Friday, May 31, 2013


Yes, "Canada is among the best places in the world to live", as described by this article in the Globe and Mail...

"Canadians have ‘better life’ than most, new comparison finds"

Canada has a high degree of "life satisfaction" according to The Better Life Index from the Organizaton for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This generally awesome land, among rich industrialized nations, scores in many of the 24 indicators used as measurement.

I've always been a proud Canadian, not in the right-wing sense of waving the flag unconsciously (and hating your fellow man who's different or thinks differently from you), but based more on what is around me and the general comfort of day-to-day existence.

Now, I must make it clear that this comes from someone who is having a hard time getting regular employment outside of contracts here and there. As mentioned in the last paragraph of the Globe story, 11 percent of Canadians are living an employment life of insecurity.

There's always the good and the bad. My own feeling is that Canada has so much more good than bad. As a nation in such tumultuous times, we have a lot on the ball. And we don't have to wrap ourselves "in the flag" to convince anyone, especially ourselves, that we are great.

I'm also a proud internationalist. Nationalism and Internationalism should be able to coexist.

In summary: Canada may be one of Terra's best kept secrets.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Minutes ago I decided to open my apartment balcony door to take in some direct sunshine. I'd been working away here and realized I needed a "smoke break", even though I do not smoke.

I remembered hearing that it's supposed to hit 30 degrees Celsius today in the great city of Toronto. As part of fire education in our younger years, we kiddies were taught to feel the door for warmth or heat before throwing it open in haste.

Fine, the door was 'normal'. I opened it, and all I can say to describe the sensation is that it felt as though I was opening an oven door... one that had been off for a few minutes but there was still some heat retention.

Toronto's had off-and-on warmth this year but I guess that May 30th is the first day of the heatwave-type heat.

For those readers who may not know Toronto's weather patterns: We get big swings in temperature. The worst of the winter can produce finger-snapping lows of -15 degrees Celsius (not counting "wind chill"), or colder, of course; and the summer can get, and easily maintain, highs of 35 degrees Celsius (not counting "humidity index", which makes it all rather "disgusting").

The best part is, and this might be the residual "British" matter in many of us, we will often complain about it all during those peaks -- that includes me, by the way; more with the extreme heat. (One friend of mine absolutely abhors the peak heat.)

Dear Travellers,

Plan your trips carefully. But enjoy Toronto; it's great. As a general rule, and I cop this from a British bloke I met recently who's here on a work-visa, the people are nice, the city's clean, there's "good public transport", and there's lots of air-conditioned buildings (I added that last one).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I got together with a friend briefly today and, by way of discussing the inaccuracies of reporting statistics without proper context, we got onto the subject of epidemiology. This led to the issue or concern of the under-reporting of suicide; especially in countries and cultures where taking your own life is stigmatized. As we all know, when someone calls it quits they leave some devastation behind, putting their "loved ones" in the unfortunate position of having to endure and rebuild.

To wrap our serious discussion of a serious topic I quickly decided to end with some humour -- it worked; my pal laughed a belly-laugh after I delivered this with impeccable timing...

"Don't worry, man, I won't pop myself. That would leave the Toronto chapter of Space: 1999 fandom with a cut in their membership of 50%."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


... So said Mr. Spock in the Star Trek episode "The Enterprise Incident".

What made me quote the above was the news this morning that "Chinese hackers" have "compromised" the designs for "the most sensitive advanced weapons systems". The report bearing the bad news was prepared for the Pentagon by the Defense Science Board, a senior advisory group made up of government and civilian experts. (It must be pointed out that the report does not point the finger at the "Chinese", directly.)

These compromised systems include U.S. missile defenses, combat aircraft, and ships. The fear is that this breach could accelerate development of China's own weapons systems, thereby slimming any advantage the United States of America may enjoy should there be a future military conflict between them. Admittedly, there's something twisted about the idea of a war between those two considering that one has a 'major financial interest' in the other. Oh well. Such is the world we live in.

The Washington Post...

"Confidential report lists U.S. weapons system designs compromised by Chinese cyberspies"

"A list of the U.S. weapons designs and technologies compromised by hackers"

The already compromised F-35 "Fleabag" has been compromised.

Some of the compromised items (listed in the above link) include...

