Tuesday, June 30, 2009


This is bloody ridiculous! Canada Day (July 1st) celebrations planned for Toronto this year have been cancelled due to the ongoing and repellent garbage strike. I'm tired of this already and at the risk of sounding like a real Archie Bunker, "the whole lotta dem should be fired, like what Reagan did with the air traffic controllers".

In all seriousness, they make a lot of money and have a good thing going; and they know it, too. (I hope my fellow Canucks know that we are a blessed nation.)

Monday, June 29, 2009


Fred Travalena has died. I just learned that Travalena was a "master impressionist" -- I'm assuming that my news source did not mean "painter".

He had a role in The Buddy Holly Story (1978), which is one of my favourite films.

Fred Travalena's website...

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Eastman Kodak's Kodachrome film was very special...

... and it made, and continues to make, great prints (Cibachrome, now Ilfochrome).

Saturday, June 27, 2009


The NHL (National Hockey League) draft was last night. The Toronto Maple Leafs, once again (!), announce things are going to happen now that they possess, yet again (!), a dyno-draft-pick.

Yah, right! Give me a break. It makes no difference...

Friday, June 26, 2009


Public access television in New York City...


I do have some Michael Jackson: Motown - Jackson 5 - Greatest Hits.

When I was young there was a Saturday morning animated show called The Jackson 5ive. I do not remember the plot-lines, but I'm sure they were aimed at kids.


The very first Paris Air Show took place in 1909, which is when that photo above was taken. The finest Hollywood production designer could not get that right.

By the way, Airbus hammered arch rival manufacturer Boeing at this year's Paris Air Show (which took place last week). The disparity in aircraft orders plays as a sick joke. In addition, Boeing has once again delayed deliveries of their new model-787 "Neverliner".

Thursday, June 25, 2009


What a day. I never knew much about Farrah Fawcett even though Charlie's Angels ran when I was a teenager. For some reason I did not watch the show which is odd considering that I was an "excitable" young man. My favourite "angel" would have been Kate Jackson -- if I had been asked the big question -- as I knew her from a show I actually did watch a few years before: The Rookies.

There was that poster, and I don't mean a blog poster. I never had one, nor did anyone I actually knew, but eight million other souls sure did own that iconic piece of photographic paper.

I did see the David Letterman incident as I was watching a movie on my VCR, and since channel 3 was the default setting on my recorder, when I finished the movie, Farrah Fawcett and her bizarre appearance on the famous late-night host's show filled my television screen. "What is this?!" was probably my reaction at the time. It was not until the next day that I heard the controversy about how "out there" Ms. Fawcett was "last night". I guess I had not been imagining anything.

Why is it that we remember the wacky stuff more than we do the rest when it comes to these celebrities? Same goes for Michael Jackson.

There is no denying this was a sad day... and week, when you also count Ed McMahon's passing from a few days ago.


I was running a little behind; had to meet a friend for around 6:30; thought I would turn on the laptop and go on the Net one last time to check the news before I flew out the door. There was a story on the Toronto Star website that caught my eye -- it was after all, given some prominence. It said something about pop star Michael Jackson being rushed to hospital. The story had been posted barely five minutes earlier. I read the blurb quickly: Paramedics had found that Jackson was not breathing.

Out the door...

Met my friend at 6:25 and mentioned the story a few minutes later; of course, he had not heard anything as he had been in transit. "Oh, let's see", as he popped open his laptop. We shot the breeze for a few minutes then he blurted out, "there it is, Michael Jackson dies".


Neither one of us was particularly shaken up by the news although there is no denying that Michael Jackson affected a lot of people.


As I touched upon on Monday, June 22nd, with my fine posting titled WELCOME TO TORONTO, there is a garbage strike in the wonderful city of Toronto, Canada.

A friend of mine, who lives a few miles East of downtown Toronto, sent me this nice picture he took of a city garbage container with an interesting affixed editorial.

By the way, Toronto is a wonderful city: It does have its problems, of course, but it is still "it".


A "director's cut" (a warning as much as anything) of Watchmen will be released for one week only in July in just four U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Dallas, Minneapolis, and New York.

