Sunday, September 30, 2012


There is an aircraft I have to fly before I die... and after I get a private pilot's licence: A Bede BD-5J Microjet.


Saturday, September 29, 2012


A friend got me reading the 'comment' boards on the Toronto Sun website (  Although I will not exaggerate and claim I am always checking them out, they are interesting as some sort of sociological experiment. Or lab.

Do you want to see endless examples of bad grammar and atrocious spelling in one convenient place?  (That's not even counting the amount of "hate" you can see in one location.)

I'm the first to admit that my own scribblings on this blog are sometimes imperfect.  (When I sometimes look back at old postings, I roll my eyes and, for a few minutes, say, "I'm not cut out for this writing stuff".)  But, I produce technical errors once in a while.  Not every other sentence.

My favourite specimen? Even though there is a lot of competition, I managed to pick one. I should prefact by saying the story in particular was about our education system here in Ontario, Canada. Are you ready? Okay...


(I cannot resist... I will follow up to this in a few days.  The serious problem within the above quote, posted to Toronto Sun comment boards, is very common -- every day, in fact.  In just one fairly brief visit to today's on-line paper, I saw a few examples.  By the way, what did angry right-wingers do before newspaper comment boards came along?)

Friday, September 28, 2012


(Note: The original posting, which has comments, is here... )

Yesterday, a friend emailed me with the news that some crazy producers are planning to remake the 1975-77 SF television series Space: 1999, as Space: 2099.  He attached a link to the Hollywood Reporter where the stellar news was announced...

I sent him an email about my feelings -- thought you'd like to read its contents, which I have included here...

I checked the link you sent me to the Hollywood Reporter. I have mixed feelings about that business plan.  There aren't enough fans of the original to carry the show to ratings success/stability.  So why use a brand name, that is hardly a brand name in the conventional sense of the term, to propel a remake of a, for the most part, not so fondly remembered series?  (When the average citizen thinks of Space: 1999, those who remember it will reminisce as "that show with the 'oi-ding... oi-ding... oi-ding'".) I can't imagine too many new fans/viewers being picked up along the way -- unless they just make a new series, with all the originality that is extant anymore.

You had a good point yesterday about the issue of the moon being blown out of Earth's orbit [the ridiculousness].  Also, the tone would be different now; and the 'tone' was one of the better things about the original show [1st season].

Remember: Most producers aren't very bright; especially the financiers.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I thought I would have dinner in a local diner this evening... I'm glad I did. Not only was the bowl of Cheesies really good, but someone had left today's (Wednesday, April 9th) Toronto Star newspaper lying around: When I turned to page three, I saw the previous owner's graffiti..

Very funny.

Thursday, September 20, 2012



Info on The Invaders from Wikipedia...


The awesomeness that is the 1967-1968 ABC series, The Invaders.

Drama in title cards!


This past Wednesday, guest blogger Larry wrote a list of things which make no sense to him about the British Telefantasy show, Torchwood. I too wrote something in the same vein, earlier.

(I found this picture to the right: I think it's a behind the scenes look at actor John Barrowman studying the script.)

I spent too much time at the computer today, so it was only reasonable that I shut 'er off for a while and coincide this with the CBC's screening of Torchwood at 9 p.m.

Those of you who know me can only laugh at my lack of priorities.

Tonight's episode (hey, sounds like a Quinn Martin Production!), "Combat".

It is getting late; I am getting tired; and I have no desire to add too much to what Larry said the other day. If Larry watched tonight, then he probably thought the same odd thing in one pivotal scene...

Jack carries a gun as he walks through an empty warehouse looking for some incongruity when he suddenly hears a sound. He relaxes the gun for a moment while he pulls out a... flashlight! Wow, that organization -- Torchwood -- is woefully underfunded. You mean they cannot afford nightvision goggles or some similar apparatus? Besides, from a production standpoint, this would give the visual effects people a chance to do some kewl point-of-view infrared type graphics.

This show is overflowing with needless visual effects, so why stop here?

And Larry is right when he asks what some of these people do, exactly.

Just what exactly is this show trying to accomplish?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Starship Invasions, a classic, of sorts, science fiction picture from 1977 is now up on Youtube. This is the British release version; with its own title: Project Genocide. (Don't know why they changed the name -- Starship Invasions is actually a good name for the movie, in all its pulp-ishness.)

