Monday, May 30, 2022

A Forever Question: I Don't Like Somedays

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

Sir. Why is Monday always placed in the wrong part of the week?

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Answering Toronto Maple Leafs Play

Quite easy, really. As much as I love this city, I'm hardly a Leafs fan. But for years I've been saying: "Clean house!" (It's the only answer.)

Two weeks ago tonight "The Buds" were sent to the golf course after just one round of postseason play. My brother is quite the NHL/hockey guru. When I want to get the real story regarding that great sport, or that sad team, I turn to him. This fan of the joyously witty "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" books would liken, in name only, brother Jon to "Deep Thought", the infamously slow supercomputer. The answer I get, however, is always more than a simple and concise "forty-two". Unless, of course, "forty-two" could only be the right answer:

"How many years will pass before the Leafs win their next Stanley Cup?"


"Forty-two?!" (Emphasis, Leafs fans.)

My brother's answer after I asked the big question ― one hardly relevant to Life, the Universe, and Everything ― after this most recent Leafs' Big Fail:

"Clean house! Everybody in the front office. Everybody!" (Emphasis, my brother's.)

I did not disagree. (It is the only answer.)

Monday, May 23, 2022

HMS Victoria Story for Victoria Day

As it's Victoria Day here in Canada, I thought it might make some sense for me to post something with the name "Victoria" on this day. A few years ago I read a fine book titled Castles of Steel - Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea.

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert K. Massie, the amount of detail brought to life by a wonderful sense of story-telling is most impressive.

John Rushworth Jellicoe (1859 – 1935) was Admiral of the Fleet in Britain's Royal Navy during "The Great War" (better known today as World War I); Massie spends some time giving background to "Jack": Guys like Jellicoe did, and still do, their time on a series of warships before reaching the top office. One vessel on which he served in the late 1800s was HMS Victoria; and he almost drowned after the ship was accidentally punctured by another. When the 'bang' happened Jellicoe was in bed with a dysentery-induced 103 degree (Fahrenheit) fever. He ran up to the deck to see what had happened. Not long after he began to help fellow sailors abandon the sinking Victoria, the once-mighty battleship started to capsize. In the name of "every man for himself" the executive officer fell off the side and into the sea. As Jellicoe noted in a letter he wrote to his mother after the close-call: "The curious thing is that my temperature today is normal, so the ducking did me good."

This hull-head was not familiar enough with that Royal Navy vessel, so, naturally, I consulted Wikipedia: 

On it I saw a photograph that I had initially believed to be a contemporary painting. The image has a painterly quality, making my error understandable. It is a lovely, multi-textured photograph ― taken in 1888....

A Forever Question: A Sitting Precedent

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

Sir. Why are we off today?

CD: Tubthumping (Chumbawamba)



Universal Records Inc

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Premier League Schedule Distillation Processing

Click on above to decide

Come on, mates! How am I able to make a decision as to what football match to take-in tomorrow? I understand the schedule is setup this way so team play that would normally happen later in the day would not become influenced by those out-of-town scores from earlier on.

This is agony. Do I go with Man City and Aston Villa? Perhaps Norwich City and Tottenham would be a better bet; or Liverpool and Wolverhampton... ooh, Arsenal and Everton.

I have fifteen hours to make up my mind. Hopefully this brain-work won't keep me from sleeping comfortably tonight....

Friday, May 20, 2022

CD: Space: 1999 (Gray and Wadsworth)

Space: 1999
- Years 1 & 2 -

Barry Gray
Derek Wadsworth

Silva Screen Records

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Reading: The Rebel Christ (Coren)

This atheist must keep an open mind, always. Right now I'm reading Toronto-based author Michael Coren's The Rebel Christ (2021). I actually bought the book last October, and read its "Introduction", but my reading queue is always pages long ― meaning it had to wait in line. The Rebel Christ is more than good, even at just a couple of chapters in....

The writer quotes G.K. Chesterton: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried."

As readers here may have heard, members of the Christian right have been going barmy over the Reverend Coren's work. I doubt they've even read The Rebel Christ, or perhaps some have but find its reaffirmation of Christ's message of peace and love to be rebarbative.

Before I go back to coffee and reading, I must add: The author maintains a good sense of humour as he addresses certain concerns. This sent me funny....

"Personally, I prefer a nice card, a box of chocolates, and some roses."

Monday, May 16, 2022

A Forever Question: Back to the Kennel?

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

Sir. Do dogs ever work?

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Poem: Whither Leafs? (What Happened Last Night)

Whither Leafs?
To where does a withered Leaf fall?

To the manicured green grasses below
of course....


Simon St. Laurent

Friday, May 13, 2022

The TSO Performs The Best of John Williams

While travelling on the Toronto Transit Commission's subway system today, I sat across from an interesting poster. John Williams' film scores, the best of, apparently, are being performed at Roy Thomson Hall by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. As the poster says: May 10, 11 & 13. (Today's the 13th ― I'm late.)

I did hear something a few days ago about these performances, but never moved a muscle to do anything about attending. Music from Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and the rest, are here on Gilligan's Isle. (Trivia: "Johnny" Williams scored some episodes of Gilligan's Island... including the theme and underscore for the pilot show.)

