Monday, May 31, 2021

The Canadiens Came Back From a 2 Game Deficit

About thirty minutes ago I got curious as to what the score was between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was game 7; tied at three games apiece.

The live score above displayed 2 to 0 in favour of the Habs with 8:40 remaining in regulation time. I watched the live countdown to Montreal come-from-behind, down-by-two, series victory.

That pic is a snip of the final tally.

The Toronto Maple Leafs *did* *it* *again*.

Harold Ballard on The Fifth Estate (February 1980)

A few years ago I had a conversation with a friend about former Toronto Maple Leafs and Maple Leaf Gardens co-owner Harold Ballard. As part of our discussion, I overviewed a terrific episode of the CBC's "investigative documentary" program The Fifth Estate that I watched when it aired. Adrienne Clarkson's profile of the then 76-year-old Ballard seemed ahead of its time, for some of the 'colourful' onscreen language, uttered by the doc's subject, no surprise, may not have gotten parental approval all those years ago.

The subject of the Leafs' constrictive owner came up again yesterday with this same friend. I then decided to check YouTube.

"Harold Ballard: Wha’D’Ya Mean Ex-Con" is well worth watching, if for this alone: The first few sentences in Clarkson's intro are kinda chilling, certainly if you're a Leafs fan....

A Forever Question: Tears Out

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

Sir. Peeling onion can make one cry, but will that happen when one peels out?

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Song of the Year! ("Racist, Sexist Boy")

Last week someone I follow on Twitter posted a clip from the above, and like many tweeps I watched and got punked. These talented young ladies from the band "The Linda Lindas" perform, what is for me, "The Song of the Year".

Just to put this in perspective, I have never seen the Grammys; I am just a sponge for the arts.

More perspective: Racist, Sexist Boy was written by band members Eloise, who's thirteen years of age, and ten-year-old Mila.

Wow. At those ages the best I could come up with musically was a hum of the theme tune to Gilligan's Island. (And certainly not a lyric to match "The Professor and Mary Ann", never mind "We rebuild what you destroy".)

"The Linda Lindas" are making me reach back to my music shelf: "Television"; "The Ramones"....

An Admission 45 Years Later (Maple Leafs Forever) Repeat [Originally Posted 5 Years Ago]

On Saturday, February the 13th , I came clean by making a long awaited admission of misplaced support from 1970.

Today I will admit something about "misplaced support" from 1971.

In April of that year, deep in the National Hockey League playoffs, I, for some bizarre and inexplicable reason, was hopeful for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team in eternal question was playing against the New York Rangers, a good, solid club, and one coached by the great Emile Francis.

The date was April 15th, it was game 6 of the quarter final round between these two members of the "original six". The Rangers led the best-of-seven series by three games to two.

Overtime: This match, tied at 1-1, was resolved with venomous brutality when a Rangers player (Jean Ratelle? Walt Tkaczuk?) scooted down the ice over the Leafs blue-line, through a hapless Leafs defenceman (Jim McKenny?), and snapped off a quick shot. Goaltender Jacques Plante shot out his right leg, he stretched out his toes, but failed to stop or deflect the smoking disc-shaped piece of vulcanized rubber from fulfilling its Nomad-like programming. The next event was more acoustic in nature; the sound of what happens after a speeding 6-ounce hockey puck motions past a Leafs goalie at such a critical time in the NHL season. "Clank!!!"

(Forever Futility.)

I did my job quite well: I was a pro. I (got a wee bit upset).

My dad laughed, no doubt amused by a hockey-loving kid who had yet to snap out of a silly phase. I can still picture him, to my right, getting a kick out of my "upset". Translation: "Kid, it's just a bleedin' game. It means absolutely nothing in and among the grand schemes of life." (My dad was right, of course; except when his beloved Habs lost.)

For decades I've asked myself the question: "Why?" Not the question of why a Leafs goalie would fail to stop or deflect an ice hockey puck, which even an answer of "42" could not explain away, but why I would waste allegiances on a total, complete, absolute, non-achiever. This memorable match had played out mere weeks after my 10th birthday, and after the Leafs team began to brush up on all the interesting local golf courses and beer halls, I would, in guided prescience and with great leaps of maturation, shoot my affections to the Montreal Canadiens. This would pay off -- sorry for the spoiler, young ones -- and my reaction this time around would be one of: Joy.