- Patriot Advanced Capability-3
- F-35
- V-22
- C-17
- Harpoon Weapon Control System
- Navy antenna mechanisms
- Global Freight Management System
- Micro Air Vehicle
- Brigade Combat Team Modernization
- Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System
- Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T)
- Littoral Combat Ship
- Navy Standard Missile (SM-2,3,6)
- P-8A/Multi-Mission Aircraft
- F/A and EA-18
- UH-60 Black Hawk
- AMRAAM (AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile)

So, I'm guessing what this means, folks, is don't waste money on gym memberships.


A big interest of mine is history; the history of this and the history of that; including military, film & television, technology, and many more...

I was reading up on the English Channel * when I came across this interesting piece of information...

After the last ice age melted away a wide variety of folc travelled, by boat, across the "Dover Straight" to the island: these immigrants included Celts, Vikings, Romans, horticulturists, Beaker folk, Anglo-Saxons, Normans, plough farmers, and refugees (including Flemish Protestants and German Jews).

Daniel Defoe said this about the migration...

"From this amphibious ill-born mob began
That vain, ill-natured thing, an Englishman."

(* "The English Channel" - Nigel Calder - Penguin Books, 1986)

Monday, May 27, 2013


Columnist Rosie DiManno, of the Toronto Star, has a funny/chilling/sad piece on the "Brothers Boorish" (Rob and Doug Ford) in today's paper...

"Rob and Doug Ford rushed headlong into a public spectacle of venom and bile: DiManno"

I won't repeat what DiManno has to say other than point out something in her column which struck me as funny; due to my own interjections, of sorts. She describes and overviews the two babes' spiel yesterday on "Newstalk 1010" (on which they have a weekly "show"); specifically my self-amusement was activated by this, the beginning of a new paragraph...

Doug Ford, following up on this exchange, supplied a weird addendum. “I want to address one comment about this picture, Rob, that you don’t know about, or no one else has known about. I’ve been getting calls, from some councillors too, which I think...."

Holy smokes! Immediately I was reminded of SCTV's wonderful segment, "The Sammy Maudlin Show". I don't know if you remember or not but regular and special guest, comedian Bobby Bittman (real name: Herschel Schlansky), would suddenly, after dispensing more than a few lame jokes, get introspective for a moment and say... well, he could have said this...

“I want to address one comment about this picture, Rob (Sammy), that you don’t know about, or no one else has known about. As a comedian in all seriousness, I’ve been getting calls, from some councillors too, which I think...."

Twisted wonderful-ness.

Rob and Doug Ford are definitely two bizarre and childish guys, especially so considering they are key players in Toronto's government. As a blogger in all seriousness, I think that the joke's over. Based on their radio show alone, and certainly based on the "contents" of yesterday's program, I really wish they would grow up -- in the classic sense. Arrested Development?

What do non-Torontonians think of these two? The international media has given them space; for example, The Guardian has covered the Ford boys.

I must be philosophical: Maybe the two buffoons will increase tourism to Toronto. Visitors here must realize that the typical (simple-minded, unread, reactionary) member of "Ford Nation" does not represent the average citizen of this great city. Please believe me.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Doug Ford, family man.

A friend asked me yesterday if I had read "today's" Globe and Mail newspaper. I had not; "I didn't do my usual morning newspaper rounds".

He told me that the Globe and Mail had spent 18 months investigating Toronto's premiere Ford family and their (alleged) history in drug dealing. My reaction was a simple "wow".

When I got home I popped on the Internet Machine...

"Globe investigation: The Ford family's history with drug dealing" - by Greg McArthur and Shannon Kari

It's quite the article; typical of the Globe's in-depth reportage. A heads-up: Rob Ford, he of Current Crack Cocaine Controversy (Toronto), and current mayor of Toronto, is a bit-player in this story.

I later said to my friend, "it will be interesting to see what the fall-out will be".

Well, we did not have to wait for long: Doug Ford, spokesman for the merry clan, which includes brother Randy, is not taking this sitting down...

From a real newspaper, the Globe and Mail:

And an un-real newspaper, the Toronto Sun:

Saturday, May 25, 2013


While in a friend's neighbourhood this morning, I thought I would give him a call to see if he was free for a coffee.

He relented...

As we sat and enjoyed our freshly-brewed, he broke the news that he and his wife went to see Star Trek Into Darkness last night.