The concerts are billed as "The Best of John Williams".  I realize, of course, that these advertised pieces are the kind that will get people in the door. ("What's The Reivers?") What kind of career would Mr Williams have had if he'd not associated with Messrs Spielberg and Lucas?

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

What Else Would I Be Doing on a Lovely Afternoon?

Yes, on this beautifully sunny and warm day here in Toronto, I'm sitting in front of my telescreen watching some exciting Premier League football action.

At the time of this writing, Man City is up 3 to 1 over the Wolverhampton Wanderers.

This is why I love football. It presses my pause button....

Film and Television Composers of Note in a Picture

CD: Wingspan (McCartney)

- Paul McCartney -
Hits and History

EMI Records Ltd

CD: Wings Greatest (Wings)

Wings Greatest
- The Paul McCartney Collection -

EMI Records Ltd

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Adding Up Some Strange New Worlds

Last Friday I posted my Star Trek television habits: I noted my watch history on each Trek sequel series.

In recap....

Star Trek: The Next Generation
I watched most episodes from the first two seasons (it was okay, but very rarely sparkled)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
I watched the first two episodes (I have absolutely no memory of them)

Star Trek: Voyager
First two episodes (which I liked, actually)

First two episodes (which were terrible)

Star Trek: Discovery
First episode (which was incomprehensible to me)

Star Trek: Picard
Nothing (starring a fine actor, but a boring character)

Last night I cleared some time to watch the latest Trekkian Spin-o-rama.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
The first episode (it was horrible; that's clearly enough; back to the real, non-CGI, world)

Monday, May 9, 2022

A Forever Question: A Fixture In These Parts

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

Sir. How does water know when to go to the bathroom?

Book: Führer-Ex (Hasselbach with Reiss)

- Memoirs of a Former Neo-Nazi -

Ingo Hasselbach
Tom Reiss

Random House

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Film Production: Shooting Aliens in Their Lair

Yours truly, behind the Arriflex BL III 35 mm camera, shoots a scene of aliens doing their evil thing. Hyper-Reality is the name of the uncompleted film. I co-wrote (with the talented Tim A. Cook and Michelle Berry), directed, and designed the short ― of a planned 22-minute duration.

We shot these sequences in Studio 1 at the then 23FPS Studios here in Toronto. I was working at the time as an "optical camera/printer operator" (film compositor) at Film Opticals of Canada Ltd.

Friday, May 6, 2022

There's Been Subspace Chatter About It for Months: Here Come Some Strange New Worlds

I filed this Captain's Log on Monday, but forgot to input it into the memory bank:

Captain Pike and his Starship Enterprise and crew are about to come to a televiewer near you. The Trekkies are going subspace in their anticipation of the big day/evening. I checked out Twitter and realized then how excited they are. Comments like "six more sleeps!" makes me realize I'm out of the cosmic loop on such fandom. I absolutely loved the original show when I first caught it in stripped syndication: at five o'clock on weekday afternoons our Zenith colour television set was tuned to Toronto station CFTO.

Captain's Log, Friday, May the 6th:

When Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in September of 1987, two friends of mine visited with the express purpose of joining me for this promising new Star Trek series. (That opening episode, "Encounter at Farpoint", was horrible.)

I caught most of the first season's episodes, but was underwhelmed. Year two I anticipated, hoping it would be better ― it was not. "The Next Gen" eventually improved and found its own place in the cosmos, but by that time I had abandoned NCC-1701D and its two-dimensional crew.

I adopted a routine for any new Trek show....

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
I watched the first two episodes (I have absolutely no memory of them)

Star Trek: Voyager
First two episodes (which I liked, actually)

First two episodes (which were terrible)

Star Trek: Discovery
First episode (which was incomprehensible to me)

Star Trek: Picard
Nothing (starring a fine actor, but a boring character)

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Nothing yet.

So... for those of you who watched yesterday's grand premiere of yet another Trek show: What did you think?....

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Star Wars: Admit One Repeat

The forty-fifth anniversary of the original release of Star Wars is coming on the 25th of this month, and for us older folks, the question sometimes comes up: "How many times did you see Star Wars when it first came out?"

The movie made a lot of money because it was what's called "a repeater". Young people, especially, went back to the movie theatres over and over to see what was then a new thing; a high-quality comic book on the big screen.

Perhaps due to my age at the time, sixteen, I saw Star Wars, enjoyed it, and did not rush back to see it again. Once was enough, there were other movies to see and I was interested in many other things.

In September of 1977 I became friends with a guy at my high school who was a huge fan of the film. He was a couple of years younger. It was through a school club that we first met. Two or three weeks later Star Wars reappeared in Barrie, Ontario, this time at one of the exciting Bayfield Mall's two screens, and my fan friend and I, with colourful umbrellas in hand, trotted off one rainy night to see again the silver screen's smash hit of '77.

I saw Star Wars two times that year: First, in July at the "Imperial 2" in beautiful downtown Barrie; then it was a tinny movie house in stunning uptown Barrie.

My favourite film in 1977 was Annie Hall. I saw it once.

The Star Wars

"... 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....

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....

Monday, May 2, 2022

A Forever Question: Or And

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

Sir. Why is it "Orwellian" and never "Blairian"?