Saturday, July 31, 2021

Afterward (Repeat)

“We (scientists) don’t know what happens after you die.”

Well, something to that effect. The scientific television guest got one thinking.

I will defer to my good friend G√ľnther Spatz. In mild German-accented English he offered his opinion on the subject of “death after dying” as we enjoyed our beers, and moroseness:

“As long as it’s the full death, the real deal, and not some half-assed, phony death; where I’m forever playing the bongos on a downtown street corner.”


Friday, July 30, 2021

Poem: Where's the?.... (Repeat)

A cat too long without
manes nefarious
bottled dimensions
needing human sleep aids
The movers took the couch!

___

2017
Simon St. Laurent


Thursday, July 29, 2021

It May Be the Dreariest of Team Sports (To Me) Repeat

Basketball.

While not "basketball tall" I've long been asked if I've played that display which some call a sport. In elementary school, phys ed involved tossing the odd game of nonsense. My sportsbrain, what there is of it, has no interest in dribbling and dunking. Admittedly this may be attributable to my inability to walk and bounce a ball. As any basketball fan or player can tell you, ya kinda gotta be able to do both simultaneously if you wanna play, never mind excel, on the court.

Speaking of "court".

For some of us, watching that sport is perhaps best summed-up by paraphrasing U.S. Justice Frank H. Easterbrook:

"Many things—beating with a rubber truncheon, water torture, electric shock, basketball game broadcasts, incessant noise, reruns of Space: 1999—may cause agony as they occur... "

The joke is a Canadian invented basketball.

The Toronto Raptors basketball team has a strong following in this city.

What the heck: Go Raptors!


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Book: Space Odyssey (Benson)



Space Odyssey
- Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece -

Written by
Michael Benson

Simon & Shuster
2018

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Toronto's Weather Today....



This is a good Toronto summer, as far as I'm concerned. Minutes ago I snipped the above from The Weather Network. Right now it's raining and 21 Celsius.

A typical Toronto summer is... well, just add 10 degrees to each of the above temps, including the "Feels like".

Two summers ago I was 'chatting' with a British friend of mine. We traded temps-for-the-day and his response was: "Holy f*******s!"

Make no mistake, Toronto has had heat and humidity this summer, but not at the expected rate and level: long, hot, and humid.

Two 'cool' Toronto summers: 1985 and 1992.

"Nineteen eighty-five and nineteen ninety-two, I pine for thee...."

Space Odyssey on Paper and Film (Repeat)

On Monday I wrote a piece about the 2018 book "Space Odyssey - Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece". Writer Michael Benson tells an absorbing tale of how one of the greatest motion pictures came to be -- its birth and life, and continuing life. Kubrick's masterpiece refuses to give easy answers. For me, thinking about 2001: A Space Odyssey is as pleasurable and natural as watching and listening to it.

2001 is magnificent, something I've 'known' since I first saw it at the age of ten. That screening is perhaps the most profound movie-going experience of my life to this point in time and space. (From what I can gather, there are no threats on the horizon). And it resonated with me to such a degree that it stayed with me for weeks; months. Of course being so young did not exactly help me understand the film from a thematic perspective. I saw the flick at CFB Borden's Terra Theatre with my next door neighbour and friend, Glen. We were shuttled home by his older brother who gave us the rundown as to what we had just seen and not entirely understood. Our chauffeur had read Arthur C. Clarke's book version, which functioned, and still does, as published footnotes for 2001 the movie. (A few months later I grabbed the book from the Ontario Science Centre bookstore during a school trip. So eager was I to assimilate the code-book that I started reading it on the bus ride back to the base.)

Every screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey renews my love and respect for one of my favourite pictures (a picture of art). And more is revealed.

Mr Benson's "Space Odyssey" gave me a much greater understanding of how the cosmic mind work was conceived, developed, and constructed: a special universe built by many talented people. That story is a page turner.


Andy Warhol on Buying American

“Buying is much more American than thinking.”

The buying public....


Andy Warhol on Smarts

“I don't want to be smart, because being smart makes you depressed.”

And I think I'm smart.



Andy Warhol on Waking Up

“I wake up every morning. I open my eyes and think: here we go again.”

Again, and again, and again....



Monday, July 26, 2021

A Forever Question: Semantics?

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

Sir. Does life contain more horror or terror?