Toronto-based sports journalist Peter Gross reported on the wireless this morning that the Toronto Maple Leafs are just one loss away from being "mathematically eliminated" from making the playoffs this year.

This cynic must admit: That loosey-goosey sports organization has been improving since 1971. By way of avoiding playoff games on a regular yearly basis they spare many a 10-year-old from having certain hopes and, more importantly, breakdowns. And from having anything of relevant interest to write about 45 years later.

(Replay: "Claaaaank"!)

Paint By Numbers, Toronto Maple Leafs Style

Last evening before retiring I checked the score of the Toronto Maple Leafs / Montreal Canadiens ice hockey game... game six (of seven). It was tied at 2 apiece at the end of regulation time.

I 'knew' that the Habs would win in overtime, so it wasn't worth riding the live game score.

This morning I awoke knowing that Montreal did it again: two overtime victories in a 200-foot row: There were no car horns to be heard here in downtown Toronto last night; horns to signify the first Leafs playoff series win in 17 years. To confirm this forgone conclusion I fired up the internet....

Game seven is when?... certainly not "how".....

(The Leafs were winning the series by a game count of 3 to 1 at one point.)

The Toronto Maple Leafs: one of cinema's great tragic characters.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

No Good News is Good News (Repeat)

... to the Toronto Sun. And me.

Yesterday the news broke that U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have a new deal: No more tariffs on steel and aluminum, and no retributive measures on these tariffs.

The news was everywhere. Toronto-based newspapers sang "Read all about it!", the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail updated their online pages immediately with the important news. Well, almost "everywhere". I was not surprised to see that the National Post had nothing; even less surprised to see that the Toronto Sun not only had nothing, but still had a front-and-centre story up about how the latest negotiations had failed ("close but no cigar!").

This newshound monitored the situation with almost morbid fascination. Hours later the old and out-of-date story was still on the Sun's main page; then the National Post finally had a small bit, hardly what one would expect for such big news. Last night it was still the same Sun story, but they had, finally, dropped the old version. (I'm guessing they wanted their "I only read the Sun!" crowd to lap it up.)

This morning: Still nothing.

I've written about this before on this blog when such an important, favourable to the Liberals and Mr Trudeau, story breaks. The Toronto Sun spends a day or two working up a negative spin on something that gets under their skin. The news breaks on its pages through editorial....a stream of anger from its stock of bitter columnists: Brian Lilley; Lorrie Goldstein; Mark Bonokoski; Anthony Furey; ....

I can't wait!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Right Here, Right Now, All Right! (Repeat)

On Friday of last week the National Post newspaper published a excerpt from Stephen J. Harper's new book "Right Here, Right Now: Politics and Leadership in the Age of Disruption" (2018, McClelland & Stewart). The former Prime Minister of Canada has a few opinions which are being lapped up by our right-wing press. Anthony Furey in today's Toronto Sun hails "Right Here, Right Now" as truth. The kind of truth that nobody outside the Sun would dare reveal.

Here is a morsel I drew from the Post's sampling....

"So here is my re-examination in a nutshell. A large proportion of Americans, including many American conservatives, voted for Trump because they are really not doing very well. In short, the world of globalization is not working for many of our own people. We can pretend that this is a false perception, but it is not. We now have a choice. We can keep trying to convince people that they misunderstand their own lives, or we can try to understand what they are saying. Then we can decide what to do about it."

As we are well aware, yes. Harper hardly reveals anything new here, but he has the floor.

From Mr Furey's book review it is clear that Stephen Harper has a few issues with our current leader, Justin Trudeau. As I wrote here Canada's 22nd prime minister was clearly devastated by the results of the last federal election when "Justin" and his Liberals emerged triumphant.

That I will remember at times as I read "Right Here, Right Now: Politics and Leadership in the Age of Disruption".

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Star Wars: The Lull Before the Storm (Repeat)

"... It's called Star Wars. One set alone cost twelve million dollars."