It will be interesting to hear how this longer version (with 28 minutes of additional mind-blowing excitement) will appeal to the fans; who were just about the only people who went to see Watchmen's regular release earlier this year.


Learning new things -- important and not -- is one of those spices on the rack (and it's the bottle most often depleted). I did not realize that British poet Thomas Chatterton was just 17 years of age when he took his own life.

What was it about those "old days" when the young really could accomplish great things?

My theory is we are so processed these days (and have been for years) that by the time the "system" spits us out, all creative muse has been pounded from every cell in our bodies. (Our tender selves have been tenderized.) And while we are young, encouragement in the arts is not encouraged in the name of setting us on our life path of making a living... at life's expense.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This has got to be a joke...

... in most years it's tough enough coming up with five best picture nominations. Having to come up with ten "best picture" nominations will be akin to having to find two four-leaf clovers in just two square inches of... desert!

(God... some days I'm good; I really am.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


A friend of mine sent me this link...

Pretty funny, but it's not pretty: There is that Brit-profanity which contains that extra spice.


It was bound to happen. One of my faithful readers contacted me to say they were not impressed with some of my caustic opinions. This "friend" of mine "suggested" I cease and desist mocking Star Wars (the prequel films, of course... maybe Return of the Jedi, included).

Come on, dude! It's sooo easy... like shooting Wamp Rats in a barrel.


"Who do you think you are?... Fred McMahon?"
- Archie Bunker

Ed McMahon was one of those guys that I could tell you almost nothing about, other than the fact he was Johnny Carson's sidekick on The Tonight Show. (I also can't tell you much about Johnny Carson and his Tonight Show, as I have never watched the late-night talk shows.)

The famous supporting player's passing is still sad news, however, as I do appreciate what he represents. Some things I did know: McMahon married a much younger woman, years ago; he almost lost his house as part of the mortgage crisis. I just found out that he was a fighter pilot during the Korean War... now that is interesting to me!

Ed McMahon struck me as being a very nice person... in a business full of shitheads.

Toronto Star story...

Monday, June 22, 2009


As of today there is a strike in Toronto... this includes garbage pickup. Who knows how long this will go on. The city is enjoying some very warm weather.


Newsflash: Eastman Kodak is discontinuing their Kodachrome film brand as it accounts for just a fraction of film sales. Introduced in 1935, the venerable reversal (or positive) emulsion has been with us for a long time; and probably a lot longer than any "capturing" format being introduced now will be.

Kodak, like many other film companies, has been shuffling into the digital realm for a while but they will make "still" film for some time to come -- as a matter of fact, they have introduced some new film types in the last few years and, of course, continue to manufacture miles of motion picture film.


This morning I was listening to a concert report on the radio for this year's "North by North East" (NXNE) festival in Toronto, and heard that there is a group by the name of Marianas Trench. That is a great name for band. I heard their music is deep.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I, like a couple of good friends of mine, am going through a "moment" where I might be afraid to step on the escalator... or think I'm waiting for just the right moment.

"You must never be afraid to go there."
- Harlan Ellison


"How you can tell when a cat is watching television... "


"What a tv addict sees... "


Last week I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine regarding the art of storytelling in regular television series'. Here is what opinionated Barry said about a certain issue...

I see your points. The fact is one-off episodes are harder to write... contrary to what a lot of people think. Not that, to qualify as a self-contained story, the show has to be absolutely resolved with the characters slapping each other on the backs while happy fade-out music plays in the background -- far from it -- but a self contained "the issue is resolved for now" approach.

I remember Da Vinci's Inquest creator/producer Chris Haddock being courted by one of the U.S. television networks to develop shows for them: He did just that, and like most tv pilots, or series', they did not fly or survive to any length. (It's a crap shoot for anyone.) Eventually he was asked to fabricate a show without story arcs... to make one-off stories. But as Haddock said in an interview with a newspaper, 'these are much more difficult to write'.