If you are interested in this sort of movie, I suggest you sit down with a big bowl of popcorn; turn the lights down a wee bit low; and smoke a joint... (Sorry, Mr. Yost.)


I have decided to allow (ooh, that is so nice of you, Barry) certain people to guest blog. This is the first; a very opinionated piece by my dear and talented writer friend, Larry (see attached photo). He has written a passionate diatribe on the British science fiction television series titled Torchwood.

Larry has elected to use my last name for purposes of guest blogging... maintains a continuity, for sure.

Be sure to check out my review of Torchwood from last October 29th, in case you haven't already. Hope you enjoy both.

Barry Smight


1. Doesn’t even live up to the stated premise of its introduction: “arming humanity against the future”. Haven’t seem them give humanity anything resembling weapons yet. Hell, they barely use them themselves, relying on pistols and fisticuffs.

2. In “Ghost Machine”, Gwen chases a guy for ages, through streets, up alleys, over fences, and through backyards. When she finally corners him, he asks for mercy and says he has asthma. The kind that lets you run like an Olympic athlete, apparently.

3. In the “Cyberwoman” episode, the gang release a pterodactyl to stop the Cyberwoman. They scarper, leaving the two to fight. When they return, there’s no sign of the pterodactyl. Guess it must have put itself back in its cage, eh? Good boy, Pterry!

4. “Countryside”: First we’re told the killings were being done by townsfolk mutated by energy seeping through a crack in the dimensional Rift (near Cardiff, never fully explained). At the end of the episode one of the town’s killers says he did it because it “makes him happy.” Which is it? And, if there’s no mutation going on, how the hell do the killers/cannibals run so fast and have super strength? Asthma? And if they do it because they like it, why only once every 10 years? Lots of self-control, these cannibals?

5. Torchwood is supposed to be a top secret organization of the highest level. Yet whenever they show up at sites to investigate anything, the police give them wide berth and don’t ask for I.D. of any sort. And the street cops Gwen used to work with know of her involvement. You don’t need an alien Shoddy-Writing-Detector to see how poorly thought-through this is.

6. Separate from the government? Waitaminnit...! Didn’t we see the PM in the first Doctor Who Christmas special give Torchwood a direct order to shoot down a retreating alien ship, which they followed to the letter? And if they’re separate from government, who foots the bills? Oh, right! That may have been Torchwood I or Torchwood II, neither of which are explained. Come to think of it, the function/purpose of Torchwood III (the current team) is never really explained either. Something about arming humanity…

7. Owen fucks everybody. Everybody wants to fuck Owen. We get it. Yawn. Wait, so why is he using the alien Fuck-Me device in episode one to get the girl at the bar to fuck him…?

8. In the episode “They Keep Killing Suzie”, the team is locked in their own base without power. Somehow they think to use the ISBN from a book of poetry found in Suzie’s locker as password to restart the power. And it works! WTF?! And the ISBN they use isn’t even from the book they have, it’s from a copy being read to them by policewoman who at the other end of a phone line. What if wasn’t the same edition? The puzzle logic here is puzzling, but it damn well ain’t logical. File under Housebroken Pterodactyl. Also: no manual override of any sort to get out of the base? Absolutely no way they’d construct any base that way. As a dramatic device, it’s a great comedic device.

9. Captain Jack cannot die. So what’s to care about, then? Why do they always make it appear as if he’s in danger? Are you that stupid, Viewer, that you say to yourself “oh dear, Captain Jack might be about to get killed”? If you are that dim, have I got a show for you. It’s called Torchwood.

10. In one episode, Captain Jack teaches Gwen to shoot. She’s got a pistol in her hand. He warns her not to shoot at the ceiling, because it will bring the base down. Had this been some alien super-destructor gun, it might have been a funny moment. Instead, it’s an ordinary pistol. Go on, Gwen: let’s see you collapse an fortified, underground state of the art base (one that doesn’t have manual override doors) with a pistol. I dare you.Torchwood tries so hard to be cool and cover all the bases (sex, violence, evil aliens, time travel, resurrection, zombies, etc.) that it doesn’t do anything well. An entire season has gone by and I have no idea what three of the five characters actually do in Torchwood. And don’t get me started on the camera stutter technique they use whenever there is a static shot of HQ.

