Monday, May 31, 2010


Oil is spilling uncontrollably into the Gulf of Mexico; North and South Korea might end up going to war with one another and probably by the end of the year; the West's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is a disaster; Israel made a move today that is a 'public relations disaster', and probably a portent of things to come. It is going to get ugly.

I told a friend of mine recently that I really think that mankind will be all but finished within the next 50 years. He agrees that things are rotten but thinks that we will get through it.

While I respect his opinion, I'm afraid that Lady Luck will end up paying out to Your's Truly.

Place your bets...

(Okay, I'll give us 60 years at most. Forget that; I say 20.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010


What pleasant news to come home to: Actor/writer/director Dennis Hopper died today.

Easy Rider is a fabulous film; due in large part to Hopper who co-wrote and directed, in addition to acting in it, helping to usher in the "New Hollywood". Filmed for a paltry $380,000 (over 5 million dollars in today's production currency but which would still be "paltry") in 1968, Rider zoomed to box office heights when released -- the old guard was effectively given the signal.

Hopper had long acted before he rose to fame, including guest-shots on television shows.

Dennis Hopper was 74 years old...


Tonight is the first of a possible seven games to decide who takes the Stanley Cup in NHL playoff ice hockey action. The two teams involved are the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers. The twisted piece of trivia here is that 'Philly' barely, and I mean barely, made it into the playoffs this year. (Their entry or qualification was decided on a "shoot-out": "Win the shoot-out and you are in, lose it and you are out." That fine a line.)

Go Blackhawks!


It just occurred to me this morning that, with the death yesterday of Gary Coleman, two of the three kids from the 1970s/80s sitcom Different Strokes are no longer with us. (I never saw much of the show so I'm not one to make immediate connections as I'm not even in that head space.)

Not only that, but the late Dana Plato's son killed himself a few weeks ago which I did not 'connect' until I read this...

That is so sad. Good for Todd Bridges that he overcame his personal problems.

The curse of TV child stars continues. I remember hearing the news -- back in the mid 1970s -- that Anissa Jones ("Buffy" from Family Affair) had died of a drug overdose.

Friday, May 28, 2010

GARY COLEMAN (1968 - 2010)

Sorry to hear that actor Gary Coleman passed away today. I was aware that he was in critical condition after taking a fall in his home.

I remember seeing him as a guest shot on The Jeffersons back in 1978 and thinking, while watching the episode, that he was going to be big. It was pretty obvious.


As it turns out, teenaged pop-rocker Justin Bieber has a little bit of a 'tude! Recently, the 16 year-old Stratford, Ontarian, told an Australian radio chat show floor manager to 'lay off'.

Apparently Bieber showed a bad side last weekend when he stormed out of an similar interview in Wales.

So... as the British would say, we have a little guy who's becoming a wee bit too big for his britches...

That actor there, what's-his-name*?... the guy who was in the grossly overrated film Gladiator? He stormed out of an interview a few weeks ago when he decided that he did not like the line of questioning.

I have a serious question: What is it with these f*****g idiots? (Meet a "lesser" name and you tend to get someone who is courteous, gracious, and pleasant.)

(*Russell Crowe. I looked it up.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ART LINKLETTER (1912 - 2010)

I did not realize that Art Linkletter was still alive until I read this, minutes ago...

For the most part, Linkletter's television programs were before my time -- maybe I saw them when I was a little one, but I do not remember anything. He certainly is a TV legend.


Last night I took a ‘movie break’. The film was Hollywood - An Empire of Their Own. After watching the first few minutes I realized that it was the ‘Simcha Jacobovici special‘, Hollywoodism. It was pretty bad. And the research, no surprise, was abysmal at times; with the usual clips from movies illustrating the wrong things. “Wait a minute, that was made years after ‘fill-in-the-blank’... ”

As I’ve asked before, just who are these researchers? Is this a Toronto thing?

Well, it appears to be a Breakthrough Entertainment and Associated Producers thing.



Follow a link which ends up being broken sometimes leads you to something that you were not looking for in the first place but is “now”… I mean, “Eye”…

… With all this post-Lost analysis, I almost (almost) want to watch the show and form my own opinion.