"Just a sec, man. I need more sugar..."

... As I sat back down in my chair I asked him what he thought of the film, now that I'd soon be in-synch courtesy of the double shot of refined sugar. He tilted his head from side to side and said "I went in with an open mind." (Gee, he's no fun.)

My friend basically took the film for what it offered: An awful lot of action; things that make absolutely no sense; some very funny moments ("Simon Pegg [as Scotty] steals the movie"); a James Bond-type opening, and plot structure; the writers perhaps going overboard in doing things to deliberately surprise you and go against what "you were probably expecting"; and good 2-D (he saw it in a regular theatre; awesome).

He went into more detail than that but that was the idea.

At one point during his descriptive bits and pieces, he warned me about potential "spoilers".

"I don't care."

My buddy-in-geek wasn't too fond of the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek (2009). I remember his email to me back in May of that year -- he saw it before I did: "Lot's of exploding goodness."

After we talked for a few minutes on the subject of his reactions I decided to ask an important question: "So... what did the civilian think?"

Facial expression of "huh?"

"Your wife..."

"Oh! She liked it."

(I spilled coffee down my already stained "white" shirt -- before we got on the topic.)

My point is...? I must have a point. Think fast! Oh... I love hearing what people think of a high-profile movie after they jump past the hype and see the actual movie.

Friday, May 24, 2013


This posting's title, along with the attached picture, could suffice with no need for me to explain any further down here. But I must...

This morning I saw those three colours together -- courtesy of the Habs logo -- and immediately my memory shot back five decades ("we're going backward in time") after it quickly assembled an HD image of that ball from the 1960s.

Anyone who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, in North America at least, will remember that ball. It was made of a semi-dense foam rubber and was coated in paint which chipped, or chunked, off in fairly short order... especially if one used it as a road/street hockey ball. (It must be said that the best thing about about that child's plaything is it didn't hurt when you took it in the face.)

That's all. I have nothing else to say (thank your lucky stars).

Maybe I'll start asking around to see if anyone remembers that ball.

Speaking of balls: Do you remember the "Super Ball"? Those things were scary. Many a child of the '60s developed a chronic flinch reflex because of those blasted things....

Thursday, May 23, 2013


"It's okay, Spock, they're just numbers."
Part of my week, or parts of my week, consists of meeting friends and colleagues for a cuppa.

Yesterday involved one of those all-important sessions. Typical topics of conversation include: Star Trek; history; Star Trek; the film and television business in Toronto; Star Trek; movies; Star Trek; cats; Star Trek; books; Star Trek; politics...

During our conversation the subject of Star Trek Into Darkness came up; I told my coffee date that I have no desire to see the flick, and he told me he's decided against seeing it after learning that "Khan" is the villain. ("What a boring pick that was... Why did Abrams do that?")

To be specific, my friend said he is "protesting" the film -- probably through new found ambivalence, which was the way I read him.

After that somewhat protracted conversation we went back to our coffee; for some reason it tasted extra-good.


The above is basically what I had originally intended this posting to be, until I looked for a picture to accompany my Earth-shattering piece: As a search result, this came up (from Forbes Magazine online)...

"Weekend Box Office: 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Opens With 'Just' $84 Million"

Written by Scott Mendelson, the story, being from a financial magazine such as Forbes, gets into some numbers and number-crunching, and projections; all of which I find interesting. (What I gather from reading the article, maybe 'protesting' is at work here, to some degree.)

If you don't care about movie "box office" issues -- you just want to see the movie and hopefully enjoy it as entertainment -- then don't bother with this...

Otherwise, enjoy! And enjoy!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I'm getting a bit of a kick out of how some in the Toronto press, and certain fans from the third-world country of Leaf Nation, think that the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey club is building towards a bright future: They have a good team of young guys who will find their legs and fall into synch with one another next year, or the year after that, and skate to the ultimate prize; after all, they almost 'did it' this year.

No. (I've been hearing that line above since 1971. The current key word is "Randy Carlyle".)

It doesn't work that way anymore, at least not in the National Hockey League; I don't know what the score is for other team sports here in North America. NHL clubs 'almost win the cup' or 'almost make it to the finals' each and every year, of course. But, the year after, they fall to the bottom or out of playoff contention. Even worse than that, teams that win the coveted cup one year are basically AWOL the next. It's rather strange.

