Thursday, December 31, 2009

MY HOPES FOR THE NEW YEAR

Peace, love, harmony, and the DVD release of director Don Shebib's 1971 fun-film Rip-Off.

HAPPY NEW YEAR... I HOPE

I get so wrapped up in the negative shiit that I forget to wish all my wonderful, and not too discriminating, readers. A toast to you all... as soon as I find my corkscrew.

May the kazoos all call in unison at midnight, tonight.

EVEN MORE REALITY - 2010

Can you believe it? The year 2010 is just hours away. Where does the time go? My dad warned me about this; when I was a teenager, all those years ago.

At one time, "2001" was just a great movie, and "2010" was a book.

Recently I read that the first decade of this millennium is/was probably the crappiest of recent times. Not too hard to disagree.

And Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is one of the crappiest movies of the early 21st century. Not too hard to disagree.

Monday, December 28, 2009

BACK TO REALITY

'Tis the season to come back to a real life. Some people I know cannot stand the "holiday season"; it certainly can be a drain and a distraction from all the pressing concerns of life -- an oasis from reality. That is a good thing.

Some notes:

* I watched The Abyss (1989) and did not like the film, feeling it is James Cameron's weakest.

* As evidenced by the job boards there is a lot of work out there, but it is hard to get a job (in my case to fill in the blanks, of which there are too many).

* Phyllis Blanc ate a pumpkin seed and something grew inside her.

* When I eventually see Cameron's Avatar, it will mean I've seen every dramatic feature of his, except... for a few years I've had a VHS copy of Piranha 2: The Spawning, but can never get past the first few minutes.

* I gotta go...

... but before I do, Hi Ashley.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NO WOMEN'S SKI JUMPING?

There will not be any women's ski-jumping at this year's Winter Olympics, to be held in Vancouver, Canada. When this issue broke a few months ago (at least it did for me) I had no idea that this sporting event was non existent -- I assumed there was one, just like the boys'.

Idiotic, that is what I say. I don't really care as I never watch the Olympics, anyway... summer or winter, but I think this whole affair is terribly unfair.

Is there 'track and field' in this upcoming Olympics?

THE HURT LOCKER?

Here come the lists... the 'top films of the year' lists. Fine, they can be eye opening if there are films listed that otherwise might get ignored; as in lack of distribution or "there's not enough special effects".

One title I am hearing bounced about a lot these past few days is Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker. While I think it is a good movie... one of the best of the year?... the best?

Reminds me of a few years ago when Martin Scorcese's The Aviator was up for the "Best Picture" Oscar. I saw that one at Toronto's impeccable Bloor Cinema when it hit second run, and when I walked up the theatre's aisle as the end credits rolled, I said to my chum, "it was good, but 'best picture'?". He laughed and said, "I know, that makes no sense to me".

For me, the best picture this year was Invasion U.S., eh? (You don't know that one, do you?... I knew it! There is a rumour that that was coincidentally the working title for The Hurt Locker.)

TOO MUCH BLISS - SUGAR AND SALT

Here is an interesting article in the October 27th edition of the National Post regarding our inability to say no to sugar and sodium, titled "This is why we're fat: we can't say no"...
http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2149118

... I get nauseous just reading that text, and realize more and more that I have a very low "bliss point".

"I want some burgers
I need more fries
just keep them coming
and give me size."

Monday, December 21, 2009

FANBOYS - THE MOTION PICTURE

"Was William Shatner involved with this shit?"

***

Last night I took a break from my sanity to visit a world of insanity: I watched the film Fanboys.

In case you have not heard, this flick is about a bunch of Star Wars fans who decide -- or have been planning to for a while -- to break into creator George Lucas' production village "Skywalker Ranch" in order to watch Star Wars - The Phantom Menace before it actually hits the theatres. (My guess is they could not wait.)

The movie Fanboys comes up short, as far as I'm concerned. The idea was a good one, that of showing how far gone a lot of these people are in their love for what is just a series of movies, but the execution was lacking. The script was the main culprit... Tends to be that way, huh?

There was no need for the picture to be a road movie. It was a cheap device used by the filmmakers simply because they could not figure out what to do with the characters. When in doubt, put your protagonists on some sort of journey.

The cameos are fun: William Shatner, Carrie Fisher, Kevin Smith, and an actor playing Harry Knowles. (Knowles is a veritable Jabba the Hutt, in real life, and could hardly locomote the way 'he' does in Fanboys.)

Distribution was very, very limited for this one. After watching it, I was not surprised.

MATERIAL GIRLS AND BOYS

A few minutes ago I was watching, on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), a news about the appeal of online shopping in the U.S. from here in Canada -- especially during the Christmas season. The problems start with import duties and brokerage fees charged by courier companies to pull your purchases over the Canada/U.S. border.

What really struck me about the story is how materialistic many of us are. I gotta have... gotta, gotta, gotta...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ROY DISNEY (1930 - 2009)

The curse of the 'talking about someone one day and they are dead the next' just hit again.

Well, sort of: On Sunday I was telling a friend about the infamous little story where writer Harlan Ellison was hired by The Walt Disney Company for all of one day.

The uber-author was having lunch in the studio commissary on his first day on the studio's payroll when he decided to impress his work pals by imitating various Disney characters as though they were acting in a porn film.

The story goes that Roy Disney overhead these shenanigans and when Mr. Ellison showed up for work the next day his name had been painted over on his parking spot. (Harlan Ellison has said that he does a wicked Donald Duck voice.)

I understand that Roy was an even bigger prick than his famous uncle. However, his passing today is still sad news -- he wielded great might at "The Mouse House" for a long time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

WOODSIAN SLIP (CATCH A TIGER)

The news broke a couple of days ago that superstar golfer Tiger Woods has decided to take a break from his game for the next little while.

I read the headline not as "Tiger Woods to take an indefinite break", but as "Tiger Woods to take an infinite break".

A wish on my part?...

I'm just jealous because he has something I do not -- lots of money. We are at par on every other point, however; so I do not know what my problem is with the man.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

AVATAR REVIEW FROM TORONTO STAR

Director James Cameron's new film Avatar was premiered in Britain on Thursday evening. Here is the Toronto Star's Peter Howell with his review...
http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/article/738000--james-cameron-s-epic-avatar-brings-3-d-characters-to-life?bn=1

By the way, writer Howell states that the film cost a reported $500 million to make. Rest assured that is incorrect. That would mean Avatar would have to make well over a billion dollars before it would see any profit. More likely, that 500 figure is about what it will have to earn before it even looks as though anything might be gained.

Less than half the reported box office figures you read on Monday mornings make it back to the producing studios.

The good news is, even if Avatar comes up short, and it just might, it is future-ready because Cameron elected to shoot in 3-D.

Whatever: The story must click with audiences. Technical exercises are just curiosities, at best.

Friday, December 11, 2009

YOUTUBE TREK

It has been a busy week, folks. So much to do and not enough time.

After posting my previous entry (DECEMBER 7TH OF 1979) I took a few minutes to see if I could find anything interesting regarding "1979 Trek" and quickly found this...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYPvH6LW_uY

... good ol' Youtube. That is pretty interesting stuff. I'm wondering why it is so rare, and took 30 years for this geek to see it for the first time.

In a few scenes you can see the 65mm camera... used for "plate" shots, where the image would be optically printed later on to form a final composite. Of course, regular 35mm motion picture film was used for everything else; lensed in 'Scope' by the very talented Richard Kline, of Camelot, and King Kong (1976) fame.