Sunday, July 25, 2021

Poem: And Then For Something Completely Different (Repeat)



Time Merchants

This morning I coffeed           
on Yonge Street               
with an old friend
caught up on
issues since

I last saw him
last week

He and I disbanded:
My friend went back
to his conference and
I decided
to do something I
rarely do
anymore

walk up Yonge

"Look at all the
bloody
Vertical
Cracker
Boxes!
(going up
or already spiking
the cloudy sky)"

This town is out of
control
Zoning going to
The Twilight Zone

Yonge Street has
changed
much these last few years
helped
by Premium stacks
sprouting
from holes

Before I made it
to Bloor Street I
was stopped by

a woman selling
something
in front of a shop

Cosmetics
Me?

Why not?....

No, I
don't use facial moisturizers
but I should

Perhaps
I could

The sales lady was
in top form
having worked a little sales

I know the bad
and
the good

The cosmetic's test was done
on my forearm
but
I can imagine

With every peek into the bathroom
mirror my imagination tweaks
with age

** return **

Bloor Street
away

less

eventful


___

2016
Simon St. Laurent

Saturday, July 24, 2021

RAF '626 Squadron' Lancasters Over Berchtesgaden - April 25, 1945 (Repeat)

In previous postings I talked about my father's experiences during WW2 with RAF Bomber Command No 626 Squadron. Below is a photo I discovered on the Internet (Tom Bint's webpage, www.626-squadron.co.uk), taken during 626's final major operation of the war: The bombing of the SS Barracks in Berchtesgaden, on April 25th, 1945.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Special Guest Director (Repeat)

During a lunch date this week with my old friend Greg the name Val Guest came up. The late British film and television director had a long and successful career, producing some fine work along the way: my two favourite pictures of his are The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961). As our conversation revealed, my friend has seen much more of Guest's feature film work than have I.

I had to end the subject with a joke:

Greg is a bit of a Space: 1999 fan. The British-produced series ran for two years, 1975 - 1977, and utilized a few directors of note, including Charles Crichton; who had been a noted Ealing Studios comedy force and would later helm A Fish Called Wanda (1988).

I reminded Greg that Guest directed a few episodes, including "one of my favourites from the series when it first ran"....

ME
(holding up three fingers from right hand)
The one with the three trees....The Rules of Luton.

Greg rolls his eyes and shakes his head gently from side to side....

GREG
(softly)
No, no, no, no, no....


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Foghorn Leghorn on Donald Trump

Yesterday I thought about Foghorn Leghorn and what he might have had to say about, or to, Donald Trump. I looked-up some quotes attributed to the big feather duster. It's quite possible that, off camera, Foghorn was a conservative; but, no doubt, he was a smart one.

These are priceless:

* “He’s so dumb he thinks a Mexican border pays rent.”
* “That boy’s about as sharp as a bowling ball.”
* “This boy’s more mixed up than a feather in a whirlwind.”
* “What’s it all about, boy? Elucidate!”
* “Go! I say go away, boy, you bother me!”



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Poem: Cool Relief (Repeat)

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....

___

2019
Simon St. Laurent


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

"The Doomsday Machine" Scored Big Time (Repeat)

"The Doomsday Machine" Music Revealed from Shem von Schroeck on Vimeo.


As any Trekker can tell you, one big reason for Star Trek's success is due to the varied and outstanding music scores. That stellar program had so many big hitters in the various production departments: cinematographer Jerry Finnerman and associate producer Robert Justman, to name two. We fans know and love the cast of characters, of course, but the "Tech Credits", as the industry papers label them, impress also.

The music department scored big time.

Some episodes with standout scores:

"The Naked Time" (A. Courage)
"The Conscience of the King" (J. Mullendore)
"Who Mourns for Adonais?" (F. Steiner)
"Amok Time" (G. Fried)
"The Trouble With Tribbles" (J. Fielding)
"Metamorphosis" (G. Duning)
"I, Mudd" (S. Matlovsky)

"The Doomsday Machine" rocks, rolls, and touches in brilliance. Its brass section blazes with 4 trombones, 3 trumpets, and 4 French horns. Those crackerjack session players ("West Coast musicians") plied their trade in Paramount Pictures' Stage M that day, with composer Sol Kaplan conducting them through the charts.