That is not going to happen; I’d rather read a good book.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I like cars as much as I like yappy little dogs, which is not at all.

Imagine me reading an article in the past Saturday’s National Post newspaper on the “Yugo”. The Financial Post ‘Books’ section of the paper carried a review by Andrew Allentuck on the new book “The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History”, written by Jason Vuic.

It was enjoyable reading, actually. I am interested in business business including manufacturing, so pushing through a story on a car was made palatable.

I had heard of the Yugo -- and I remember when the “Lada” hit our shores -- but did not realize how bad of a car it was; especially that pesky-poor rate-of-acceleration of ‘zero to 60 miles per hour in 14 seconds’ -- and that’s with the pedal pressed to the floor! My Lord, how inefficient; especially in those critical moments like when you’ve just given the finger to the Cro-Magnon piloting that yellow Mustang. Even I admit that the rate-of-acceleration is all important after deploying the special salute. (I’ve done it many times, but the gears keep slipping on my bicycle; which explains my ice hockey face.)

Mr. Allentuck likes the book very much, in particular the way author Jason Vuic leads each chapter with a bit of humour: “A man walks into a gas station and says, ‘How about a gas cap for my Yugo?’ The attendant says, ‘Sounds like a fair trade to me’.”

Monday, May 24, 2010


Pardon my impertinent 'take' on the (minor) hit television series Lost.

Here is the real, and educated, take on the final episode which aired last night. Written by Ree Hines at

Here is an early look at last night's Lost ratings, courtesy of

Sunday, May 23, 2010


The finale/end of the current hit television series -- that no one will care about even five years from now -- Lost is rolling as I write this. (We are two hours in with two and a half to go.) I wonder how many fans have dropped dead from disappointment thus far. Pop out the anti depressants.

I have my own predictions: Ernesto and Bertha have been 'riding' on the airplane's epanage even if no one has noticed over the last few seasons; the Natural Gas Monster turns out to be benevolent -- he just wants to be a chef at "a major hotel"; the time-gate opens and Bill Hartnell returns. I knew he never left for good; and Tiburon the Shark is a real shark afterall. He was just flashing that toothy smile from offshore to impress the cast of actors'-studio-workshop-specials.

End credits.


On my television, moments ago, was an ad/trailer for the new Vincenzo Natali film, Splice.


Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley star.


Then: We see lots of shots of 'the creature' -- close-ups and full body. (!?)

Why? That makes no sense.


(The creature is also illustrated in full on the movie's poster. Seriously, "who's the brains?" We know that images of 'the creature' will end up on the Net soon enough, or even before the movie is released, but why reveal it as a matter of course?)


As part of my catching up on the last week and a half worth of piled newspapers, I came across a review in the National Post Arts section on actor/comedian Sarah Silverman's autobiographical book, "The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee".

The review, actually a pick-up from The New York Times, is another kick-in-the-pants to make me read the book.

(Last week the Toronto Sun printed an interview with Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley. Apparently Silverman has been signed to star in the director's next movie.)

The New York Times book review on "The Bedwetter"...


I spent a few hours this afternoon catching up on my newspaper reading (a stack of papers going back over a week), and came across this great quote from Woody Allen...

"This is my perspective and has always been my perspective on life... I have a very grim, pessimistic view of it. I always have since I was a little boy. It hasn't gotten worse with age or anything. I do feel that it's a grim, painful, nightmarish, meaningless experience, and the only way you can be happy is if you ... deceive yourself."

Brilliant; simply brilliant.

I pulled the above quote form National Post writer Chris Knight's piece, "Life according to Woody", from Monday, May 17th...

Friday, May 21, 2010


The fact that the hit ABC television series Lost is being tailed off forever (?) reminded me of a posting that I did back on December 4th...

Things come in cycles; which means the Toronto Maple Leafs will win a Stanley Cup again some day...


A headline caught my eye: "Time for fans to say farewell to Lost and 24."

Okay: "Goodbye! I never saw you so I know I won't miss you. Besides, the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs are on right now. The Montreal Canadiens smoked the Philadelphia Flyers last night by a score of 5-1. It was great. Maybe soon I will be able to say farewell to the Flyers."