There are also no winning franchises anymore: The days of Toe Blake and Scotty Bowman running their respective Montreal Canadiens rosters, and later, Glen Sather guiding his Edmonton Oilers, to a stream of multiple Stanley Cup victories are long gone.

As I like to say: In the off-season a big red button is pressed, by whom, we do not know; the Dymo Label above the button says "Reset".


Maybe it was due to the fact that Star Trek Into Darkness was in the air this week that I wrote and posted a preponderance of Trek material, or maybe it's because I'm beyond Antares... I mean, help.

Hey, I have a sense of humour about myself. After I laughed I decided I would post and comment on my favourite stories from the show, then, once I have the subject of Trek out of my "seestem", I will come back down to Earth. This effort reminded me how long ago it was I last watched the show -- I had to put my "mind scanner" back on in order to write anything beyond "epic" or "awesome". In addition, I realized that for as long as I've been contaminated by this particular series, I have never written anything down in the way of "best episodes, ever". Time to rectify, in pieces, this unconscionable oversight.

Here I boldly go (in no particular order)...

1. "The City on the Edge of Forever" So much has been said about this episode that I can only repeat where others have gone before; brilliant, moving, "gold" (as one friend of mine said).

"A question. Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

The Guardian of Forever is one of the most remarkable characters from the entire series, in addition to being a strong and unforgettable image ("the doughnut"). Actress Joan Collins is not reading lines for some tv show, she is Edith Keeler; sweet, noble, strong, and ultimately memorable. William Shatner, as Captain Kirk, proves that he is an outstanding actor. He makes you believe that he has fallen for Keeler, and somehow, with a little help from the various production departments, does it all in much less than fifty-minutes. Kirk's pained expression at the story's end is a Master-Class Moment... he says not one word. (Screenplay students, take note.)

Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, who enjoyed many fine moments as a team throughout the series, have never been better together than they are here. The interplay is that of the kind expected between friends caught in a hole, but the dynamic of Commanding Officer and subordinate is never lost.

Director Joseph Pevney guides everything with an experienced sure hand (it does not hurt that the man started out as an actor). Composer Fred Steiner wrote an affecting score, at key moments weaving his own music with the old penny arcade song "Goodnight Sweetheart".

Almost forgot: Harlan Ellison wrote the original script, and if you are aware of the seismic events of the behind-the-scenes story, you know that the feisty writer was upset that his work was rewritten (by several people). My take on the subject is that Ellison's teleplay was so good that it was almost impossible for someone to screw it up. It's a gem of a story. (Ellison's original script went on to win a Writers Guild of America award, and the filmed show went on to be regarded as possibly the fairest Trek of them all.)

Punchline: This episode is one of the greatest examples of hour-long dramatic television that I have ever seen. Period.

"Let's get the hell out of here."

2. "Balance of Terror" We have a cool-looking and iconic alien spaceship (the Romulan "Bird of Prey"); three-dimensional 'baddies'; Enterprise crew-members we grow to like, and not so much, in a very short time; a great musical riff; affecting and dramatic space action (with spaceships firing at each other from positions thousands of miles apart, the way it should be); an absolutely superb script; and a moving denouement.

It all starts with a wedding...

Basically a retelling of The Enemy Below, a fine and exciting film from 1957 starring Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens, "Balance of Terror" throws, seamlessly, a love interest into the greater picture in addition to replacing a destroyer and a U-boat with two mighty starships ("The Praetor's finest and proudest flagship...").

At the risk of over-simplifying an arguable point I will say that only Star Trek could pull off a story like "Balance of Terror". Conjuring up space-battle-action on the script page is easy (and relatively cheap to render visually, today), but to fuse it so impeccably with a people-story that matters seems to be the great unsolvable equation for many a filmmaker; especially these days. Firing phasers and photon torpedoes mean nothing, except to the worst of the geeks, if you don't underlay science fiction-type artillery with a narrative of emotional weight -- otherwise, it just ends up a story of procedures and protocols.

The Romulans manning the great Bird of Prey are not given short shrift here. The anguish of doing the right thing for home and country, and the Praetor, while at the same time wondering what it all really means at the end of the day, injects the 'enemy' scenes with more than the typical shallow stock bad-guy shenanigans. The Romulans have emotions, too; a vital lesson in today's political climate of readily labelling any opponent as "scumbags".