American composer/musician Shem von Schroeck produced the above 60-minute video. He starts off by breaking down the score's essential parts -- there are many -- then runs "The Doomsday Machine" with onscreen text noting what instruments and instrumental groups are playing at any given moment. His method is academic but easily understood by those folk who can't tell a kettle drum from a double bass, or a bassoon from a cello.

Schroeck's affection and admiration for Star Trek and its scores is evident, and infectious.

Outstanding. The instructive video reminds me why I got into the business.


Monday, July 19, 2021

A Forever Question: Expulsions for Peace!

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

Sir. What does "gas of the gods" refer to?



Sunday, July 18, 2021

Poem: The Cat's But (Repeat)

My cat asked for
my homage

But

If I failed to
comply
He would pay
homage to
me and my


___

2017
Simon St. Laurent


Saturday, July 17, 2021

Poem: See You In September? (Repeat)

I did not see you in September.

Did you get caught in August?

Or

were you hiding in July?

Oh,

January denied you entry.

___

2017
Simon St. Laurent


Friday, July 16, 2021

Coffee Cakes (Repeat)

Recently I read television and film producer Norman Lear's autobiography Even This I Get to Experience. It was an easy read and informative.

Lear had a conflicted and complicated relationship with his father, Hyman ("Herman"), but he has some fond memories of his upbringing. One such memory is how his father would get up in the morning and savour his cup of coffee. (Herman loved life and lived it to the fullest -- including a few years in prison when Norman was a child.)

Many people are forever looking for the secret to a happier life. Maybe part of the answer is on the table in front of them.


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Sneakers?


As per my normal early morning ritual, I fire up the computer and key in "bbc.co.uk". The website flicks up and almost immediately defaults to www.bbc.com. This makes sense as I'm logging in from Canada.

Today's headlines on the Beeb's website included the above. Those of you who have been to the UK will know that "sneakers" would be more properly referred to as "trainers".

My news reading has been North Americanized.

I should read the article, but that headline does not sit well with me:

My sneakers say nothing about me, pal... I mean, mate!


Postscript: When in England, years ago, I took the tube (subway) to North London and while there popped into a shoe store. The storeowner, sorry, shopkeeper, asked how he could help me. I said: "Do you have any runners?" Pause. "Oh, you mean trainers." An ol' codger was sitting in a chair, walking stick in hand, and he laughed at the enlightened conversion.

Agreed: "Zed", not "Zee".

Picturing Me in "Graveyard Shift" Workshop (Repeat)


Subject: A very grubbily-dressed me poses with set in construction.
Date: October 1985
Place: Set construction workshop, just south of King Street, Toronto
Photo: Dave Fiacconi

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

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



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.

The Best Television Villain Design of All ("Daleks!")



Simply put, these guys scared the bejeezus out of me when I was a tot. Perhaps I'm overstating it; the reality might be that I watched Doctor Who, and its Dalek guests, from behind the sofa... even if the reality was that I sat right in front of the Admiral B&W television set -- its dial tuned to the CBC. My mother, trying to prepare dinner, readily walked over to the tv and changed the channel to something else if I yelled "mom!" with an exclamation mark. Once or twice was fine, but by the third or fourth time: "I wish you'd make up your mind, dear."

My talkback now: "Be reasonable, mum. Your countrymen made this bleedin' show!"

Raymond Cusick was a design genius.

Monday, July 12, 2021

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

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: A Library Card

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

Sir. What's the title of a book that conservatives read?"


Sunday, July 11, 2021

Picturing: Pretty Yellow Flowers Field

Poem: Friends Tell Coffee Time (Repeat)

Of Saturday it is!

Do you meet still
with availability?

Soap, water, squirrels
about my now laundry

In sanity punches....


___

2017
Simon St. Laurent


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Blu-ray: King Kong (1976)



King Kong
- Collector's Edition -

Directed by John Guillermin

Shout! Factory

Friday, July 9, 2021

We'll Meet Again? (Poem - Repeat)

It was a year ago, this week
that we last met...

under that ship's
crane as it unloaded
a shipment of cheap
products from the "orient"

however, as you remember, but
perhaps you don't
that crane did drop its
   swinging
 load

right

on

us!

...

And with that bad luck,
my sweet
it's not possible for
you and I to ever meet

under that crane, or
anything else again.