You write a show with arcs and you can dial out characters that don't work, push out or wrap up story-lines that are feeble, or strengthen and promote same which do tickle the public's fancy. In effect, a program is being "work-shopped" as it runs -- almost always coming up roses.

My point is there is nothing wrong with story (or full season) arcs, it's just "who the hell has time to watch the same frickin' series every week?!"

Friday, June 19, 2009


My vote for the coolest and hippest animated short film...

... there are a few uploads on Youtube of this cat but that one above is the best quality.

I remember first seeing the Warner Brothers cartoon, Three Little Bops, back in the mid-1980s and was dancin' for the rest of the day. (Maybe I saw it as a kiddie, but was too young to put on my dancin' shoes.)


Youtube is quite the resource showcasing some very talented people cranking out movie tunes on piano. Here is a bang-on rendition of Jerry Goldsmith's beautiful theme for the 1982 horror film, Poltergeist...


The Bloor Cinema, here in Toronto, is the finest repertory house in these here parts; their schedule has a nice mix of films, old and new. This month alone, movies such as Mean Streets, The Soloist, Taxi Driver, 2001: A Space Odyssey (new 35mm print), Pontypool, State of Play, and The Secret of Nimh have lit up the Bloor's screen.

But it is only the 19th of the month: Still to come are The Terminator, Amacord, and Anvil! The Story of Anvil (sounds like a good one). And one I really want to see as it keeps missing me (or I, it)... The Harder They Come.

Website for the Bloor Cinema...

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I just learned that the famous "Sears Tower" (of 108 stories) in Chicago, Illinois, is to be renamed, at some point this summer, the "Willis Tower".

I say "bogus"! It's like renaming Toronto's "Skydome" to... whatever the beep that name is... now...


This news was just released: The captain of a Continental Airlines Boeing 777 died in mid-flight. The aircraft is on its way to Newark, NJ...

... have no fear, the co-pilot (the "right seat") is fully qualified.


As did Brian Wilson put off Smile -- or so goes the myth -- when the The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album was released, I decided to abort my obituary on Canadian filmmaker Allan King after fellow blogger Greg Woods wrote and posted this...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


The news is Alberta (Canada) is getting film director Christopher Nolan's new project, Inception (of 200 million dollar budget).

Come on, guys! Toronto, Ontario, has got this spanking brand new super studio just waiting... for a film like Inception.

Oh well.

I knew this would be the song. This is only the beginning...


The story is another Indiana Jones sequel movie is in the works. No... no... please tell me it isn't so...

... the last one should not have been the last one, if you get my drift. (It should have been Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; which was a good movie.)

(I state the above with a twinkle in my eye. My attitude is if the studios want to make the film, and people want to see the release, then good for them. If you don't want to see it, don't. Just because I thought Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was poor, should not have any influence other than filling up white paper on my blog. "What... I don't have to write these on paper?... ")

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Some people, understandably, become confused about the television series One Step Beyond when they find out that it was shot in black & white and yet they distinctly remember seeing colour... or color. That is because there was a follow up series, also hosted by John Newland, called The Next Step Beyond. Yes it was in living colour as it was produced back in 1978-79, when the networks and television in general had long lived in the chromatic scale, but it was shot on video tape, not motion picture film... hence the "newsy" look to the image.

I watched that series when it aired on CTV (Canadian Television) and was a little disappointed by the video-look, with its 30 frames-per-second motion; which only took away from being able to get lost in that Beyond.

Film is so much better for capturing the "fantastic" or "otherworld". (Hi-definition, or HD, is now used at a frame rate of 24 fps for anything where the given show's producers want to capture that serious dramatic look.)

The 1970s version of The Littlest Hobo was also shot on tape... just killed it for me.

Internet Movie Database entry on The Next Step Beyond...

Monday, June 15, 2009


CBC News has just released the sad news that Canadian filmmaker Allan King has died -- he was 79.


Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond was a Twilight Zone-like show that actually premiered months before its much more famous TV anthology series cousin. It was created and hosted by John Newland, a name known to many television watchers of that time and synonymous with the show.

