Thursday, January 31, 2013


A couple of days ago I decided to throw in a background on my Twitter account. It wasn't difficult, really. What would I use? Hmm... Star Trek. What else? (My absolute favourite series of all time, All in the Family, would be another obvious choice. Not so sure I wanted to put Archie Bunker as the background, for fear of people thinking I'm some kind of blustering bigot.)

The dialogue you should be 'hearing' when you visit the page is this...

You take a lotta chances, Lieutenant!

So do you, mister... so do you....


I like my coffee, and I make an effort to satiate my daily need for the roasted stuff.

In the January 23rd edition of the Globe and Mail newspaper, there was a funny quote on the “Facts & Arguments” page. The “Thought Du Jour” was this…

“If I can’t drink my coffee three times a day, I shrivel up like a piece of roast goat.”
- J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

I wonder if Johann Sebastian needed a fix to write his music….

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


As I write this, the temperature in Toronto is 13 degrees Celsius (55 Fahrenheit). A few minutes ago I was looking for some pictures filed on my computer, when I stumbled upon ones I took last summer down on Toronto's waterfront. While spending some quality time with my sweetie, between obligatory, not to mention quite demanding, make-out sessions I somehow managed to take a few snaps. (I must have had a hand free; which is most uncharacteristic of me.)

For my dear and valued U.S. readers, I should point out that that body of water is called Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drugstore, but that's just peanuts to Lake Ontario.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Perhaps this is doing things a little backwards, but I thought I should look-up that New Yorker Magazine article that I referred to in the "NFL - RIP?" posting.

Here it is...

Annals of Medicine
“Offensive Play”
How different are dogfighting and football?

by Malcolm Gladwell
From the October 19th, 2009 issue.


On my newspaper travels, yesterday, I came across a blurb about some dude predicting that the NFL (National Football League) will be done in about thirty years time. Not being much of a gridiron football fan I did not bother to read the article. (Basketball is the only team sport I could care less about.)

Then I saw today's Washington Post and I got more curious. This is a quote from that "dude" I mentioned... Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard: “Thirty years from now I don’t think it will be in existence. I could be wrong. It’s just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going -- where they [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else -- there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it.”

I'm reminded of an article that was published in New Yorker Magazine a couple of years ago (when I would read articles on a sport I did not like). The theme was player head-concussions in the NFL. There was a quote from a player, or coach, that went something like this: 'The NFL used to be a game of tackles; now it's more a game of collisions.'

As any NHL (National Hockey League) fan will tell you, that league is facing much the same crisis: Players who are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever before, and who wear over-sized protective equipment... perfect for nailing and rupturing your much-despised opponent.

The article in question...

Monday, January 28, 2013


This evening I listened to an archived BBC Tees radio program about a new in-depth book (in 2009, anyway) on Gerry Anderson’s puppet shows. Written by Stephen La Riviere, “Filmed in Supermarionation: A History of the Future” covers the story of the prolific British television producer/creator and his talented team, including wife Sylvia Tamm, and their tele-offspring: From The Adventures of Twizzle to The Secret Service.

At one point during the radio chat with show host Bob Fischer, Mr. La Riviere talks about taking a small documentary film crew to Las Vegas to interview actor, and former star of the early 1970s series The Persuaders!, Tony Curtis. The writer proceeds to tell the story, between his giddy fits of self-amusement, about when he first saw the American actor and how ‘degraded’ the former movie star appeared. I’m listening to this “writer” yap away when it suddenly strikes me that he is openly, not to mention, publicly, taking the piss out of one of his interview subjects; an actor who agreed to appear on camera for his soon-to-be mocker.

Not only is this unprofessional -- good luck to Stephen La Riviere in securing future willing interviewees -- but it is not proper behavior, period.

I’m not sure I want to find and read that book, now. Having an ‘aftertaste’ before indulging is not appealing to me. Call me weird.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Since the 'all-time' ratings for the "Most Popular Posts" seems to be more or less set in stone, therefore static, I changed the setting to 'most popular posts of the last 30 days'. Hopefully this change is as exciting to you as it is to me.


As the headline said. I don't get it, to be perfectly honest. J.J. Abrams strikes me as a pretty simple, rather, unsophisticated guy. His Star Trek reboot from four years ago was a "big okay": There were good things (the actors playing the classic characters) and bad (way too many Star Wars-type idiotic space battles; lame and unnecessary villain).

Although: This, admittedly, will partly be a reboot, not just the opening volley in a new stream of Star Wars flicks. (In a sane world, Episodes 1 through 3 would be disregarded as 'canon'.)