The bookends to this technically and tactically oriented tale are basically that of love and loss. ("Spoiler Alert", all decks!) Captain Kirk has another job responsibility, outside of giving the expected orders necessary in running a ship-of-the-line; one of consoling a bride who lost her loved one in an aimless and unnecessary war ("It never makes any sense. We both have to know that there was a reason.")

I suppose the theme of "Balance of Terror" is loss; machine, pride, integrity, self, and humanity. A story for the ages.

"In a different reality, I could have called you 'friend'."

3. "Mirror, Mirror" As my brother said to me a few years ago with rolling glee, after watching this episode earlier that day, "('Mirror, Mirror') has to be one of the most entertaining pieces of television ever made". Rarely has a television series' regular cast had such an obvious field-day playing, with great aplomb, a step or two outside of the usual sandbox.

Jerome Bixby's script is from teleplay-heaven. It should be studied in screenwriting classes. I'm serious. Every word of dialogue, every scene, every motivation counts and drives the story forward; there's a plate-full of tasty dialogue ("Indeed, his act warrants death."); the 'other' Spock is delectably dark, but still Spock; there are memorable characters who are essentially just walk-ons ("Yes!, Sir!"; "Smart boy, switching to the top dog."); and as evil as this alternate world is, everyone, bad guys included, has a sense of humour -- even if they don't mean to be funny.

Fred Steiner's score is classic, full of stand-out themes for tension, romance, and terror. Cinematographer Jerry Finnerman turns the lights down a wee bit lower to enhance an off-kilter world featuring a ship-load of cutthroats. Series costume designer William Theiss clearly had fun developing less "conservative" Starfleet attire for the I.S.S. Enterprise crew.

My most personal admission for "Mirror, Mirror" is that it did not resonate for me, really, until my teens. I remember watching it one weekend afternoon when I was seventeen and suddenly the episode exploded into 3-strip Technicolor. Sure, I loved it as a kid ("Spock with a beard"), of course, but a little life experience was needed to process and fully appreciate all its themes; and to 'see' its delicious humour.

This line, more than any other perhaps, in a script which is loaded to begin with, may illustrate the overall tone of the alternate universe Enterprise perfectly...

"And my Sickbay is a chamber of horrors. My assistants were betting on the tolerance of an injured man. How long it would take him to pass out from the pain."

Monday, May 20, 2013


J.J. Abrams thinking. Because he's smart.
In today's Globe and Mail, writer Chris Lackner (here) analyzes the two biggest 'space movie franchises in the whole universe' (psst, Star Trek and Star Wars), and whether they should or could happily coexist, especially with the same person as the astrogator: J.J. Abrams, in my opinion, has a habit of throwing everything at the wall -- called "complexity" in some corners -- and takes credit and comes up roses for the good stuff that sticks.

Is the director the right person for both jobs? Should he be putting his own stamp on two different 'stories'? It's a question being asked in every bar... I mean, McDonald's, right now. Admittedly it's a fun debate for some, as long as it does not detract from day-to-day life.

Lackner interviews several key people on the interstellar issues of Star Wars and Star Trek, and the author's analysis goes beyond the usual "is, so"... "is, too". There is a greater concern: Both items of their respective times came out in their respective times. It's a loopy improper, perhaps, but I'm trying to sound like one of the guys ("there are girls?"). Star Trek was born in a period of great social unrest and strife in the United States of America and continued, and exploded, in syndication as this "strife" kept on renewing. The series' placement in a time and place was key to its ultimate resonance. Star Wars was a reaction to the morosity of early-mid 1970s Hollywood film, and social unrest. This was not deliberate or pre-planned so much as the force of George Lucas realizing that fun Saturday Matinee films were a thing of the past -- but which had a place, in his eyes, in the modern world. Consciously or unconsciously, Star Wars was, in simple and general movie-going terms, a nice surprise. Other movies didn't suck (oh, Annie Hall; yes, Annie Hall), but there was room for a movie of grand release.