Unfortunately, time has not been kind to One Step Beyond; not that production deficits of any kind have taken their toll, probably more to the fact that, for whatever reason, it did not get syndicated in the same way The Twilight Zone did. While Zone consisted of stories described most often as "fantasy", Beyond was more paranormal; someone sees into the future, or a place they've never been. Just the kind of story or event a lot of people experience at one point in their lives... that was the appeal of One Step Beyond. John Newland's on-camera segments would consist of him presenting the stories as having possibly happened, suggesting they might, in fact, be actually real.

One Step Beyond was a popular series even if it ran just three seasons, two less than Zone, and it became part of the North American culture for a time, even producing a soundtrack album of series composer Harry Lubin's trademarked spooky music. Many name or about to be known actors appeared, such as Charles Bronson, Warren Beatty, and Christopher Lee.

As for home video, things have not been much better than the lack of television screenings. Due to rights problems, as in copyright being allowed to lapse and fall into the "public domain", One Step Beyond survives as a DVD pulled from a few very worn 16mm prints which have been run through more than one telecine chain. Screening this rather limited disc reveals some good episodes, one of which stars Patty McCormick.

The news is, One Step Beyond (the first season) is getting a proper release on DVD...


Queen Elizabeth II has knighted actor Christopher Lee.

This all makes sense...

Friday, June 12, 2009


My friends, I was in top form today; not only did I pick the wrong team to win the Stanley Cup (see my posting TONIGHT RED WINGS & PENGUINS) but my score count was way off: The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 2 to 1.

Read this imagining John Candy's voice as the geeky kid in the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal: "Boy, was I way off!"

(It's a good thing I didn't reveal that I predicted that the Piccard Hotel will open on the floor of the Marianas Trench in the year 2011.)

Incidentally, the Penguins are the first team since the 1971 NHL playoff finals to come back and win the cup after being down two games to nil. In that historic series the Montreal Canadiens came back to steal victory from the Chicago Blackhawks... I saw that series. It is still the finest Stanley Cup final I have ever seen.

By the way, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was useless. After the game, NHL commissioner Gary "The Creep" Bettman said that Crosby will be the youngest captain to hoist the cup over his head. Too bad Crosby didn't do anything.


Could the special mystery title at tomorrow's "Shock & Awe" film festival (in Toronto) be the 1962 rarity The Creation of the Humanoids? I saw it back at Toronto's 1991 "B-Movie Festival" (which vapourized when the fest's organizer Chris Holland left town), and proclaim it to be a fine film. "It felt more like an essay than a film" is what my movie-mate said right after the screening, but it was more a textural comment than a condemnation.

Internet Movie Database entry on The Creation of the Humanoids...


There is so much to do and there is a hockey game on tonight: Final game of this year's Stanley Cup playoff series... meaning the cup will be awarded tonight.

At the risk of trying to look into the very near future, and of coming across as a two-bit Criswell, I will made a prediction regarding the final score of tonight's anticipated match-up: The Detroit Red Wings will batter the Pittsburgh Penguins by a margin of 7 to 1. (If the Penguins score a second goal, I will immediately pull down this posting as to save myself any embarrassment.)


As noted in my blog posting SHOCK & AWE 2009, Toronto-based uber movie collector Dion Conflict is hosting his "Shock & Awe" film festival this weekend at the Fox Cinema. Here is his blog, which contains screening information...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

SHOCK & AWE 2009

Calling movie fans: Be sure to check this out...

Maybe I should get off my chocolate milk arse and attend this year's "Shock & Awe: The Dusk Til Dawn Grindhouse Experience" film festival at the Fox Cinema -- hosted by Toronto film archivist and collector Dion Conflict.

Shock & Awe: The Dusk Til Dawn Grindhouse Experience
Saturday, June 13th, at 11:30 p.m.
Fox Cinema
2236 Queen Street East,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The interstellar news service just notified me that game seven (the absolute final) of National Hockey League Stanley Cup action between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, is scheduled for this coming Friday, June 12th. Game six was last night -- Tuesday. That is a three day span (for those of you who need a calendar calculator). Game five was last Saturday -- three days before game six. Get my drift? That is too much time between games, and only drags the season out longer and longer.