Monday, December 7, 2009

DECEMBER 7TH OF 1979

I'm reading the morning paper when I see that today's date is December 7th. What is it about this day, besides the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941?

On December 7th, 1979, I stood in line for some movie that ended up disappointing many people -- even though it went on to make a lot of money -- but became the favourite film 'in the series' for some.

Star Trek - The Motion Picture was a polarizing piece of celluloid... still is, or can be. Get over it, Trekkies. (The dirty little secret is a lot of fans do not like ST: TMP for the simple reason that there are virtually no "starship battles". Boo-effing-hoo!)

One thing's for sure, it is still the biggest budget Trek of the bunch (not that it means anything outside of trivia circles). That is the reason why Paramount was not happy; even though the film brought in the bucks it was not really "profitable", which is proportion of money made compared to money put in. That is also the reason why studios love movies like The Blair Witch Project -- insane amounts of money made in relation to the initial investment in the film. Juno (2007) is another good example.

Star Trek - The Original Series is almost entirely out on Blu-ray with the upcoming (December 15th) release of the third and final season. (The dirty little secret is that I have only the first season on regular DVD... and I do not even have a Blu-ray player, with no plans to buy one at this point in time. Strange, eh, considering I have long worked in 'imaging' in film and video, including home-video.)


Mark A. Altman wrote a 30 year anniversary tribute for ST:TMP...
http://trekmovie.com/2009/12/07/december-7th-1979-star-trek-the-motion-picture-began-30-years-of-star-trek-movies/

Sunday, December 6, 2009

AVATAR

While a friend of mine was over visiting last night I played the 60 Minutes story from two weeks ago that was done on director James Cameron and his upcoming digi-epic (or digepic), Avatar.

As the segment wrapped up I got the gut feeling that Avatar will be a big bust. As God said during a certain Sam Kinison stand-up routine, "let's watch... ".

Friday, December 4, 2009

THE NEW PEOPLE - ON ABC-TV

I was reading a book today on science fiction television programs from 1959 to 1989.

While leafing through -- it was more a leafing than a real reading -- I came across a television series I had never heard of before: The New People ran on ABC from 1969 - 1970.

Here is the blurb that appeared above the main body of the article. (It may be the opening title voice-over.) See if it reminds you of anything...

"Forty American college students, part of a Southeast Asia cultural exchange tour, are marooned on a lost island in the South Pacific after their plane crashes. The island is Bomano, once designated as the site for an atomic bomb test.

The students find a makeshift city, left behind by the Atomic Energy Commission. The castaways, realizing that they're thousands of miles away from the nearest shipping lanes, must now build their own world. For them, it's year one."

... there were two accompanying photos from The New People. It was kind of eerie.

STAR RICHARD TODD DIES

British actor Richard Todd, star of many films, including The Dam Busters and The Longest Day, died yesterday at the age of 90...
http://imdb.com/news/ni1260941/

Thursday, December 3, 2009

FEIST - ONE HIT WONDER?

What I learned today while scanning the newspapers is that Canadian singer Feist is a "one hit wonder". I had no idea. I do know that she played at Lee's Palace here in Toronto... a friend of mine went to see her and fell in love. (I think he was already in love.)

I don't know why a big deal is made about the whole issue of one hit wonders. Heck, some of my favourite songs are from that specimen/animal. Besides, one hit is one more than I have.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

THE DAM BUSTERS ON BLU-RAY

Coming to a Blu-ray player near you, if you even have one, is the 1954 British WW2 classic, The Dam Busters. In 1943 a special RAF squadron (617) was set up to deliver a secret bomb-type with the intent of shortening the war.

As illustrated on Gary Tooze's outstanding website http://www.dvdbeaver.com/ the superb docu-drama looks sparkling. The reviewer -- Leonard Norwitz -- does seem to be confused as to where this transfer came from: He may not be aware that this home-video release was struck off the original camera negatives by way of the restoration done two years ago by the British Film Institute and which was released to British cinemas on a limited basis. For years and years all television prints, DVD, and VHS releases were struck off the same set of soft and degraded intermediates.

All technical matters, of course, what really matters is the movie itself: A true story done with dramatic aplomb while maintaining historical accuracy (for the most part). By the way, the Barnes Wallis "bouncing bomb" was still on the secret list when The Dam Busters was produced in 1953, and was until becoming declassified in 1962. The viewer therefor just sees a barrel-like protrusion from the bellies of the Lancaster bombers and is not even aware that a chain gear put a spin on the bomb before it was released... unless he or she already knew that interesting detail. (Paul Brickhill's excellent book "The Dam Busters" goes into the workings of the machinery and 617 Squadron itself -- the second half of the book covers the subsequent 'special operations' done by the special force after the dams raids.)


The article in question...
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDReviews25/dam_busters.htm

(Still frame above: Robert Shaw and Richard Todd.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CARLTON CINEMA - TORONTO

We always remember what movies we saw where, and when. At the Carlton Cinema in Toronto I saw such fare as The Architecture of Doom, The Player, and Visions of Light. I admit I have not being going in recent years. And now, I have no choice as that choice cinema is now closed.

And I call myself a movie fan. Fuck the mainstream!... I say. Too bad I did not put my money where my box office is... was.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

DOCTOR DEATH: SEEKER OF SOULS - COMING TO DVD

On January 26th, 2010, home video distributor 'Scorpion Releasing/Code Red' is releasing one of my favourite movies, 1973's horror dandy, Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls, to DVD. It is, however, not just a dump-to-disc effort. While the DVD will not be the Blu-ray kind, Doctor Death was transferred to HD from the original camera negatives. (All of the 'elements' were in the possession of MGM.)

Actor John Considine, who plays the titular character, recorded a commentary track and an on-camera interview.

All technical matters, of course, but ones which will allow what is, to me, a superior example of a film which plays horror and comedy successfully in the same breath -- or dying breath -- to shine through. Oh, I won't forget mentioning the terrific score by Richard LaSalle... the superior audio of the upcoming DVD will, no doubt, help the music blossom.

(Trivia: Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls was directed by Eddie Saeta, who was an assistant director on a few of the old Three Stooges shorts -- which helps explain the cameo by Moe Howard; it was shot by Kent Wakeford, who worked for director Martin Scorcese on Mean Streets and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore; composer LaSalle also worked on Alice, writing its instrumental music; film editor Tony DiMarco cut episodes of the original The Outer Limits television series.)

Time to start throwing my pennies into the jar -- the one holding the heart.

MAPLE LEAFS HAVE A PSYCHOLOGIST

As reported by the Toronto Star (a real newspaper in Toronto) the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team has a psychologist...
http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/nhl/mapleleafs/article/732231--maple-leafs-in-a-winning-state-of-mind?bn=1#article

... good, now she can get them mentally prepared for the fact that they will be missing the playoffs this year. (So that will make it, what, five years in a row?)

TTC BAD - TORONTO SUN GOOD

Further to a commenter's point to my previous posting (UNDERGROUND SUICIDES), here is a veiled attack on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) by the bastion of intelligent journalism, the Toronto Sun...
http://www.torontosun.com/comment/editorial/2009/11/29/11967901-sun.html

... they are allowed to have an opinion, but I doubt the Toronto Sun editorial board has any interest in the TTC.