Therefore the big question is an important one: Can we get in a knot over what direction Star Trek and Star Wars might take in the future? Times have changed, a populist director is trusted to take some liberties -- whatever that means -- with the material. Why can't we take a fresh route? Expectations are perhaps a big bug in the ointment of creativity. I've never bought this "one must respect the fans" crap. Yes, those fans spend a lot of money on their love (the inanimate kind, of course... what else would there be?), but there are whole other worlds and 'populations' to conquer. It is -- surprise -- a business, more than anything else. As my father used to say, "anything to make a beeeep dollar". "Maximize profits", is what shareholders say. (They also say "expand" and "manage growth"; actually, shareholders never say "manage growth", smart executives do.) Fans think that the original Star Wars and Star Trek feature films are generally "great", I'm sure, but they should look forward eagerly to a future of a vast unknown -- instead of the same bleedin' "known".

Time marches on and, as part of the exploration process, new courses will be charted even if a few end up a wee bit off-course in regards to the fanbases' essential Standards & Practices. In 2009, Abrams "electronically simplified" Star Trek on the big-screen by using the Flash und Flare Death Ray. Adding the quality of "complexity" is a natural course adjustment for an on-going film property perceived as originally lacking nuance, but does Star Wars really need more sophisticated narrative, like what Star Trek reportedly possesses? Are narratives necessarily more complex when additional letters are added to the soup, or do the stories end up convoluted, trying too hard to impress with "look how smart we are"? J.J. Abrams, no doubt, will start throwing everything he can in the hope the good stuff will stick.

Post script: Those Star Wars prequel films sure did suck! What was G.W. Lucas thinking?....


Yes, I know, it's from the Toronto Sun; but this linked article was written by Errol Nazareth... a fine scribe of music notes...

Carl Stalling was the in-house composer in Warner Bros' animation studio back in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. As Nazareth says in his story, and he's right, Stalling was a "genius"; a key man in the ultimate artistic success of the Looney Toons 'cartoons'. Back in the early '90s several tracks were released of these scores: The name of the CD (and tape cassette) is a 'hip', The Carl Stalling Project.

The man on perpetual staff (when studios still had music departments on payroll) had an innate sense of drama and how to score visual motion. While he did write bombastic cues to illustrate such things as 'swagger', 'trauma', and 'general wanton violence', Stalling would often understate the musical accompaniment with a subtle tinkle or resolve a piece in an unexpected way. Like any good film composer he would sometimes refrain from doubling-up on the dramatic punch.

The emphasis in Errol Nazareth's story is on orchestra conductor George Daugherty's love affair with Looney Tunes, and his efforts to bring Carl Stalling's tunes to the public through his "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" concert series: The episodes are projected and Daugherty conducts the appropriate music cues to match the picture; no doubt this would make for a fun, if not thrilling, experience for anyone who remembers those culturally-embedded melodies.

I did not realize that this is not a recent initiative; the conductor has been hosting this program, with various orchestras, for close to 25 years.

I should dig The Carl Stalling Project out of my audio archives -- for some reason I bought the cassette version; probably because I did not yet have a CD player. (Knowing Youtube, there might be an upload of the album -- which is how I obtained recently a copy of the Cream album Disraeli Gears; the subject of an upcoming blog posting.)

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Do you remember I said that I had finished talking about Star Trek's shuttlecraft "Galileo"? (here)

"I lied."

Affixed below is a photograph of the 'miniature' (a foot and a bit in length) version of the famous little vessel on the bluescreen stage at Film Effects of Hollywood.

By the way, the late Linwood Dunn, optical printer developer, and key optical effects man on King Kong (1933), was the owner of Film Effects.

Back in 1978, the incomparable Elwy Yost of TVO's Saturday Night at the Movies visited Dunn at the Film Effects facility. The interview took place in the studio proper, the two men sitting in chairs, and after the subject of Star Trek came up the effects maestro pointed off-screen and said to Elwy, "... the Enterprise sat in front of that screen right over there".

Man, I love this stuff! (Can you tell?)


My favourite (major) film studio logo, without question, is the one for RKO Radio Pictures: The audio consists of a Morse Code signal; the picture is a radio tower on a rotating globe, with animation of 'zaps' and radiating circular waves. Anyone over a certain age -- whatever that would be -- does not need my description. The short piece contains an importance, an urgency. This ain't no ordinary movie you are about to see.

I'll watch King Kong and Citizen Kane, for example, just to see the Radio Pictures identification, but since those two movies happen to be so great, I'll stick around for the feature. (I love it when things work out that way.)

