Looking at this opening title piece makes me question why I watched Most Wanted.

Yes, Simpsons fans, that Jo Ann Harris.

Friday, February 5, 2021

A Giant is Gone

Canadian actor Christopher Plummer has left us. He died today at the age of 91, leaving a long and impressive artistic career.

As for motion pictures, two of my personal faves:

The Sound of Music (1965)
Battle of Britain (1969)

Those flicks come immediately to mind when I hear the name Christopher Plummer.

My regret would be that I didn't get to see him perform on the stage, a platform for which he earned many raves.

The thespian arts lost its coolest man.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Book: Don't Panic (Gaiman)

Don't Panic
- Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -

Neil Gaiman

Pocket Books
1987 (Original)

Monday, February 1, 2021

A Forever Question: Silly Rabbit?

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

Sir. Is there an animal called a bunny cat?

A Forever Question: Peak Your Everest

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

Sir. Why does Mount Everest sound so British when it's not even in Britain?

A Forever Question: Peak Your Everest

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

Sir. Why does Mount Everest sound so British when it's not even in Britain?