Maybe the "big okay" director will be a good fit for a Star Wars movie, after all, with that universe's rather two-dimensional characters and unsophisticated plots (but not in a bad way, just befitting of the material). By the way, "convolution" does not necessarily mean "sophistication"; as so impeccably demonstrated by the SW prequel films. I'm hardly a fan of the franchise, even though I enjoyed Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back very much when they were first released, but I like to think I know what made the original trilogy work. Besides, I wasn't a little kid back in 1977.

Now that I'm tailing-off this posting I'm realizing I don't know what to think anymore, regarding more Star Wars movies. Hopefully Disney has an idea, but, in a few years hence will it be revealed that hiring Abrams was a matter of starting off on the wrong foot?....

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Back on January 11th, the Beeb’s Newsnight program aired a six minute look at the career of Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson.

Great to see Shane Rimmer at the funeral. He is in error, however, when he speaks of Thunderbirds being the first Anderson show to crack the U.S. market. While there was no little bit of interest from all three major television networks, the anticipated deal went bust. It was actually the earlier Anderson series, Supercar (1961-62), that broke into the all-important American arena (syndication). And it was Fireball XL5 (1962-63) that became the first, and only one, of his programs to run on a U.S. network... NBC.

I like what Anderson says a couple of minutes into the program; advice that was given to him early in his career....

Sunday, January 20, 2013


What? I don't understand why anyone involved with the "Idle No More" group would waste their time speaking with the Toronto Sun or the Sun News Network, much less bothering to travel to their offices, in protest. Those two cosmic-jokes have reader and viewer numbers so small and insignificant (a sort of Intranet), that any energy expended on complaining about one of their idiotic mouthpieces, is a waste. Besides, racist ignoramuses are waiting in the Sun's online comments section and are all too ready and willing to exhibit their propensity for scribbling with a profound lack of grammatical and spelling proficiency. (Oops, I used words they have never seen before.)

I don't know if other news services (not that the Toronto Sun and the Sun News Network are affiliated members of any kind) have even bothered to report this incident. If a planet slams into a particle of space-dust, do astronomers bother reporting anything?

Saturday, January 19, 2013


One of the magical shows in my childhood years was the Gerry Anderson classic, Thunderbirds. (Regular readers of this blog will know that already.) I even saw Thunderbird 6, the second feature film derived from the series, when it was first released. It was great, I'll tell ya.

Here is a fifteen-minute documentary which I only recently discovered, titled Thunderbirds - The Making of the Secrets -- Odd I found it, considering I was looking for videos on Canada's Woodchuck...

Good little overview, containing a terrific documentary from 1965 when the series was in production; includes a cool interview with FX director Derek Meddings.

Friday, January 18, 2013


"Mirror, mirror"... I mean, "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Alexander Courage's music sparkles, giving an extra creepiness when Gary Mitchell and Elizabeth Dehner consolidate their cosmic powers.

d'Artagnan... I mean, Mr. Sulu, is helped by Courage's swashbuckling music.

Film Music Magazine has reviewed La-La Land's 15-CD music box, Star Trek: The Original Series Soundtrack Collection. I met a friend for a coffee today who bought the super set, and I had to ask him what he thought; the answer was, "it's great". He is a soft-spoken guy, superlatives are fired rather quietly, if at all -- but I know him well enough to know when he's impressed.

One observation he made is that after listening to various cues, he realized that "they really don't do tv music of this quality anymore".

I don't consider myself much of a Star Trek fan (insert 'snickers' from friends of mine who know me too well) but I have point out and correct a mistake the writer made in the aforementioned review: Charles Napier does not sing 'space-hippy ditties' for "The Apple", but rather, for "The Way to Eden". (Clue: It's, "headin' out to Eden, yah brother"; not, "I wanna take a bite of that poisonous 'apple', yah brother".)

The reviewer is correct here, however: "... achieving a sense of epic adventure in the warp climax of The Naked Time or propulsive, whirling excitement for The Corbomite Maneuver's space chase."

Absolutely correct. Alexander Courage's score for "The Naked Time", as a whole, is potent (and dark!), but his piece for the episode's "warp climax" is superb -- both dramatic and exhilarating at the same time. Fred Steiner's classic "whirling" music for the space buoy sequence is frenetic and rousing. Camille Saint-Saens on acid!

The review in Film Music Magazine...


I don't get it. The top of the news these last few days is "Lance Armstrong... this and that". Popped on the radio to 680 News (CFTR) early this morning. What was the top story, you ask? Odd considering a traffic cop working on a film shoot, in downtown Toronto, as "paid duty" was struck by a car and rushed to St. Michael's Hospital with severe injuries.

