Sunday, June 30, 2024

Sunday Fun: King of Kensington ― Opening

"Larry King", played by one Al Waxman, ran a variety store here in Toronto's famed "Kensington Market" ― hence the show title, King of Kensington.

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) sitcom ran from 1975 to 1980 and was fairly popular in this country ― and it was syndicated to some U.S. stations. Despite the fact that this sometimes-pompous television critic had decided at a young age that he did not like sitcoms, he did watch some episodes in King's earliest years: I remember taking in a show with my mother and figuring her laughter to be some kind of 'seal of approval'. (She was British.)

King of Kensington's first season was released on DVD. This surprised me. As I found out years ago, attempting to put old CBC shows to home-video is a legal minefield, a nightmare due to a tangling of rights issues. (Actor contracts at the time did not account for the home-video market.)

Those opening titles are pretty wonderful, with a memorable song. By the way, the intersection at the clip's beginning is that of Augusta Avenue and Nassau Street. I live just a few minutes walk from there ― time to take some snaps to illustrate what that intersection looks like now. Kensington Market is where I would do a lot of my grocery shopping (fresh produce!), but, in some of its markets, prices have really gone up over the years. (I first noticed the bump-up around 2010.)

Final note: Al Waxman later co-starred on the CBS drama series Cagney & Lacey (1982-1988). He was very good as the titular characters' big boss.

What a guy.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Picturing: A Special Sunlit Tree in Toronto

On Thursday, in order to get some big steps in, I made my way home from the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subway station, "St. Clair West". It's been a long time since I last walked down that upper stretch of Spadina Road. My breath had been taken away when I looked up and ahead as I walked, approaching Casa Loma. It was early evening and the scene was a gorgeous green.

The tree seen here stood right out with its vibrant trunk and branches. The sun was cutting low from the West, splashing late day golden rays, revealing riches of chroma.

Postscript: I'm not a fan of enhanced pictures where one boosts the colours to unreal levels. The photo here I posted "as is".

Sunday Magazine: Football in Germany ― Euro 2024

I wish I were in Germany right now, taking in Euro2024. For years this cheap bastard has been meaning to go back to that beautiful country, with such restricted motivations inspiring me to at least hire a 'German' tutor. (Not much is stopping me from going there for a week or two, to soak up the sights, sounds, and... beer & pretzels.)

A client of mine's parents are from Spain, and knowing I'm a big football fan, he gave me a copy of Guia De Oro.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Picturing: A Freshly Fallen Toronto Maple Leaf

Strolling down a freshly minted sidewalk here in Toronto brought me to the above beauty: a freshly fallen maple leaf. (No Toronto Maple Leafs jokes, please... that's my domain. Did you hear about those Maple Leafs strewn about the local golf course?)

I used my smart phone's camera for this one as it was just too handy.

Isn't nature beautiful?

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Father's Day 2024

H.W. St. Laurent, RCAF / CAF

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Reading: Roger Corman (Gray)

With Roger Corman's passing last month at the age of 98, this big fan of the prolific director and producer went for the bookcase. Sitting among my film & television-themed books sat Roger Corman: an Unauthorized Biography of the Godfather of Indie Filmmaking (Beverly Gray, 2000). While I reread it a few summers ago, it was time to dig back in.

What a brilliant guy. The Intruder (1962) and The Masque of the Red Death (1964) are two favourite films of mine. They illustrate how, as director and Corman alumni member Jonathan Demme once said, that when he wanted to be, Corman was an excellent director. No kidding.

As a producer and studio exec, of his own studio, he kept on going: through many decades, to the day he died.

Gray's book is a warts-and-all telling of her years working for the man. Through extensive interviews with many others who worked for the man at some point in the breadth of years, notes and memories are discussed, compared, and decoded.

"And to all my fellow Roger Corman alumni who've gone on to make a difference in the film industry."


Thursday, June 6, 2024

DVD: Magical Mystery Tour (The Beatles)

Magical Mystery Tour

Made by
The Beatles

EMI Records Limited


A few years ago I found out that my Beatles-fan brother had not yet seen a certain 1967 television opus. I asked why he hadn't sought out that essential slice of Fab Four 'merchandise'.

"I'm afraid I'll be disappointed."