The NHL's regular season is far too long as it is... the playoffs stretch everything out to Pluto's orbit; the whole shebang generally -- with few exceptions -- runs October to June.

I my humblest opinion, the regular season should commence the first weekend after Labour Day. Even though there are still two or three weeks remaining in the calendar summer, the fact that we go back to school, psychologically ending it, makes starting hockey this time of the year acceptable, and would let the NHL season wrap up the following May -- at the latest.

Guys! Wrap... it... up!

Monday, June 8, 2009


No, I did not miss TVO's screening of Dreams With Sharp Teeth last night, and not only did I enjoy this documentary on American writer Harlan Ellison, but it was even better than I thought it would be. Personally, I cannot get enough Harlan; his fiery and take no B.S. personality lines up very much with my own -- I wish I could be as irascible, not to mention, talented, as the Demon With a Steel Tongue.

Andrew Dowler, resident home-video writer for Now, a Toronto weekly newspaper, reviewed the DVD of Dreams (which was released last week) and said something which resonates with me, now that I have seen the film: Dowler thinks that Harlan Ellison's ranty nature is an act (after a certain stratospheric level, that is) as the writer-with-a-reputation actually "comes across as a happy, fulfilled man". I agree.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


The question asked is, 'who is the coolest man in the world?' Well, for starters, the answer is too easy: William Shatner.

I saw a video clip at the beginning of a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on the CBC last week: As I floated in my zone (waiting for a "White's" truck to zoom by on my living room floor) the television electrified this...

Once I clued in to the material I liked it; and Don Cherry is one cool guy.


With the 65th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy, France, taking place yesterday, columnist Eric Margolis files a report in today's Toronto Sun newspaper on some misconceptions about World War 2, titled "War History Lost in the Myths". He outlines four of these and offers his take on the events...

What is interesting to the link above is not just the article (about an issue I perhaps know too much about and one of the few things I know anything much about) but the comments underneath. I'm not sure, but I think the newspapers' online versions have been doing a "comments" section underneath any given article for the last few months, now. (In all honesty I never noticed before then.)

At any rate, a couple of the commenters on this particular piece provide not only the typical angry right-wing response but indicate a thorough lack of "reading comprehension". A variety of opinion, or opposing views, is always welcome, but, and it's a big one, read and understand what specific story you are commenting on, especially if you are going to take a contrary perspective. A lot of these people need to reread Margolis' story. (You don't have to agree with everything the writer says. I don't.)

An excellent and eye-opening book (which will encourage more reading) on what Eric Margolis is speaking of in this column, is Len Deighton's Blood, Tears and Folly: An Objective Look At World War II.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


The Detroit Red Wings smoked the Pittsburgh Penguins in game five of NHL (National Hockey League) Stanley Cup finals ice hockey action tonight. It was great!

(Pittsburgh players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are quite the crybabies.)

What was not great was the CBC deciding to play the movie Old School right after the hockey broadcast. I nipped out to roam the streets for a few minutes, came back in, popped the tube back on and saw... Will Farrell. Oh boy.

Well, at least the hockey game was good.

(Will Farrell is about as funny as needing an emergency appendectomy on the sinking Empress of Ireland.)


British television ("telly") has always fascinated me. Spending some time in Merry Olde England as a youth, in addition to watching a lot of series' imported from that country -- we in Canada have always been blessed in that regard -- made me appreciate a different perspective or take on drama and comedy. In addition to watching standard fare from the U.S., I absorbed British product such as Doctor Who, Fawlty Towers, The Tomorrow People, Thunderbirds, UFO, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Joker's Wild, On the Buses, and Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em. There are many more examples and I am nothing special -- this story applies to any television watcher who grew up in Canada during the 1960s and on.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the name of a British series which I had never heard of listed on ITV's website (http://itv.com/). I should not be so surprised since Metal Mickey was a kids show and one that started in 1980. (I had given up tyke-fare by this point... It was tough but I did the impossible.)

Metal Mickey sounds pretty surreal. Check out "Memorable moments"...