The news-readers made the Lance Armstrong issue sound like an International Crisis. A fully-loaded Boeing 787 going down in flames would hardly rate as newsworthy to 680 News... and other news services; they are hardly alone in the Obsession of Lance.

If I ever met the man, I would have to break the ice by asking: "Are you Lance, by any chance?" (Thank you, Katrin Cartlidge and Career Girls.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


There is an idea taking flight in San Francisco of renaming San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport. ("Just add Milk.")

The possible name change will be voted on in a November ballot. If the proposed name wins then regular flyers to and/or from Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport can claim they are on a "milk run".

In all seriousness, I think naming the airport after assassinated gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, is a good idea. A great way to honour the man.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013


The Toronto Star asks, "Facebook's mystery announcement: What will it be?"...

To obvious answer, to me: "From now on, everyone will have to wear their underwear... on the outside."


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

While visiting an old friend of mine yesterday, the subject of the new Battlestar Galactica show was brought up. He then lent me a few DVDs. A couple of years ago I rented the original miniseries with another friend: We both were bored stiff but managed to knock it off. The conversation was quick after the screening... it was bad. Maybe the series is better. Maybe this. Maybe that. Even the original was better. And at least it was a grande scaled (budgeted) show, albeit poorly written, and was watchable for that quality alone.

Ten minutes ago I finished watching a regular episode of the reimagined BG. It is a darn shame the producers did not just imagine making it and leave it at that. What makes this argument more interesting, if not exciting, for me is the fan base this show enjoys -- well, the three or four million veiwers that is claimed by ratings services. (Jeez, a show would be cancelled yesteryear when it averaged a paltry ten million. There were more variables than that, but you get the idea.)

Where do I start? For starters this version of the BG name feels very cheap to me. This is not the indicator of quality, but given that recent advances in technology have minimized visual effects and post production costs, I am amazed at how there are no apparent onscreen gains here. Maybe the show is working with less money than I would have thought. Anyway, I am the first to admit that a show done for pennies can still attract my admiration and attention; if it is done well, and the scripts are good.

(I clicked on the 'time remaining' menu on my DVD player: Only 15 minutes gone?! Thirty minutes to go?! No!)

What is it with those ridiculous snap-zooms in the effects shots? And what is it with that shaky camera in the live action scenes? This would make sense if a very long lens was on the camera to go with analogous content, but no, the camera appears to have a normal focal length lens on and the operator just likes shaking. (The crew might not even know what I am talking about, so it's a non issue. The fanzies should take up a collection and buy a tripod for the Cattlestar production team.)

The cast is uniformly bad. Everyone is pretentious and exhibits that wankfest acting style: Look at me act! The music scoring is Synsonic Drum heaven, the production design is poor as are the effects shots, over and above the issue of SnappyCam. CG shots are often accused of looking like something "done on my computer" but this effects crew has succeeded in making CG spaceships look like Dinky Toys. I never imagined I would see that happen.

(I clicked on the 'time remaining' menu on my DVD player: Still 12:26 to go?! This is going to be the longest 12:26 ever!)

It is hard for me to gauge the quality of scripting in the series, but this episode could not convince me it has acheived any level above paint-by-numbers. I have heard that themes of this and that have been dealt with in different episodes. My smark would go something like this, "and it's not as though that has been done before!"

After minutes of reflection I cannot think of anything I like about the show -- well, it got made and sold; and that always gets my admiration.

There is no way I am watching more episodes of this abortion. As my friend Larry would say, I can never get those hours back.

I was going to search for a nice photo to attach above... but even that is not worth my time.

... I can never get those five minutes back.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is not known for producing science fiction or 'space' shows. I'm sure most people working there today, including higher-ups, have no idea that the Mother Corp's very first dramatic television series was something called Space Command.

Produced for just two seasons (March 13, 1953 - May 29, 1954), the show is all but forgotten today since just one episode survives; as a Kinescope (and it is one of the highest quality "Kines" I have ever seen). The show was "live" -- video tape was a few years away -- but was recorded on film so it could be "bicycled" (delayed; distributed to various stations across Canada).

Space Command was directed by Murray Chercover; written by Alfred Harris (who went on to a busy career in U.S. television); and starred Bob Barclay, Aileen Taylor, James Doohan, Austin Willis, and Cec Linder. Some guest stars included William Shatner and Barry Morse.

Wikipedia entry on Space Command...

The CBC's "Image of the Day", from which I got the above image...


I'm becoming almost addicted to a British television series from the 1970s. The Sweeney is what we in North America call a "cop show". A cop show is what I call something I'm generally not interested in watching. Certainly any example from the last few decades.