Torchwood is a mess. Right up there with 24 as an example of someone’s idea of “cool” trumping good storytelling. Season two will have to make do without me watching, I’m afraid.

Until next time,

Larry Smight (no relation)

Monday, September 17, 2012


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.


Quinn Martin's 1960s super-cool sci-fi paranoia television series, The Invaders, is coming to DVD next Tuesday (May 27th). It was released overseas some time ago, but is only now landing here in North America.

The Invaders has one of the all time great opening narrations for a television series:

"The Invaders, alien beings from a dying planet. Their destination: the Earth. Their purpose: to make it their world. David Vincent has seen them. For him, it began one lost night on a lonely country road, looking for a shortcut that he never found. It began with a closed deserted diner, and a man too long without sleep to continue his journey. It began with the landing of a craft from another galaxy. Now David Vincent knows that the Invaders are here, that they have taken human form. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun."

In motion...

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Greg Woods lent me a copy of the documentary, TV Party (about the old television series, TV Party). I was unable to attend his ESR screening last Thursday night but wanted to see this film.

TV Party was a cable access show done out of New York City back in the late 'seventies. It ran from 1978 to, or rather, petered out in, 1982. Hosted by one Glenn O'Brien, the cable show snagged and featured some top alternative musical acts -- not hard to do when you are planted in NYC -- in addition to a lot of late night oddities.

One such oddity, as outlined in the documentary, was the 'call-in' part of any given episode. This has to be seen and heard; although anyone who has been around knows the nature of such a tradition, that is, profane callers, would not be surprised or put off by it. What does impress is the way the hosts roll with the comments, some of which are quite pointed.

While the effort was noble and genuine, I found this documentary to be more a rag tag or rough assembly of TV Party's ingredients as opposed to a nicely constructed overview and look back at what, for the time and place, was a groundbreaking television program.

There is treatment on Party's innovation, but it is perhaps the only strong and cohesive theme throughout this film.

"It is your television" is the type of call sign for any cable or community television channel and the fact is, by law, you are allowed to have access to it in order to do your own thing or speak your own voice. This provided for some experimental television; television not bound by ratings or often restrictive standards inherent in more commercial stations or networks.

Of course, those of us who worked in community television -- Disco 8 on Cable 8, anyone? -- can tell you it is never an open slate but the opportunities are there to pitch something to the controllers, nonetheless.

My big question throughout the doc was, where was the studio? The filmmakers give you absolutely no idea of the geography -- where the studio was. There is talk about certain folk hanging out on the street when the cast and crew would leave the studio but you, as a viewer, don't know where they even were; other than "the Lower East Side". (Also mentioned in the doc by one person connected with TV Party is how NYC was a different place back then; "pre-Giuliani" is how they put it.)

A simple map would have been nice; it doesn't have to be a Baedeker guide, just something.

By all means check the documentary out... it is worth seeing if you have any interest in the form of late night television. And it is good in the sense that it is about TV Party: I saw one episode of the actual show a few months ago -- again, supplied by the wonderful Greg Woods -- and it is crude in technique, rough around the edges (there are time-base problems whenever there is a camera switch), a little like water running down a hill, but always interesting and fun -- even out of its historical context.

Those of you who are into the late '70s/early '80s New York City music scene, will love it. The documentary spends a good chunk of time on the various acts, including interviews with some. (Overseas musical groups also paid a visit to the show when they were in town.)

What the documentary and the TV Party show itself make you realize is that a guy like David Letterman did not invent everything: 'Chuck the Security Guard', of the All Night Show, a live program produced here in Toronto by CFMT back in 1980-81, did a few things that Dave made famous a few years later.

It is often the underground gang who break the ground first, then dig around... and the big earth movers come in later and take all the glory.

The TV Party website is:

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I keep asking myself, why do I play the masochist? I don't get it. It is not as though I haven't enough to do. I heard that Torchwood is good and has a ravenous following in its homeland of Great Britain. That should have been a warning -- not the fact the following is strong in Britain of all places but the 'ravenous following' part. (I thought I did learn my lesson with the new Battlestar Galactica. Heard, too, about its following... the show is awful.)