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


As I did my Toronto newspaper reading rounds this morning I could not get onto the Toronto Sun website. I am aware that they are in an iffy financial situation right now, and have been for a while, but if they are going to close their doors you'd think they'd warn us first before shutting down their website. (It is still out.)

Nah, as if there would be even a ripple in the Media Universe should the Toronto Sun go belly-up. Even The Daily Sport is a better paper.

Friday, May 14, 2010


CHCH in Hamilton, Ontario, was bought a few months back, effectively saved from closing its doors for good, programmed with lots of movies, all from different eras, and spiced up with some news just to keep a local standing and not some faceless television channel broadcasting from who-knows-where.

It was a matter of time before something was thrown into the mix. Starting May 28th, Ed the Sock, formerly of CityTV's Ed's Night Party, will be hosting a show at midnight where he and his bevy of babes and 'friends' will be watching and critiquing "bad movies". Its title is typical Edward: This Movie Sucks!

Could be good or could be a wank-fest.

The source...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Last year I wrote a blurb here on Thriller, a 1960s TV anthology series which ran for two seasons and was hosted by non other than Boris Karloff (William Henry Pratt).

Last week, the website TV Shows on DVD listed the pile of 'extras' on the upcoming discs...

... check out the list of people who have, apparently, done episode 'commentaries'. (I always get a kick out of actors and directors who have fond memories and display enthusiasm for television work that they did early in their careers. Cinematographer Ernest Dickerson is one of the names on the list; Thriller was way before his career as an artist but no doubt he will talk about the show's influence on him. Gary Gerani is a respected television historian who's 1978 book "Fantastic Television" is a favourite of mine -- it is very well written and 'fair' in its appraisal of so many old SF and fantasy TV shows.)

And just before that announcement was the confirmation regarding the release date of August 31st...

A few months back I watched the first half-hour of "The Grim Reaper" on Youtube. Highly regarded by Thriller fans, this episode stars Natalie Schafer and some guy named William Shatner.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


OECA (the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, now "TVOntario") had some freaky station/network logos.

Here is one from 1975...

And another...

Friday, May 7, 2010


Last Saturday evening I saw an ad for Georgy Girl on TVOntario. It is to be shown on this week's edition of Saturday Night at the Movies.

Georgy Girl was released in 1966 and caused a bit of a sensation, and not only that, it put Lynn Redgrave (daughter of Michael) on the movie map.

On Monday afternoon I heard that Lynn Redgrave had succumbed to breast cancer the day before. Not the first time this has ever happened, but TVO clearly scheduled a movie which would become timely again.


While not an OECA - TVO series, Doctor Who was synonymous in Ontario, Canada, with that network. Starting in September of 1976 they started showing the Jon Pertwee episodes on Saturday nights. Those were exciting times for young geeks. I remember the ads promoting the new schedule. And then excitement set in.


The Education of Mike McManus. I used to watch this interview series most weeks in the mid-late 1970s. As a matter of fact, if you passed by the OECA (TVOntario) building back then you would see, on a ground-level office window, in white lettering, "The Education of Mike McManus".

Okay, this is too weird. After hammering the above text in I went to Google and did a search. A result was for ... fine, then saw that there was a listing for tonight: The Education of Mike McManus. Mike interviews Marshall McLuhan. "Okay, what's going on here? Have I been transported back to the mid 1970s?"

No. TVO, tonight at 10:30pm, is showing exactly what I read on the TVO website.

What a day this has been.


Faithful Barry reader "The G-Man" posted a comment on my previous entry, to which I responded with a comment of my own. I decided to cut and paste it here...

"The author of the article I linked to is a pretty poor journalist. He being Bruce Kirkland. As a matter of fact, in the first draft of that posting I made a joke about that.

Kirkland is one childish guy. I don't know how many times I've seen him knock the VHS format with some put down like "it's gone, yay!" Funny coming from someone who undoubtedly used it for two decades to get his entertainment. Yes, we move on to new technologies. Wonderful.

I've seen him actually attack his readers for being ambivalent towards 'extras' on discs or for not necessarily preferring a wide-screen version of a movie over a full screen. One rule is you never put down your readers. You can still have an opinion but never mock those who take the time to read your column.