I've always had mixed feelings on the sport of boxing. (Some think it not a "sport" at all.) There is a cultural influence for me as the era I was growing up guys like Mohammed Ali, George Foreman, and Joe Frazier were all the rage. If I think of those boxers, I automatically think of broadcaster Howard Cosell, and vise versa. Boxing was part of the 1970s.

There was a fight I first heard of years ago but had never bothered to look up; even with the Internet (and especially Wikipedia) just inches from me. A welterweight boxer by the name of Benny "Kid" Paret was killed in the ring, on live television, NBC to be exact, back on March 24, 1962. You hear stories like this and wish that boxing was something our civilized society gave up a long, long time ago. But, and without sounding too insensitive, this sport is made for the movies.

The Benny Paret story...

It makes sense that Norman Mailer would cover a brutal fight and relate it so well...

Friday, June 5, 2009


I watched a bit of a documentary last night on TVO about the late British singer-songwriter Nick Drake. The biggest revelation for me was the fact that actress Gabrielle Drake is his sister. I had no idea.

Admittedly, I do not know that much about the actual person who played the purple-haired moonbase worker from the 1970-71 Gerry Anderson television series UFO, so this must be why that interesting tidbit got by my scanners.

(I used to watch UFO, in first run, on CTV way back in the Autumn of 1970. A creepy and effective series to an impressionable kiddie. I am aware that Ms. Drake appeared years later on the infamous British TV soap Crossroads.)


There is a good piece (blog) by columnist Hendrik Hertzberg in the current online issue of The New Yorker magazine...

Is U.S. president Barack Obama a little like Mr. Spock?

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Dreams With Sharp Teeth, an acclaimed documentary film on American author Harlan Ellison is being screened on TVO (TV Ontario) this coming Sunday (June 7th) at 9 p.m.

Some information on Dreams With Sharp Teeth...


I turned on the radio this morning and (as though the newsreader was waiting for my stereo's amp to power up) immediately heard the news that David Carradine had been found dead in his Bangkok hotel room. The report at this time is the actor commited suicide.

The sad headline was followed by an archived sound bite from an interview with Carradine where he said that the Kill Bill movies were probably the best thing he had ever done -- this from a guy who was synonymous with "Grasshopper" from the 1970s TV series Kung Fu. I remember watching that series when it aired... and felt it had a strange exotic quality, as did the series' star.

I saw Death Race 2000 when it was first released and enjoyed it very much; it delivered a twisted sense of humour that this developing soul appreciated. Very funny movie... and David Carradine was perfectly cast as racer "Frankenstein". See what I mean?

Toronto Star...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I was just walking down a street here in Toronto and passed a small shop -- in the window, displayed amongst some toys was a, I kid you not, Sigmund Freud action figure. Just to make sure, I read the packaging more carefully. Yep, it said, on the box, I do not lie, "Sigmund Freud Action Figure".

Go figure...

(Archie Bunker referred to the famous psychoanalyst as "Sigmund Fruit". The first question I had after seeing the doll, was "yah, but is a couch 'sold separately'?")


The U.S. PBS (Public Broadcasting System) played Monty Python's Flying Circus back in 1974/75, at 10 p.m. on Thursday evenings, if memory serves. I was there every time it aired. While some of the humour was over this 13 year old's head, and some humour "pretty disgusting" (Eric Idle jumps over a couch, and says to a reclining buxom woman, "you have such big ***s!"), but for the most part I "got it". And thought it was great...

... but it almost was not to be more than just a few...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Yes, I have been watching the NHL (National Hockey League) playoffs between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins; but I have been working away on things that have to be dealt with. Having the game on television is, admittedly, a distraction. The second intermission was good: CBC Hockey Night in Canada host Ron Maclean had NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on as a guest and gave the creepy autocrat (or "autocrap" as Archie Bunker might have put it) a hard time regarding various league issues. It was great.

I do not know why I am bothering watching the finals, to tell you the truth -- the Detroit Red Wings are going to win the cup again. This will be the second year in a row for them.


As Archie Bunker might have said, "What'da'ya talking about? Coke's healthy".

Or is it...