Wednesday, September 30, 2009


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...

... 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


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


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


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


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


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...

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


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


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


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...

Thursday, September 17, 2009


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


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...


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...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Right on. Today is 9/9/9, better known at August 9, 2009...

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


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...


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


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.)


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


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!


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...

Friday, September 4, 2009


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.


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)...

There is also a complete episode...

... 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.)


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...

Thursday, September 3, 2009


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...

Are you family?

No, I'm no relation to you.

In that case, you may come up.