Friday, November 27, 2009

UNDERGROUND SUICIDES

People deciding to end their lives by jumping into the path of an oncoming subway train happens a lot more than some might think. While understandably it makes perfect sense not to continually publicize the fact every time this happens, you would think that the data would be readily available. Apparently not according to this bit in today's issue of the Toronto Sun...
http://torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2009/11/27/11946726-sun.html

... It is no surprise that I see the humour in every story; in this case one which reminds me of that episode of All in the Family where Archie Bunker arrives home late because someone decided to end their life by jumping in front of a New York subway train. (This was not the plot of the episode.)

Archie signs off on the whole subject by adding: "Why couldn't he have waited? Why did he have to pick the rush hour?"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

VINTAGE REVIEW FOR STARSHIP INVASIONS

In the spring of 1977 -- April to be exact -- I visited Toronto with a friend. Our mission, which we did accept, was to tour OECA (Ontario Educational Communications Authority; now TVOntario).

My friend and I took a break and visited a shop downtown which happened to have a magazine rack, loaded with a good spread of material. One particular magazine caught my eye as on the front was a full-sized photo from Star Wars, a movie that I had just heard of a few weeks before. I bought it.

On the bus ride home I scanned this sweet new magazine; specifically, issue 7 of 'Starlog'. In addition to a run-down on Star Wars were bits and bites on various other science fiction and fantasy movies, one of which was an interesting-sounding film, shot here in Canada, by the name of Alien Encounter. I can still picture the picture affixed to the blurb: Tiiu Leek and Christopher Lee. "Christopher Lee?" The text said something about Encounter being a throwback to 50s sci-fi flicks, but with the advantage of colour photography.

A few months later, Starship Invasions, its new name, was released to a theatre near you. Considering that Star Wars hit the screens a few months earlier and had set the bar for what is expected from "space movies", Starship was fun, with some impressive visual effects. I really dug the effect of a flying saucer crashing at high speed into the First Canadian Place tower (now BMO).

A few weeks after this a friend threw down a copy of Cinema Canada Magazine onto the table where I was seated, specifically opened at the page where Starship Invasions had been reviewed. I reviewed the article and thought it was an honest summation.

Well, dear readers, for those of you who care, for your reading enjoyment above is a photocopy I made years ago of the story in question. (I found it while looking for work-related stuff a couple of weeks ago. Cripes, I have a veritable Library of Congress here at home; looks like the attic at that establishment.)


* By the way, the budget figure of one million dollars as itemized in the review is incorrect. (In addition, Douglas Trumbull supervised the visual effects for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, not Star Wars. The reviewer meant John Dykstra.) Someone who worked as a higher-up on Starship Invasions told me that it cost just under two million to produce. Someone else told me that one pet name used by the crew during production was "Alien Turkey". On that note, Happy Thanksgiving to our dear neighbours to the south.

MINISTER OF PROPAGANDA

Speaking of propaganda (see SOBERING QUOTE 2, below), here is an interesting piece by Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson...
http://theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/and-the-conservative-spin-machine-spins-on/article1372201

... he is right. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (*) is about as transparent as they come.

Yes propaganda is everywhere, including this column, but some is more dangerous that others. Ahhh, yes, if only I could be described as "dangerous"... to sanity perhaps.

Did you hear about those two Canadian Conservative MPs who recently made mean comments about women and the unemployed? There's that word again: Transparency.


* Fine, upstanding member of the Conservative Party of Canada.

(Caption for Stephen Harper/Cat photo above: "I'll bet you the cat's a lot smarter, and has a lot more class. In addition, the cat does not claim to be anything else than what it is... a cat.")

Post script: While doing a quick proof of the above I noticed that the cat looks pissed-off. Is it thinking "get your hands off me, creep"? Or is it just classier, showing its annoyance with us honestly, without a plastered-on phony smile?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ESP?

Every few months I do a little blog maintenance: Came across this posting of mine from June 27th...
http://barrysmight.blogspot.com/2009/06/new-leafs-again.html

... maybe I am gifted. No? Which begs the question, why do I never play the lotteries?

How 'bout those Maple Leafs, eh? (Not difficult to predict... lottery numbers might be harder.)

I think I saw Leaf forward Jason Blake in a Second Cup (coffee shop) a few weeks ago, and I considered buying him a large double-double. It was, after all, game day.

SOBERING QUOTE 2

"The essence of propaganda consists of winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape from it."

- Joseph Goebbels


* No one ever said Goebbels was stupid. Just watch Fox News!

SOBERING QUOTE 1

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe that they are free."

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


* A searing thruth for our world today. If not, watch Fox News!

Monday, November 23, 2009

BARRY ON 666

After posting the previous entry below, I noticed on my account counter that this would be "number 666". The number of this beast.

Cue the song "Ave Satani":

"sanguis bibimus
corpus edimus,
all right
Barry Smight... "

Yes, from 1976's insta-classic, The Omen.

NEEDED: ONE TONNE DOORKNOB REPELLENT

An hour ago I took a break and watched a documentary on TVO by the name of Battlefield Mysteries: Siege of Malta. Hosted by the respected Canadian military historian Norm Christie, the hour-long program covered the Axis (German) aerial bombardment of the island of Malta during WW2. It is quite the story.

My problem with the program was the poor use of historical/archive footage. It looked to me as though no researchers were involved -- at least none worth anything. Case study: A British pilot interviewed recently on the airstrip used by the Allies in Malta talks of the German aircraft flying over the island. At one point he says, "then the (Junkers) 88s came in". We, the viewers, are treated to a Heinkel 111, a very different aircraft. At another point in the show the voice-over speaks of Hawker Hurricanes (fighter planes) having to defend the island in the early days. What do we see?... a Spitfire. This gets confusing to the observant viewer, especially when the Spitfires finally do get called to the island defences. The viewer must think, "isn't that a Hurricane?".

Absolutely inept. The producing company -- here in Toronto, big surprise -- is called Breakthrough Entertainment. The real breakthrough would be them doing their jobs properly.

Mr. Woods, I need a shipment of your patented "Doorknob Repellent". As I leave this town I am going to go crazy, spraying every small-potatoes 'production company'.


(Illustration above: Junkers 88 armed with 4 x 250 kg "Doorknob Repellent" bombs.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

JAMES CAMERON ON STAR WARS & SF

Tomorrow evening (Sunday), the venerable CBS news magazine program 60 Minutes is doing a story on James Cameron and his upcoming film, Avatar.

Decided, I did, to read up on James Cameron and pulled this off the 'quotes' section on his IMDB (Internet Movie Database) entry...

On Star Wars: "As much as I love Star Wars (1977) and as much as it's really revolutionized the imaging business, it went off the rails in the sense that science fiction, historically, was a science fiction of ideas. It was thematic fiction. It stopped being that and became pure eye candy and pure entertainment. And I miss that."

SLEEPY & HOLLOW

As mentioned in my previous posting (WATCHING MOVIES) I started watching director Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow but turned it off in order to go back to work.

I finished the flick last night and felt like something was missing.

While I was very impressed with the production design, and the visual effects, there was little left. More style than content -- it's not as though the source material is weak: In this case Washington Irving's story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. As what happens when I see a movie drawn from a well known or highly regarded work, and the magic gets lost in the translation to film, I'm just prompted to go back to the source. Very often I would rather read than watch a movie, anyway. (Yes, I too am a visual person.)

After seeing the 1998 film What Dreams May Come, this very thing happened, besides having a tangible reaction to star Robin Williams' cloying performance: "Time to go back to Richard Matheson's original story."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WATCHING MOVIES

I have been very busy lately due to the fact I am trying to drum up more work. A friend of mine slipped me a small stack of DVDs, drawn from his rather voluminous library.