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) is playing Torchwood: Friday nights at 9 p.m.

I've now seen three episodes -- missed the opening shot -- and that completes my contract with the show. In hindsight, I have given Torchwood too many chances. Yes, it is that bad. Just what are the fans going on about?

The characters are in a nether region of appeal. Are they nice people or are they bad people just trying to do a good job for humanity? Jack, the main dude, the one of square jaw and good looks, the guy we were introduced to in a Doctor Who two part episode, is the ring leader of the Torchwood Institute. Jack is not particularly likable; rather, he is unappealing.

Torchwood, the institute, is based in Cardiff, Wales... they are to investigate alien invasions and other sorts of extraterrestrial incidents. The outfit's staff is obviously under-trained; considering they are manning such a critical operation, these people, who you would expect to be crack operatives, come across at times as digital-age Keystone Cops.

Jack is forever barking orders at them -- often during yet another light-beam-style optical effect scene -- to try to get them to behave. Why does he have to do this? Is there not some "Procedures and Protocol When You Are Working For Torchwood" book? You keep smacking them in line, Jack.

What a miserable lot.

What a mess of a show. There doesn't appear to be a vision for this one.

I've been to Cardiff... lovely place. At least it was until these clowns showed up...

Thursday, September 13, 2012


The above link is regarding how much business Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did over the weekend.

You cannot escape the box office scores. They are in our faces every Monday morning -- or even Sunday afternoon! Trouble is abound, however, as the average citizen does not know how to read these numbers and is almost always impressed. (This is no fault of their 
own as studios do not want anyone to know how to read these scores.)

When you see that Bob's Shirt makes a "whopping" 80 million dollars over its opening weekend, that amount is not profit for the producing studios. Only 40 to 50 percent of that big 80 actually makes it back to them -- this is the "rentals" portion. The theatre, or "exhibitor", and the distributor, keep the rest. What we have now is approximately 35 million back in actual profits. Bob's Shirt cost 150 million to make (the "negative" cost), and 100 million was laid out for release prints and advertising (paid for by the distributor, which wants its money back), adding up to 250 million dollars. This so-called hit has made only 35 million, or so; 35 to be applied against the 250. (Interest accrued on the outstanding 250 million is also factored in as money-to-be-recovered.)

We all know that it's all down hill from here. Movies traditionally drop 30 percent, and often much more, in their second weekend of release. You don't have to be a mathematician to figure out that getting that 250-plus back is not an easy battle; a battle which most films ultimately lose.

Yes, movies can go on to make a lot of money on home video, but again, big costs are incurred in promoting "on DVD, next week!". It's now a whole new battle.

On Monday morning of this week, newspapers reported that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has already made its money back (as of Sunday night).

Well, no it has not...

(The Motion Picture Association of America [MPAA] claims that about 70% of all films released lose money.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I recently reread a good book on Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, and their film/television studio, Desilu. It was only two years ago that I first read Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (written by Coyne Steven Sanders and Tom Gilbert). Because this book is rich in detail, it could be reread more than once... which makes it worth buying.

When reading Desilu, I was really impressed at how seriously Americans take the whole business of film and television production. As the book is about the studio as much as it is about the husband and wife team -- Ball was a talented weirdo, Arnaz was a brilliant, but often inebriated, studio executive -- the pages within have more than a few dollars and cents figures. Even without these amounts adjusted for inflation and production inflation, it is striking to the reader how much cash was put into the studio's various television pilots... back in the day when pilots were still made; before soaring production costs eventually made them go the way of the dodo bird. Most of these pilot shows didn't succeed in selling the network on a regular series, but to American producers and studio execs, monetary investment was, and is, part of the game -- or the foundation of the game. You have to spend money to make money, and you have to keep it circulating. It's an important part of the machinery. Make product, lots of it, and some people will watch. It is one big crap shoot, but boy, oh boy, you can just hear those dice a rollin'!

Here in Canada, we play Monopoly...


I'm watching the CBC's Hockey Night in Canada presentation of the NHL "quarter final" match-up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals. As I write this it is the intermission between the 3rd and 1st overtime period. The game is tied 3 - 3 as the "Caps" tied it up with about four minutes left in 'regulation'. (The series is tied 2 games to 2 since Pittsburgh won last night.)