A few years ago a friend gave me a VHS tape containing two episodes of The Sweeney that he had picked up for himself when he was last in England. (Since we both worked in the video business it was easy to make a good quality NTSC copy from the PAL original.)  I watched the tape and immediately took to the show and its characters.

The characters are super. John Thaw, as Jack Regan, and co-star Dennis Waterman (George Carter), have great chemistry. Apparently they would occasionally improvise on the set as the camera was rolling. The show has that 'anything goes' 1970s Brit-rawness and what we would term today as "not politically correct". Some of the 'stuff' that comes out of Regan's mouth, often due to exasperation, is hilarious. Don't think for a moment that he is some kind of prejudiced git... just a human being who often has a lot less control of the situation than would his contemporary Frank Cannon, across the pond. More realistic? Of course. Which is why I watch.  These cops, as they are members of the armed robbery and violent crime squad, actually carry guns. It's kinda weird hearing an English (or Irish) bloke say something along the lines of "stop, or I'll shoot".

Seeing a British police series, and one from the mid Seventies (1975-78), was revealing. As a young man I watched Sidestreet on the CBC every week in those same years. It too had a rawness; but a more polite rawness. (Like like dramatic tv series' made here in Canada at that time, The Sweeney was shot on 16mm "Reversal" film giving it a documentary flavouring.)

I've used the ever dependable Youtube to get my Sweeney fix. I made the 'mistake' a couple of weeks ago of watching an episode, which only opened the flood-gates.

I should mention that another fun part of The Sweeney is spotting actors: John Hurt; Catherine Schell; Brian Blessed; Ray Winstone; John Rhys Davies; T.P. McKenna; Diana Dors; Ian Hendry; Lesley-Anne Down; Julian Glover; George Sewell; and on.

Sorry, I gotta stop here:  Time to cook-up some Bangers & Mash, then sit down to watch another episode....

Wikipedia entry on The Sweeney...

Friday, January 11, 2013


Just over a week ago, someone uploaded a new interview with British Telefantasy maestro Gerry Anderson. If you are the least bit interested in the man and his work, it is worth ignoring the substandard technical quality of the following videos to listen to his stories.

There is a moment in the program where the lady host is introduced to a collection of replica's from Anderson's various shows, by the creator himself. She points to an Eagle Transporter from Space: 1999 and asks, "which program's this model from?" Being a bit of a space head (cadet), I make the mistake of assuming that most people would know what an "Eagle" is and what television program it is from.

Part One...

Part Two...


With all the chatter regarding the Boeing 787 ""Dreamliner"" and its recent problems, I'm getting a kick out of certain comments by some so-called "experts". The common excuse being 'these are quite normal and expected in any new series of aircraft'. Yah, right. Sorry, cracks in the cockpit windscreen and fires in the fuselage, in an APU (auxiliary power unit), are not normal.

Also, the media cannot be held at fault here for reporting these daily occurrences with the model 787. The way things are going, the media will be soon having to report a story about a "Dreamliner" going down with all aboard.

Unlike the De Havilland "Comet", the 787 is not looking to surprise us.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


A social networking site for cats? Come on. Cats don't say much. Of course any such website is for cat-lovers...

Besides, to cite my main man Archie Bunker, in paraphrase, "everyone knows no cat can write dat good".

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


One lovely morning back in 2000AD, I, for some reason quite uncharacteristic of me, tuned in one of those morning ‘major network’ television programs. After minutes of staring at the box’s charged phosphor, something got my undivided attention. A little Welsh girl was introduced by the show’s humdrum host; the cheery guest stood with a serious-looking guy who was sitting at a small assembly of music-making apparatus.

“I didn’t get her name.”

The music started; the girl’s face beamed; she belted a tune; my world froze. The little lady sounded much older than what the CRT part of the television was telling me. The song, while it had a slight ‘manufactured’ tint, was uplifting enough. Miss Charlotte Church literally, and figuratively, ended the tune on a high note.

I ‘warped' to Sam the Record Man in downtown Toronto. (I may have travelled ‘sub-light’; I don’t remember.)

The song I remembered from the morning show was called “Just Wave Hello”, and it opened the album. I remember being a little disappointed at how the full orchestra -- of course there must be a full orchestra -- diffused Church’s voice on the song.

The CD contained the usual covers -- certainly for a voice calibrated as such.  There was Gershwin… lovely!

Time passed and I more or less had forgotten about that particular CD. It did not help that it was part of over 200 like jewel cases. The spine revealed “Charlotte Church”, but the turmoil which is my day-to-day existence dulls the notion of spinning any music album short of Richard Wagner.

Ten years later, and my opinion on Charlotte Church is still the same as it was: “Nice and pleasant.”