Somehow I have managed to knock off the following:

The Thing (1982)
Good. Had never seen it before. Love the original version -- titled specifically The Thing From Another World.

The Fog (1980)
Like The Thing above, another John Carpenter film. I did see this when it came out... like it then, liked it again.

Escape From New York (1981)
Saw this one about twenty years ago. For some reason did not enjoy it as much then as I did last night. Fun movie. Again, directed by that J. Carpenter guy.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Directed by Tim Burton, who is hit and miss for me, as are most directors, but who's visual style I like very much. I watched the first 70 minutes then realized I really had to get back to work...

... to be continued.

I have seen some recent releases -- I'll post about them a few years from now. Time must pass.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

V IS FOR...

I did not realize that the new V series has been on for a couple of weeks. And I did not even realize it was a continuing series; thought it was a remake of the old miniseries(s).

Well, then. We will be treated to at least 13 episodes of V, the new series -- of course until the show's ratings are below what's expected; the network gets peeved, drops it like a hot potato before the entire complement of 13 stories is actually aired; then releases it to DVD, with the "unaired episodes included!"; the geeks buy and proclaim it the greatest sci-fi series ever... that was never given a chance, but falls nowhere short of brilliant. "Yeah, but you have to it watch from the very beginning."

The Prisoner reboot (but miniseries in that case) started last Sunday evening, and wraps up tonight. It's getting mixed reviews (I will see it as a friend told me yesterday that he has been recording so he can watch it later).

Which leads to: Will V stand for Vapid? Vacuous? Vantastic? Or veddy good?

I won't bother watching the new V as I watched a bit of the original series (1984-1985) and wrote, with a friend, who was almost as much a know-it-all as moi, a snarky diatribe for the school newspaper. Won a Pulitzer, if I remember correctly. No... did get positive notices, though.

GD, that show was bad!


(The above photo is not exactly provocative; more silly.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE - ALTERNATE VERSION

This is pleasantly weird: About an hour ago I was reading a blurb on tomorrow's (Tuesday) release of JJ Abrams Star Trek feature on DVD. Something made me think of the alternate, and longer, version of the original series' second pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before"; and wondered if it would ever be released on DVD or Blu-ray.

Took a break five minutes ago and went to 'tvshowsondvd.com' and saw this...
http://tvshowsondvd.com/news/Star-Trek-Season-3-Bluray/12968

Earlier in the year I saw a very bad print of the first five minutes of the alternative "Where No Man Has Gone Before": In a word... eerie. Captain Kirk's opening voice-over is much longer, and it plays as we see a slow pull-out from our galaxy. Alexander Courage's score adds much to the effect with its electronic and acoustical mix.

This episode was cut down to fit into a regular one-hour time slot once it did its job of selling NBC on Star Trek as a series. As a pilot -- another one after "The Cage" -- it has some differences to the series that came from it. If you care, "fascinating".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A NEW PRISONER

There are days, believe it or not, when I wish I had "cable". Tonight is one of those times. AMC, or "American Movie Classics", is showing their take on the classic (and limited) 1967 television series The Prisoner; a favourite of mine. I watched an episode a few weeks ago and needed no prodding to renew my love for that series.

Interesting note: The U.S. version takes place in the desert, and not the idyllic seaside locale of the original. Yes, the balloons are back, better known as "Rovers", especially by those souls who try to make a run for it. Somehow the desert is not as provocative a setting. After all, it's... just a desert.

Of course, I will save my verdict for when I do manage to see the new Prisoner. The 'west' is so paranoid today that this re-imagining is already valid and worthy. Americans, especially, feel like they have lost many of their freedoms 'guaranteed by the Constitution'. Freedom: In name only, perhaps. (It would be interesting to hear what my American readers have to say about this last point. Things are not much better here in Canada -- every so often we hear horror stories about how our government, or the RCMP, were eavesdropping, or even, gasp, conducting "experiments" on us.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

MOVIE OPENING TITLE - RIO LOBO

Several years ago I began to compile a VHS tape of my favourite opening movie title sequences. My methodology generally consisted of grabbing a movie "off air" and redubbing it to a final VHS at my place of employment. Not for a moment did it become an important project but I did manage to assemble a few over the course of a couple of years. With Youtube, for instance, there is no longer any need to do this. The time expended is immense when you do it the old way; now just key in a given movie's title into the search window and viola... I mean, voila. (Accent missing.)

Having said that, I have never seen Howard Hawk's 1970 picture Rio Lobo (starring John Wayne and a pre-executive Sherry Lansing).

Here is Rio Lobo's opening title seqence scored by my favourite film composer, Jerry Goldsmith (he never ceases to amaze me, even five years after his passing)...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

JJ'S STAR TREK ON DVD, SOON

I saw an advert for the upcoming DVD release of JJ Abrams' Star Trek. (While I enjoyed the film I will not buy the disc.) Did a quick check and came across this wonderful website...
http://startrekhistory.com/

... geeks unite.

I find that Brits are better and more interested in putting together 'making-of' or 'nuts and bolts' sites on their favourite television programs. In North America we, for some reason, are just interested in dressing up as a 'tie-in freak' with little interest in how our faves are made; and who the people are who make them.

Now, if only somebody would do a site like that for All in the Family...

GOODBYE, OLE GIRL

It is time for me to completely switch over to the laptop computer I bought last December. The reason why the 'old' machine is still sitting of my table is because it has Adobe Illustrator loaded onto it and freelance required, until now, its continued operation.

In comparison to my new computer, the desktop is a bit of a beast although powerful enough in its own right. My old employer sold it to me after my inquiry regarding an unused unit -- one of about five built for the company to be used for dedicated DVD authoring -- sat for at least two months on a shelf, waiting to be swung into action.

Well, as fate would have it, and too typical of business matters, a big contract to do a ream of DVDs for a distributor fell through and we did not need so many. I acquired a machine that had 512 megs of RAM (a huge leap up from my previous computer) and a memory of 1.7 gigs.

She served me well, conspiring with me to produce many graphic projects, video capture jobs, and tons of word processing. Having done a litany of work left me with many folders and files (typical, of course). This was part of the bottleneck to switching over to the laptop (of 3 gigs of RAM and 2 gigs of memory). Like many, I did not give priority to transferring those files over...

It's nice having a freed-up table.

By the way, my 'new' lover is an HP (Hewlett Packard). I absolutely love her. (Hint: She's great in the sack.) If I were a celebrity I would volunteer to be a pitchman for them. (Why is it when I walk into a cafe I see a sea of HP laptops? That company must be doing something right.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

THRILLER

There is an anthology series from the early 1960s called Thriller. Hosted by Boris Karloff, the horror program lived a short two years; 1960-62. From what I have read, author Steven King was and still is a big fan, putting the series as his favourite, just ahead of The Outer Limits.

Thriller was before my time but I was aware of its existence, finally getting to see one solitary episode when CHCH "TV Eleven" ran one solitary episode back in the late 1970s. (As I remembered that John Ireland guest starred in the one I saw I was able to track down, courtesy of the IMDB, its title: "Papa Benjamin".)

Author Gerry Gerani, in his excellent book "Fantastic Television", wrote that Thriller had an identity crisis its first season; it did not know if it wanted to be a crime-based thriller, or a horror.. er. Composer Pete Rugolo had written a jazzy theme (which was his style) tune and this worked against the serious tone the producers were striving for.

In its second year, 'horror' was the main thing.

Thriller enjoyed a reputable directing team including Ida Lupino, John Newland, Arthur Hiller, and Ted Post -- all guiding no small line-up of acting talent.