Did you know, and it's a great movie-trivia question, that "RKO" is an acronym for "Radio-Keith-Orpheum"?

End Title.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


A friend emailed me this afternoon with the news that he saw Star Trek Into Darkness this afternoon. His notes were succinct and to the point. I liked his subject line...

"Wrath of Kh... I mean, Into Darkness."

He enjoyed the film but, no, there is, contrary to some unreliable reports, absolutely no sign of "Gary Mitchell" in this one. What that means is that a certain friend of mine will pass on seeing Into Darkness as he was looking forward to it if the 'mysterious unknown character' were to be Mitchell (and a great character he was).

"Khan Noonien Singh" was great, too. No kidding. Ricardo Montalban was superb in the role (even in the slightly more cartoony take in The Wrath of Khan). He was charismatic, magnetic, and sexy as all heck as the super-man who once ruled over more than a quarter of the Earth during the "Eugenics Wars" of the 1990s. Awesome character (but let's put 'im to bed).

As I've said before, here on this blog, I don't care to journey into a screening of Star Trek Into Darkness.

Besides, I'm going through a "No Wave Cinema" phase right now. Next: Filmmaker Celine Danhier's 2010 documentary film on that movement, Blank City.

Khan, hopefully, is leaving us for good. No more; please.

Go back to your cryogenic sleep chamber, and drift in space, forever....


This is my last posting regarding the shuttlecraft "Galileo" from Star Trek. Years ago some photographs surfaced showing AMT in the process of building the prop at their workshop in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1966. The pictures, which are of a rough quality, I found on the Internet.

The foundation: A welded steel frame.

Taking shape; looking recognizable.


Almost there....


Last week I picked up a little DVD treat for myself: The Immortal Beaver is a 50-minute-long documentary from 2007 on the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 "Beaver" aircraft.

First flown on August 16th, 1947, by company test pilot Russell Bannock, the little aeroplane that could and would has come to be something of a prized machine today -- if you have the money. One 'celebrity' Beaver pilot is actor Harrison Ford, who came to want an example of the little legend while shooting the movie Six Days Seven Nights. According to Ford, the one he ended up buying and having restored was an ex-CIA "Air America" machine. (I love the expression on his face when he imparts this sweet piece of intelligence. Maybe I was imagining something that was not there. It's possible.)

"Harrison Ford - Pilot." Right on, man! I really don't care for your boring movies, anyway.

The documentary presents a good overview of the Beaver, and the film's narrative thrust is guided by the restoration of an ex-U.S. Army specimen found discarded for years at an 'aircraft graveyard' in the Arizona desert. The filmmakers cover the race by Viking Aircraft, of Victoria, British Columbia, to restore the machine in time for the DHC-2's 60th Anniversary.

Highly recommended if you care about this sort of thing. By the way, the name of the film's featured Beaver?... "Olivia" (get it?).

Good article on the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 "Beaver"...

DHC-2 "Beaver" enthusiast Neil Aird, and former de Havilland Canada test pilot Russell Bannock.
Pratt and Whitney engine on a hoist.
A famous actor at the controls.
This is better than the Millennium Falcon.
Re-engined and reborn. Beauty, eh?

Friday, May 17, 2013


Peter Worthington at the Toronto Sun, March of 1978
In today's Toronto Star, columnist Rick Salutin talks with affection and respect for the late Toronto Sun co-founder, editor, and columnist Peter Worthington...

A few years ago I worked at a company where Mr. Worthington was a client. The couple of times I dealt directly with him I was analyzing my own reactions based on the fact I was well aware of who he was and, as Salutin talks about in his interesting column, Worthington's defined, or not so much depending on the issue at hand, politics.

Needless to say, politics were not the order of the day in my own interactions with the famous Sun man standing before me, but what surprised me most, as part of my internalizing mentioned earlier, was that Peter Worthington, besides being impeccably dressed, was a real gentleman type; one pleasant fellow who's demenour hardly represented the (often dim) right wing "kind".

Besides, the man, of the old school variety, did his job: He dug for the news and didn't care on which side of the fence he and his 'subject' were standing.

He was one of those rare guys who could earn your respect even if his opinions clashed with your own -- almost everything, in my case, especially on the "CBC" issue. Worthington's regular column at the amateurish and childish Toronto Sun was one of the few that I read on a regular basis there.