Notice to Mr. Kirkland: Most movies were (it's slowly changing) actually shot full-frame, or "full Academy". The top and bottom 'masking', for years and years, was almost arbitrary... with the 1.66:1 or 1.85:1 ratio, or part of the image, being "emphasised". (Films shot in anamorphic, as in CinemaScope, are the exception.)

I am a 'film formats' nut but I still think that too big a deal is made about 'letterboxing' in home video.

I doubt Kirkland knows much of anything. In many cases, opinions are not enough."


Grand Motion Picture Man Roger Corman has made a lot of movies, either as director or producer.

Home video distributor Shout! Factory has turned on the taps this week...

... director Penelope Spheeris' 1983 flick Suburbia is good. (As is Richard Linklater's movie of the same name. Well, sort of: subUrbia.)

Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979), directed by Allan Arkush, is a lot of fun.


This is too weird.

Two days ago I was thinking of Robert Serling -- brother of Twilight Zone creator Rod -- and the fact that he was a noted aviation writer. What got me on this was an article I read about Rod Serling's death after open heart surgery where Robert was told by the chief surgeon that his brother had the arteries of a 90 year-old man and that the replacement artery (drawn from his leg) was literally falling apart in the surgeon's hands.

Rod Serling died at 50. Much too young.

What was not lost on me was the fact that Robert was still alive after all these years; avoiding the heart disease that Rod had suffered (due to his addiction to cigarettes).

A few minutes ago I was on Wikipedia where I was reading up on PBS's American Masters series, which Rod Serling was the subject of back in the mid 1990's.

I clicked on "Robert J. Serling" to read up on him and noticed that he had a date-of-death entry: May 6th, 2010. "What? That was... yesterday."

He lived to 92.

Wikipedia article on Robert J. Serling...

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I've been watching some flicks...

The Sheik (1921)
This vehicle for super film star Rudolph Vanlentino is surprisingly watchable, with an understated acting style and a plot as easy to follow as today's average brainless summer blockbuster. Good film. Weird seeing Adolphe Menjou. Did he always look much older than he actually was?

The Big Lebowski (1997)
First time I saw this one head to tail. While it is good, it is not one of the Cohen brother's best. Possibly the most self conscious of their films. "Hey, look... we are the Cohen Brothers and we are making a Cohen Brothers-style film." Jeff Bridges is good as always.

A Day at the Races (1937)
The Marx Brothers are great. As always.

Eastern Promises (2007)
David Cronenberg, like Woody Allen, commands the film language, even if you do not like a given picture of his. I did like this one, however.

Who Gets to Call It Art? (2007)
Good overview of powerhouse modern American art promoter Henry Geldzahler (1935-1994). Frank Stella, Jonas Mekas, Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Hans Hofmann... they're all here. It's no surprise that a lot of footage is culled from Emile de Antonio's 1973 documentary Painters Painting. I have that one on the shelf and have a habit of watching it at least twice a year.

Who is Henry Jaglom? (1997)
Some directors slip through the cracks. I admit I have never seen a Henry Jaglom film from head to tail; even if I've known about the man and his work for years. Judging from this documentary, Jaglom is quite the character. Time for me to make a move. Where's my supplier?

Avalon (2001)
I would be lying if I had an opinion on this one as I could not watch more than the first 10 minutes. It looks like one of those CG-afflicted video game movies. Total turn off. Maybe some other day.


Late night talk show host (I'm bored already) Conan O'Brien is profiled on 60 Minutes tonight. Globe and Mail columnist John Doyle mentions that Jay Leno retook The Tonight Show as host after O'Brien was given the boot. I did not know that Leno used to be the host of that one.

Shows how much I know about those 'late-night-waste-of-times'...

Doyle notes that O'Brien is returning to the fold in November. I cannot wait!


I'm not one to be a drooling fan of someone famous. While I like some name people very much, I do in a soft manner -- like I forget that I admire so-and-so, unless something resurfaces to make a connection anew.

Sarah Silverman is one of those people. I never researched her to any degree until a friend brought up her name last summer.

Then I forgot all over again; until this, her new book...