The good news...
http://tvshowsondvd.com/news/Thriller-Press-Release/12892

... I noticed there are sample clips on Youtube. (No surprise.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

IN THE DOC ZONE

Why is it that every "Doc Zone" show that I watch has Ann-Marie MacDonald doing the voice-over? To tell you the truth I am sick to death of hearing her voice; partially because there are a lot of talented actor/voice-over artists in Canada who could use the work.

Typically Canadian... and par-for-the-course at the CBC.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

WHAT A WEEK

Sorry, dear faithful readers. I did not realize that it has been a week since I last posted anything here.

Okay, what can I throw in for filler?

Hey, I got my scanner back into action... scanned some archival photos. Kicked them into the 'digital world'.

What else?

I knew that that "Balloon Boy" stuff was a load of crap ("rubbish" to you UK readers). As the balloon flew about on my televiewer, and the voice-over described the object's rough dimensions, I was very doubtful that even a little five year-old could be pulled aloft. What struck me even more, after the whole affair was more or less settled, not counting the controversies of course, is how intense the boy's father comes across. Some nasty columnists have labeled the man a "pathetic" being with no life who had to make a mockery of his family to elevate his feeble existence.

Speaking of pathetic, that is the best way to describe the state of affairs in (what exists of) Toronto's film and television business. How do we know this? Check out the job boards and see an awful lot of intern positions offered for what have traditionally been regular paying gigs. The ugly truth is many companies that exist to make third-tier television programs -- the digital channels -- are one step away from bankruptcy.

Why is it that Thursday evenings in downtown Toronto are like Friday evenings? Do people not have to go to work the next day? Do students not have to rise early to make that class?

Speaking of students, I walked through the University of Toronto grounds yesterday and felt a palpable electricity in the air. Academia. It felt like I was part of an opening title sequence to a post-secondary version of the old television series Room 222. I could almost hear that great theme tune playing as I walked down the sidewalk.

How is York University these days? Because it is located at the north end of the city, that school tends to get forgotten, except by those who attend classes or work there. Fine, fine school from what I understand. Winters College, anyone?

Film and television composer Vic Mizzy died a few days ago. That guy knew how to write very sticky theme tunes: Green Acres, The Addams Family, and The Reluctant Astronaut are a few examples.

The Toronto Star newspaper has been running a contest of sorts to find the ultimate Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey team) joke. As they have been playing badly, even worse than usual, the average person has become uber jokester. Some are very funny. My own joke? I came up with this sour little ditty: "How many Leafs does it take to change a light bulb? Don't ask; they can't even change themselves." (A meaner version goes like this: "How many Leafs does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, because they can only screw themselves.")

Friday, October 16, 2009

SARAH SILVERMAN - SUPERSTAR!

I admit there are times I just love this woman (Sarah Silverman)...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bObItmxAGc

... in case you have not heard... of the video.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

MORE TOP TV SF FROM EW

Last Friday I posted about Entertainment Weekly Magazine's top TV SF shows of all time picks (see: EW TOP SF TELEVISION). While I did see the original list, via an annoying 'one page at a time' photo gallery, I admit my look was cursory at best... probably because of the annoying presentation.

A friend sent the complete list to me this morning. This time I had a better look at the document while I slurped my instant coffee and noted the subjectivity of such a thing, although I'm assuming it was compiled/voted by a committee at EW.

Hey, it's all in fun, even though I'm wondering why The Six Million Dollar Man is so low down the pole, and question why Mystery Science Fiction Theater 3000 is even on there. I'm embarrassed to admit that the V listing was in regards to the mini-series, not the regular series; which makes much more sense, and illustrates I did not read properly the first time around. I also did not notice that The Prisoner was on there, and would not have thought about including that brilliant series.

1. The Twilight Zone
2. Star Trek
3. Battlestar Galactica (I'm assuming they mean the redo, not the expensive original)
4. X-Files
5. Star Trek: The Next Generation
6. Lost
7. Firefly
8. Quantum Leap
9. Doctor Who
10. Max Headroom
11. Futurama
12. V: The Miniseries
13. Babylon 5
14. The Outer Limits
15. The Prisoner
16. Alien Nation
17. Mystery Science Theater 3000
18. The Jetsons
19. The Six Million Dollar Man
20. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century


(Photo at top: Bigfoot and Steve Austin from The Six Million Dollar Man. I'm not sure if that is "Good" or "Bad" Bigfoot.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A POWERED RAZOR?

I was in Shopper's Drug Mart (a retail corporation here in Canada) today to pick up some things when upon lining up to pay for my goods I could not help but notice a certain product in the POP (point of purchase) rack: The eye-grabber was a Gillette razor that had an AAA Duracell packaged in with the plastic item. Good, this puzzle gave my brain something to do while I waited in line.

"Does the battery make the (5) blades slide back and forth?"

That is all I could think of. It just occurred to me now that maybe there is a light on the front of the razor... so you can see where you are putting it.

A razor with headlights. Makes sense, I guess. After all, they are on the front of some vacuum cleaners.

Monday, October 12, 2009

MICHAEL JACKSON NEW SINGLE VOTE

Is there a backlash against the late pop superstar Michael Jackson?

Check out the poll on today's Globe and Mail website...
http://theglobeandmail.com

... it concerns the release of his 'new' song.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

DEMENTIA 13 ON SUN-TV

Sun-TV likes to give you the impression that they play "fun" stuff in their schedule.

Well, today that might be the case: At 4pm on 'Sun' is the 1963 Francis Ford Coppola thriller Dementia 13, an effective picture showcasing the director's raw talent... which would take him, ultimately, to great accomplishment.

Filmed as a quickie/cheapie for producer Roger Corman, Dementia 13's success is helped by a game cast (William Campbell, Luana Anders, and the ever reliable Patrick Magee) and atmospheric location filming in Ireland. Corman provided $21,000 to initiate production although he pulled the film out of Coppola's hands after seeing a 'cut', and added a five minute prologue to beef-up the running time. (This prologue has since been dropped for the home-video versions of Dementia.)

Yes, the movie is fun, and well made, although I'm sure the station in question will show the film with minor cuts.

Friday, October 9, 2009

EW TOP SF TELEVISION

A friend alerted me to a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly Magazine's pick of the top 20 science fiction television shows of all time. We love lists, don't we?

I have my own list, of course, but what is interesting about the rag-mag's pecking order choices is how high some programs are that you would not expect... V is at 12th place? Battlestar Galactica is 3rd? (From the bottom, maybe.)

My order of things would go something like this (if someone threatened to withhold my bags of "Cheesies" from me)...

1. The Outer Limits (1963-65)
2. Star Trek (1966-69)
3. Doctor Who (the first one...s)
4. The Twilight Zone (the original, which is #1 on EW's list even though that series is more fantasy)
5. The Flintstones (the 'Great Gazoo' episodes)

FAANTASY ISLAND

"Reality TV" producer Mark Burnett wants to remake the 1970s/80s series Fantasy Island (starring Ricardo Mantalban and Herve Villechaize) as a reality version.

I have no real opinion since I saw just one episode of the original. What I do remember of that show is its lovely Laurence Rosenthal-penned theme music.

Maybe Burnett will mimic the opening title sequence for his own.

THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2009

Like many, I awoke this morning to the news that U.S. president Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. On the surface I admit that I too felt the awarding was a little early, but the more I thought about it, I could see why this happened.