That is how I first heard of Star Wars. It was the spring of 1977. I had the Grundig stereo on in the living room and as I walked from the kitchen into the dining room I heard an on-air host from Toronto radio station CKFM say the magic words. My reaction to the announced set cost must have been one of awe -- I later learned that the movie cost about ten million dollars to make -- but it was the name of this mysterious new flick that really intrigued me.

Over the next few days I will tell, in serial form, the story from my perspective of how Star Wars hit not only the marketplace, but entered our culture....

That could have been the opening crawl to my series recounting my introduction to Star Wars. It all started for me when I heard that radio piece. But everyone has a different story. And already I've read a few online.

In the pre-Internet age, it was a different game.

After learning of a new and anticipated movie going into production, one had to sometimes dig to learn more than what was readily available from the mainstream media outlets. For most pictures the wait was, more often than not, off our radars.

However, do not think for a moment that pre-release or pre-production hype used by the major film studios is a recently developed tool. Films from the 1970s were following an old model but with new tricks. Promotional featurettes, shot on 16mm film, were taken to a refined state during those years. Major studio productions like The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, and King Kong were promoted heavily while they were still in production. In the case of Kong the casting of the new beauty was covered in local and national newscasts. I remember watching Buffalo television station WKBW late one evening and seeing newsfilm of Jessica Lange on stage holding a bouquet of flowers (it was a press conference).

Who could forget watching the excellent and dynamic promotional film showing the production crew of The Towering Inferno doing their magic? Irwin Allen directing over John Guillerman's head by using a megaphone was exciting and memorable. ("Mister Newman!") Accompanied by an authoritative but not staid voice over, bulldozers dug down into a sound stage floor in order to give the already voluminous space even more fly. These promotional shorts were nothing less than recruitment films. "I want to do that!"

By the time big pictures such as PoseidonInferno, Kong, Earthquake, and The Hindenburg hit the screens, an educated, of sorts, audience was awaiting. And I was a member of that audience, in all five examples.

There was none of that for Star Wars. It just snuck up on us....

The Star Wars of 40 Years Ago (Repeat - Now 44)

"... It's called Star Wars. One set alone cost twelve million dollars."

That is how I first heard of Star Wars. It was the spring of 1977. I had the Grundig stereo on in the living room and as I walked from the kitchen into the dining room I heard an on-air host from Toronto radio station CKFM say the magic words. My reaction to the announced set cost must have been one of awe -- I later learned that the movie cost about ten million dollars to make -- but it was the name of this mysterious new flick that really intrigued me.

Over the next few days I will tell, in serial form, the story from my perspective of how Star Wars hit not only the marketplace, but entered our culture.

Monday, May 24, 2021

A Forever Question: Different Strokes

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

Sir. We've heard of "hot wheels", but are there such things as "square wheels"?

Sunday, May 23, 2021

No, This Is Not An Optical Illusion - Football for Today

A few days ago, when I checked the Premier League football action schedule for today, Sunday, May the 23rd, I assumed there was a technical error: All matches were listed as starting at 11am (ET). Last evening I went back and, there again, "11am". A little research revealed that all games for today were scheduled this way so as not to "influence teams' style of play". Makes sense; it's crunch time, after all.

Oh... I'm watching the Leicester City / Tottenham match. It's tied at half time....

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Richard Van de Water on the Physics of Humans

"Every time science advances, it shows that there is nothing special about humans. We are probably some of the dumbest creatures in the universe!"

Unfortunately for us.

Sigmund Freud on the Reality of Reality

"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

So true, especially during the current 'climate'.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UFO Flicks) Repeat

"Unidentified Aerial Phenomena." Perfect. UAP sounds an awful lot like an old film production and distribution company, but maybe that's the joke. Recently, and officially, released video footage captured by U.S. Navy fighter jets seems to bear out the notion that these objects are something right out of a 1950s UFO flick.

The U.S. Department of Defense feels the clips do not reveal anything that might compromise national security. I'm guessing the chiefs and staff couldn't detect any ray-gun turrets protruding from the speeding objects, or anything that might compromise the integrity of the human race.

Do I believe that aliens from another world are visiting us? Not really.

A friend told me he thinks we're alone in the universe, and he was quite passionate about it.

My reaction was typical. "In this entire universe, we're the only advanced beings?" Knowing that he is a fan of space shows, I thought I would add a brain buster: "And there aren't humanoids out there that speak a passable English?"