Just a few minutes ago, the broadcast did a little video bit accompanied by the music to the 1950's Adventures of Superman television series. It gave me chills... that only my favourite Superman theme can give me. Odd, really, as I was just thinking about that tune a couple of hours ago.

As much as I like John Williams' theme music to the 1978 Superman film, it is not my favourite. It does not give me "the chill". (Sorry, Johnny T., Leon Klatzkin is my man.)

The overtime is starting: I'm cheering for Washington.


As a child of the 1960s and 1970s I watched some cool television fare; although this television does not fare well today. (I could not resist.) Good Times, Night Gallery, The Six Million Dollar Man, Gilligan's Island, The Rookies, Emergency, Lost in Space, Star Trek, and Space: 1999 were some of the shows which I would sit down for. (I cannot get over how well I've turned out considering I was constantly subjected to the acid rain intrinsic with some of the above.)

As I got older I discovered All in the Family (brilliant show), The Outer Limits, and a few others. In my teenage years I sat down long enough to catch some newly released, and superior, series such as The White Shadow and Lou Grant.

(Sorry, no Battlestar Galactica. I watched some episodes when it ran but knew it wasn't clicking. Although, it is still better than the narcissistic and plethoric "re-imagining".)

Easily one of the worst of the above was Space: 1999. It premiered in September of 1975; a time where I was easily old enough to know what worked and what did not -- over and above the subjective question. This British import was, in its first season (the second season was different, and I will get to in a moment), turgid, overly metaphysical and consistently so, often boring, and after many episodes, absolutely inconsequential. In a nutshell, perfect stuff to make you blow away all the time you think you have when you are of such a young age as I was.

Space: 1999 was known at the time for its pretty and (at times) elaborate visual effects work. The first season was scored by series creator Gerry Anderson's frequent collaborator, Barry Gray. This composer was consistently producing quality theme tunes and background music for Anderson's children's programs such as Supercar, Thunderbirds, and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.

Those kiddie shows -- which many adults watched too -- were frequently fun even when serious, with some episodes played as comedies. This ingredient allowed composer Gray to write some disparate music: Dark, upbeat, romantic, and contemporary. When some episodes bypassed having an original score, no matter. There was always something to track in to hit the notes for whatever installment. (I should mention that I think his Thunderbirds theme is one of the best television signature pieces of all time. Barry Gray was a compositional talent.)

With Space: 1999, Gray was commissioned to score just five episodes. These more or less required the same sort of timbre or colour in the music, banking a fairly narrow reservoir of dramatic options. The episodes in question required gloomy music for the most part. This fact hurt the show... seriously (in my humble opinion).

Darkness pervaded the prairie.

It is pretty clear that what happened was no fault of Barry Gray's. He was, after all, a hired composer, as are all film composers. They write music to match an image on a screen. They are told what episodes to write music for; it is a commissioned capacity.

After the first season of Space: 1999 wrapped up, just about everybody who cared came up with a litany of what was wrong with the series. I won't go into a historical analysis of what went on other than to say that veteran American television producer Fred Freiberger (yes, that Freiberger of 3rd season Star Trek fame) was hired by the Brits to help make the show more friendly to the all important U.S. audience.

Command Centre was Command Center. (We Canadians spell in the British style, so we would also take into account the same export considerations.)

Changes were made, and some for the better (I am one of those who thinks the second season is a slight improvement on the 1st), one perhaps was most severe: The music.

When I sat down in front of the CBC for the much anticipated new stab-at-the-cat season of Space in September of 1976, I was taken aback by the total change in the opening titles department; mainly, the musical theme. What a difference. I immediately liked it. It was more rock and roll and jazz than symphonic... but it worked.

And in an episode to episode respect, it really did work. Derek Wadsworth, this creator of the new sound, provided what was really needed more than anything else for this miserable thing... Fun music.

(Wadsworth was for all intents and purposes, a rock and roller and jazz guy. He arranged music for the Rolling Stones, amongst others.)

The show's initiating concept was shite, which was the truth admitted by some all along; by those brave and realistic souls. (The moon blasting out of Earth's orbit? That is the concept behind the show? Ridiculous.)