___

2017
Simon St. Laurent


Thursday, July 8, 2021

But This Was Important!

This morning on BBC Radio 2 there is some discussion, and sound bites, about last evening's (UK time) victory by England over Denmark in European Cup football action. Apparently there was some real drama. The club sporting three lions will meet Italy for the final match.

There are 'streeters' as I write this. People on the street explain that, while they wouldn't normally watch a football match, because of this great victory they admit they are suddenly fans. Good for them!

This reminded me of the 2010 Winter Olympics where Canada and the USA fought for the gold medal in men's ice hockey.

On that dramatic February day in question, an old friend of mine watched the metallic match on ice. I watched it, which makes sense as I love ice hockey, especially international ice hockey... but my "all sports are the same, boring!" friend? By the way, he went to high school in Florida as his family lived there for some time.

I asked him why he would plop himself in front of the tube to watch an ice hockey game:

"But this was important!"


Postscript: At this very moment, my BBC Radio 2 programme is running an audio montage of pub-goer reaction around England after yesterday's final whistle. "Football is a religion!"



Wednesday, July 7, 2021

CD: Not Of This Earth! (Stein)



Not Of This Earth!
- The Film Music of Ronald Stein -

Varese Sarabande Records, Inc
1995

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

It Walks Among Us! Well, By My Foot at Least....



This evening I relaxed on my balcony with a good book. As I read away I noticed a black blob moving by, right beside my right foot. Refocus. That's a big bug!

"Three and one half centimetres, approximately." (I measured as he stumbled along.)

Neat.

He walked along my balcony, seemingly on a trip to somewhere: to my neighbour's territory. Back he came. That I did not mind, although I questioned why my balcony was such a draw. But I was worried about shifting my foot and accidently killing or injuring my enthusiastically friendly visitor.

I grabbed my camera and took some snaps.

Even better: Video! There's drama in that monsterly stomp!

That's it: I'll track the clip with some Ronald Stein!

Monday, July 5, 2021

A Forever Question: Going for a Frosty

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

Sir. Is a drink coaster someone who goes from pint to pint?"



Sunday, July 4, 2021

More Sunday Fun: The Lost Continent (1968) Trailer



Earlier this morning I wrote a piece about the 1968 fantastic film, The Lost Continent. Above is the original theatrical trailer.

It's the kind of fun expected of Hammer Films.

Carreras'!

Sunday Fun: What Kind of Seaweed?!

Floating through Wikipedia, as I'm prone to do once I'm on a rolling wave, I went from "shipping" to "Bermuda Triangle" to "Sargasso Sea" and ended up on "The Lost Continent (1968 film)". That entertaining motion picture, produced by Hammer Films, wonderful Hammer Films, and Seven Arts Productions, captured me when I first saw it in my early teens.

I read its Wiki entry....

Basic plot details took me back to fantastic imagery: wrecked ships (it is the Sargasso Sea, after all); conquistadors; people sporting "buoyancy balloons" (fantastic!); pirates; priests; and Spanish ladies (marketing, my boys!).

I decided right there that I had to see this film again.

Then I read further:

"... adrift in a morass of large sentient carnivorous seaweed...."

Carnivorous seaweed?!

(Sentient carnivorous seaweed?!!)

(Large sentient carnivorous seaweed?!!!)

What the?....

Should I even click on that?

With my cursor, and some trepidation, I touched the link.

Oh, it's two separate words, links: "carnivorous"; "seaweed".

That makes more sense... and makes me feel a lot better about swimming in the ocean. (Regular seaweed doesn't bother me. Key word: "bother.")

I'll probably avoid the Sargasso Sea. But I won't avoid The Lost Continent.



With the Mitchell at 23 FPS Studios Toronto (Repeat)

Saturday, July 3, 2021

We Got Promised Transparency (Repeat)

Here's the latest on the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, Doug Ford. He talks of "transparency", and he sure mentioned it last evening during the televised debate.

The news came out today that the crowd of Ford supporters outside the television studio yesterday were filled-out by....actors.

Yep, the actors' union cards were transparent, all right.

To borrow a line: "I have a bad feeling about this."


Thursday, July 1, 2021

In Solidarity, My T-Shirt Today for Canada Day



When I did my errands this morning I saw just three people wearing orange. (I hope it's because some people might not have an article of orange clothing.)

Happy Canada Day!