Obama is in "the toughest job in the world" simply because he succeeded one of the most corrupt administrations in the world: This is a case of going from a bunch of war criminals to someone who wants co-operation and mutual respect. How far the man can do his job is another question given the mess he inherited... domestically and in foreign affairs.

Perhaps the award was more a message of hope. Besides, having something hanging around your neck such as a peace prize makes you want to succeed even more; and makes many others want to see you succeed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

MY MAN ROGER CORMAN IN TORONTO

Today I met an old friend of mine for our bi-monthly ritual of food and drink; between gulps we tried to fill each other in on what has been happening in our respective and exciting lives. He told me that he went down to the big 'Fan Expo' at the Toronto Convention Centre this past summer. While I did know about the show, I am not so inclined these days (this time in my life) to be seen with a bunch of weirdos; ie, people dressed as Star Wars stormtroopers or non-descript characters from video games.

My buddy told me a story of how he ended up at the back entrance of the Centre after realizing he was in the wrong building. He saw a group of people standing by the curb as a limo pulled up. Seconds later a couple of burly guys opened the car door and helped an "old guy"get out. My friend recognized it was movie superstar producer Roger Corman, then "fumbled" with his camera to get a shot of the heavily escorted man. Realizing an opportunity was evaporating as his potential photography subject was getting away, my friend, in uncharacteristic fashion ("you did that?"), called out, "Mr. Corman, can you turn around so I can get a picture of you?"

Roger Corman is quite the amiable guy. And a god-like guy to someone like me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

FIVE SIGNS I'METROSEXUAL

This morning while I was polishing myself-up for the day I saw an article which headlined as "5 telltale signs you're a Metrosexual".

I read the signs...

"La ba de da."

"Ba Ba dum ba."

"(whistling sound)"

"Hmmm... "

"Yep, I'm a Metrosexual all right."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

NHL ON CBC TONIGHT

Tonight is a special night for some, especially those without cable: The CBC is premiering their NHL coverage for this season; the Toronto Maple Leafs (a team I despise with every Tim Hortons-infused cell in my body) are playing the Montreal Canadiens (my favourite, although I have never smashed shop windows when they win a playoff series).

I have too much to do to be watching anything on television, and, to boot, I mentioned a few postings back that "I hope the NHL dies a horrible death". I must stay consistent.

Can it happen, tonight?


(The joke about the above posting, which was not lost on me as I keyed-in the text, is that Tim Horton was a legendary Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

THE FOUR OF US ARE DYING

Friend Greg Woods commented on my previous posting (TWILIGHT ZONE AT 50) that his favourite episode, of the classic series which ran for five seasons, is about a cheap hood who can change his face.

The episode "The Four of Us Are Dying" immediately came to mind as did a couple of the actors who played various incarnations of the crook. I took a minute to read up on this installment on Wikipedia...
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_of_Us_Are_Dying

... my Lordy, talk about a who's who of 50s/60s character actors: Harry Townes, Ross Martin (the other name that came to me), Phillip Pine, Don Gordon, Beverly Garland, and Peter Brocco.

Terrific episode. And one efficient in its storytelling.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TWILIGHT ZONE AT 50

Early this morning I read that the anthology television series The Twilight Zone premiered 50 years ago this week. For whatever reason (trying to scare up more work, maybe?) I had forgotten about this marker.

While I do not regard the series as the finest of its type -- I give that to The Outer Limits (1963-1965), even though one is fantasy while the other, more Science Fiction -- Zone is absolutely one of the best.

As a matter of fact, and this was not part of any celebration (read above) I have been checking out, from the Toronto Public Library, various compilation DVDs of the series. I watched three episodes last week: "Elegy" (good), "A Drink From a Certain Fountain" (okay), and "The 30 Fathom Grave" (excellent, with a dynamite punch-line delivered by actor John Considine, in one of the hour-long installments).

For me, Zone consisted mostly of misfires, more than upper crust successes; to be expected of a series that ran 156 episodes. We tend to remember the outstanding examples -- the fact is most were just okay. But still better than most of the crappola (to borrow a "Bunkerism") run on television over the years.

In summary, the original The Twilight Zone, when it was good, was great.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

WHAT A DRIP

My friend Greg is concerned, after reading my post from yesterday (TV FAME), that I have not been taking my Prozac.

Well, I have an surprise for him. I checked: The Prozac I.V. drip is fine.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

TV FAME

Oh my... I turned the tube on; I flicked to SunTV and recognized an actor -- Debbie Allen. Took no time to identify the series, one I did not watch when it first ran back in 1982 to 'too long': Fame.

Oh, my, God! It is so bad. I cannot laugh... can only stare in disbelief.

Please, if you are reading this just after I put it up (it is 4:25pm, Saturday) and you happen to live in the Toronto area, turn on Fame. Un-beeping-believable. Quick, there is still over half an hour left in this episode.

... just learned that SunTV is running eps back-to-back; that's right, Fame is on again at 5pm.

Friday, September 25, 2009

CRONENBERG ON THE FLY

I am polishing off a book on Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg; I take a break and, on the Net, read that he has just signed with 20th Century Fox to remake his 1986 take on The Fly.

Terrific movie, by the way. It was my favourite (mainstream release) that summer. Jeff Goldblum was perfect in the lead role; as a viewer, you felt the bizarre transformation (into a '67 Chevy... if memory serves) along with him.

Like many people my age, I was introduced to the 'man turns into a fly' (I was kidding about the Chevy) idea by director Kurt Neumann's 1958 classic picture, The Fly. Al (later "David") Hedison does a believable (?!) job playing the part of a man victimized by his own experiments. Oh, and the cat sound effect... it is so chilling I laughed when I saw The Fly again last year. It alone is worth the price of admission. I loved that cat.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

NHL GOONS FIGHTING ON ICE

Well, it had to happen. After a lot of talk of putting fist fighting in the National Hockey League (NHL) to pasture, the whole sane notion gets put on ice...
http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/article/700160

That's just great. What happened, in simple terms, is several high-profile "goons" (fighter-morons) made it known that they want to be able to do their jobs without retribution. Hey, makes sense to me. So too does this: I hope the NHL dies a horrible death.

The league likes their goons simple... I mean, likes their goons, simple... simply... simply put, the NHL likes their goons.... simple.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WORTHINGTON'S WORST U.S. PREZ

There are days -- you know the kind -- where you wake up in a bad mood; sometimes it's because you know there is an issue that must be dealt with or some potential which must be thwarted before it takes hold of your life.

Generally the happiest part of the day for me is the first few minutes after I get up. I was in such a state when I got up this morning. But it got even better.

Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington provided me with an additional smile and a first chuckle of the day. He opened up today's prose by suggesting the a case can be made that ex-U.S. president Jimmy Carter is the worst president in "living memory".

Now what the heck is he talking about? Does George W. Bush (baby) not contend for this coveted honour?

Wait a minute... Worthington is right, in a way. He was speaking of a "president".


(Please pardon the name-dropping, but I have met Peter Worthington as I used to do video work for him -- he's a very pleasant man, even if our political views are polar opposite much of the time.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

RISEBOROUGH AS THATCHER

Right this minute TVOntario is playing a British TV movie by the name of Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley (2008). The actress who is playing Maggie as a young woman just nails the famous Iron Lady. Her name: Andrea Riseborough; I have never heard of her before but she might be someone to watch (as the saying goes).

Was Maggie Thatcher really that cute when she was young?

Beware of the young woman who will ultimately close coal mines and put lots of men and women out of work.