He smiled at that one. Then he shook his head gently to reaffirm his earlier point.

I'm of the mindset that possibility breeds probability. We just don't know about each other. These otherworldly intelligent beings too are restrained by simple physics.

We'll have to depend on stellar flicks like Starship Invasions (1977) to keep us believing....

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Monday, May 17, 2021

A Forever Question: ... And You Have Reality

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

Sir. Where are the Talosians when you need them?

Sunday, May 16, 2021

CD: Harvest (Young)


Neil Young

Warner Bros. Records Inc

CD: Candide (Bernstein)


Leonard Bernstein

Sony Classical
1991 (this issue)

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Nightmare on Elm Street (From a Dependent Brat) - Repeat

The Astral Theatre in CFB Borden, Ontario, was a veritable movie funhouse of eclectic and varied flicks, old and new. In essence it was a rep cinema. Most new and big releases, and anything of prestige, were on the other side of the base at the mighty Terra Theatre.

One of many films I saw in or about my thirteen year had a very special trailer. A preview which ended up haunting me: Triple Avalanche of Terror

The hook was a certain sustained shot that was more important to me, ultimately, than the variety of quickly cut clips that followed. This affecting scene -- shot in a mental institution, apparently -- was the real keeper. While substantial image grain danced before our eyes, an ominous voice-over explained that 'this man watched Triple Avalanche of Terror and went insane'. (Really? Seriously.)

A straight-jacketed wretch squirmed as two attendants hovered over, comforting him as he did the bit of business taught in acting school when one wants to evoke "crazy". "No!...No!!..."

As advertised, in order to watch the film one had to accept an insurance policy before entering the theatre. Cool. It's not something I'd want to have to cash in, but cool.

I bought it, the preview, that is, so much so that I knew I had to see the film, even though it was to be a midnight presentation. Oh, no.

As we left the theatre after watching the now forgotten feature presentation, my friends and I discussed the trailer, that spooky trailer. One friend, Glen Scott, seemed to know that we'd been had:

"It's a publicity stunt!

"It's a publicity stunt!", he reiterated as the rest of us, in his eyes, were overly concerned that we too would go insane.

But, we all agreed: Must see movie.

This is where trouble followed.

The next day I raved enthusiastically to my mother about the nerve-splitting trailer I had seen, and in the process I let it out that the anticipated movie itself was to be shown as a late-late show. She wasted no time in saying "no". When the day got closer, I asked again:


Mum, I wanna see Triple Avalanche of Terror!

I told you, you're not seeing it.

Why not?!

Because...I don't want you prancing about at all hours of the night.
Now that's final.

("I guess I'm not going to be seeing Triple Avalanche of Terror.")

I wish I had possessed the verbal wit of Family Guy's "Stewie": "How dare you deprive me of some devilishly gruesome entertainment. I shall be forever stunted by your absolute malicious disregard for my personal development!"

I didn't get my mother's reasoning. Geographically speaking, the Astral was not far from Elm Street, our street. The route consisted of a quick walk to School Street, then along Maple Drive; up a little further was the palace of dreams.

How was the Terrible Avalanche, you ask? The next day I asked Glen what he thought. After all, he and the gang were allowed to walk about at all hours of the previous night.

"It wasn't very good."

Of course, to a pre-teen, that was code for: "It was awesome!" Either that, or I was becoming concerned for Glen's sanity.

"Carry On Camping is on this Saturday?" I was allowed to see that one, however. Not a lot makes sense when you're a kid. (Those of you who have seen that British comedy classic, or just about any Carry On movie, for that matter, will know what I'm getting at.) Now I know why Camping was acceptable fare: It was shown during regular business hours. The prevailing issue wasn't so much one of content.

The Astral, along with all the PMQs (houses) on Elm, School, Hemlock, and Maple Drive, is now gone as that part of CFB Borden was razed a few years ago, but my memories of that special dream-maker always remain strong -- even if a certain title is missing.

Monday, May 10, 2021

A Forever Question: Tails from the Computer Desk

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

Sir. Many computers have a mouse, but do they ever have a cat?