This Beatles fan, if not quite "fanatical", enjoyed the group's foray into filmmaking, Magical Mystery Tour. While it might not be magical, it has its appeal for some of us.

"They're promising to take me away!"

Willingly I went along for the bus ride, sharing the "coach", as they call tour buses in the UK, with a sorting of interesting and odd characters. Through the frequent stops in various towns, villages, and fields, the crowd's buffoonery becomes the scenery. The production involved a lot of made-up shenanigans, and at times it shows. There is that unscripted "let's just have fun" vibe to most of the 53-minute running time. And there are those great Beatles songs to give the picture some solid ground, even if a lyric mentions a walrus and we see a "walrus", and a line speaks of a "fool on the hill" and what we get is Paul McCartney playing not so much a fool, but a bored-looking bloke standing still, on a hill.

Though critics at the time of MMT's original television showing in December of 1967 complained of being bored stiff, today's rearview mirror of some 50+ years rates the flick as an interesting, if not exactly absorbing, artifact. Unique among the telly tableau of the mid-sixties, the Beatles-authored experimental film plays better today... though many fans now still list this creative tour as a rare Fab Four trip.

The DVD contains a few extra features: I'm interested to hear what Magical Mystery Tour booking agent and organizer Paul McCartney has to say....

Monday, June 3, 2024

Poem: Don't Show the Monster Too Much at the Beginning

A sick and dying cockroach
traversing a wet cold roof
Old Man’s lot in life
is an empty lot

his mind made of mucilage
in a detritus of thoughts

eligible for citizenship
in a nightmare country
lying peacefully in agony

land mounds built away
from progress of waste

The sun slides silently back
Aurally and visually stunning
Promising a mourning rise

These hills have
Gary Mitchell eyes


Simon St. Laurent

Newton's Waste Materialization

Image Orthicon ― Immy ― Emmy

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Sunday Fun: Jimmy Kimmel Delights in Trump Camp

I don't watch these late-night shows, never have, but I have to admit that this segment above, from Jimmy Kimmel, is absolutely brilliant: satire in its purest late-night form.

Oh... in case you haven't guessed, Mr Kimmel pries expired Commander in Chief Donald Trump from an expired can of Chef Boyardee Beefaroni.

Pardon the imagery.


Saturday, June 1, 2024

The Great Aluminum Foil

"I've often wondered about the 2 distinct philosophies to space tech between the two superpowers. The US always seemed to be gunning for more and more complex systems of tech and machinery and the USSR seemed to be more leaning towards "good enough". I think they still use rocket tech that's over 40 years old. Hmmmm...."

The above was a response to my posting from June 7th, 2016, "Yes, Russia Did Win the Space Race. And How!" The comment prompted me to respond with some details. Rereading it a few days ago prompted me to do a minor edit and repost....

There is some truth to what you state.

The issue is much too complicated for summation through a few simple paragraphs.

But try, I shall.

The USSR's rocket scientists and engineers too went for "tech", but Soviet industry was not always up for the challenge. For instance, in the 1960s the thickest gauge of sheet aluminum that the Republic could produce was 13mm, causing major problems for their moonshot heavy-lift rocket, the N-1. This deficit meant that the skin of the rocket could not be used as an integral part of the fuel tank; separate internal tanks had to be made, adding to the overall tonnage. The completed assembly came in seriously overweight, which was a contributing problem for the space engineers in their attempt to deliver a substantial enough moon-landing vehicle.

The R-7 "Soyuz" rocket's ancestry can be traced back to the 1950s, but, of course, the booster and the Soyuz spacecraft itself have been modified many times since then. Yes, it works; wonderfully, dependably well.

The open market of the United States of America ― and much of the West ― definitely encourages great leaps in scientific and technological progress, but it is a myth that the engineers under the Soviet system were somehow backwards, unambitious, and perhaps best suited for reorienting bowling pins produced over the Ural Mountains.

Stone knives and bearskins, not.

You may be right when you say "good enough". Over-engineering is not optimal: the US space shuttle ― in hindsight a machine that was too complex, leading to a ridiculously expensive and often unwieldy program. Hard to believe, in a way, that the space shuttle is now history. (History won't be kind to the US space shuttle program, unfortunately.)