Friday, September 18, 2009

ED WOOD'S HAUNTED WORLD

My favourite filmmakers are Stanley Kubrick and Edward D. Wood, Jr., albeit for slightly different reasons.

This documentary, which I have seen before, is essential viewing for some of us...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIBNWqfQV_k

Thursday, September 17, 2009

MAPLE LEAFS GOALIE

New Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson -- known as "the monster" -- had a heart operation the other day to help alleviate a racing heart. After a practice his heart would not slow down to its "rest" state, but would keep on ticking as though no one told it to relax.

Well, the above is the official line; the nasty rumour is that he did not have the heart to play for the Leafs.


(I thought about that one all by myself, while eating my bowl of Fruit Loops this morning.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

PATRICK SWAYZE

I was just on the television listings website when I noticed a headline saying "Patrick Swayze, A life in pictures". Did not think anything of it until I ended up back on the front page. Then it hit me.

That is a darn shame. He was 57, which is not old these days, but in the age range when men start to get cancers. Statistically speaking, from about age 50, a man's chance of getting the malady shoots up.

Yes, Dirty Dancing was all the rage the summer of 1987.

The first time I heard of Patrick Swayze, I wondered if he was related to John Cameron Swayze. (I found out recently that they are distant cousins.)


Toronto Star...
http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/article/695638

PAUL BURKE

Actor Paul Burke has died at the age of 83; sad news to someone of my age as he starred (from the second season, on) in one of the greatest television series of all time, Naked City.

In addition, he guest starred in 'just name the series': Dragnet, Adventures of Superman, Dr. Kildare, Ironside, Hawaii Five-O, Starsky and Hutch, Love Boat, and Fantasy Island.

Not only did Burke do the traditional one-off guest star on these shows but often came back as different characters over their runs. Obviously the dependable actor was well-liked by producers and casting directors; which shows the man must have been a professional -- showed up on time, knew his lines, and displayed little or no attitude.

I'm just guessing, of course, but I do know that regular television series' are always very tight in time and money, and are made in nothing less than conditions of panic, therefor they have no time for "trouble".

Imagine that, many of you "ak-tors" working today.


Toronto Sun...
http://www.torontosun.com/entertainment/dailydish/2009/09/14/10884301-sun.html

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

999

Right on. Today is 9/9/9, better known at August 9, 2009...
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/692797

Depending on what your beliefs are, as influenced by culture, superstition, and how much beer is in your fridge, this particular day is good luck or bad. Hell... oops, sorry... every day is lucky for me, and my cat, according to the article linked above.

Apparently, wandering spirits return to the human world to accept offerings from people -- cripes, they can have all my dept. But I should warn them to stay away from the tainted chicken in my fridge -- beside the Molson Canadian -- or they might be wandering back home a little ahead of schedule.

Monday, September 7, 2009

SNL REPLACING TWO PEOPLE

The long in the tooth late-night comedy series Saturday Night Live ("SNL") is replacing two of its cast members. Oh... really?

Now that'll make the show better. Funny how the smallest little tweaks change everything.


CNN story...
http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/TV/09/07/saturday.night.live.cast/index.html

G-MAIL PROBLEMS

I've been on "g-mail" for a couple of years and have rarely experienced any problems connecting to the service, but these last few days have been on-and-off. I first heard of this malady specified on the CBC news last week: The on-air IT specialist had the big plasma screen up displaying his attempt to get onto the public e-mail server. Of course, he was able to get on; live on television. He went on to say that throughout that day g-mail was iffy.

A friend of mine does his own business affairs through his domain e-mail account, partly for security reasons. "Public" servers, such as Yahoo, Google (g-mail), and Hotmail, are not recommended for heavy duty shit.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

THE AWFUL TRUTH

Friend Neil is quite correct: This episode of Doctor Who (the New), titled "The Stolen Earth", is unwatchable.

I rename it "The Stolen 17 Minutes".

There are two episodes of Michael Moore's 1999-2000 telescreen series The Awful Truth to knock off. Time to change the configuration of my entertainment system...

Oh, almost forgot: Thanks, Neil. You just say how it is -- even as a fan.


(As I was wrapping up the above editorial I picked up the TV remote to press "Line in" when I saw one lousy visual effect: Masses of Daleks were flying by the "camera" towards a space platform. It looked like a really bad PhotoShop mess. Inept and artless.)

WHO TONIGHT - YES OR NO

I was just e-mail conversing with a friend of mine who is a fan of the "new" Doctor Who television series, when I realized I should ask him if it is worth watching the episode called "The Stolen Earth" (which is playing on the CBC tonight). He told me firmly that I should not bother as it is no secret I am not a follower or admirer of the show, and, in his opinion, it could be called "The Stolen Hour" if I were to waste my time watching.

Sounds to me like the televersion of Batman Returns: Too many characters, villains, moments, and loose ends.

Hey, it could even be related to any of the Star Wars prequel films. So many stolen hours... and dollars!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

TIFF '09, OH WHO CARES?!

Is it just me, or is the Toronto International Film Festival becoming more and more unappealing? I'm partly joking as many of my friends, who you would think would go, do not partake at all. (One buddy of mine, who works as a picture editor, told me rather sheepishly one day, "I don't like 'film people'".) I used to go on a regular basis, some years going so often I should have gotten a special pass card instead of paying for individual movie screenings... more economical that way.

Maybe it is because I am becoming older, and perhaps a little wiser, but I have no desire to go anymore. There are so many phonies in the business, but, to tell you the truth, so-called "cinephiles" can be the worst of the type. The pretension and insincerity is too much. These are the people who stand up in the middle of a film, or worse, at the beginning (?!) of one, flamboyantly gather their things and stomp up the aisle. An old friend of mine says he takes these incidents personally. Hey, I know what he means.

Let's be fair here, though: Maybe their Lattes are "off" and they are making a desperate and dramatic run for the restroom!

THOSE LATE-NIGHT MUNCHIES

This might fall into one of those "this is news?" boxes, but a certain study's results concerning late night snacking are always interesting and welcome.

I allow some junk food into my system now and again but what stops overkill is the fact that 'packaged foods' are laced with sodium, and after an indulgence I can feel the ol' ticker picking up the beat! Some people are more sensitive to the "injection" of salt and sugar than others, which only convinces me that the brain, indeedy, does control all that you eat and eat.

Last night my own brain was telling me, "go buy some fruit". Minutes later, I went out the door and took a short walk to one of the many markets open at 10 pm in my area. Got some apples and some oranges. An old coworker of mine -- who was from Sri Lanka -- showed me a trick of putting pepper on sliced apple. While I did indulge in devouring an apple last night, I did not sprinkle pepper on it; but golly darn they taste good that way!


Story in the National Post...
http://www.nationalpost.com/life/story.html?id=1964149

Friday, September 4, 2009

THE GREAT BARRY

To paraphrase the great Sargon, "one day I awoke to discover that I had become so powerful, I dared think of myself as a god!"

Do not worry, my children, for I will treat you well.

THE TOMORROW PEOPLE

Back in the 1970s I used to watch a British Sci-fi show on the CBC called The Tomorrow People, and I remember enjoying it at the time. Produced by ITV on a very tight budget, like most non-American shows, this young people's show ran from 1973 to 1979.

Like the original Doctor Who series, which was running at the same time, The Tomorrow people was recorded utilizing the studio multiple camera live-to-tape method. This allowed economical electronic chroma-key (or CSO, "Colour Separation Overlay", as the Brits would say) to be used to facilitate any visual effects. More important, however, were the scripts, and I remember the stories were well told.