Sunday, May 9, 2021

In Production: Goose Step (A Bit Short)

"Joseph E. Levine presents, a Simon St. Laurent film:

Goose Step.

Coming this summer to a theatre near you."

The 1970s was great.

Something I Miss Right Now: Beer on Bloor (Toronto)

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

NASA Vid: Launching The First American into Space

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) uploaded this new video today, a celebration of astronaut Alan B. Shepard's spaceflight -- America's first.

Mercury-Redstone 3 "Freedom 7" launched 60 years ago today and its success was celebrated the world over, partly because the mission was broadcast/televised live, and not done in secrecy (Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1 flight a few weeks earlier).

Shepard, the Good (Repeat)

"It was really exciting!"

When I was a little one of five or six years of age my mother told me the story of an important event from just a few years earlier. It was the United States of America's first manned spaceflight, and the astronaut's name was Alan Shepard. Everyone had gathered around the television to witness an important part of human history.

This was the first time they were able to see a manned rocket launch. The Soviets had not broadcast to the world, or even its own citizens, the lift-off of Vostok 1 three weeks earlier, and only after Yuri Gagarin returned safely to Earth from his orbital flight did they announce this stellar and humanity-changing feat. The name of the hero cosmonaut then travelled around the globe.

Citizens of the Earth could not be made to feel as participants in a great adventure until the National Aeronautics and Space Administration got to show its stuff.

Mercury-Redstone 3 ("Freedom 7") was to be a suborbital mission: Shepard's spacecraft would follow a planned ballistic trajectory. A big arc. The Mercury capsule would be shot into space, then float at high speed for some time before Earth's gravity initiated its re-entry.

One interesting element of the mission was that, unlike Gagarin's trip, which was fully automated, Shepard would take some control of his spacecraft. While up there, free from our planet's atmosphere, he manually operated the attitude control system in order to test Freedom 7's pitch, roll, and yaw capabilities.

The fifteen minute voyage was a great technical success: The capsule went 101 miles up and flew 263 miles "downrange". The splashdown took place in the Atlantic Ocean. Shepard and Freedom 7 were recovered by waiting U.S. Navy vessels. (John Glenn's orbital flight would not happen for ten more months.)

Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr was chosen to pilot MR-3 some months earlier by Project Mercury head Robert Gilruth. Competition was fierce amongst the program's seven astronauts. Not only were these men skilled test pilots -- as were all U.S. astronauts in the earliest days of space flight -- but they were equipped with the latest in personality types: Gus Grissom, for instance, who would become the second American in space, did not say much minute-to-minute during training, but when he made it known he was about to whisper something to his fellow astronauts they would shut up, lean forward, and wait for the expected words of profundity.

Shepard, on the other hand, was more gregarious by nature. He not only spoke a more regular beat, when he had something important to relate you'd better be listening, and if you didn't take your work seriously or were at any time sloppy in your training, at least from his perspective, you got it: He delivered what his peers referred to as "The Shepard Glare".

They were of a special breed: Shepard, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, and Deke Slayton (who was grounded for medical reasons).

I know way too much about this whole subject. Before I go on any further I'm going to execute a deorbit burn. (See?)

But first:

On May 5th, 1961, [sixty] years ago today, NASA's star astronaut, Alan B. Shepard, became a trailblazer. The world watched as his Redstone rocket sat on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral:

"... light this candle!"

Monday, May 3, 2021

A Forever Question: And In the End....

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

Sir. Why do so many young people today not care for Beatles songs?

"Here comes the sun...."

Sunday, May 2, 2021

CD: Abbey Road (The Beatles)

Abbey Road

The Beatles

EMI Records Ltd.
1987 (this issue)

CD: The Planets (Holst)

The Planets

Gustav Holst

Herbert von Karajan
conducting the
Wiener Philharmoniker

London Records
1987 (this issue)

Saturday, May 1, 2021

St. Laurent Cine on Vimeo

Yesterday I posted a brief bit noting that I uploaded two videos to my YouTube channel. A few days ago I decided to check out Vimeo since I had heard good things about that platform. Its look, outboard and inboard, is clean and crisp -- less cluttered than the better-known YouTube.

The shorts:

My Contractual Obligation Film (00:46)
April Snow Flash! (01:38)

The channel:

St. Laurent Cine