So... I guess the question is: What does the Sun have going for it, now? I can't think of anyone, off hand, who could sit in Peter Worthington's vacated chair.

By the way, good eye-opening column, Mr. Salutin.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


The "Life" section in today's Toronto Star has a Trek-themed story which may appeal to us hard-drinking Trekkers.

Three Albertan men -- Dr. Richard Weger, Paul Carreau, and Vern Raincock -- were drinking beer and talking about Star Trek ("a wonderful show") and thought that it needed an alcoholic sequel: Which ultimately became "Vulcan Ale"; its slogan is "Mind Melding Good". ("Mind Melding Goodness", or "Mind Meldingly Good", sounds better perhaps.)

One thing led to another and the fans-with-a-cool-plan struck a deal with CBS/Paramount Consumer Products.

"Vulcan Ale" is scheduled to have its official lift-off this week (May 17th), and although it's available in some locations in Alberta and British Columbia, the across Canada roll-out is planned for early next year.

The Toronto Star article describes the drink as a "hand-crafted Irish Red Ale" (5.4 percent alcohol). Which reminds me to ask: What happens when you mix an Irishman and a Vulcan? I don't know, but it sounds like a plan....


After I visited a friend this afternoon out in Toronto's east end, and since it was a lovely day, I decided to take a walk along Danforth Avenue. I popped into one of the many fine markets along that stretch of road; on the way out, as I reoriented myself into a west-bearing walk, I noticed that across the street was a KFC outlet. Hmm... I never noticed that one before.

It dawned on me that it was exactly twenty years ago this summer that I last chowed down at a Kentucky Fried Chicken establishment -- the location in question was on Bloor Street west. Mmm, Mmm good. So much so that I haven't gone back since.

By sharing this with you, am I trying to impress? Of course I am. Think of all the chickens I've saved by choosing not to eat at a 'manufacturing plant'. (I've eaten chicken more than a few times since my last KFC experience, obviously.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


While I was eating my Kraft Dinner [TM] I thought I would put together a photo set of the shuttlecraft "Galileo" prop from Star Trek (in series with yesterday's blog posting here). I concluded with a optical shot from "The Immunity Syndrome", and although it's not specifically of the studio prop, I included it since the image struck me as being rather vivid.

I was leafing through my book "Star Trek Creator" (by David Alexander) and found something I remember reading years ago: The "Galileo" prop was estimated at $24,000 to construct and was reported as coming in at about $65,000. (Wow; you could buy a house for 15-20 grand back in 1966.)

"The Way to Eden"
"The Way to Eden"
"The Galileo Seven"
"Journey to Babel"
"The Immunity Syndrome"

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


The Shuttlecraft "Galileo" prop from Star Trek is in the process of being restored for eventual display at "Space Center Houston". Investment manager, and uber-fan, Adam Schneider bought the 24 foot-long prop at auction in 2012 and hired a team of craftspeople -- led by Hans Mikaitis and Ken Foster -- to undertake the massive effort required to get the lady shipshape.

Originally built in 1966 by noted automobile customizer Gene Winfield and his team at AMT's "Speed and Custom Division Shop" in Phoenix, Arizona, the wood and steel prop ended up lasting way past its intended shelf life. That's a good thing, for some of us.

Monday, May 13, 2013


I finished watching my movie (Stranger Than Paradise), went online and found out that the Toronto Maple Leafs had blown their three goal lead, to lose 5 - 4 in overtime to the Boston Bruins. The Leafs are eliminated in style... their style. Why am I not surprised? (I knew what had happened before I saw the official game results: Right after the movie finished I thought to myself, "no car horns, no cheers... oh, no". Then I checked here and saw the hard, cold data.)


"I'm what Star Trek has become, Captain Kirk..."
Here is a fine and thoughtful article on Star Trek Into Darkness, from The Guardian's blog... energize

The writer makes some valid points about changing times, characterizations, and myth; in regards to Star Trek. I have not seen the film, and have no plans to, but what he says makes sense and "rings true".

To be honest, J.J. "Kid Dyno-mite!" Abrams strikes me as being a fairly simple fellow; not stupid in the conventional sense, obviously not, he has his gifts, but not the man that should be helming and re-gearing a property known for its subtleties and depth beyond "that spaceship blowed up real good".