Youtube has a video of the freaky opening and closing credits (and catchy theme tune)...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xez4o1ujOPI

There is also a complete episode...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScsT0nvvjnA&feature=related

... How come the CBC never got this creative? (Secret: I know why, as a friend of mine worked for years and years in the Toronto television business; The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is an old boys club where "creativity" is not a key word, and one with a great ability to remain conventional.)

SUNDANCE ADDS LOW BUDGET FILMS (?!)

While enjoying the pleasures of the National (right wing) Post this morning, I came across this headline: "Sundance adds section devoted to low-budget films."

Ahh... will someone please explain that one to me?


The National Post story...
http://www.nationalpost.com/arts/story.html?id=1958775

Thursday, September 3, 2009

COMPOSER FRED STEINER

Many of the funnier stories from people who work in film and television are not from "stars" but from so-called "techs". In an earlier blog posting I recounted Laura composer David Raksin's funny quote regarding Alfred Hitchcock's attitude towards film music. A few years ago I read an interview with film and TV composer Fred Steiner where he told a personal story about meeting his idol, Max Steiner (no relation) of King Kong and Gone With the Wind fame.

Fred Steiner spoke of how he was a big Max fan when he was a young man and learning the tricks of the trade himself, and when he visited New York City in the mid-to-late 1940s he managed to find out the address of his idol's apartment building: After young Steiner told the building's concierge who he was and why he wanted to speak with Mr. Max Steiner, he was given the telephone. Fred then made it known to Max that he was a big fan and wanted to really meet him in person. The phone conversation wrapped up like this...

MAX STEINER
Are you family?

FRED STEINER
No, I'm no relation to you.

MAX STEINER
In that case, you may come up.

Monday, August 31, 2009

MARVEL AT DISNEYLAND

Something that had not occurred to me until I decided to read in detail just now on the Disney take-over of Marvel: Of course, it is so obvious... the comic book characters could appear at the Mouse House's theme parks. Something does not seem right about that.

Needless to say the terms of the deal -- all sales are built on some conditions -- could spell out something like "under no circumstances are Marvel characters to appear at your goofy and overpriced theme-parks".

Disney could make a Marvelopolis park: "With heroes and villains, the bad and the good."

DISNEY BUYS MARVEL

Speaking of evil corporations (see previous posting), The Walt Disney Company is purchasing Marvel Comics for 4.1 billion dollars. I had the impression that the ol' comic book company was doing very well, especially with their film division. (Admittedly I haven't heard a lot, lately.)

Great, now we can see Spiderman take on Donald. It would make a great film; Spiderman Meets the Duck. Sounds like what happened when Universal Studios started making light fun of their 'horror' characters -- in 1948 they released the comedy picture Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

NHL ECONOMIC SENSE, ONTARIO

This article is music to my ears...
http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/article/688409

... yes it is. Someone read it to me this morning. (I wanted to hear it spoken.) Economics professor Andrew Zimbalist is absolutely right on all counts, I'm sure. But he does not understand, perhaps, that "sense" is not an operative word in the Southern Ontario NHL market. MLSE (Maple Leafs, Sports and Entertainment) is a bunch of thugs, using their tentacles to manipulate and put themselves in power, and for optimal positioning to counter any threat such as what is happening with the Phoenix Coyotes and the possibility, or wish, by some, of putting that team in Hamilton (which is next door to Toronto).

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman does nothing to keep the MLSE creeps in check. Speaking of creeps...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

WHITHER TWITTER?

One of the most useless electronic treats introduced in the last few years has to be "Twitter". Unless it is used as a genuine news-breaking device, or something comparable, the whole idea seems foolish. I really don't care if you are "going to bed"! Yes, we all go to bed. Maybe that is news... and something to "tweet" about.

Barry tweet: "I just filed a blog posting."

Average reader: "... great... "

WILLIAM SHATNER - CANADIAN NAVY

As reported by the National Post newspaper today, there is a Facebook campaign afoot to get famous starship captain, and sometimes actor, William Shatner to be designated as honourary Captain in the Canadian navy. (To be technical about it, the 'naval arm of the Canadian Forces' would be accurate; formerly the RCN, or Royal Canadian Navy, and after that the seagoing part of the Canadian Armed Forces.)

There are 200 members so far signed up on the Facebook page. If I were on that social networking site I would throw my name into the pile.

"I'm a soldier, not a diplomat. I can only tell you the truth."

"Peace or... utter destruction... it's up to you." (Captain James T. Kirk was not referring here to an external threat -- by him -- but "self destruction".)

Make him captain!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TED KENNEDY - AMERICAN

Senator Edward M. Kennedy dies at the age of 77 from brain cancer. When I read the news this morning I was shocked and sad as he seemed to be someone in the "U.S. government" who had a heart in addition to a brain. Hard to believe, I know. The good news is, angry right-wingers can rejoice now that another political conscience (and consciousness) has vacated the power structure. Let's face it, a lot of Republican-brains are happy -- they are a hateful lot.

The CBC National news last night had a story about Wikipedia and how that outfit is getting tough on people who get carried away with editing pieces on "those still living". In the story was an example of this: When Ted Kennedy was stricken last year with his malady, someone had re-written the Senator's entry to say he had "died".

It may have been one of those angry right-wingers I mentioned above.


Toronto Star obituary...
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/686600

Sunday, August 23, 2009

MIDNIGHT ON DOCTOR WHO

In the name of deserving a welcome break I turned on Doctor Who just as the opening titles started up. The episode was "Midnight"; soon after I realized I not only saw this one before but had actually liked it, which is saying a lot with my relationship being the way it is with the new Who.

It reminded me very much of an episode of the old Outer Limits television series. "Counterweight" appeared in that series' second season, a year considered by many fans to be lesser than the first. By the way, this particular OL installment features a cool stop-motion animated creature. Knowing what I do about visual effects I would guess that that bit of animation cost more money to render than the entire visual effects for Who's "Midnight" did. No question about it, in fact. (Ah, technology!)

"Counterweight" is a more successful episode: It enjoys a better sense of drama, and is supported by Harry Lubin's spooky music.

HEWITT'S 60 MINUTES

Don Hewitt, creator of the CBS news magazine program 60 Minutes (1968 - ), and who passed away last week, is being profiled on tonight's installment of the show.

INCREDIBLE STRUCTURES

After reading in the Toronto Star about an hour ago that there is a battle between two Russian female tennis players at this year's Roger's Cup final today in Toronto, I decided to pop on the CBC when I got back home.

My god, and I do mean God, that Maria Sharapova has a beautiful body. She looks tall, too. To die for.

(That's right, ladies and gentlemen, Barry is getting a little excited. With his short attention span, however, it never lasts very long: "Hey, my hot dogs are ready!")

Time for me to go into that sport... I heard there is better money in it than in blogging.


(As I post the above it is Sharapova 4, Dementieva 6 -- they are at 40 each; whatever that means. I have never understood how scoring works in tennis.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

DON HEWITT OF 60 MINUTES FAME

As I mentioned in previous postings, I read about someone and the next day I get the news they died. Last evening I read up on 60 Minutes creator/producer Don Hewitt; who passed away today at the age of 86.

I watched 60 Minutes on Sunday, which had an interview with Michael Vick (now I know who he is and I do remember the 'dogfighting' story), and yesterday I read the Wikipedia entry for the venerable CBS news magazine program and its creator.


Toronto Star obit...
http://www.thestar.com/news/obituary/article/682955