Rock/Pop/Jazz styled music worked in outer space. Not that the mentioned types are needed to mark substandard television, it's just that they seemed to fit Space: 1999's second season so aptly.

Derek Wadsworth and Space: 1999 was a happy accident. He did not make the show a good one, but did get rid of those overcast skies.

Space just needed a little rock and roll and jazz.


There is serious talk again of approving another Toronto area NHL (National Hockey League) team. My answer has always been "yes!"

Toronto Star...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


It was one of those nights where I had so much to do that I thought I would deal with none and just sit down and watch a movie. Went through my unwatched VHS dubs... Tales from the Gimli Hospital. Sounds like a good pick for tonight; Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin's 1988 feature. His first feature film.

After watching it tonight for the first time in a few years, I am sure it is his still his best feature film. As Maddin said years ago, Gimli feels like a film that was found in some permafrost after being forgotten or lost for years. Specifically, it is a film which would have been made, or appears to have been made, during the sound transition era: Those are for all intents and purposes the years 1928 - 1930. Indeed, to this viewer who admits having a fondness for the 'big changeover' aesthetic, Tales from the Gimli Hospital looks and sounds like the genuine article.

Maddin nailed it, as it were. For all this authenticity, the director has made an original film... with touches made by a man who is looking back in nostalgia. He has stated that this period in cinema is a favourite of his, even with, or because of, the technical and artistic problems inherent in the beast -- at least with the more conventional directors: Static camera work, primitive and often rudimentary audio mixing, and so forth. Maddin's affection and fondness of the source material shows.

Gimli was shot over a period of eighteen months; typical of very low budget filmmaking. The first cut came out to approximately 50 minutes: Too short to be a feature and too long to call a short. Maddin secured 'arts council' money to beef up the running time.

Tales from the Gimli Hospital, like almost all films which eventually claim cult status, did not explode onto the scene, but rather crept along as word of mouth spread, eventually snagging viewers like yours truly.

The first time I heard of Guy Maddin, his Gimli, and the Winnipeg Film Group, was in an article I read in the Toronto Star newspaper back in the summer of 1990.

This film group and their films sounded so exciting to me.


It's funny what happens when you surf the net, even for just a few minutes.

Quite possibly the coolest -- absolute coolest -- man in showbiz, to me, would be actor John Saxon. While I was growing up, meaning watching a lot of television, this man was almost everywhere on the dial. His unique look imprinted into any kid's tv-sucking brain. And the name was easy to remember... I guess I reviewed program and movie credits way back then.

Leslie Nielsen was another face and name who was known to any tv junkie like me. (Of course, I was thrown for a loop when Airplane was released.)

John Saxon probably wasn't on the tube as much as I would think, even though he was always employed, it was more of a case that he was consistently so memorable; whether he was cast as a villain of the week on a regular series, or as a "good guy" in a film such as Curtis Harrington's classic sci-fi feature, Queen of Blood.

And he was great in Enter the Dragon.

There is no need to go into a credit roll here other than to say that he popped up in The Six Million Dollar Man a couple of times (one of my favourite shows in my youth) and an awful lot of shows I would have just caught a few minutes of. "Hey, it's John Saxon."

Younger folk might know him also as he had parts in a couple of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

I never have been one to watch something just because so-and-so is in it. There are exceptions, however: Cary Grant, Robert Mitchum, and John Saxon.


A friend saw my "phaser" postings and thought I might want to know about this...

From the above link...

"Polar Lights, a brand of Round 2 LLC, is developing what is considered to be the “holy grail” of science fiction modelers everywhere: a 1:350scale Star Trek the Original Series U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 plastic model kit. The highly demanded kit will measure over 32” long and will be accurately detailed to reflect the 11’ filming model used in the production of the classic TV show."


What do I add besides a racing heartbeat?

(Apparently the SRP [Suggested Retail Price] for the "Premiere Edition" will be $149.99. Not too bad, considering the kit size.)

Monday, September 10, 2012


Last week, La-La Land Records announced details regarding their upcoming 15-CD box set release of the melodelicious music from the original Star Trek television series.

It will be a limited release -- of course -- of 6000 units; based on feedback the record company has gotten. (Based on what I know of similar releases of late, which I'll get to in a moment, I anticipated a pressing of about 4000.)

Star Trek - The Original Series Soundtrack Collection will sell for $224.98 and La-La Land hopes to release the set around late November.

The Canadian Dollar has been hanging around at a little over parity with the U.S. Dollar. Go, Canadian Dollar! You've been served your papers; you've got two months to make an even bigger difference....

Back to my earlier point on "what I know of similar releases of late": About two years ago a 14-CD box set by the name of "The Ron Jones Project" was released; consisting of all, or most of, the music that Ron Jones wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation, it was bound to be a sure-fire seller to fans of that series and his scores; even at the price of $149.95. Five-thousand units were manufactured; a few months after hitting the market, the set had sold the grand total of around 900. I've since heard that more have been sold, but the producers of the set took a bath. Which begs the question: Where are all the fans of this stuff?!

Last year a 4-CD set of music from The Next Generation was released and it has sold below expectations. Where are all the fans?

So, my point is: Hopefully Star Trek - The Original Series Soundtrack Collection will be wanted by the fans. I'm on my way; last week I bought a new piggy bank at Honest Ed's....


There is a joke that goes something like, 'you can't have a best Canadian film as it is an oxymoron'.

Only self-loathing Canadians (some Canadians are) say things like that. For the sake of streamlining my argument, I am going to count English-speaking cinema only. Besides, it ain't fair; on average, Quebec movies are way ahead of their Anglo cousins -- so my first pick would be Don Shebib's 1969 super flick, Goin' Down the Road.

Hold on a moment: Goin' Down the Road is not the best Canadian movie ever made. The best Canadian movie ever made is Starship Invasions.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Star Trek premiered on NBC forty-six years ago today? Time sure flies. While I did not see the legendary series until June of 1970, I was old enough to remember the premiere had I been watching in September of 1966.

The good news is I discovered Star Trek in the full in the fall of 1970 when CFTO (CTV Toronto) played it at 5pm, weekdays. The show was magical and it captured our (my friends and I) little minds and hearts. We thought and talked about ST an awful lot. (I think my grade-4 teacher was more than a little frustrated with our chatter... and drawings.)

And some of us are still talking.

Put it this way; a friend of mine recently watched a DVD that contained two episodes of the original Trek -- "Who Mourns for Adonais?" and "Amok Time".  As my friend admitted, he was a casual television watcher growing up, and as far as our show in question was concerned, he guessed that he saw "perhaps ten episodes in total". I had to ask him what he thought of the show, given these parameters.  He answered:  "Excellent! I watched each one twice." After a moment, he added with the passion of discovery, "It's much more profound than I remember it being." I quipped, "that's why we're still talking about it".

Thursday, September 6, 2012


How often do we hear a song that we really like but when we buy the album (at least we used to at one time) there is basically just the one song of note... maybe another... maybe?

It was a pleasant surprise when, after deciding the song "Tubthumping" had to be mine, I picked up Chumbawamba's album, Tubthumper, and after giving it a spin I ended up letting it spin right to the end. That is rare for me. And especially the fact that I enjoyed the whole thing, from beginning to end.

Something I recognized right away while listening to the album, was the source of the frequent audio sampling as being the movie 'Brassed Off', which I watched and liked when it first hit home-vid.

(By the way, I decided to post the above after listening to the album this evening. Now, where's that Hercules album I bought a few years ago? "The Mighty Hercules", from Golden Record.  Win Sharples! Have I played that CD since first buying it? Put on the headphones, tuck in under the sheets....)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I heard the rumour about "Lt. Worf" getting his own Star Trek series, and had to investigate...

No... please, no. Just kidding. Whatever turns 'them' on.  Yet another show with just 4 million viewers. If that!

like Worf, he was one of the few interesting characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I feel even he is too two-dimensional. Not interesting enough to carry a show past three episodes; never mind a season.

I sent the above idea to a friend and he came back with this...

"commanding his own ship, on the front lines, chasing terrorists."

Because a trillion-dollar spaceship is just the thing to catch terrorists with. When they're hanging around on the front lines.

To quote from an episode of the original Star Trek: "Brain?! Brain?! What is brain?!"